Since the launch, I've been enjoying the game and trying hard to get to number 1 on Game Centre, but alas, I'm only at number 3 or so. :'( It's a simple game to pick up but it does get pretty challenging especially when you're trying to get a Gold ranking for each level!
We've also received a few great reviews for Matchmaker Millie from various websites. It's always a joy to hear what other players think about our game and the feeling increases a billion times over when we hear that they are enjoying the game!
The iPhone App Review gave us a 5-star rating with this summary: "Matchmaker Millie is a phenomenal new arcade game for the iPad and iPhone"
No Brainer App Reviews gave us this great comment: "The graphics are vibrant and cute and the gameplay is not only fun but also addictive."
iPhone Gamer UK says: "It’s a super simple concept, but it works beautifully."
In addition, we were also asked to do an interview for Gizmodo Australia's Developers Cubed (also republished on Lifehacker Australia) with a focus on our experiences as a married couple working together to develop Matchmaker Millie.
It's been an exciting ride so far playing Matchmaker Millie, seeing how it's doing in the world and hearing what other people have to say about it! It's been a lot of hard word creating this but I'm really proud of our little game. I've learnt so much from creating Matchmaker Millie and am ready to jump back into creating another Games for Gummie title!
In fact, it hasn't just been all sitting back and relaxing, we're already hard at work on an update that will be coming very soon. It's going to include a new Timeless game mode! Number 1 High Score on Game Center, here I come!! :D To stay up to date on when that'll be out, follow us at the Games for Gummie Facebook Page.
I hope you'll enjoy Matchmaker Millie, it would be greatly appreciated if you give us a positive rating and review on the App Store if you're enjoying the game! :)
For the past 6 months or so, I've been working at 2 jobs. My day job is all things Hooby Groovy but at night, I've been working as a game artist for Games for Gummie, developing an iOS game titled Matchmaker Millie. And exciting news: Matchmaker Millie will be coming out on the 23rd Jan!! :)
It's been a really fun and rewarding, albeit extremely busy, experience. I've worked on 2 previous titles with Games for Gummie prior to Matchmaker Millie: Shuriken Chicken and Cow Abduct (both available for free on the App Store!). However, Matchmaker Millie by far was a much more complex and asset-heavy project.
In terms of technical skills, through Matchmaker Millie, I got the chance to have a go at pixel art and vector art. Ultimately, we went with vector art for Matchmaker Millie. I learnt how to use Adobe Illustrator, which has since been invaluable with my own Hooby Groovy work, its made creating patterns and drafting designs so much easier!
Analysing how I work, Matchmaker Millie has really made me realise that I tend to underestimate the time I need to do work. Funnily enough, when I used to work in Project Management at a game development studio, I noticed a pattern occurring when asking developers to estimate the time they would need for their tasks. Programmers would tend to overestimate the time they need. I would say things like "It'd be great to have this in by so-and-so, is that possible? How long would something like this take?" and they would complain and rant and tell me that it's so much work and say the most annoying thing that could ever be said to someone trying to do task management "How long is a piece of string?" Which in retrospect, I really should have replied "One day"! Well, it almost always ended up that they would finish that task a whole lot faster than they estimated. Sometimes, they probably spent more time arguing about how we're not allocating enough time for them, than they spent getting the task done.
On the other hand, the artists tended to be more optimistic and quoted much shorter times than they would actually need. I wonder why that happened but in developing Matchmaker Millie, I noticed the same thing happening. We have weekly project meetings at Melbourne Central Community Kitchen Garden where we would figure out what things needed to get done and allocate times and due dates and set up our work list for the week. I would always jump in enthusiastically and say "yeah this week, I'll get all these levels done, and all those characters, and I'll make a start on the cutscenes, bla bla bla!" while Mr. Programmer Chen-Po will say "okay, I should be able to get this 1 task done". Of course by the end of the week, he's the one that's powered through his one task plus about 15 others while I'm still stuck on half a character. :p
It's kind of weird, I always thought that by working 2 jobs, I would be really, really drained and tired but it really wasn't so. Don't get me wrong, there were times when I did miss the TV and couch sessions that we used to have for many hours every night. But other than that, I actually found working on both Hooby Groovy and Games for Gummie to be perfectly complementary to each other. The daily switch of pace where I could turn my brain off from working on fulfilling orders to creating game assets and vice versa was actually really refreshing and kept me creatively and mentally stimulated. Much as I love Hooby Groovy, I think its healthy to be able to turn the switch off and focus on other things too.
