Monday, 31 January 2011

Ongaku is analysing your music!

O.k. I’ve uploaded a bunch of videos of gameplay featuring Ongaku's music analyser capabilities (which is also called the Tune-A-Matic in game). Please check them out and try out the demo which has the music analyser built in. You can find more gameplay videos on our YouTube page at: http://www.youtube.com/user/SmashMouthGames?feature=mhum

If anyone has any interesting videos of them playing with the music analyser we would all really like to see it :).

Here’s one I made ealier...




Posted by Tim.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

More student protests...

I know students have something to protest about, but I thought it was all taken care of during that big week some time ago where the government decided on the student fees.

I’m sat here in the middle of town and I see blues-and-twos screaming past and helicopters flying low with mini- guns and missile launchers attached, and Typhoon attack planes carrying  MK-82 payload bombs and naval missile cruisers armed to the teeth backed by a Vanguard class nuclear submarine ... oh wait that last bit may have been a bit exaggerated. After so many protests I try to make the situation more interesting in my head :P.

In any case it’s another day of arguing and possibly riots (hopefully not though). How much longer though will this go on for?


Posted by Tim.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Ongaku level with Super Meat Boy music.

I likes Super Meat Boy and I likes the music too...so I made a level with the music from the level 1 boss music ;). Enjoy.


Posted by Tim.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

8-Bit Funding

Found this website through gamesindustry.biz about a new initiative to fund indie projects by public donations (http://www.8bitfunding.com/).

Here's a trailer from one of the games on the site! 

The idea is that you post your idea for your concept and then the people have the option view and choose to donate various amounts in an attempt to get it developed. The developers of the projects post their videos of why you should support them along with information about the game thus far and how much they are looking to raise. Amounts so far are ranging from $1000 to $20,000 (bit ambitious I think), and donating has other benefits provided by the developer such as free copies of the game, loads of art content or even being featured in the game.
I checked through the ideas and at the moment all are in early prototype stages with some mainly having artwork and concepts. There were some curious ideas and one or two…not-so-good ideas. Being a new thing there isn’t much on there yet, but it looks like a good idea and adds that incentive for the bedroom developer to go forth and finish a game, which potentially could go on sale to a big platform. For any other bedroom developers out there it’s definitely worth a look and wouldn’t hurt to post ideas on anyway just to see if people are interested enough to donate money.

Posted by Tim.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Ongaku Pre-Vis Video

In case you missed out, here's a video of what Ongaku looked like before there was even a game!



It's a short one today...and it's late :P


Posted by Tim.

Steam and PS3 in perfect harmony!

For me, biggest news on the Steam/console collaboration has hit a highpoint http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-01-18-valve-debuts-steam-features-on-playstation-3. Valve is intending to bring its highly popular platform on to the Playstation 3 console along with the d├ębut title Portal 2 (which I am a massive fan of :D ).
What makes this whole thing particularly special, especially from a developer perspective is the feature of having, and I quote, “…unlock a Steam Play version of the game for PC or Mac for free by linking PlayStation Network and Steam accounts…”. This could mean epic possibilities for cross platform games on PC and console and, like me where I buy games across all platforms, could one day keep playing my favourite games sat in-front of my desk or my couch :) .
Question is, will Microsoft want to incorporate Steam into their system? Personally I don’t think they will since doing so could harm their already successful Xbox Live system. However saying that it will make for an interesting battle of game catalogues. Where Xbox already has an impressive online catalogue, collaborating Steam and Playstation titles together could overtake the Xbox’s lead…come April we might find out.
Posted by Tim.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Game Industry FTW!

Another interesting article on gamesindustry.biz about criticism on research done for the connection between gaming habits and mental health problems, lol please :P  (http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-01-14-esa-criticises-forthcoming-gaming-study-as-flawed).

Wonder how long these arguments will drag on for cause it’s all flawed at the end of the day. Films, books, TV they all get slated at some point saying that it’s turning kids into violent criminals, so run for the hills before they get you!

In my opinion it boils down to the parents ‘always’, so just stop buying adult rated material (and I don’t mean porn), for your children as there are plenty of other games to play.

