Back to work!

Besides making Rockabilly Head, I’ve allowed myself to have a month or two’s break, while I went through the stressful process of getting my fiancee over from her native Japan with official visas and whatnot, and found a nice new house for the two of us.  It’s been good for me though, as I’ve had a lot of time to think about where I’m going with iLoveWar [far less likely to be the real title now, as the story’s taken shape.]

I’ve finally decided on the balance of gameplay I want to achieve.  When I look at similar-genred games, such as the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem series’ I see them veering either one way or the other – the AW-like chess-style pieces (closer to RTS, really) which are completely chosen by the player, or the FE-like story-based characters, which makes for a far more puzzle-based experience.  FF Tactics seems to go for this too.

I want to somehow combine a strong story with the flexibility and strong ‘building strategy’ of a unit-based game.  I think I’ve finally got there!  Basically, all units will be of one of six classes (two variants of three types), some will be ‘Character’ types and some will be ‘Drone’ (or AW-style) types which are like characters with a low level-cap who all look the same (I have a good way to explain this in the story, too which is important to me.)

Anyway, I’ve got lots of solid design done which I’m keeping in a proper document, with a semi-formal schedule and everything, now that I have the talented miss Selina Dean (from UK manga collective, Sweatdrop Studios) to help me with portraits and background art.

Here’s a mockup with a portrait based on one of her sketches to whet your appetite.  It’s showing our lead character, Mono:

What’s Rockabilly Head all about?

You can download Rockabilly Head here: Rockabilly Head [PC / OSX Download!]

I thought I’d do an analysis of my own game, as it sprung up so quickly I almost didn’t know what it meant*.

* but then i changed my mind.

Meat & potatoes

Hi there,

I’ve been away from the blog for quite a while, mainly due to two months of net downtime (damn you, Tiscali!)

It’s been a busy few months, tinkering on various projects.

My meat and potatoes has been ‘iLoveWar’ an SRPG for iPhone, which hopefully attempts something new within the genre, rather than being a straight-up Advance Wars clone.

It’s played from left to right.  There are two campaigns, one for the Fish People, the other for the Bear People.  You must protect your Queen and get her to the next temple to summon units to aid you in your quest.  It’s about 30-40% done.

So far it’s been an interesting learning process, as I’m new to OpenGL and Objective C.  After a couple of months, I managed to build a pretty solid isometric tile / sprite engine which is actually true 3D, but looks like pixel art (everthing is in half-resolution.)  I feel it adds charm to the game!

Here’s a screenshot of the control system…  It’s fairly intuitive to use so far!

Meanwhile, I’ve finished a very short game this weekend called ‘Rockabilly Head’.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a sort of Lynchian nightmare wrapped up as a dancing-adventure-game.  It has four endings, which tell quite different stories, and has many branching dialogue paths, depending on the player’s actions.  There’s also five or six original pieces of music!

You can find it here:
TIGSource Forum Thread

Keep being awesome, people of the world!

Short Update

Just to let you know things are ticking over on Amnesia, but the game has reverted to more of a point’n’click adventure format. For this reason we’re reverting to a different language that’s more friendly to cross-platform PC / OSX. It’s also one I’m much more familiar with. The game’s going to take a long, long time and for that reason it’s on-hold for now, at least in the development sense. This gives me more time to think about the script and puzzles I want to include.

The story is really taking shape though, and it’s the reason I still want to make this game. I’ve also got onboard officially my good friend and co-worker in the games industry, Dock, who is also the founder of Sweatdrop Studios, the leading UK manga company. I’m luck enough to have got him excited about the project which really needed someone skilled in Japanese-style art. As both he and Lord. P Duncan live around the corner we have a good opportunity to keep each other motivated!

For another of my projects, I’ve been working on a sort of rhythm-action-dance-music shoot-’em-up game provisionally called ‘Tempo’. It’s a chance to use some of my history as a drum’n’bass producer, and hopefully will wow and excite! ^-^


Here’s a mockup, but it already looks close to this in-game:


technical stuff

I’m starting to get to grips with XNA, but it’s by no means a walk in the park.  3D-wise, I’ve only really used Ogre and Blitz3D, and only mildly dabbled in shaders in Ogre.  XNA is lower-level than Ogre in most ways, but then again C Sharp is higher level than C++, this means less stress with pointers and free garbage collection, but I have to learn shaders from the ground up, and re-write a lot of Ogre’s functionality.

