Digital Toy Maker

I think of myself as a “digital toy maker”

Start with the Character!

I start with an idea, usually the character first. I will sketch a couple ideas then hire a professional character designer and begin creating the character. All my characters needs to be simple and iconic. The character represents the player and anchors the entire world.

TankConcept.jpg
Epic Snails is a simple idea. What if snails were tanks?

Epic Snails is a simple idea. What if snails were tanks?

Explore the World

Next is to explore a world for the characters. I hire an environmental artist to capture mood and tone for the world. All my worlds tend to have a similar style: bright colours, whimsical, curious details and silly jokes. I have never been a fan of polished artwork. I believe we need to leave something for the player’s imagination. The world should never be complete.

First environmental concept for Epic Snails

First environmental concept for Epic Snails

Focus on a handful of features (Keep it simple)

When creating Epic Snails, I considered the popularity of Club Penguin’s Dojo. This was a social space with a multiplayer game. A large number of players would login each day, visit the dojo, play Card-Jitsu, and meet new friends. Club Penguin’s Card-Jitsu had amazing retention.

Epic Snails would have a social space and a multiplayer tank game. These two spaces would anchor the game and all my design decisions. Each space needs to feel unique and reward the player, yet create a tension between the two spaces, moving the player back and forth. Creating a rewarding play pattern and building a community of fans.

The Dojo from Club Penguin

The Dojo from Club Penguin

Open Development

I believe in open development and I am excited to bring fans along every step of the way. My goal is to launch games early and listen to feedback. None of my games are ever finished and will continue to evolve over time. Most games will fail, but this is an opportunity to learn and create better games. I encourage fans to ask questions, share ideas or simply hang out with the team.

Test your Ideas

I launched my first snail experiment in March 2012 called “Box of Snails”. This was my first attempt at creating a multiplayer world for mobile and my first attempt at creating a world with Unity. The experiment was simple. Allow players to become a snail, meet friends and explore a simple cardboard box. The experiment was a success and I was amazed to watch players working together to climb objects within the world. I decided to hold off on my snails and focus on Mech Mice and building Hyper Hippo.

Experiment 1: Box of Snails for Mobile (March 2012)

Experiment 1: Box of Snails for Mobile (March 2012)

My Second experiment called “Experimental Coffee” launched 4 years later in June 2016. My goal was to see if I could create a simple multiplayer world for both web and mobile. I really enjoyed this experiment and I learned a number of things about the current state of WebGL, Unity and mobile devices. I have always loved web games and I look forward to creating more web games in the future.

Experiment 2: Experimental Coffee for Web and Mobile (June 2016)

Experiment 2: Experimental Coffee for Web and Mobile (June 2016)

Random thoughts

UI/UX is really important to me. I will spend hours thinking about a single button. In my past life, I was a professional web designer. The UI is the connection between the player and the world. It has taken me years to learn to let go. I have learned over the years that the UI will go through hundreds of iterations and should be driven by player patterns. Stop wasting time and do your UI last, but the UX should always be first!

to be continued...