It’s not just video games that define an individual’s psyche it takes living a life with experiences to do that. I remember when I played Duke Nukem 3D when I was 13 or so and I turned out alright...it’s not like I run around with a huge RPG Launcher in sunglasses shouting “HAIL TO THE KING BABY!”.

I can’t wait for the new Duke Nukem to be released :D.


Posted by Tim.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Ongaku…you know about it right? Part 2

If you read my last post you’ll know about how Ongaku was created from its original concept video. Now here’s the bit about how the game was marketed and when SmashMouth Games went to the MCM Expo. Enjoy :). If you missed the first part of the story you can always catch up here...http://smashmouthgames.blogspot.com/2011/01/ongakuyou-know-about-it-right-part-1.html

The Marketing

At the time when Ongaku was released I had no idea what kind of lengths would be needed to market a game especially as an indie developer. Getting a spot on TV would cost thousands of pounds and that’s even IF you manage to get in ‘Prime Time’ hours, which then it could cost tens of thousands!

So we had to think clever with what was available for free. Obvious routes were the Twitters, Facebooks, YouTubes and MySpaces to start, but from there we released new articles on gamepress.com and attempted to increase profile of the game and the company. This worked for a time, but then a new approach was needed, so the next step was to try and make it into in a game convention and setup a SmashMouth Games booth. This was accomplished at the MCM Expo in London back in November 2010 where myself and 4 others setup a stand and demonstrated Ongaku to more than 20,000 people J. Along with demonstrating the game was also selling Limited Masterpiece Editions of Ongaku, which featured the full game and all 6 theme packs for £5 (cheap as chips it was ;) ).

To get the crowds to us we played a lot of the Tune-A-Matic (the music analyser) with some music that a lot of people would recognise. However nothing got people more into the game than the song from Caramelldansen *shudder* (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3HuPX3MRnk). That annoying tune drew a large crowd on to our booth and before you knew it everyone was getting into the game even the Storm Troopers.



There was this one time at the Expo when after selling Ongaku on the first day, myself and the team went back to the hotel to get some well deserved drinks. Zuby then got a message on his phone saying that someone who bought the game that day couldn’t run it and didn’t work, so instantly he turns to me and questions me if I had tested the master disc before getting them printed. Obviously I did and was calm about the situation knowing that whoever had the problem would have done something wrong on their end. Seeing that Zuby was getting worried about it, I offered to go back to the hotel room and test the disc out on a laptop and of course it worked...but I wasn’t going to let it end there. I spent 30mins having to test the game and by the time I went back down to tell the team the news, they were merrily drinking away. I turn up sit down with a forced straight face trying not to laugh and said, “The game disc isn’t working, it’s broken...” stunned silence followed by a panicking team like they saw a ghost :P. I get up and head to the bar for a drink to let them stew for a while. On my return they were still stunned shocked and asking what we should do. It was hi-larious...for me at least ;), but it would be cruel to let it drag on so I let on that I was joking. And that’s why you should never listen to a single complaint from a forum user; wait till 100 people complain then be a little concerned.


Although there were laughs it was still all hard work, but it was worth it to get the Ongaku and SmashMouth name out there. You can find pictures of the event on our Facebook here http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=199710&id=220179414228.


I’m the odd one out on the far right :P

Even after all the publicity done so far, it still isn’t enough and will need constant publicising...like now in this blog!

The End?


Ongaku for PC is available on our website as well as other online gaming portals and on the Blitz Games Studios (our publisher) website. We’re not on Steam as of yet, but we definitely strive to make it there one day *fingers crossed*.

We’ve also put forward plans to possibly produce iPhone, iPad and Android versions of Ongaku, but on top of this there may be possible version of Ongaku which we think loads of people would be interested in...if things go according to plan. For now I can’t give too many details, but if it we get the green light then a brilliant portable version of Ongaku could be in the works :).

As well as Ongaku there is also Drag Tag Smash to consider and the update that has been recently released. As for the PC version of Ongaku, only time will tell and once the people get wind of Ongaku, play the game and get into its features and content. There may also be a console version on the horizon, but for now we’ll wait and see.

