TAG | The Voxel Agents
Last weekend, we competed in the #fab48hr game making competition in Brisbane, Australia… and what a wild weekend! We won! That was great, but more importantly I was absolutely blown away by the quality of games made by the other teams. I was particularly impressed with the level of quality and polish that was developed in “indie” / student room. There is an enormous amount of talent in Australia and I’m sure we’re going to see more from those awesome young developers.
In the #fab48hr competition, each team must concept, design, and create a game based on three keywords that are provided at the beginning of the competition. This year, those words were “suit”, “key”, and “badger”, provided by Yug, Hex, and Jinx.
We made this:
How to Play: Without giving too much away, if you have a couple of XBox controllers, plug them in for the best experience, using “A” as your action button. If you have to use a keyboard, you can use the arrow keys for player 1 and WASD for player 2, with “shift” as the action button. Also be aware the the glowing yellow floor (which totally looks like lava) will kill player 1 and the swirling blue circles (evidently poisonous gas…) will kill player 2. That’s all you really need to know… oh yeah one more thing: the badgers aren’t nice and they will eat your face.
The Badgers of Fury 161 was developed by the Alliance of Indie. This team was composed of developers from a number of Australia’s top Indie studios including yours truly Agent Tom (The Voxel Agents), Liam Hill (Defiant Development, 3 Blokes Studios), Cratesmith (Cratesmith,Defiant, Strange Loop), Matt Ditton (Queensland College of Art, Defiant), and the incredibly talented Milenko (Strange Loop,Defiant).
But really, kudos where kudos is due:
As proud as we are of the game we managed to make in 48 Hours, the real winners of the competition were the indie team Rockin Moses (read about them here: http://making-games.net/48/?p=2916) who made a really fun game called The Fifth Suit.
This game was great fun to play. For me, their game evoked “Smash Brothers Brawl”. While playing, I was less concerned about winning and more concerned about trying to make life difficult for my opponents. It was a strong social experience and quite a polished product for just 48 hours of work! You can grab a PC version of their game here [WIN] but it’s best played with XBox controllers. If you’re lucky enough to have some XBox controllers then I strongly suggest you get this version [WIN - XBox Controllers].
Last years winners, Cratewerks, which included Matt Ditton and Cratesmith, are combining forces with one of 2007 and 2008 winners, Agent Tom Killen, of the teams sif90 (2007, 2008) and The Voxel Agents (2010). They will be joined by the exceptionally talented Liam Hill, Mark Filippelli, and Milenko.
The 2010 event saw close competition between both Cratewerks and The Voxel Agents. Both teams made great games and in the final community voting round, Cratewerks won by a crucial single vote.
About The Alliance of Indie
The Alliance of Indie are Liam Hill (Defiant Development, 3 Blokes Studios), Cratesmith (Cratesmith,Defiant, Strange Loop), Matt Ditton (Queensland College of Art, Defiant), Milenko (Strange Loop,Defiant), Mark Filippelli (Strange Loop), and Agent Tom (The Voxel Agents).
We spend a lot of time being all creative and fuzzy and nice here at The Voxel Agents, but often we need to stand back and have a good hard think about what’s actually happening out there in the mobile games space.
To make sure we are all still on top of everything, I spent all of last week researching the mobile market space. I forgot everything I knew about iPhone and Android and had a good hard look at the information that is out there. Some of my findings certainly will be old news to you, and some might change what you thought you knew. So, if you’re interested in the business (pronounced “biz-niz”) side of being an indie game developer, check this stuff out:
You may think the iPad is a mobile device, but you’d be wrong.
- 43% of iPad owners use their iPad more than their desktop computer
- 28% say it’s their primary computer
- 34% use it more than their TV
- 83% use it primarily while at home. Only 11% use it on the go.
Developers are flocking back to the iOS platform
Even though iOS has more Apps, Android has more free Apps
iOS has served 15 Billion downloads compared to Androids 4.5 Billion
Android App installs per day may be reaching parity with iOS installs
500,000 Android devices are activated every single day
and most importantly of all…
So now that 2011 has rolled around, we decided the time was right to grow our team. We’re very, very, happy and proud to announce Henrik Pettersson and Yangtian Li as the latest additions to our secret service / games development studio.
Our number #1 fan, 4 year old Andrew of the U.S., has been waiting MONTHS for the chance to play Train Conductor USA.
He is a massive fan of the original Train Conductor Australia, and back in March we got an email from him wanting to know when he’d have more levels to play.
Well, after the release of Train Conductor USA today, Andrew got his chance and he was kind enough to record himself playing. Andrew, I have to say that you made my day.
