Our brand new baby hits iOS tomorrow, and we’ve made a trailer for it!

Isn’t it lovely! Here are some more details about Joe Danger Infinity, but here are the important ones: it launches on the App Store at midnight in your territory at $2.99 / £1.99 / €2.69!

I hope you love it! 😀

by Sean
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No Man’s Sky

by Sean
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It’s spookin’ time! And to mark the season we’re doing THREE things!

First, we’re going trick or treating. Grant is dressed as Miley Cyrus, Dave is a foam finger and Ryan is Robin Thicke.

Second, we’re putting the PC editions of Joe Danger on sale at 75% off. More on that later.

Third, we’ve sent Joe Danger back to the movie lot to film the MOST TERRIFYING MOVIE OF ALL TIME in Joe Danger 2’s first add-on!

Undead Movie

The Undead Movie Pack is an add-on for Joe Danger 2: The Movie on PC, 360 and PS3, and it features 15 all-new levels across three complete tours with six new characters!

You can hunt brains as Zombie, sabotage dark rituals as the Vampire Hunter, and escape the creeping darkness as Pumpkin Head. There’s also a skeletal biker, the dread Chimpanzombie and the adorable Werebear.

Enough talk! We’ve made a trailer!

 

There are loads of new obstacles to avoid, like ghostly hands that slow you down and an unstoppable and unknowable ancient horror that you must run from! There’s also loads of new stuff to do, from hunting flaming skulls to smashing eldritch pentagrams. It’s basically all Grant’s dreams. There are all-new achievements/trophies to collect, too 😀

Undead Movie 2

If you’re playing on PS3 and 360, it’s already out:

Undead Movie Pack on Xbox 360
Undead Movie Pack on PS3

And if you’re playing on PC, it’s out tomorrow on Steam with a special Halloween 20% off!

What’s more, we’ve gone effectively crazy and we’re going to be offering Joe Danger and Joe Danger 2: The Movie on PC at a terrifying 75% off!

Joe Danger or Joe Danger 2: normally $14.99, on sale for $3.75
Joe Danger Bundle (JD + JD2 + extras): normally $24.99, on sale for $6.25

We’re cutting our own noses off in a festival of blood here!

by Sean
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Sean's mind in every interview: "Are they laughing at or with me?"

Sean’s mind in every interview: “Are they laughing at or with me?”

 

Way back, when we were making Joe Danger, we wrote a column for Edge about our experiences as a tiny, new, indie developer. Being part of our history, we’re publishing them here again every week.

Check here for the full set…

Sean Murray I’m 17, waiting for my computer arts degree interview and I peek at the portfolio of the guy sat beside me. I’m 13 and Maeve meets me after school, but all she wants is for me to ask Jon out for her. I’m 28 on the way down to Future Publishing’s offices and I’m not interesting.

Mr. PR paid us a visit last week. He’s done publicity for big games, huge ones, and it’s a minor coup to have him drop in and give us advice. He’s slick. He’s loud. He talks fast and like Bono I doubt he ever takes off those sunglasses. If only half of his stories are true, they undoubtedly hide the sort of epic hangover that I thought only happened in 80s comedies. Those who know Hello Games, know we know how to enjoy ourselves, but we can recognise a professional in the field.

Apparently, this is the most important part of games PR: “When someone hires me, they are hiring twenty years of strip-clubs, drunk and disorderlies, STDs, bad hangovers and bodily fluids.” Go on… “When I send a press release, Sean, it goes straight to the top of everyone’s inbox. When you send a press release, where do you think it goes?” He makes me say it. “That’s right. Straight to the bottom.” The joke’s on him, there’s no such thing as the top of an email inbox. Depends how you sort it. Besides, I think we both know I end up in the spam folder, though I like to think at the top.

“Tell me one unique, interesting thing about Hello Games.” It’s a difficult question to answer, for anyone, especially difficult when someone easily dismisses every answer with, “Nobody cares”. Nobody cares we’re a new UK indie studio and are putting everything on the line. Nobody cares that we’re four friends who wanted to do this since we were kids messing around together. Nobody cares we’re living hand-to-mouth, working night and day and loving every minute.

He doesn’t want to play our game, but we insist. Surely this is what’s really important? “There’s only so much you can write about games, Sean, and it’s already been written. People won’t cover a game like yours unless it’s mental, unless they have no bloody idea what’s going on.” It kills me, but I’m sure there’s a certain truth to it, something like Flow or Noby Noby Boy are probably more interesting to write about than they are to play – love them both though I do.

“You are a coder. That’s your job. You don’t talk to people. That’s my job. Know what I mean? It’s like – how do you spot the coder at a party? You can’t – programmers don’t go parties.” You’re obviously going to the wrong LAN parties.

I’ll admit, we poop ourselves at the idea of showing off our game to the press, but I can’t imagine anyone else doing it either. Especially after today. Not that we could afford it (his fees are astronomical, plus expenses), but this isn’t how we want to represent ourselves. No matter how effective.

And so it’s decided, we’ll PR ourselves. Now here we are, a car full of uninteresting, bland people on the way to talk to the press for the first time. I’m desperately running through our story in my head searching for our unique selling point, but all I can hear is a whispering, echoey voice, “Nobody cares…” “Bottom of the inbox…” “Programmers don’t go to parties…”

Then we meet the guys from Edge. We eat pies and have Coke (Diet). There are no crazy stories, but they seem to like the game and later offer us this blog on Edge Online. I guess we are interesting after all and really didn’t need that PR person. The End.

