I'm Seán Hogan, and welcome to my blog!
An aspiring Irish artist, I am currently studying Model Making in IADT. With future hopes of breaking into the comic book and gaming industries, I have a great interest in art and all things nerdy.
Hi everyone! Today is an exciting day as Microsoft’s Game Dev Day and Games Ireland Gathering 2013 are happening at the Aviva stadium. Of course, I’ll be attending and relaying all the news, interviews and highlights I can humanly do.
Check back over the coming days, as I’ll be updating as I can produce the work. I’m planning on attending talks for Construct 2 and Cocos-2DX, along with the keynotes and other scheduled events. I’ll also try live Tweet as much as possible during the event, keeping you up to date with what’s happening.
If you want to contact me for any reason, hit me up on Twitter!
Young indie developer bitSmith Games released its first title, Kú: Shroud of the Morrigan, last week. I had the opportunity to interview level designer Paul Conway, in which we discussed Kú’s influences, the appeal of iOS and the struggles involved in being an indie dev in Ireland.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did bitSmith Games come to be?
The team was formed out of a mix [of graduates from] Dublin Institute of Technology Master courses. The game was initially their final project but D.I.T. are great with IP ownership so let the team continue developing it commercially. Over the course of the next year, we got a place on the NDRC Launchpad program and received CSF, which is a €50,000 investment available to high potential start-ups. This helped grow the team and allowed us to finish the game.
Mixing an Irish legend with a steampunk vibe is an unheard of mix. How did the concept and story of Kú come to be?
It was born from the idea of exploring Irish Mythology, something that has been largely glossed over by the medium. There are so many untold stories. We were immediately drawn to ‘The Tain’ and Cú Chullain’s tale. Then came along the idea of exploring Ireland’s economic crisis and we came to the conclusion of setting the game in the future where both themes collide. Artistically, we use the term Celt-Punk to express the style, as it is a combination of Celtic and Mechanical influences.
What would you say were your greatest influences as a team creating Kú?
Obvious influences would be early Nintendo games. We all grew up with games like Zelda, Metroid, and Chrono Trigger and these are the types of games we all want to make. This fueled the game design and provided a constant source of inspiration throughout development. On gameplay, more specifically, our aim was to maximise the touch capabilities of the iPad. We felt that the device could offer more than tacked-on virtual d-pads and compromised controls.
What made iOS, as opposed to Android or a traditional Sony or Microsoft console, attractive to you as a game creator?
I think it was the low barrier to entry that was enticing. Sony and Microsoft were out of the question as the cost to even begin development on those platforms was well outside of our budget. We are working on an Android version currently, and a PC release is just around the corner.
The gaming industry in Ireland is relatively new. What are the biggest hurdles you face as a young Irish studio?
Really we’ve been pretty lucky in that the government and various other bodies have been tremendously helpful and supportive. Generally, the biggest hurdles are funding and recruitment. You really need to get a product out fast due to the low investment and there is a skill shortage in certain areas, although this is becoming less of a problem with all the new college courses popping up. Another issue we should be addressing is a lack of sharing. We’re notoriously bad with sharing knowledge and solutions to problems, many of which we’re all trying to solve at the same time. It’s just not efficient and is something that needs to be properly addressed.
How has Kú been received so far?
So far Kú has been received really well. We’ve identified that success nearly entirely relies on the US charts and we’re up to 80 there and climbing. We’ve been told that it is incredibly difficult to even break into the Top 100. We’re really happy with the launch and we’ll be soon bringing the game to a wider market on Android and PC.
One piece of advice for anyone wanting to jump into the indie game market?
Biggest advice is to start small. We made the mistake of attempting an overly-ambitious project for our experience level and budget, that being said, it can also pay off, if you’re lucky. Start small, finish something and release it. It doesn’t matter if it’s rubbish, but you will learn exponentially more with each release.
One prediction for 2013 in gaming?
It’s like the Wild West out there, nobody can predict what will happen to gaming in 2013 and beyond as the way consumers buy games and perceive the value of games in general is changing dramatically. I fear for console manufacturers, I just don’t think they can emulate the success of previous generations. With the Steambox and OUYA releases coming up soon, there is just an insane amount of options available. Either way, it will be an interesting year!