No this is not the end... it is only the middle bit!

Posted by Tim.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Making Videos

Well today involved a lot of creating and editing video footage from our current games and getting them posted on YouTube. Although it’s ruddy difficult to record PC game footage and edit the footage without it corrupting. Since my Fraps has decided not to work anymore, I’m looking for alternate programs.

Later on when Jamie gets in we’ll begin testing out for iPhone 4 compatible graphics on Drag Tag Smash (although we'll need an actual iPhone 4 to make conclusive tests :P), and hopefully make headway into getting OpenFeint incorporated too. Let you know how it goes :).


Posted by Tim.

Ongaku…you know about it right? Part 1

It’s been 2 months since SmashMouth Games released Ongaku for PC, and so far what we’ve learned is that half the battle is making the game...the other half is trying to tell the world about it. If you’re reading this and don’t know what Ongaku is, then let me tell you how the game was developed and where it is now.

The Beginning

Let me take you back to 2006...well actually I wasn’t working for SmashMouth Games at that time :P. Ongaku was first demonstrated in a video of what the game could be like and was shown off to anyone and everyone, but more importantly people who could invest in us as well as the game. Check out what it looks like here...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cFoGkSXrSk


A top tip when demonstrating a game idea (especially to any designers out there), is to utilize the tools and software around you to create something and anything that shows what your essence of your game is. Having a prototype is best, but having video, images, animated storyboards or even an X-video (that’s a video with loads of existing content snapped together with words that describe your idea), will work just as well ;) ). Just make sure if you get the chance to present it to someone important that they understand exactly how your game works and what it’s about.

After the video, a flash prototype was released on Newgrounds.com with the main intention to see if people liked the idea and test the waters...and they did with +100,000 views in the first week! It was proven that people liked the idea; the next thing was getting the concept developed for a true platform version. If you haven’t played the flash version you can always find it on our website here...http://www.smashmouthgames.com/Webpages/Games/OngakuFinal.html


O.k. so now we began developing the full game in 2007. First port of call, a game engine was needed which was built specifically for Ongaku (not a simple process believe me). Next some basic gameplay and simple art to demonstrate a playable demo...check. Then there was a bit of a snag, (as is the way with indie development sometimes), the one fundamental thing you need in certain situations...money!

Time passes and the game and development on the game hits a steady incline, but it wasn’t till 2009 when development ramped up big time, and things started happening at speed. From there on in the game grew and grew to eventually become a fully fledged product with additional features that weren’t even in the game design document (although many other designs were also stripped out).

And it was also during this time SmashMouth Games went through major changes with a new website, new investment, new company logo, new game assets, new ideas, new equipment, new everything :).

The Game

The game was finally in full development and new content was coming in from everywhere. However during the time in development, especially since I started working here, many pitfalls and setbacks were encountered.

Firstly it’s always annoying (at least for me it is) when an idea is added in at last minute. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, but it did break flow and extend development milestones from time to time. This certainly gave me a challenge to make sure the team worked hard and got things in on time for approval. It was worth it in the end considering what is in the game now in terms of playable content, so I guess I can’t complain too much!

There have good times in development especially when a big mechanic is implemented, because the fun begins playing with the variables to see what can be modified. This is especially when the music analyser was integrated to Ongaku. It was also the second most tested component in the game with just about every form of music possible being used and analysed for gameplay value. Thanks to some clever Fourier Transform code and a BPM analyser, the Tune-A-Matic (as the music analyser is called in Ongaku) was ready.
In the last few months when the game was to be submitted for publication by Blitz Games Studios, other features of the game were also hitting the final approval stage. The final momentous occasion was fast approaching; the final installer is created, burned to disc and sent for publication. Needless to say, we were elated and overjoyed to see Ongaku finally finished in the form it was always meant to take.

The game was complete, sent to publisher Blitz Games Studios and the Blitz 1UP Initiative, now we waited for the cash cow to be milked... or at least that’s what I thought!