Except it’s not that simple. Actually, Mr PR was right about everything.

It takes us months of hard work, pestering and begging to build up contacts. We cold call and email over a hundred journalists to begin with and only a handful reply. We drive thousands of miles to visit everyone who does and meet enthusiastic people who are obsessed with games, working hard for not much money. People much like us, actually. They even put us in touch with other press and some genuinely beautiful, helpful PR people. Still though we have barely scratched the surface and our emails sit at the bottom of most inboxes.

We lack experience in every area and it shows. We make a ham-fisted mess of our screenshots. We waste two weeks working on a magazine spread that doesn’t get used. We send a press release to Eurogamer and they laugh, rewrite it for us and send it back. We blurt out controversial nonsense in interviews, then have no idea what we just said.

And finally, we learn there’s nothing unique or interesting about us, really. We meet dozens of other developers on the indie frontlines. They have the same problems, the same struggle for coverage, the same ambitions, the same talent, and are making great games, too. We are nothing special. Just another hardworking, everyday indie. And you know what? We’re proud to be counted in that number.

Originally published October 27 2009

by Sean
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The archive: Playtesting

It was so little, and it helped.

It was so little, and it helped.


Way back, when we were making Joe Danger, we wrote a column for Edge about our experiences as a tiny, new, indie developer. Being part of our history, we’re publishing them here again every week.

Check here for the full set…

Sean Murray The counter says “Attempt 67”. Grant is biting his fist and I’m miming at him to just keep quiet. This could be the one and we can all go home. Rob jumps, bashes his head again at exactly the same spot and we all let out a groan. “Attempt 68”…

Every fortnight, we get our Hello Groceries delivered – breakfast, lunch and dinners. We’re always mildly embarrassed by the other companies we share our office with watching us stuff a filing cabinet with crisps and fruit, but we’re getting used to it. We also get a new delivery guy every two weeks, but when Rob from Tesco rings our buzzer one day, we have no idea he’s about to bring Hello Games to its knees.

“You boys minted then? Show us round,” he says. I really like that making games is an interesting, aspirational job. Unfortunately, though, we’re about to burst that bubble. If it wasn’t already clear from the crisps in the cabinet then the fact that this is the entire office is another taste of reality. “You boys must really like each other,” he observes.

He wants to come back to play our game, Joe Danger, and it’s kind of flattering, but this is our baby – no one has seen it but our closest friends. We’re trying to make excuses, but he doesn’t really pick up our subtle, awkward hints. Besides, it’s pretty obvious we’re in most of the time. “I’ll call over Friday.”

It’s always hard to get useful information from a playthrough: you tend to see what you want to see. I read once though that the designers at Valve can’t go home on a Friday until someone new has played through their latest level. The catch is, they have to watch without saying anything. So here we all are, spending Friday evening with Rob and he’s making our game look terrible. What’s worse, none of it is his fault. It’s ours.

Of course our first reaction is to try to dismiss his experience. He doesn’t read tutorials, after all. He skips cutscenes, and can make the same mistake a hundred times without learning a single thing. Grudgingly, though, we realise this also makes him the perfect tester. A talking mole explained the special moves a couple of minutes ago, but he was too busy trying to see if he could kill it. Now when he actually needs to know what he said, there’s no way to find out again.

Still, so what if he’s finding it difficult? He’s a populist gamer, not a true gamer. His favourite game is FIFA, except when it was FIFA Street. Sure he’s got a huge Gamerscore and he destroyed me at Call Of Duty 4 multiplayer, but then who doesn’t? He played his first game on PlayStation and even though he’s now on his second 360, every game he’s ever played has been a multi-million seller.

Slowly we realise this is what makes him so special, so different from our normal tester. He is pristine, untainted by the low quality and high quantity of games that most of us play though. He’s never persevered through a difficulty spike, or had to figure out the controls on a Japanese import. He’s never looked up a GameFAQ, or spotted that secret door behind the unlit texture. He will fall at every hurdle and get snagged on every rough edge, but his love of games is pure and unpretentious. He never sees potential, though every problem is obvious to him and finds them strange and comical. At one point he jumps through a crack in the collision boundaries, giggles like a madman and is convinced he’s found a secret level that we didn’t know about.

And actually, we’re warming to Robbie. Right now he’s stuck, bouncing over and over into something that looks like an exit, but isn’t. So many would have put the pad down by now, but not him. He is focused, determined and, in spite of everything, enjoying himself. You can tell he could be really good at our game, it’s just there are just so many little things we’ve ignored getting in his way. We’ve had focus testing and usability tests at previous companies, but it’s nothing like this. Standing over someone’s shoulder silently watching their frustration grow at something the four of you have made – I feel sick.

Over the weeks, his discoveries about the game have become an obsession and the cause of more arguments than we’ve ever had in the office. Ultimately, nothing major actually changes about the game, but it starts to flow better and smoother through a thousand tiny improvements until Rob, our new mascot, can come back and play through without intervention. Levels get signposted, rewards become obvious, effects are added, colours tweaked, tutorials are snappier – and the graphics are tightened up on level 3.

Rob or his friends would never have bought our game of course. He didn’t know what XBLA, Steam or PSN were before we met. Which is a shame, because he loves Castle Crashers when we introduce it to him (or “that game with the fighting”), although Braid wasn’t his thing (or “that game with the Ginger going backwards”). We’ve learned a lot from him, and he’s definitely got a more critical interest in games now, too. Although I doubt he’ll ever become your typical Edge reader – well not until they add a coverdisk.

Originally published October 13 2009

by Sean
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