Kú: Shroud of the Morrigan is available on the iPad App Store for €3.59 and is rated 12+.
No doubt you’ve played Slender: The Eight Pages, the simple but eery horror from the mind of Mark J. Hadley. The game became a surprising success, being passed on through word of mouth and has frightened thousands in the process.
But you’re done with the game. You may have found the 8 pages, you probably didn’t (waster) but you’ve had your fill. So what next?
You could get your horror fill from the recently released Resident Evil 6 (which got pretty mixed reviews) and spend 50 euro. But you don’t want to do that. You want FREE STUFF!
The game is set in a containment site of The SCP Foundation, a secret organization dedicated to containing and researching creatures, items and places that threaten the normality of the world. You’re thrown into the boots of a Class D, one of the Foundations disposable human guinea pigs. Unfortunately things hit the fan, a massive containment breach occurs and you end up alone in the darkness with the escaped entities roaming around the facility. Your goal is to make it out alive. You can also attempt to search the facility for documents and other clues to figure out what led to the breach, and do your part in fixing the situation.
The aim of the game is to escape subject SCP-173, a stone structure who enjoys snapping the necks of his victims but can only move when not in direct eye contact with someone. Containment Breach’s hook is the fact you have to blink periodically, allowing SCP-173 to move at startling speed towards you. A small bar quickly whittles away, which creates a tense atmosphere when you run into SCP-173 in the dark and brooding rooms of the containment site.
The rooms you trek through are randomly generated, guaranteeing no two playthroughs will be the same. The random nature of my exploration of the facility added to the atmosphere and sense of dread I felt while playing. And while I was screaming. Under my covers.
So give it a try, personally I think it’s even scarier than Slender and it’s evven halloween, so why not? You can download the game for free here.
Now, obviously there isn’t enough hours in the day to play all these. So, I’ll be playing what I can pick up, what’s in the shop, what’s there to rent. I also plan on buying a Vita in September, so I’ll be playing games like Rayman: Origins and Rocketbirds on that.
If you think of something that might interest me, hit me up!
The unthinkable has happened. A little less than two months ago, my magic portal, my source of euphoria, my opium, perished. Yes, my PlayStation 3 died.
Well, its most important function did at least. The blu-ray drive went kaput and no longer reads discs of any kind. After just one year of having this beautiful machine it decided to call it quits. Naturally of course, I went through the five stages of grief. There were tears, angry tantrums and sleepless nights.Over the course of all these stages I tried in vain to fix my enchanting Foreman grill. Sadly these attempts didn’t work and left the PlayStation in a worse state.
I will at some point have it fixed (or better yet replaced), but this terrible circumstance I find myself in has provided me with an interesting perspective: I wasn’t appreciative enough of what I was playing.
Over the last year I’ve bought upwards of 30 games, and enjoyed the hell out of the majority of them, but I was spoilt. I wasn’t giving the experiences a chance, too busy trying to plough my way through a game to get onto the next one.Naturally I gave certain games a large amount of attention, but for other games I feel I didn’t do them the justice of taking my time and enjoying them.
Of course this is the predicament that befalls most gamers today, too many games and not enough time. Some time away from your gaming hobby sheds light on your habits and overall whether you’re getting as much out of your cash as you possibly can.
My time isolated from disc based media has also provided me with an even deeper respect of digital distribution. The PlayStation Store has saved my gaming life. The main games I played on my PlayStation were story driven games with very little time given to arcade games ie. Shatter, Pacman Championship Edition DX. I’ve almost been forced to play these games in a way, which is not a bad thing at all. Overlooking these games was a biiiiiig mistake. My reliance on the PlayStation Store has also shown how little retail games are on the store. Sony is getting better at releasing them on the Store, but we need more.
The last positive I found about my PlayStation breaking: Looking to other sources for gaming. I now have a Steam account and am trying to get into PC gaming. W, A, S and D aren’t currently my best friends, but we’ll become pals I’m sure. My ignored PSP is even getting some time in the spotlight, opening me up to new experiences.
So all in all, I guess I’m grateful that my PlayStation broke. It’s given me a new understanding of the games I play and what it is to be a gamer.
Note from Artist: Do you know someone addicted to those evil video games? All they ever talk about is how cool their graphics are and how amazing video games will be in 20 years. Enough already! So I made this fancy shirt.