The good thing is that shaders use the industry standard .x format, none of Ogre’s proprietary stuff to deal with, and I can test things out in RenderMonkey without having to re-code them.  Also, luckily, most of the stuff I want to do has been done already in XNA, shadows and cel-shading in particular, although skeletal animation support is non-existent out of the box and there seems to be little online knowledge about it (although I’m looking into XNAnimation…)

I’ve got the first model by my artist, Lord P.Duncan, and boy is it a beauty (you can see him in the background of the website image.  We call him The Bully.)  I’ve plugged him into the cel-shader and shadow system and he’s looking fine, fine, fine.  The time is not right to post him yet though…

I have the odd cabinet projection working too (think Final Fight perspective), that wasn’t a bit of a headache because I had to re-learn about projection matricies.

The next step is to get skeletal animation up and running, and the overlaying of shadows back onto a 2D image (should be one line in the shader with any luck.)

I’ve also written what may end up being the main musical theme, it’s orchestral, kinda Zelda-ish but dark and foreboding, with only a thread of hope in it.  Look forward to playing it to you guys many moons from now!


what’s Amnesia all about?

Amnesia is a game I’ve wanted to make for ages… It’s in a pre-production phase and has changed from being a classic point’n’click to more of a Survival Horror title, partly due to the fun we had making Soundless Mountain II, and the fact that I now have a great artist to work with, ‘Lord’ P. Duncan.  The story is essential the same as the point’n’click I imagined, though – it’s about a Japanese man called Aruku re-discovering his identity through dreams and nightmares, in a recurring Groundhog day.  Solving puzzles ‘positively’ will give you a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is white, solving them ‘negatively’ will give you a red puzzle piece.  When the puzzle is assembled you will regain your memory, although the ending depends on the makeup of your physical jigsaw puzzle.  

It deals with the theme of isolation from society so present in modern Japan (I lived in Tokyo until recently.)  In fact we hope to really tackle some issues about modem life with this game, the distance and loneliness people can feel even when surrounded by others.
Visually we’re using what we call a ‘Moving Mosaic’.  This is our tech term for chunky, grainy, dirty hand-drawn pixels with lots of noise and filtering.  As well as this we have dynamic 3D shadows, so the torchlight will be spectacular!  It still is very self-consciously low-res pixel art, but with a modern twist, scaled up 4 times as in SMII – although it is in a higher resolution than SMII and with no colour restrictions.  We’re using 3D cel-shaded characters, with a slightly Prince of Persia feel to the moment.  There will be a lot of ‘being chased’ in the game, and you’ll have to escape this unkillable antagonist time and again by any means necessary, pulling obstacles in his path, cutting rope bridges etc.  Dreams will range from flying to escaping a filthy prison, and that’s all I can give away at the moment!


hello, world!

Welcome to superflat world.  I’m Jasper Byrne, and I make games, audio and visuals.

This is primarily a game development blog for superflat games, although I’ll also be posting about other interesting things in the world of games, music and life in general.

Who I am?

– I like fried food, especially fish.

– I like making stuff.

– That’s my daughter, Aila, in the picture.

– It was probably Jet Set Willy and Lords of Midnight that got me into games.

– I’ve lived in Vietnam, Japan, America, and England.  I now reside in Cambridge, UK.

– For the last ten years I’ve been a drum’n’bass producer / DJ under the aliases Sonic, Sonic & Silver & The Accidental Heroes.  Myspace page. I’ve been lucky enough to sell records and tour the world.

– Nowadays I’m mostly a game designer, but I still write music.

– I think games are the highest level of art being explored at the moment, but are still in their infancy. I feel like we’re on the cusp of something incredible, like the first tentative steps of silent movies into talkies.

* * *

I began writing games on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum at the age of eight (1984, so you can work out my age…) and it’s been a life-long hobby of mine.  I worker with Frontier Developments for close to three years working on Xbox games such as Kinectimals and Kinect Disneyland Adventures.

Some of the independent games I’ve done are listed on Moby Games.  I also have an [edit: very old now] online portfolio that was aimed at a jobhunt. There’s access to a couple of my older games there.

I’ve just release Soul Brother on [adult swim] games, and there’s more games on the front page of the site.  Enjoy them!

For now, take care,