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From Triple-A development to indie sensation of 2016

Many gamer’s dream, that one day they would also publish a game of their own. Game developer Gareth Noyce’s first memory of a video game is from 1980s when he was playing Space Invaders arcade game. From that moment he was hooked.

Many gamer’s dream, that one day they would also publish a game of their own. Game developer Gareth Noyce’s first memory of a video game is from 1980s when he was playing Space Invaders arcade game at the Fox and Hounds pub in Fair Oak. He got fist full of 10 pence pieces but couldn’t reach the arcade game because he was too small to see the screen. He got propped up on a stool while family was enjoying food and drinks and was immediately hooked.

Some of his friends were getting home computers around that time. They all played games and were blown away by them. Some people thought it was nerdy, and didn't want to do anything with the nerds, but Noyce and his friends all thought computers were cool. When Noyce finally got his own personal computer, Amstrad CPC 6128 and later ZX Spectrum +2, he started saving money for a game called Head Over Heels. It’s an isometric arcade adventure by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond. He was instantly mesmerised by it, even to the point of scribbling down room design ideas and sketching out a new world for it. Later the game also served as a major inspiration for Lumo-game.

Programming in those days was part of the game play hobby. Noyce started programming on Basic and later moved to Assembly programming language, but for the most revolutionary factor of those times was Amiga. With Amiga’s DPaint, Protracker and DevPac he felt to be able to do almost anything. In addition to programming, he made pixel art and experimented with composing, the latter of which didn’t worked out too well. Noyce and his friends grouped up to create a shoot-em-up called Neutrino, which was never finished because team members went to different Universities.

After graduation, hobby projects and technical experiments encouraged him to apply for a game studio to work. Britain was a real game development superpower in 1980-1990 and there were plenty of studios to choose from. Noyce applied to pretty much every studio in the UK but never managed to get a job. Instead he started a career as an engineer working on large, 3 tier web projects, computer based training and multimedia.

He was also involved in open source projects, such as the Python based community project Pygame and SDL program library development. In the end, perseverance was rewarded. At retro gaming event Retrovision in 2001, he met with game developers, such as Jeff Minter, Guy Simmons and Gary Liddon. They became friends with Liddon and after a few years Noyce quit his job and started at Climax Studios as a tester.

After Climax he worked in several game studios until founded Ruffian Games with Billy Thomson and Gary Liddon. Nearly five years later, he was facing a choice again. With the support of his girlfriend, he decided to leave triple-A games behind and concentrate on his own project, Lumo. Lumo draws from the British 1980s adventure games and leans on many familiar puzzle game mechanics. The game is challenging and attractive experience, in which the Lumo-wizard is used for passing through hundreds of different rooms, solve puzzles, play mini-games, and collect, among other things, floppy disks and rubber ducks.

Lumo has been named as one of the most interesting indie game of 2016. From the very beginning it was planned to be a solo project. In Lumo Noyce was able to fulfil his dream of creating something from the tradition of 1980s isometric adventure games. Noyce made everything but the music himself. That leap of faith paid off. Lumo has received very positive and encouraging reviews and Noyce himself is pleased how the game turned out. Yet Noyce says that he doesn’t read or watch reviews. The game is finished and critical feedback – whether good or bad - doesn't change the game or any of his design decisions.

Triple-A games development has taught him that publishing AAA-game always takes longer than you think and it's going to cost more. When you finally release the game, the market has changed, which requires some rework to be done. Noyce claims that all that overtime isn't worth it. That’s why he follows his own path as an indie developer and is ready to move to his next project.

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