Who Am I?

I was asked over on www.superfriendshipclub.org to point out some links to some of my older music as Sonic.  I was and still am a producer and DJ, mainly making drum’n’bass.  So rather than clog up that forum, here’s those links conveniently laid out for your pleasure!

Sonic & Silver, AKA the Accidental Heroes, c.2001

Sonic & Silver, AKA the Accidental Heroes c.2001

So I took half an hour to pick out some random selections. Not the best tunes necessarily, just ones that popped into my head while trawling youtube. I dunno how good the recordings are on some of these as I haven’t checked them all. What I did hear gave me a massive nostalgia rush though though!

I lost my HD with all music pre-around 2004, so don’t have many of these tunes handy, except possibly on old DAT tapes, or the vinyls themselves, where I was sent copies – and not all record labels even get round to this! 🙂

Anyway, here they are, they spread from ’99 to ’11, on a bunch of labels and with different people. All but a couple were produced in my studio though…

My Label

Sonic & Silver – Space Cadet (Space Recordings)
Sonic – The Big Blue (Space Recordings)
Sonic – 4 Manchester (Space Recordings) (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Sunday Morning (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Feel The Vibe (Space Recordings)
Sonic – What U Do 2 Me (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Love Came In (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Galaxyflip (Space Recordings)
Sonic – Futureworld (Space Recordings)

Other labels / collaborations

Sonic – Piano Anthem (Hospital Records)
Sonic – All I Wanna Do (Hospital Records)
Sonic & Silver – On The Anson (Metalheadz Records)
Sonic & Silver – Under The Sun (Soul:R Records)
Sonic & Silver – Rocket Launcher (Virus Records
Sonic – Funckstation (Virus Records)
Bad Company – Rush Hour (Sonic & Silver RMX)
Sonic – Even When It Rains [Super Disco Mix] (Infrared Records)
The Accidental Heroes – Precinct 13 (Infrared Records)
The Accidental Heroes – Hydrophonics (Infrared Records)
Matrix & Sonic – Flashlight (Metro Records)
Sonic & Silver – Rise Up (Reinforced Records)
Sonic & Silver – Cool Intentions (Reinforced Records)
Sonic & J Majik – New Generation (Infrared Records) – (uncredited here!)
Sonic – Bounty Hunter (Bingo Records)
Sonic – Dreamscape (Bingo Records)

Earlier Stuff
The Accidental Heroes – YOUWITHMENOW (Freeform Records, my first release in ’99)
Sonic – Light Cycles (Formation Records)
MC/R Movement – Make It Bounce (Freeform Records)
Sonic – Searchlights (Formation Records)
The Accidental Heroes – Timecheck (Formation Records)

A couple of playlists I found that people put together…

Sonic & Silver

Rainbow Star Prize, And Mirrors

First of all I’d just like to finally give Brian Keong, the Rainbow Star Challenge winner, his prize.  Nearly half a million players have entered Soularis now, and it makes me so happy.  I’m planning to do a bit more of a post-mortem of the game at some point, and I’d also like to share some more press and interview links about it, as it seems to have had a good buzz.

Anyway, he requested a bird character, and here he is, in-game:

Brian, I almost broke the game doing this, so I hope you like him!

Lone Survivor Update

I managed to get a solid build of Lone Survivor into Indiecade this year, one of the main indie game competitions along with IGF.  I worked incredibly hard on it for the two months leading up to the deadline, almost going as insane as the protagonist.  It probably helped the atmosphere in some ways!

Here’s a little teaser trailer I made (it shows almost nothing of the actual gameplay, that will follow in the real trailer, which should be much better than this one!):

Lone Survivor (Indiecade Teaser Trailer)

The music is by myself and Silver (Sonic & Silver), the VIP mix of Rocket Launcher on Virus Records.  It’s not used in-game, for those that hate it (it’s a polarising one.)  There’s already 22 original tracks in Lone Survivor, and it’s going to give me a lot of pleasure to finally share them with you guys.

Since submitting to Indiecade I had a little time off playing Yakuza and so on, but I’ve now started back on full-time work on it.  It’s getting quicker to make as what I want to do with it is getting clearer in my head.

I’ll leave you with a new screenshot, from the dusty cellar, of the new mirror savegame system:

What I’ve been going through getting ready for Indiecade…


It’s been an exhausting several weeks of crunch on the game, but progress has been tangible, so it’s been a lot of fun too.

And after all that I’ve decided not to enter at this point. Although I’m super excited about the way it’s going, I don’t think I want to reveal plot details yet, and I want the game to be close to completion before submitting it anywhere… So my plan is now to get it finished for IGF instead.  We’ll see if that pans out!

Anyway, this means I’ll finally have a little time to catch up on all the smaller things I’ve been neglecting, like the ongoing saga of the Rainbow Star Prize, the writing of blogs and so on.  I’ll be doing a more detailed report of where it’s going at some point soon, and I still plan on doing a behind-the-scenes tour at some point, showing the tools I’ve used to develop Lone Survivor.

The Great Unknown

So I felt it was time to give you guys an update on what I’ve been up to…

The plan (as I mentioned in the quote-unquote interview) was to work on Legend of the Starmen with an aim to heading for an IGF entry.

Well, just like the last time I went indie, I changed my mind once I actually had the space and time to think about it. I still want to make LotS, and it’s high up on the list… But it’s a big game, as big as Lone Survivor, perhaps.

So I figured, if I’m going to do a big project anyway, it may as well be the one which is most personal and important to me. The one I’ve been trying to make for several years, since making Soundless Mountain II – Lone Survivor. After all, the game is already further along than LotS, so it makes more sense from that perspective. And there’s the thing that it may help get recognised because SMII is still probably the game I’m most known for doing…

It’s coming on really well! I’m planning on entering it into Indiecade, either at the end of this week, or two weeks after that if I miss the deadline. I’m focussing on making the first world really fleshed out and finished, the intro and outro, polish and bugfixes and a total overhaul of the audio. Save games, title screens, some more puzzles and survival elements, a new monster, it’s all happening so fast!

And there’s more…

I’ve started a new (relatively) small game – perhaps the size of Soul Brother when finished. It’s called XOR, and it’s a homage to the games I grew up on, perhaps more so than the other games I’ve made. It’s a randomly generated Atic Atac / Zelda mashup wizard-shooter. It is presented in a warped ZX Spectrum view, complete with filthy screen, ‘off’ colours and flickering glows. It all looks much better in motion, but have a (slightly out-of-date) screenshot all the same:

The names are procedurally generated and this one just happened to come up.

There’s also a background story to it which I won’t reveal yet, suffice to say it’s gonna have more than a nod to a certain other glowing movie, but hopefully turn things on their head a bit. According to Anthony Carboni at least, I like to ‘flip the script’ like that.


A massive thanks out to the 270,000 players of Soul Brother, and the many new reviewers and podcasts which have covered it. I really am humbled that so many have enjoyed something so silly of mine. Thanks to Terry for helping me along the way so much, and thanks to all the indies who reside in a certain forum I frequent for all their incredible work helping me test and improve the game. You all know who you are, and I can’t thank you guys enough!

Also to Brian Keong, I’m sorry I haven’t forgotten your sprite, I’m just really swamped getting ready for Indiecade, so expect it next blog post, sorry!

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.

indiegamemag.com’s very generous review.

Joystiq review.

Jayisgames review.

indiegameschannel review.

ithamore’s lovely review on the TIGsource front page.

Good old indiegames.com, 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] superflatgames.com 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 superflatgames.com 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 indiegames.com 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.