Sunday, 29 March 2015

Dash & Bash goes live at the National Videogame Arcade

This Saturday marked the grand opening of the National Videogame Arcade, the UK's first dedicated gaming museum, in Nottingham.

It also marked the first example of my work being on show long-term in a museum: Dash & Bash is set up the first floor, on a specially designed gaming wall, and open to all visitors!

Dash & Bash was originally designed for GameCity in October 2014, and I've polished and improved  it for an even better experience in the museum setting. The game is played by up to four players, on four screens and four big green buttons. Each player is given a picture card and tasked with finding which screen it's on, through a series of reactions-based, observation-based and sabotage-based challenges.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Design Lessons from Multiplayer Installations - Part 2

In my last article I talked about some of the design lessons I’ve learned from building Tap Happy Sabotage and Dash & Bash - multiplayer installation games involving arm-grabbing and running around. The article examined how to use pacing and variation of mechanics to create a shared social experience and give players stories to take home with them.

This article will look at the more practical lessons I’ve learnt from these games. By taking games outside their usual contexts and platforms, the challenges of conveying rules and information become much more difficult.

What do these design challenges tell us about the way we understand games as players?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Design Lessons from Multiplayer Installations - Part 1

2014 was a good year for Tap Happy Sabotage! The game went to Brighton and Birmingham, Bristol and Berlin. I demoed it at Gamescom, talked on-stage about it with one of my design heroes at the JOIN Summit, and played it with massive crowds at EGX. It spent a weekend at Bletchley Park, home to Colossus, the world’s first programmable computer, and got played on an 88-inch display at Microsoft’s HQ in Reading.

Yep, it's certainly been an exciting!

Playtesting Tap Happy Sabotage on a 27-inch screen
In October I turned it into Dash & Bash, a room-filling multiplayer installation. It was praised as one of the highlights of GameCity 9 and, from the end of March, will be a fixture at the National Videogame Arcade. Off the back of that I’m now working on Button Bash, a portable wireless button kit and a suite of buttons to take to exhibitions and events.

Dash & Bash at GameCity 9

I wanted to write up some of the lessons I’ve learnt from my multiplayer installations. I'll be referring to Tap Happy Sabotage as an installation because, despite being downloadable as a Windows Store app, its natural home really is in public spaces.

This first article will talk about creating social situations through play. The second will discuss the challenges of UI design in installation games, about player expectations and the way we process information.

So without further ado, the most important lesson from multiplayer installations:

My job as a designer is not to create elegant systems.
It is to engineer interesting social situations.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Interview with the Guardian - Tap Happy Sabotage and physical play

During GameCity I was interviewed by Jordan Erica Webber from the Guardian about Tap Happy Sabotage and about Dash & Bash Edition, the installation game I developed for the event.

I'm very happy with this interview as I feel I was able to convey a lot of the thought process behind the games, and how shared physical play can open up development beyond app stores and into public spaces.

GameCity was also featured on the BBC's Click programme, which is available from here:

The segment begins at 6 minutes in, and begins with a certain installation game that I'm very proud of!

Update: The video from BBC Click is now up on YouTube and embedded below

Monday, 3 November 2014

In GIFs - Tap Happy Sabotage: Dash & Bash Edition

In my last post I gave an explanation of Tap Happy Sabotage: Dash & Bash Edition, the installation game I developed for GameCity 9, with photos of the game in action.

I also took some footage of the game, which gives a great feel for the pace and flow which static images don't quite convey. With that in mind I turned the video into animated GIFs so you can see the game in motion. It gives quite a nice feel of what it was like to be in the room!

More GIFs after the jump!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tap Happy Sabotage: Dash & Bash Edition hits GameCity Nottingham

This week I ventured to sunny Nottingham for the annual GameCity festival, which has been a highlight of my year since I first showed Greedy Bankers there in 2011. This year I created a new version of Tap Happy Sabotage as an installation for the venue.

It’s called Tap Happy Sabotage: Dash & Bash Edition, and it’s built for a room with four monitors and big bashable buttons.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tap Happy Sabotage at the EGX Leftfield Collection

It's been some journey, hasn't it? Since January I've taken Tap Happy Sabotage to London, Bristol, Brighton, Birmingham, Bletchley Park, Berlin (the letter B is popular!) and even Gamecom in Cologne. Not more than a couple of weeks ago it was winging it's way back to London for EGX 2014 at Earl's Court.

Tap Happy Sabotage was fortunate enough to be selected as part of the Leftfield Collection, which saw it played by roughly 600 people over the course of 6 days. Of course, there was plenty of the pushing and shoving I built the game to encourage, and the competitive spirit seemed to bubble over with most groups.

Monday, 1 September 2014

AppSpy plays Slamjet Stadium

Peter Willington from AppSpy and Alix from Opposable Games put out a livestream last week where they tried out a bunch of great shared-iPad multiplayer games. Well worth a watch, as all the games demoed are awesome and highly recommended. They also had a lot of fun playing Slamjet Stadium, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching!

Slamjet Stadium gameplay begins at 32 minutes.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Tap Happy Sabotage comes to Berlin and Cologne

I'm just a couple of days away from jetting off to Germany and I'll be taking Tap Happy Sabotage with me. If you're in Berlin on Saturday or Cologne next week then please do come and join in the local multiplayer calamity!

On Saturday 9th August I'll be at JOIN - Local Multiplayer Summit in Berlin. 

As well as demoing Tap Happy Sabotage on the big touchscreen I'll be doing a Q&A session with Adriaan de Jongh from GameOven - developers of local multiplayer titles Friendstrap, Bounden, and one of my all-time favourites: Fingle.

From Monday 11th - Wednesday 13th August I'll be at GDC Europe in Cologne

In fact, just today I received word from Microsoft that Tap Happy Sabotage will be on their stand. Can't wait to see it up and running at the conference!

From Wednesday 13th - Friday 15th August I'll be at Gamescom in Cologne. 

I'm exhibiting Tap Happy Sabotage as part of the Unity booth. If you're at the show please do swing by Hall 04.1 Booth B030 to play the game!

It should be an incredible trip!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Tap Happy Sabotage is launched!

Good news everybody! Tap Happy Sabotage is now available from the Windows Store for Windows 8 devices. Please do download from here and join in the fun!

Tap Happy Sabotage is completely free, without ads or in-app purchases, so there's no excuses not to play it!

I took the game to Radius Festival in London on Friday, where it went down really well. You can see it being given a full work-out by Vlambeer's Rami Ismail and One Life Left's Ann Scantlebury at (I'm on at 2:03:40)

And of course, there's a new trailer up here, with some of the footage from this year's GameCamp and Indie Games Collective.