Click here to listen (Warning! Incredibly cute!): Andrew Plays Train Conductor 2
We’re glad you love the game Andrew and we’ll get some more levels made for you to play soon.
For the past few months we have been planning to release the mega sequel to Train Conductor on the 4th of July.
Just like this blog post, our submission was unfortunately not released in time for the Independence Day celebration of fireworks and barbeques.
No need to stress! Train Conductor USA will be available shortly after the holiday weekend. It’s currently in the submission process. We’re simply waiting for Apple’s approval before we release – we thought it would be nice to give them the weekend off.
While we were researching trains in America, we were actually quite inspired by the enormous impact they had upon the American industrial revolution and the role they continue to play today.
We pay homage to this throughout Train Conductor USA. It features the steam trains of the old wild west, the modern monorails of Miami, and of course the electric subways of New York – enough historical transport to make Paul Revere proud.
No need to wait long! We expect to be approved soon after the long weekend is finished. After that we’ll start our own celebrations with a few competitions and prizes for our very patient Train Conductor fans. We’ll be running the comps over Twitter and Facebook so if you’re not already friends with us make sure you don’t miss out – join us at Twitter and at Facebook.
Happy birthday to The Voxel Agents – now one year old!
This is Agent Simon here. Recently we’ve been reflecting on our first year as an indie game studio, and at the April meetup of the IGDA Melbourne Chapter I presented a retrospective of the business side of running the studio. I’ve posted the slides (link at the bottom), but first I thought I’d give some context to the presentation.
Going indie is very rewarding and enjoyable. It is also extremely hard to make a living from it. We wanted to share our experiences to help others who are planning to start an indie studio. The retrospective covers our mistakes, our successes, the things we did that gave the most value and some harsh realities of the indie financial situation. To succeed as an indie, you need to be well organised and have a clear plan. We set out with some pretty outrageously unachievable goals, and although that blind optimism has certainly helped to get through some difficult times, I think we’ve mostly stuck to the goals and we’re now well on our way.
I like to think of running an indie studio as pushing a snow ball along. There isn’t any one single thing that you do that will make you successful, but each successive step forward helps to slowly build the snowball bigger, and hopefully one day it will be big enough to start feeding yourself from it (we’re not there yet).
There’s a very vibrant community of indie developers in Melbourne, and in the hope that we could help, we were really happy to share all the details. The presentation covers how much we invested, our income and expenses and a quick summary of our marketing and production approaches, as well as other tidbits.
The slides are available on slideshare and in PDF. There is a lot more detail I would have liked to add but couldn’t in a 30 minute presentation. I am now developing the retrospective into a full article and if there’s any aspect you’d like covered in particular just leave a comment. You can be notified when the full article is ready by following us on twitter, facebook or via RSS.
Good luck to those who applied for the Film Victoria funding round.
Assistance starting an indie studio in Australia:
- IGDA Melbourne Chapter – a bunch of friendly developers
- GDAA – Game Developer’s Association of Australia
- Multimedia Victoria – ICT industry support body
- Film Victoria – the Victorian funding body for game and film production
- Freeplay – Freeplay is an independent games festival that focuses on the creative and artistic side of making games
- New Enterprise Initiative Scheme – government income support for new enterprises
Simon Joslin, Matt Clark, and Tom Killen are pleased as punch to let everyone know that our company is now one year old! Just twelve quick months ago we (perhaps naively ) pledged to give up our day jobs and take the plunge. We decided to go indie.
We couldn’t have made it this far without fantastic support from our friends, the gaming community, and help from the Victorian Government and Industry, particularly Multimedia Victoria and the Game Developers Association of Australia.
To celebrate our birthday, we have taken the decision to go Green. We have calculated the amount of carbon we produced over the past year and we are offsetting that by purchasing carbon offsets from Greenfleet.
The Voxel Agents’ take our responsibility for the protection of the environment and the sustainability of its business very seriously. To help us in the fight against climate change we have partnered with Greenfleet. Greenfleet is the first not-for-profit forestry organisation in Australia to become an Approved Abatement Provider under the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Friendly™ initiative.
At the next Melbourne IGDA meetup (7pm Tuesday, 13th April at The Embassy), Agent Simon will be conducting a detailed discussion about our experience so far which will be of interest to everyone in the games industry, and particularly those who are contemplating going indie themselves. For those unable to attend the talk on 13th, we will make all the notes and slides available on our blog so that you don’t miss out.
Thanks for your support over the past year. A big thanks to Derek Pritchard, Logan Dowell, Jarrod Anderson, Joe Gatling, Joel Joslin, Sam Wong, Rob MacBride and of course, thank you Mr Steve Jobs.