Author Archive

Rainbow Stars

So here is a long overdue postmortem of Soul Brother’s release.  It’s been a great couple of weeks watching it spread slowly around the net, and I think overall the reaction’s been fairly positive on the whole.

First of all, I’d like to announce the winner of the Rainbow Star Challenge, Brian Keong.  He completed it on the second day I believe.  The nice thing is I designed the online scoring system to show the Rainbow Star achievers quite easily – if you get over 2 million, you didn’t die and got all the gems in decent time.

So far, 170,000 people have played it on [adult swim] and 13 of those people have got themselves some of this:

Brian has requested a bird character, who I’ll post at a later date (I want to do a special card for it like the game ones.)  Congratulations to him and all the others who flew so high!

I only really have time to share some of the reactions for this week’s blog – I want to do a proper postmortem at some stage, and show the tools I used to make it.  I did talk about them a little on this interview I did with quote-unquote.  I really like that blog and wish more people would read it, so thanks to Steve Cook for that. They also have the maps for Soul Brother and other little trinkets on there.

Here are direct links to the maps: Soularis West, Soularis East.  See if you can spot where it’s changed!

Here are collected bits of press about it…

I won FREE INDIE RAPID FIRE over at bytejacker, which I was super happy about. I love those guys, and my wife digs Anthony’s t-shirt selections. Their review of the game in the previous episode.’s very generous review.

Joystiq review.

Jayisgames review.

indiegameschannel review.

ithamore’s lovely review on the TIGsource front page.

Good old, who’ve supported my work a lot over the years, so thanks Tim & Mike!

Rock Paper M*********n’ Shotgun.

Dangercade’s new (to me) and cool.

Terry says ‘go play Soul Brother’.

And so does the wonderful Rob F.

You Big Nonce’s hilarious video review:

Ortoslon’s 0-death, 0-gem playthrough (done on day one…)

Terry’s 33-gem, 7-death run…

Until next time folks, thanks for playing!

The Rainbow Star Challenge

Attention, indie gamers!

Today is the special moment superflat games becomes a full-time, independent entity.

I’m writing on my lunchbreak at my desk in Frontier Developments Ltd, bedroom-legend David Braben’s studio where I’ve spent most of the last three years, working on Kinectimals and a new undisclosed project.  Thanks to the people who’ve helped make it a worthwhile and fascinating experience.  Although I hope not to have to return, it’s been great making the Kinectikids happy on their birthdays!

And another thing…

Today is the launch day for Soul Brother!  Yes, I almost can’t believe it either.  I particularly like this post which says ‘coming soon’, dated 2009.

Here is the titlescreen with all the achievements unlocked in the game.  What are they?  How do you get them?

You’ll have to figure that out!

Go play Soul Brother on [Adult Swim] games.

And finally: The Rainbow Star Challenge…

As per the title of the post, take a look at the final achievement above.  Want a closer look?  Ok!

– Be the first to prove to me you can earn the Rainbow Star in Soul Brother.

– Do so by sending a screen capture, or better still a video recording.

– Win a custom Soul Brother character sprite / avatar (based on you, or your pet if you like.)

– Enjoy.

All Change Again

So if you’ve been following my twitter feed, you’ll have maybe noticed my recent announcement.

“I’m going fulltime indie again!”

I was sort of forced into doing it last time (around October last year) due to being made redundant following the release of Kinectimals.  During that time I made Soul Brother, but was re-hired at Frontier.  I began working here again in December, and have been for the last four months.  I’m working on a great project, which I can’t reveal of course, so really my choice has nothing to do with dissatisfaction from work.

During this time back in the industry, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the possibility of making the indie hobby into a career.  As I enter my mid-30’s, I realise I’m not getting any younger.  And as I have been given some financial leeway by the sale of Soul Brother, there really is nothing else stopping me from taking the plunge.

So, for the second time in a year, I’m announcing Superflat Games is my full-time job.  And this time for good hopefully!  I’ve set up a real business account, and put my life savings into it, which should keep me going for close to a year.  I hope to finish Legend of the Starmen in less than 6 months though.

I’m wasting no time, and have already begun serious work on the new game.  It’s already feeling quite fun and I have to stop myself playing it (a good sign, I hope!)  I have figured out the class system (there are three) and how the multiple weapons / items you can pick up work together.  As this is mostly code and design, there’s nothing new to show in screenshot form yet (well, ok, have some rocks:)

Anyway, I look forward to sharing proper progress with you guys.  And I suppose it’s a good time to announce I’ll be adding the usual Donate button to the site when I am self-employed next month.  If you’ve ever enjoyed my work or want to help me keep making it, you could always send a few bucks my way…  Money is a bit more of an issue being self-employed when you have a wife and child to support, but if I do ok from a future game I’ll be sure to take it down again!

Anyway, here’s to the future, beautiful games and indie life.

1278 Comments (Part 2)

So!  There’s more news to share.  Two games in particular I’d like to talk about.

TIGJam, Game 2: Crap Dancing Game [working title]

Another game I started at TIGJam, and a second collaboration with Terry Cavanagh.

