The good kind of TOJam

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Toronto Game Jame or “TOJam” for the first time. As described on their website, TOJam “is a FREE, annual, open-to-the-public event where the craziest game makers in the world gather for a 3 day game making binge”. And what a binge it was!

The game my team worked on for the jam is called “Grimistar”. It’s a funny and unconventional 2D space shooter game inspired by the venerable arcade game Sinistar and aims to turn standard shooter conventions on their head. I worked as both a programmer and a writer on this project and had a great time collaborating with teammates Rocco Commisso, Brian Wong, and George Kallika.

Grimistar is available to play for free here on the itch.io page (while you’re there, have a look at my new Ironic Iconic Studios itch.io page). Give it a try and let me know what you think. I hope you have as much fun playing it as we did making it!

uglyduckling

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Come see me at EGLX!

 

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be attending the Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo this weekend (March 9-11) as a guest! I’ll be speaking as a part of the Developing on a Dime panel running from 1-3 pm on Saturday, March 10th in Panel Room 1. Join me to learn tools and tactics for developing games on a minimal or non-existent budget, a subject about which I am intimately familiar. Also, watch this space as I’ll be posting a number of resources on my website afterwards to help you with your micro-budget game development needs. See you at EGLX!

A photo from November's WordPlay Festival

Looking Back and Looking Forward

2017 was an interesting year. Not interesting in the “may you live in interesting times” way entirely, although there were certainly a share of challenges during the year. One challenge that was a welcome one was the challenge of becoming familiar with my new home in Toronto and getting to know a city I haven’t had much contact with for twenty years. But instead of focusing on the challenges that 2017 had brought, I thought I’d focus on some of the highlights:

And all of that is just stuff I can talk about. There are also a few things brewing up behind the scenes that I hope to be able to talk more about soon. Unfortunately, this means that the “looking forward” part of this post is going to be a bit light in detail at the moment. Rest assured that more news will be forthcoming as 2018 progresses. You can definitely expect to see more news about Mandatory Upgrade related projects, and possibly something around a certain web-comic that remains near and dear to my heart. Oops! I may have said too much, ignore that. Regardless, 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Ironic Iconic Studios and I hope you’ll be joining me for the ride.

X Marks the Spot Wins First Place in Game of the Year Competition

 

In a great start to the new year, Ironic Iconic Studios’ first game, “Mandatory Upgrade – X Marks the Spot” has taken top honours at the 2nd annual TorontoGameDevs.com Game of the Year competition. Hundreds of people voted for their favourite game produced in Toronto and Southern Ontario and our game was fortunate enough to be voted #1 overall. This puts Mandatory Upgrade in the esteemed company of terrific games from other game devs such as DrinkBox Studios, Benjamin Rivers, and Ubisoft Toronto.

A game like this doesn’t just appear fully formed from the ether of the designer’s mind and so I’d like to take a moment to give a shout-out to the folks who helped make this happen. Firstly, my partners at One More Story Games who provided the platform to create and release great story-based games, StoryStylus. They also provided plenty of encouragement and technical support and were flexible enough to accommodate me when I started to use their game engine in strange and unexpected ways. I’d like to send props to Julia Harrison and Alistair Murphy, the artists who took my pages of descriptive text and reference material and whipped them up into a cohesive world with their gorgeous art. Also mad props to Steven G. Saunders (aka Mr Zoth and the Werespiders) who created the perfect musical accompaniment to the world of Mandatory Upgrade; a soundtrack that is evocative, moody, and fresh, all at the same time. Finally, I’d like to do a big shout-out to Pati Tozer, my editor and chief of QA who helped keep all of my mistakes in the dev room and out of the public eye, a service for which I am ever grateful.

One of the best things about contests like this is how easy it makes it to discover new games that you may not have heard of. I’ve definitely added more games to my ever-growing game queue as a result of this. And I hope that if you haven’t yet tried Mandatory Upgrade: X Marks the Spot then you may be inspired to do so now. You can play it via the One More Story Games Website.