Well, my work on Matchmaker Millie is essentially done now that the game is about to launch on the App Store next week on the 23rd Jan! I've only had time to play it in short snippets through development, so I'm really excited to finally have time to sit down and play it properly as a gamer and not have to think "okay, I need to do this-and-that to so-and-so level".
In the meantime, check out our latest trailer! It's been updated to include split-screen multiplayer footage, which is super fun to play though I always lose!!
Last week, we took a bit of time out of game development and dedicated it to video development! We wanted a simple trailer that would showcase a bit of the game, the characters and the feel of the game. We decided to make a stop motion trailer with a short little story of how two of the game characters came to meet each other with the help of Matchmaker Millie!
We shot this trailer at my favourite park in Melbourne, Carlton Gardens. It was a beautiful day, thankfully, because shooting ended up taking almost 5 hours. It was mostly a lot of walking back and forth moving the characters a few inches at a time. We gathered quite an audience as well over the afternoon with people coming up and asking what we were doing or taking photos of our set up.
It was hard work but heaps of fun as well and always great to do something new. I really enjoyed it heaps and so did Swell Stitch Monster!
Hope you enjoy our little trailer and stay tuned for Matchmaker Millie, coming soon to the App Store!
As I mentioned before, I've been working with indie game developer Games for Gummie and we've got a new game in the pipelines called Matchmaker Millie. We've just hit our first milestone where we have all the basic mechanics of the game done and in terms of content, we're about 1/3 of the way too. Here's a teeny sneak peek:
Matchmaker Millie Main Menu Mock-up
So my part in this is basically art-ing up the game and one of my favourite things about this particular title is that it's enabled me to learn how to do vector art and use Illustrator. The art for Shuriken Chicken was created by me physically cutting out felt characters and Cow Abduct was a tiny game that really only needed a couple of assets so I just drew those in Photoshop. Matchmaker Millie is going to be a much bigger game requiring way more assets and we decided it would be done using vector art.
Vector art has been something I've been wanting to do for ages but somehow always shied away from it just because Illustrator seemed so much more daunting than Photoshop. But now that I've learnt it and am way more comfortable using Illustrator, I'm loving it! And I think as I get more and more used to it, I'll be able to be braver about producing better artwork.
Actually the whole look of this game has changed a fair bit from the time we started up the project. Initially it was inspired by a Monster picture that I created a while ago:
And from there we had initially thought we'd go with Monsters and the style would be a more pixel art style, here's one of the monsters that I had created for the game:
But as I created more and more assets, I realised that pixel art was too advanced a challenge for me at this point in time. One major factor that really held me back was my OCD! I wanted each pixel perfectly placed and starting counting pixels way too obsessively. So everything started looking very rigid and straight because I didn't like how curved or more organic shapes couldn't have exact symmetrical placement of pixels. Also since everything is so hi-res these days, my hyper OCD pixel placings wasn't resulting in a nice 8-bit old school type style, it was ending up just like really badly done art.
When it came to things like the square monsters or even simple pickups like that teddy bear, it wasn't too bad (I'm actually quite fond of that teddy bear) but then when I tried to tackle backgrounds with flowers, grass or other organic shapes, I realised I just did not have the skills required yet to produce good pixel art.
It was a very fun experiment though so I definitely want to go back to pixel art one day and learn how to do it properly.
Pencil concept of Mayor Moresby
Pencil and ink concept of Millie
So somehow along the way, square monsters gave way to more organic shaped, cuter characters. Another factor in changing their shapes was because I got stuck trying to design various types of characters around a square shape and somehow my sketches started taking on a more potato like shape which I actually liked better. And with my inability to draw anything that wasn't 0, 45 or 90 degrees in pixel art, it made a whole lot of sense to switch over to using vector art!
Another big thing for me in this project is that I've got a former Bluetongue colleague and mega talented artist helping me out by mentoring me. Basically he's been providing me with feedback and advice on how to do stuff and make things better. Which has been really useful and I'm really learning a whole lot of new things.