If you’re still wondering what Ongaku is about, take a read of the latest extract of our release article to get the full picture of the game:

“Ongaku is a 2D rhythm action game combining an original score and stylised artwork. Players take the role of the magic crystal Ongaku and progress through the fantasy kingdom of Melody by popping paint bubbles in time to the music. If successfully popped, the paint bubbles reveal an artistic masterpiece, bringing the canvas to life with its unique artwork. There are endless possibilities with a wide range of new features to customise and share your experience:
  • Enjoy 11 brand new lusciously animated levels, each with their own new music theme
  • Auto-generate playable levels from your favourite music tracks, pictures or videos using the Tune-O-Matic
  • Discover your inner artist with the ability to import your favourite media and create your own levels using the Melody Maker
  • Share the levels you've created with your friends and see their creations
  • Five difficulty settings allow you to enjoy playing, whatever your level of expertise
  • Ever-growing collection of new downloadable Theme Packs available, including Pop, Rock, Dance and many more”

Still interested? There’s a demo you can download you know :) http://www.ongakugame.com/demotry.html

Check in for part 2 of this blog on Ongaku’s development.


Posted by Tim.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Day 1 of Blogging...

Blogging today... just blogging...more blogging tomorrow :). Also been a lot of research into how we can get the people aware of our games and hopefully as this blog progresses it will help. And to you all Happy Gaming!

He's copying my work!

Found this post today on gamesindustry.biz about a game called MaXplosion being accused for plagiarism (http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-01-12-capcom-accused-of-plagiarism-by-xbla-dev). Let me give you some details on the game, you play as a character in a 2D camera perspective and the aim is to ‘self-destruct’ and explode in order to complete a series of puzzles. Sound familiar? It should because that’s what happens in a game called Splosion Man (XBLA).

I saw MaXplosion at the MCM Expo in London back in November 2010 and I thought it looked pretty good... and that is was exactly the same as Splosion Man! O.k. maybe I exaggerate a little, but the differences between the two games were very similar apart from some presentation designs. The article says that the game was complete theft (and maybe it was), but I just can’t believe that a team got together in a meeting room one day, played Splosion Man for half an hour and said “Let’s copy this!”. Although now I think about it, this won’t be the first time such things have happened, remember Psi-Ops and Second Sight both for Xbox.

I don’t know if MaXplosion will sell megabucks, but it’s always annoying when another company copies an idea you created first. As such is the way in creative industries and the arguments and lawsuits that follow from it. I could go on about a certain Sony game called Heavy Rain taking my idea on user/character interaction, but I’d end up in a rant as pointless as arguing with a cloud :P.


Drag Tag Smash v1.1

We got the update submitted today (and about time too :P ). Jamie has been brilliant at getting just about every request from Zuby into the game and with surprising results. Since version one of the Drag Tag Smash went on sale, loads of people have been throwing their two cents on suggesting improvements to the game, which has been brilliant and at the same time annoying (in a good way though ;) ). As is the way with the company, we strive to get everything right even if that means delaying submission deadlines, so it’s a good job we work for ourselves. I played the new version of Drag Tag Smash before submitting and it plays so much better now (if only it would run at full speed on my 1st generation iPod :( ), time to upgrade!).
The Drag Tag Smash trailer went live yesterday too thanks to me for the video content, Stephen for the intro animation and Mark Ledson for the audio. I think it was pretty good; it was fast paced, pumping soundtrack and an over exaggerated voiceover for the title, everything a trailer needs ;) . You can find the video on YouTube I would love to know what you think of the trailer and of the game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxbZulIM_Ic).
We have a load more ideas lined up for the next version of Drag Tag Smash, including a new mode called Master Server Mode, bosses and more weapons. Whether these make it into a new version is yet to be confirmed, but when I know, you’ll know.
Posted by Tim.

The Introductory Post

Ok, this is the first of what will soon be many more articles about the developments happening in SmashMouth Games and the projects we’re working on. Hopefully along the way you’ll get an insight as to what’s happening here and perhaps have a few laughs from some of the antics that happen inside an indie development studio. My name is Tim, producer, designer and general fixer of things that may go wrong from time to time.
Without further delay here comes the first post!
Posted by Tim.