Posts with ‘AndyMoore’ Tag

IGS 2010: Fantastic Contraption Postmortem

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: April 16th, 2010

Colin Northway Speaks, Has Beard (photo by Chrissy Chubala)
Colin Northway Speaks, Has Beard (photo by Chrissy “Nava” Chubala)

Colin Northway gave a fairly business-oriented postmortem of his game Fantastic Contraption at this year’s Independent Games Summit called (no big surprise here) Postmortem: The Design & Business Behind Fantastic Contraption. He had actually given this talk previously at the last GDC Austin, so I can link you to Brandon Boyer’s detailed Offworld coverage of that session rather than typing up all these darn notes myself! In short: Flash is good, Box2D is great, and anyone can create and publish a successful game all by themselves. (Though, backup from Andy Moore certainly doesn’t hurt!)

Okay, it was a bit more in depth than that. Read on, if you dare!

Fantastic Contraption was conceived one night when Colin awoke and scribbled down a note beginning with “Cool Shit Idea.” The majority of the game was done within a few weeks, using only notepad and a command line compiler. A bunch of user (i.e., family) testing and website work later, the game was released. After going away for a weekend, Colin returned to find the game had blown up on StumbleUpon, crushing the servers. “It was a good problem to have, but there are no good problems, only problems.” Needless to say, the game quickly became a success. Andy Moore was soon brought in to manage the rapidly growing fan community.

Apart from the stats and such, what I really took away from this talk were some great messages for independent (and wannabe independent) game developers in general. Colin built a solid game that seemed to perpetuate itself, putting no resources into press, portals, publishers, ads, or anything. Here are some of the more quotable quotes:

“Box2D is the Fire Flower of game development.” (He even kicked back some of the profit from the game to Erin Catto, which is awesome.)

“Money is dumb and lonely and just wants to be with other money.” Once the game took off, people started coming to him. But “pay attention to the slime factor” when dealing with the business end of things. (Colin was at one point offered a couple hundred bucks for the source of and full rights to the game.)

“Go into the wilderness” when deciding what to make, “make what you want, not what people say” — you will find success with your own creativity. Sometimes “everyone says no” but “you don’t need permission to make a really good game, or a successful one.” “There are no gatekeepers.” (This is my favorite!)

Embrace social networking; you don’t need to conquer it to use it. And “close the information gap, talk to other indies.”

Also, Colin casually said “fantastic” (outside the context of the game’s title) like fifty times. I wonder if he noticed. :)

All in all, pretty inspiring stuff!


By: Derek Yu

On: April 1st, 2010


Andy Moore’s SteamBirds is a Flash-based dogfighting game that’s set in alternate history versions of World War I and II, where planes are powered by nuclear power or some such. The game employs a kind of turn-based combat system that’s similar to Flotilla – the action is carried out in real-time but pauses at fixed intervals so that you can adjust your movements. Your planes will automatically shoot if they’re within range, so your main goal is to outmaneuver your opponents and use the special abilities of your planes at the right times. It’s really fun and the contributions from Danc (graphics and design), Danny Baranowsky (music), and Jordan Fehr (sound effects) make it a stand-out browser game.

My biggest complaint is that the game doesn’t go far enough. It’s a problem that I feel a lot of the Flash games I’ve played suffer from: by the time you get to the real meat of the game – the massive, knock-down drag-out battles with tons of planes – SteamBirds is already winding down toward a premature conclusion. At least there are a handful of bonus levels that extend the fun and let you play around with weapons that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it into the main campaign.

Still, maybe it’s best that SteamBirds leaves me thinking of possibilities and wanting more. Andy has even been kind enough to reveal the numbers behind the project: everything from how the development was split to how he chose his sponsor, Armor Games (and for how much). Nice!

TIGdb: Entry for SteamBirds