Random SMAR Pic

That Wonderful Blog – 1

Oh hi!

Pleasure to make your acquaintance! Welcome to the first in a series of rambling, bumbling, dev-blog type posts about Independent Games Development, by an Indie Game Developer.

I’m Andrew, and I work at That Wonderful Lemon Co. where we make games. TWLC is a brand new company with a whole raft of experience behind it. Over the next couple of years we are aiming to grow into something a little bit special and want to drag you along for the journey. After all, it is always more fun when you bring people along for the ride.

First, a short history of us (totally self-indulgent, I know, but bear with me) – Initially TWLC was formed up as a sort of hobby project. A side line to the day job, to allow us to experiment with ideas and concepts without worrying too much about, well, anything! A couple of months ago we released our first game, Lines, onto iPhone / iPad, Facebook and Windows Phone. It was a good experiment and something totally outside of our comfort zone. You can grab a copy now, it’s free.

The freedom was more than a little intoxicating and before I knew it, the day job was left behind and I had thrown myself into the madness that is indie development with both enormous hobbit like feet.

Lines - out now, all over the place

Lines – won an award at Microsoft’s Beautiful Game event

Which brings us to Super Massive Awesome Robot (or SMAR to keep the word count down), our first ‘proper’ project and to start with, the focus of these posts. Over the coming weeks / months / years I aim to bring you an insight into how games are put together, how start-ups grow and to answer any of your burning questions about, well, anything!

Random SMAR Pic

Random SMAR Pic

Super Massive Awesome Robot

The SMAR project is designed to be a bit of a calling card. Initially we are running the project as a Vertical Slice (literally a slice of the game). In this case and usually across any project, it is built to demonstrate:

  • All areas of gameplay
  • Initial art style (while exploring the technical limitations of a platform)
  • Our technical proficiency
  • Feasibility (of both the ideas and the project)

In this case we are aiming the Vertical Slice to be of a quality level somewhere between Alpha (feature complete) and Beta (bug free). It will be a nice demo which we can take to trade shows, conventions, publisher’s door steps, etc, as well as being a strong complement to our design documentation.

To be honest, creating a Vertical Slice is usually a pain in the arse. A publisher often requires a segment of the game to be at (or near) final standard, after only 1/3 of the development time – which causes all sorts of headaches as you can imagine. Creating it first as a proof of concept seemed like the most sensible option for us as a start-up.

‘So, that’s nice and all, but what is SMAR?’ You may ask (or you may not, but now you have read it, I think that’s close enough). Well I’m glad you asked, SMAR is the journey of one small robot to unceremoniously murder its creator. Fun!

Random SMAR Pic

Yet another random SMAR pic

Over the years we have been heavily influenced by the likes of Demons Souls, God Hand and Ikaruga. As such, SMAR will be a game where player skill is the focus of gameplay. Our aim is to provide really tight platforming controls, where split-second decisions are rewarded. It is going to be a tricky balance to get right, but that is the sort of thing that gets us up in the morning.

We are also going to be exploring multiplayer with SMAR. We have had a couple of trials already and it is the best kind of bottled madness we could have hoped for. It will be interesting to see how the rules created for the world hold up when the player count goes up.

So, what now?

Over the coming weeks I will aim to break down the SMAR Vertical Slice as we build it, discussing areas such as the character, controls, movement, frame rate choices, production choices, audio design etc. We may also from time to time dip into other projects we have on the go.

In addition to this blog,  I will be throwing together short videos to illustrate / show off what has been in chatted here. Hopefully this will provide you with a unique take on how a game is built in addition to soothing you with my sultry tones. Fire over any questions and I’ll work the answers into the next video or ramble. Here’s this weeks one (please watch it in HD!):


Till next time, Manly-hugs!


Posted in Blog, Super Massive Awesome Robot.

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