This is an RPG, presented in Colecovision.  It plays out in the world of Danszen, where everybody’s dancing all the time, even in their sleep.  You play young Shimmy who, under the forceful encouragement of his mother, must rise to the top of the ranks, defeating the experts in the three ‘ways’ of dance: Rock, Soul & Electro.

From there, an adventure awaits beyond his wildest dreams…

I’m super excited about this project, it’s using the RPG engine Terry’s been building for his latest project, Nexus City (with Jonas Kyratyes).  I’ve always wanted to make an RPG, Terry and I frequently wax lyrical about our love of the Persona series, and Final Fantasy of course.  So as soon as Soul Brother is out, and Terry’s schedule is freed up a little, we’re gonna plough into this.

It’s not going to be a massive game – I just want something that’ll have an interesting atmosphere & scenario, hopefully inspiring some of the feelings The Catamites’ Space Funeral gave me (one of my favourite games of the year.)

New Secret Project: Legend of the Starmen [working title]

In-game shot

Based in part on Trip:One, the scrolling gravity-’em-up I abandoned last year, this is my latest love.  I’m so into this project right now – let’s hope that feeling stays with me!

Legend of the Starmen is an action RPG.  You play a space mercenary, from a race of people who are born and die within their suits (although they may change and modify them, their religion forbids them from seeing what is inside.)  You belong to a government-run group of soldiers who harvest ‘Starmen’ from planets long-abandoned.

Starmen are nomadic beings made of pure star-energy.  They land on these deserted worlds and build basic societies from the wreckage left there. They are considered not to have rational thought or feelings, although they will protect themselves when threatened, by inhabiting nearby machinery.

They are also the most valuable commodity in the galaxy, because they can be converted to astronomically powerful energy, used to fuel weapons, ships, and all the necessary gear to survive in outer space.

This is why your group exists.  But is there more to Starmen than just the energy they contain?

I don’t want to spoil too much more about the game – I doubt it’ll be out until the end of the year at the earliest.  Suffice to say this is my main focus, and I will do all I can to finish it.  I’m basing the mechanics squarely on Demon’s Souls, one of the greatest games of all time in my opinion.

Starmen act as currency and a means to upgrade oneself.  Dying (and hence dropping them) will only give you one chance to return to get them, or they’ll be lost forever.  Each level has no checkpoints, and must be completed in one go, else the player must return to their base to save.  In addition, the player has an energy bar which functions much like stamina in Demon’s Souls, so it won’t be a case of simply spamming the fire button – choosing when exactly to use one’s energy is key!

To round it off, you can change and upgrade suits, find and carry multiple items, both weapons, secondary-effect-items such as shields, or simply healing items, any of which you can upgrade too.  This should give the player a lot of variety in play-style.

Anyway, that’s the plan, let’s see if I can actually make it now!

And things never go exactly as planned when you do plan, it’s more a case of – let’s see where it takes me…

And finally…

I’m pleased to say the spam filter seems to be doing its job – all 1278 are gone! – so let me know on Twitter or info [at] if you’ve tried to comment but nothing’s got through.

1278 Comments (Part 1)

The title of this post is an homage to the 1278 ‘comments’ I have recieved from my last post.  In other words, 1287 spam replies, indicating just how badly I’ve let my blog slip lately!

As well as addressing the broken comment system, I’m planning to do a great deal more with over the next few months.

This is the first in what will hopefully be more frequent updates to my progress, and I plan on blogging about more non-game-creation topics a little more too.

Anyway, where to begin?

It’s been a tumultuous few months.  Since November when I wrote the last one, all kinds of cool, crazy and sometimes crap things have happened.  Though the good has outweighed the crap by a fair margin!

Soul Brother

So the first thing you might be wondering about is what happened to Soul Brother?  Well there’s very good news on that front… I’ve signed the game to [Adult Swim] games, one of the premier Flash portals out there.  It’s a massive deal for me, as I wasn’t even sure if I could make enough money to get by from it.  As it happens, the deal has meant that I have a degree of financial freedom for the first time since joining the ‘AAA’ industry, and bodes really well for future indie work.

I’ve put a lot more work into the game, more than I originally planned, but I want the game to be the best thing I’ve ever made.  So although the game was 99% done in November, four months have passed and it’s slowly gained an extra sheen of polish which I think has really made the whole process worthwhile.

I also put a lot more time into the soundtrack (and clearing some of the samples, which took frustratingly long – when you dig into house-megalabel Defected’s acapella records, it’s only to be expected I guess!)

There are now six tracks in all, and I really put the same amount of work in that I would have for my drum’n’bass records that were released as things in their own right (normally I consciously spend less time on game music, reasoning that the production quality doesn’t need to be as high to pass.)

Although [adult swim] own the IP to Soul Brother, I retain the rights to the music, which I’m planning on releasing as an OST later this year.  That won’t be a simple port either, I’ll spend a few weeks polishing, extending and even adding to the tracks.  I may even include a couple of bonus tunes, just ‘cos I love you all!

