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Crystal Dynamics Veteran Actualizes Sony Ad Parody Lame Castle

Former Crystal Dynamics programmer Bradley Johnson tells Gamasutra about provocative indie title Lame Castle, named after the fake app in a recent anti-iPhone advertisement from Sony.
Former Crystal Dynamics programmer Bradley Johnson (Lara Croft: Guardian of Light) has made the indie leap with his new game Lame Castle, named after the "lame iPhone app" in a recent anti-iPhone advertisement from Sony. He began with a prototype for another game, but "after about 2 weeks of work my buddy sent me an e-mail with a link to a PSP ad and wrote, 'We should make this game,'" Johnson told Gamasutra. "In the ad they're making fun of what looks like an iPhone. The guy in the ad is holding his phone with a game called Lame Castle on it. Once I saw that I wrote back and said, 'Yes, we're going to make that game.'" Johnson immediately grabbed the domain name and began turning his initial prototype into something that might match the title. "A week into development we had a pretty decent prototype," said Johnson. "A week after that we found an artist and a sound guy and started plugging everything in. A couple weeks after that we were in the final stages of polish. It's been a very quick development cycle, but it's been quite smooth." Johnson began his industry career in QA at LucasArts, working on Knights of the Old Republic. He was given a chance to do some scripting work on Tomb Raider: Underworld, and subsequently became a full-fledged programmer on Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, his final game with Crystal Dynamics. "We made a great game, but it wasn't a cakewalk getting there," Johnson admitted. "Overtime coupled with a 45 minute commute each way began to drain my soul. I'd come home unhappy and pissed off at the world. I was tired of feeling that way, and always wanted to make my own games so I left and started my own company, Be-Rad Entertainment." The company's goal is to make downloadable games for all platforms, but Johnson is starting small, working on iPhone and Android, with Lame Castle his first release. The game is built on the Unity platform, currently available in browser and Android versions, with an iPhone iteration coming. "Making iPhone games is quite a bit different than console games," he says. "If the audience can't pick up your game and figure out what's going on in 30 seconds then you've probably already lost 95% of your audience. That's why playtesting has been so important, so that we can recognize how people play the game and fix the problem areas." Going indie wasn't the easiest choice, but Johnson finds it rewarding already. "I'm really enjoying the freedom being an indie gives me," he says, specifically citing "creating my own schedules and developing whatever games I want to work on" as a boon. He's not hoping to go back into the trenches any time soon, and encourages others that find themselves stuck in mid-level positions to take the independent route. "Looking back I can easily say I wish I had gone indie sooner."

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