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From Students to Start-up: An Inside Tale of Indie Development

A light quirky fantasy based "dev diary" of our studio from conception to creation of our debut console title. Fully intended to entertain and inspire.

This is a light quirky fantasy based "dev diary" of our studio from conception to creation of our debut console title. Fully intended to entertain and inspire.

 

This is a short story about a band of unknowing heroes, we’ll call them “The Blimpers”, and their travels to unlocking the secret of finishing a video game – we’ll call that the Holy Girdle. Well, to “almost” unlocking the secret of the Holy Girdle. As, alas, our heroes still have a ways to go yet.

Once upon a time (specifically, the ancient era of 2014), in the “sunny city” of Dundee in the realm of Scotland, there lived a small band of three merry men, who together wanted to follow all that was “indie”. The freedom to create; the drive to be one’s own master…the unrelenting poverty stricken thoughts of weighing up two tins of store brand beans against going “all-out” on a Cadbury’s Creme Egg. It was the dream only ever heard of in story books and post mortems.

These three men; a Dwarven Wizard of the Arcane Code, a Half-Orc Highland Brewmaster, and a Human Paladin whose beliefs were to the Holy Girdle; had worked on many quests together during their teachings at the ancient castle of Abertay, and together they accepted a quest known as a “Game Jam”. A quest based around a primordial ritual that can take place in any location, so long as the conjurer knows that the wake of the ritual can often leave a residual coating of triangular pressed maize flakes and a thin sticky dew of energetic liquids. However, the risk of orchestrating such a ritual is effortlessly dwarfed by the rewards that it can produce, as treasures bursting with creative magnificence of the most beautiful calibre are uncovered soon afterward.

During the sunny season (that’s a figurative description, we’re still in Scotland after all), it was during such a ritual that our heroes first attained a glimpse of their revered “Holy Girdle”. A treasure that no one can just find, instead it must be willed into existence through sheer perseverance, devotion…and some tears. They formed their own unique interpretation of the treasure, that would one day be known to them as Jump Stars, but that would be skipping ahead of the story…sorry, it should have said *SPOILER ALERT* there, the pages were stuck together…don’t ask.

After the ritual, the three heroes continued to work together outside of their normal studies on small quests – a “wee prototype” here, a “new artstyle” there, and sometimes even a “creative forward-thinking discussion” over there. After finishing their teachings, now leading into the windy season, the Blimpers three journeyed south to Kings Landing, sorry “London”. There, they (discovered real sunlight) and attended an advanced mythical school of combat training and strategical tactics – also known to some as an accelerator. Whilst at this accelerator, the group grew by two, as a Halfling Rogue, filled with mischievous glee, and an Elven Ranger, allergic to all things furry, joined their ranks. They also found wisdom in the form of an ancient (he was well over thirty-five) sorcerer, who knew much about the Holy Girdle, having himself discovered it many times in different forms. This sorcerer offered his guiding hand to the Blimpers, not to lead them but to mentor them, to ensure they might survive the perilous and complex journey that lay before them.

As the snowy season began to fall, entering into the age of 2015, the party of five left the accelerator to continue even further south, as they had heard news that other, like minded Indie adventurers had set up camp, forming settlements across the shoreline. Before they left, the band of misfits were entrusted with two onyx black cubic devices of arcane magic, which were encrusted with an ancient glowing green hieroglyph shaped like an “X”. These devices would hence be known as the two Ones of X Box (it’s like nine pieces of eight, don’t question it, just trust that it makes absolutely no sense).

The, now, five brave Blimpers ventured south to the rainbow coloured kingdom of Brighton…well Hove technically, which is just next to Brighton, but a bit cheaper because Brighton is rather pricey for settlement space (a decent sized studio can cost upwards of a bag of gold, a golden goose, and a harp). And so, the group set up shop and began crafting their tools and weapons, honing their skills, spinning their yarn, and milking some digital cows.