TIGJam, Game 1: American Dream

While attending our local indie-con, TIGJam UK, a four day jamfest at Cambridge’s CB2 (100m from my house), I finally got to collaborate with two of my close friends who I’ve wanted to work with since getting into this indie thing.

These fine fellows are Terry Cavanagh and Stephen ‘increpare‘ Lavelle (and there was also some art contribution from the talented Tom Morgan-Jones who I hadn’t met before, but had heard of.)

Terry had previously made a furnishing-simulator, which was going to be attached to an assasination simulator.  When the theme ’80’s’ came up at the Jam, I wanted to do something to do with the stockmarket, thinking Wall Street / American Psycho, so I suggested this to Terry.  Somehow we came upon trading 80’s film / music idols as commodities.

He got building a trading sim, I reworked the graphics, Stephen strung the whole thing together and wrote the wonderful music, Tom added cutscene art, and the rest is history.

The game was remarkably well received, getting covered on the likes of and Rock Paper Shotgun (one of my favourite blogs.)

Here is the link to play the game (online), hosted exclusively over on Stephen’s site: link.

End of Part 1

Anyway, I’m coming to the end of my allotted blogging time, so I think I’ll save the rest of the news for Part 2.  I have two other projects in the works I’d like to share with you guys, and I’ll probably talk a little about my indie plans for the future.  Hope to see you then!

Soul Brother Promo Video

Click to be taken to YouTube, where a funky introduction to Mr.Soul takes place.

My two projects which are actually small enough to be finishable

So my plans changed slightly after I began my indie career.  I did continue to work on Psychic Prison Break for a month fairly solidly.  It’s all wrapped up and ready to release but I’m still not happy with how some of the dialogue is working. For that reason I decided to put some distance between myself and the project, so that when I finish off the last few edits, I’l have a fresh view of it.  I feel much closer to knowing how to do it, I’m just letting it simmer until the other project is done.

The other project is the Flash remake of Soul Brother is getting close to being finished.  It’s very different to the original game, but I think it fixes a lot of the problems that one had.

I’m hoping to have it finished in a couple of weeks, all the content is done, and just the final polish needs to be added, and the odd nasty bug to iron out.

Will keep you all posted!

Superflat Games is now my fulltime job!

As per the post title, I’m no longer working for Frontier Developments, where I spent the last 2.5 years working on the Kinectimals project which launches in November I belive. I have decided to pursue my indie career, rather than look for new work within the industry, and I will be juggling that with my music career (as Sonic).

So, my plans are to:

1) Make a redux version of Psychic Prison Break with re-written dialogue (I wasn’t happy with it before), a few extra puzzles, and perhaps one or two more locations. I’ll be putting this up for sponsorship on Flash Game License.

2) Make another short adventure, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while. It’s a period piece set in a single bed and breakfast type building, and should be something a bit lighter for me. It’s also based on a period in my late father’s life. Again, put this up for license.

3) Meanwhile I’ll be working on Lone Survivor, which I’ve decided to make into a commercial release with a free demo online. I’m going to take my time over it, and make it the absolute best thing I am capable of making.

4) I’m also toying with Flash versions of Soul Brother and This Is How Bees Work. Both will be greatly enhanced and altered to fit the medium.

I’ll be putting up a donation button at some point in the near future to help kickstart my indie career (I had planned to take more time to save, but circumstances forced the move early). If anyone feels the urge to donate at that point, it would really help me support my wife and baby while bringing lovely games to you.

I’m going to make exactly the games I want to play, and never compromise in their content for commercial interests. I’m going to try to make games that touch on new subject matter. Adult games, for adults. I want to explore areas of interactivity that can be the only way to present certain stories. I want to tell stories most of all.

And so many stories have yet to be told, because of the youthfulness of this art form. Which excites me enourmously!

Ladies and gentlemen,


Back From The Dead

So I might just be working on Lone Survivor again.  Might meaning am.  I know I said it was unfinishable – but I must finish the unfinishable if I want to make a success of this indie lark.  And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

I’ve now christened my tool ‘TELEPLAY’ – it’s the combination of the visual editor written in BlitzMax, and the Flash project which runs the games made in the editor, which all runs on HAL-script (the high-level adventure language, natch.)

TELEPLAY is now 99% feature complete, and this means that work on Lone Survivor is progressing nicely at last.  Although I may miss my original goal of releasing it in time for IGF entry, I think it’ll have been worth the wait.  My plan currently is to go full-time indie from sometime in the new year.  2011 is the year Superflat Games will get serious!

To keep y’all sweet, here’s a recent screenie, showcasing the inventory system:

Lone Survivor – coming early 2011

New game – Psychic Prison Break

This is the first ever finished game to be written entirely in HAL, the editor / scripting language I’ve been working on for six years. The project really helped me see what I need to do to improve the language and tool, so for that it’s been invaluable. I’m reasonably happy with how quicky I could get new content in with it.

I entered it into the 48 hour game compo, Ludum Dare. The theme was ‘Enemies as Weapons’. Here’s a screenie, to whet your appetite – would love to get your feedback over on the submission page!

Link to the entry page, where you can play it now.