It's been literally non-stop work for me between my usual Hooby Groovy work and working on Matchmaker Millie but it's been really satisfying! I'm learning so many new things and tackling new challenges almost daily while having fun which is completely in line with my Hooby Groovy philosophy! :)
Shuriken Chicken recently got an update, which includes being able to post your scores to Facebook/Twitter as well as 2 new levels. One is a snowy blizzard level and the other is an underground cave level. When the levels themes came up, it was back to the drawing board for me to concept up new baddies.
For the classic level, the first enemy I concepted and created were the magical ninjas that hold up barriers and power-ups. When concepting the rest of the Classic enemies, I wanted to keep their look consistent, so it would seem as if Shuriken Chicken was fighting the same evil clan, even though they came in zombie, robot, rocket and magical ninja forms. To do this, I utilised the same kind of shapes and silhouettes for them, the triangular hats, trapezoid-like bodies and cloaks and evil eyes. Here's some concepts that I drafted for the Classic enemies:
When it came to the underground cave level, I was quite stumped for awhile. I kept thinking of what animals live underground and thought of a mole and for days on end I kept trying to concept baddies based on a mole but it wasn't getting anywhere fast. Finally, I changed my way of thinking and thought of mining and tunnelling instead. I thought that creatures that lived underground would need a means of tunnelling through the ground, and that made me think of drills used for tunnelling and so I came up with a range of Drill Baddies:
As you can see, I've also learnt how to be neater about my concepting ;). Finally, the baddies chosen were the Drill Bats, Drill Rats (in their mining kart) and Drill-a-Roo (my own fancy names for them).
Here's the Drill Bats and Drill Rats in action:
It was really fun to re-enter the world of Shuriken Chicken once again and come up with new foes for him to shoot down or jump over. :) Please do check out Shuriken Chicken on the App Store and let me know what you think of my new baddies! For more Shuriken Chicken news, you can follow developer Games for Gummie on Twitter or on Facebook. There's another game in the wraps right now so stay tuned!
Once again, I got a chance to work with the brilliant Games for Gummie on another iPhone game! This time, it's a cute, simple game called Cow Abduct! And it is available for free on the App Store so if you have an iPhone, do check it out! :)
Instead of cutting characters out of felt, this time around was more traditional game art. There were 3 main assets that I needed to create: the UFO, the cows and the birds. I started out with heaps of rough concepts which I then showed to Games for Gummie to get feedback and direction:
Once the look of the cows/birds/UFO was okayed, I'd draw up the final version and ink it. Then I scanned it and coloured it up in Photoshop.
We decided to go for a cute, cartoony, colour-blocked kind of look. As in the case of Shuriken Chicken, the assets appear really small on the iPhone screen so again, I had to rely on obvious shapes and simple colours to make the assets pop and look like what they're meant to look like. My favourite were the birds:
The other assets I had to make were feathers and smoke to be used as particles for when a bird was shot or when the UFO goes down. So watch out for those too in the game! :)
Anyway, here's what the game looks like:
And here's what its all about, as taken from the App Store Description:
Peter the Martian has travelled to Earth in his trusty UFO to do some scientific research. But, he has just found out that he miscalculated the amount of fuel he would burn in Earth's atmosphere. His UFO is running out of fuel fast, but luckily, he has discovered that he can fuel his UFO with cows!!
Help Peter keep his UFO in the air as long as possible by abducting cows to keep his fuel level up. Be careful of those pesky birds though, zap them before they hit Peter's UFO or they will drain some fuel on impact.
Gameplay is simple, yet so fun! Press and hold a cow to abduct it, and tap birds to zap them out of the sky. Compete with friends, and the world with Game Center leader board support and see who can keep Peter the Martian in the air as long as possible!
Cow Abduct! is advertising supported.
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At the moment, I'm #4 on the Game Center Leaderboards, which I'm rather proud of. :) Do check out Cow Abduct! and let me know what you think of it and see if you can beat my best time of 2:12:13! ;)
I just wanted to share a poster that I made of Shuriken Chicken. This piece was inked, scanned and then coloured up in Photoshop. I wanted to make a poster that showcased the main character of the game.
Full sized poster is available by clicking on the image above.
I also experimented with having a dark background, but I think I like the white background more. Which do you prefer?