The Fully Illustrated Blog

Replay Expo – Game Inspiration Galore!

October 15, 2012

This weekend saw the third annual instalment of the Replay Expo! For those that don’t know what Replay is, it’s a growing retro gaming expo hosted in the north west of England. It’s been expanding substantially year on year and this year it was colossal! The queues were in their thousands on opening day with people travelling from all over the UK to come and sample the retro gaming delights on offer.

There were so many arcades and pinball machines on show that it was visual and aural delight. You could get your hands on more classics than I can even begin to list here, so it was an incredible trip down memory lane. There are few to no places left on earth where you can go to get that 90’s arcade feeling, but it was here in abundance this weekend! Having a 4 player Vendetta mash up with complete strangers, challenging someone to a bout on Street Fighter 2 or trying to grab the highest score on Galaxian was just too much fun.

Alongside the plentiful coin-ops was (literally) every games console and computer ever made. So you could literally sit down, pull up a chair and enjoy any gaming machine you could dream of. The atmosphere was alive for the whole weekend, and due it being a building full of like-minded folks, everyone was so friendly. All you’d hear all day as you meandered around was someone saying ‘fancy a game?’ and on you’d go for a couple of games with a complete stranger. It really amplified what made retro gaming great, actual physical people, playing alongside actual physical people. No internet, no headsets and nothing ‘virtual’ in sight.

One of the highlights for me was an amazing Q&A session with Mike Montgomery, one of the founders of the Bitmap Brothers. The whole thing was so inspiring and to hear a true gaming legend stand there and reminisce was superb. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Speedball 2, so I was somewhat happy with the whole event :)

The big difference this year was that the organisers decided to open the expo up to a wider audience and target half the show (which in total is about 300% bigger as a whole) at the modern gamer, so there were lots of contemporary gaming booths on show and some epic MW3 and Halo 4 tournaments.

Some of the highlights of the modern gaming booths were ‘advance previews’ of upcoming games and hardware, so I not only managed to get my mitts on the Wii U (very impressed, especially with Rayman!) but I also managed to get an advance play on the superb Metal Gear Rising. Bizarrely (as I’m rubbish at most games usually) I managed to complete a timed challenge, bagging myself a rather tasty 3D lenticular poster. Hurrah!

On top of all this there were some great stalls selling all manner of retro goodies and memorabilia, so it was damn near impossible to get your wallet and not give it a good beating.

All in all it was a fabulous show and I’ve come away more inspired for my game than ever before! It was also great to meet up with a few retro-heads from twitter that I chat to regularly and put some more faces to names.

If you’re in the UK, I strongly urge you make a visit next year!

Mike.

THE GAME – Update #3

October 11, 2012

Hey Everyone!

So, things aren’t going as quickly as initially anticipated (I’m guessing every Indie in the world is laughing to themselves at this very moment). As I am totally self-funding this from the ground up, I wanted to make sure my coffers were well stocked before starting the game ‘full time’ in November…and that workload has been somewhat intense. So much so I’m working some craaaaazy hours and consuming too much coffee, sugar and red bull.

BUT, the cogs are still moving behind the scenes. Here’s a quick update on where things lie right now…

  • The story – This part is very important to me, and while the genre of the game (I know I’m yet to divulge that but everything will be exposed very soon) doesn’t necessarily need a super deep storyline, I want one. I’ve never written a story before and have found that I’m great at researching, great at outlining, but pretty damn terrible at piecing it all together into a tangible and worthwhile story. So, I’ve hired some help here. Since getting a story writer on board and bouncing ideas around, the story has moved further in 1 week than it has in the past month…and its shaping up great.
  • So why does point 1 hold things up? – Well, getting that story nailed down paves the way for literally everything else. I didn’t want to go with a typical fantasy story of ‘The mighty lord doom has ravaged the landscape and you, the great bullfang must fight to save the day’ kinda thing, I wanted something routed in history and something that had a large degree of reality to it. Basically, if anyone cares about this game when its made, I want them to be able to read up on the routes of the story and piece more of it together. Damn, I’m sounding cryptic, sorry. In simple terms, I want a strong story, that leads to a solid name, and will allow me to take the story into an online comic later on.
  • Audio – I’ve signed up the amazing talents of Verbal Vigilante to handle the sound design on every level. The score, sound effects, everything. These guys are literally epic and have helped score the trailers for the Wrath of the Titans, Dark Knight Rises, MIB3 and Sinister but to name a few. The score is going to be intense!
  • Voice over – After A LOT of hunting, I’ve finally found my core voice artist to act out the intro, trailer and in game voices. I want, where possible, to avoid relying on text in the cut scenes/intro and have full voice overs instead. Bloody expensive, but it’s all adding into the quality finish I want.
  • Concept art – Now here’s the crazy part. I can normally (99% of the time) nail down the creative/illustrative look and feel for any new game that I work on within a couple of days of experimentation. Except this time…grrrr. It’s taken months of sketching to find the style I want for this but I have finally managed it. It’s still being refined right now, but the main character style is close to being final and once it is, I’ll be revealing it. I don’t want to rely on what I normally do here, which may, or may not be a good idea, time will tell. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll obviously look like my work, but it’s taking a technical step forward that is going to push me to my current limits (and beyond with luck). I’m scared of failure here…but I’m hoping that fear will fuel me forward. Let’s face it, breaking into new ground and trying new things are what improve you as a creative.

So, as November draws ever closer, I’m going to be increasingly busy finishing off all the loose ends with my paid contracts.  I’ll be back as soon as I can with more ‘visual’ updates :)

Wish me luck!
Mike.

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