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Giving indie developers a boost


Thomas was alone. An indie game created in 24 hours

Last Friday one of the designers at Blitz Games Studios decided he was going to run his own personal Game Jam over the weekend. Armed only with a six-pack of Red Bull, some Cheetos (probably) and the tiniest spark of an idea, he locked himself inside his damp and smelly South Leamington hovel and fettled away the best part of the weekend feverishly creating his masterpiece. This is the result.

Twenty four hours. One day, one thousand four hundred and forty minutes. That's how long Mike had to make his game. Was it worth it? Only you can decide!

You play as Thomas, a small rectangular red box in a world of bleak black landscapes, deadly grey water and dust laden sunset skies. Thomas is alone.

The game is simple, you use the arrow keys to move to the left, to the right and to jump. Your goal is to make it to the rectangular shaped exit. Sounds simple right? Sounds familiar eh? Perhaps not... read on!

Thomas doesn't stay alone for long; pretty soon, he finds a friend. The game doesn't really tell you who this new found friend is, or what he's called, but we like to think his name is Steve. Steve is orange, square and heavy whereas Thomas is tall, rectangular and light. You can toggle between controlling Thomas and Steve by hitting the space bar. Steve can't jump as high as Thomas so the two of them are going to have to work together if they are both going to make it to the exit.

We don't want to spoil any more of the game, you kinda need to experience it for yourselves. However, seeing as Mike works right next door to us we thought it might be a good idea to get his thoughts on the processes involved in making the game, the tools he used, and what advice he'd give to other aspiring indie developers!


Why did you decide to make the game?
I’m a perpetual fiddler, a tweaker and iterator. I’m less accomplished when it comes to getting any of my ideas to a finished state. I came to the terrifying realization that I had a whole weekend with no plans, and decided to turn that weekend into an opportunity to begin, develop and finish something. Thomas was alone is an attempt to do just that.

Why 24 hours?
It was the perfect mix of ‘time I had free’ and ‘time in which I could realistically produce something half decent’. Arbitrary as it was, it seemed like a good way of focusing myself in on the task. ‘Made in 24 hours’ also has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Where did the idea come from?
I set myself the brief ‘friendship’. It seemed like something with lots of room for weird and cool ideas. Once I realized stacking different size blocks with different movement capabilities would be interesting, I was away.

What went well?
I got it done. I went from blank screen to decent puzzle platformer in less time than it takes Jack Bauer to save the world. That’s a pretty cool achievement. I’m also really happy with the look of it. A nice color scheme and minimal graphics can make for a nice look.

What would you have liked to have done better?
I think the biggest issue with the game is the controls. It’s jerky, too finicky, and mapped to the directional pad (jump should really be elsewhere). I’d also like to explore storytelling and some basic logic puzzles (doors / levers / keys etc). I will be sorting all this out in an extended version I’m currently planning out. And iterating. And fiddling with.....

Where did you get that lovely font?
Off t’internet. I’ve picked it up along the way somewhere. It fits the tone of the game perfectly, I’d have liked to incorporate more typography to show it off more. Again.. need to expand it...

What tools did you use.
Adobe Creative Suite. Flash for the game itself, Illustrator and Photoshop for working out the palette and style.

I also use a ‘notebook’ to write ‘notes’.

Got any advice for anyone else thinking of doing the same thing?
Keep it small. Focus on one cool mechanic and polish it. Art is also a massive time-sink, pick a simple look that can be quickly produced to a suitable standard. And don’t be afraid to throw stuff away. Thomas Was Alone was originally 25 levels long. It is now 23 levels long.

Oh, and stock up the fridge with red bull and foods with high saturated fat. It’s going to be a long day...

Hopefully this has inspired a few of you to go out and run your own personal Game Jams. The games you make don't have to be epic masterpieces, they don't need to make use of bleeding edge graphics. A little bit of heart and a simple idea can go a long way. Frankly though, if Mike can manage it, so can you!

You can play the game exclusively on Kongregate: Click Here!

You can follow Mike's crazed ramblings about design etc. on his twitter:

indiegamepcmacbrowserdeveloperfunfreeFlashGame JamMike

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