They were preparing themselves for battle with the great menacing Dragon known as the “DEVELOPMENT PROCESS” – hoping to eventually unlock the secrets to the Holy Girdle and discover the great treasure known as “A Finished Game”. Tirelessly, the Blimpers worked together under the ever watchful eyes of their sorcerous mentor, who shared his boundless knowledge (and fashion sense) with them. The sorcerer had defeated countless formidable Dragons of gargantuan scale in the past, and had many scars to tell his tales around.

It must be said that one can never completely be ready for such a quest as taking on the Dragon, but the Blimpers had done all in their power to prepare themselves as best they could. The rest, they would learn first-hand. The heroes knew exactly where the beast lay. Tracking it was not the hard part. It was almost as if it were waiting for them. The group banded together, readied their graphical swords and binary bolts, and set out on their quest to do battle.

They quickly discovered and confronted the great Dragon. Day after day, they battled the monster, slowly whittling down its armoured hide, as they powered through the seasons of rain and sun, and entered into the season of wind. Some days the heroes would reign victorious. Some days the Dragon would strike back with force. And, some days the two opponents would stand facing one another, with neither ever blinking an eye, as if frozen in space and time (the internet went down). But one thing was certain, the beast was being bested.

Or so they thought.

As the season of snow approached, it was true that the creature was slowly becoming smaller in scale as the team came to learn it’s manoeuvres, beating it at every turn. Victory appeared to be assured. But, knowing that the Blimpers’ weapons were as steely as their hearts and their determination was ever solid, the beast reared its ugly head and spewed forth a smog blacker than a starless night.

Slowly, the dangerous aura took form and began to encroach on the band of heroes. Aware of its desperate situation, the Dragon had summoned one of its darkest most wholly corrupt curses, also known to many as the dreaded “DIMINISHING FINANCE”.

The curse was a far more dreadful danger than that of the Dragon itself, cognizant in nature, It would ensnare its victims in a sea of self-doubt – practically causing them to destroy themselves from within before it swooped in to devour whatever remained. But the Blimpers were no fools. They had been taught at the ancient school of Abertay under some of the greatest swordsmen, sorceresses and healers that ever were. they had been trained in the exotic arts of biz-dev in London’s accelerators. They knew how to open and cook a tin of beans with nothing more than a nail clipper and a match stick. And, they had an experienced master sorcerer guiding their way. The Blimpers knew many stories of the curse, what it had done to its victims, their comrades – and today, the Blimpers would not allow it to do the same to them. They were ready for it.

The Brewmaster and the Paladin had concocted an Elixir of distinguishable potency and flavour (peach, it was peach flavoured). They had searched high and low for its ingredients for months on end. Knocking on closed doors; speaking with nobles, barons, and VCs; attending monster slaying classes…sitting on transportation (that would often be delayed because the horses went on strike). Now, it was finally time to use it, all they needed was time to prepare (and for the Brewmaster to stop trying to drink it) so that they could cast it at the malleable monstrosity.

The wizard spoke his enchanting words, as the rest of the team kept the Curse at bay, and tossed the potion at the lingering construct. It began to shrink, and shrink it did, up until it was small enough to fit into a single hand. The paladin collected the miniaturized horror in a mason jar (that coincidentally wasn’t previously mentioned in this story, he also had two bits of bubble gum, and a paper clip) and placed it in his pocket. The tiny cursed creation did not disappear for the potion was never created to destroy the Curse, as that is impossible, but rather to make it more manageable.

Although the curse was swiftly dealt with, the Blimpers did not let out a roar of victory or embrace the sudden calm that surrounded them, but instead shifted their glances back to the Dragon. The formidable creature, now submerged within a thick pool of fog, flicked its tail in and out of focus as its eyes seared through the curtain of mist like fiery pixelated embers. It prepared to bare down on them once more. As sweat beaded across their brows (like in Gladiator, not Fifty Shades of Grey), the team readied their stances and prepared to continue their battle.

The team looked at the haggard creature that stood in front of them, and it filled them with a shaking sensation of both delight and fear. For they knew they had tackled the monster most valiantly with every ounce of energy that they contained. They had accomplished something that truly filled them pride. So close they were to achieving their goal and reaching the Holy Girdle. But, alas, our heroes still have a ways to go yet…

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