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Game no more........

Well, Caveman Arts is now in a coma, and likely to get worse, while the little dribs and drabs of pennies accumulate very slowly into a bank account, awaiting to be distributed to various parties interested in recouping some money back, sometime in the next future.

The company folded into a pair of little cotton socks when the expected cash flow never materialised as strongly as was suggested by the Publisher. Our last game, FIM Motocross World Championship, sat in the laps of the Publisher for almost a year before being released just a few/several months ago and, it appears, from what I can see anyway, it's not as good a seller as it was expected to be (hehe).

Now, being in full-time jobs at present that has nothing to do with games, we occasionally look back on the 3 years of the company's existence and weep into special teardrop buckets with dismay about how it all went downhill. There were many reasons of course but, if I were to personally put my finger on the main Culprits of Doom, it would be on a couple of uninterested directors and restricted cash-flow. I wont go into details, as it's too painful and ridiculous at the moment but, we did come out of it with a much better understanding of the mobile game development process and pitfalls. How we can use this in the future, I've no idea, as our time is taken up with other things more mundane and immediate that we cannot contemplate another crack at a game development company for a very long time, probably.

Meanwhile, we are still helping our anti-drugs ensemble who took over our idea regarding helping users off drugs and is in the process of recruiting people to help with the pilot, due very soon. Again, the powers that be seem to be on a different track than ourselves because, we wanted the design used in educating high-school kids in the privacy of their own space prior to them using drugs whereas, the health service et al wanted it changed to help users already on drugs so, we did our best but, with the knowledge we've gained in this process, through meetings with drug workers, users and health officials, I find it highly unlikely it will become a successful tool but, that's how they wanted to spend the money so, it's a wait and see scenario to see what the outcome of the pilot will be. To cheer us up though, we realised that an anti-drug advert on the tv that's been shown over the past year was based on our idea for a game that was presented in front of the many, including health service people, at a conference a couple of years ago, yaay! (It's the one with the guy in his room and, as time goes on while using drugs, his possessions disappear and his room gets all dingy).

So, there you have it....we tried - almost failed several times - kept going - understood how bad things were getting - decided to end company - pressure now off. Oh how I'm glad now that we have normal jobs but, we're always still looking at other opportunities....just in case it's the right one for us!.




Another day, another job

Well, I've got a new job and it's nothing to do with game development. I'm now a payroll assistant with perth and kinross council, yaay! (thought I'd use the skill I picked up with Caveman [smile])

On teh development front it seems, looking at Finessemobile's website our branded game, FIM Motocross, which we finished LAST SUMMER(!), may be on the move to retailers for sale soon but, it seems highly unlikely Caveman will get any dosh because..1/ we're on our way out and 2/ even if we weren't, it would take toooo long to get any money from them.

So, that was the latest news folks!..anyone up for a game of fantasy football with xperteleven? [grin]




Oooo..a top poster am I?

Yaay!, just had a look at the stats and noticed I've arrived onto the Top 50 rated posters (excluding moderators & Staff)....just thought I'd highlight it now before I dissapear into the gloomy depths again! [grin]





Lately, I've not been visiting Gamedev very much due to being bitten by the xperteleven bug. I'm managing 4 different teams and I just can't get enough of it!..very sad I know [grin]

On the work front, it's quite bleak..I may end up working in a shop or hotel for a while as there's certainly nothing much else to go for where I live :(

I can now talk about an application that we had been designing for the mobile phone but, there's not enough money in it for us to develop it to warrant setting up an office again so, I've no idea fully yet how things will go with it. The application is to help drug users wean themselves off the dependancy of them in complete confidence.

Tayside Health Board has sent out a press release, in conjuction with Scotland against drugs about it and, once developed, it will be piloted in several surrounding regions for up to a year. There is a possiblity that, if successful, it would generate good revenues but, the way Caveman stands (almost dead) we cannot wait that long so, it looks like our hard earned work on this project will make money for someone else but...hey-ho, that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

I'll still stick around of course but, my priorities are changing and, not officially being a developer anymore, my interest has waned on the gaming front somewhat.




Ooo, it's nearly xmas!!

Just to wish everyone a very merry xmas! and help yourself to a piece of xmas cake!....

ok, you can't physically have a piece of this cake but, I hope the thought counts!

Hope yaz all get your xmas wishes and, looking at the recent gift wrapping my husband and I have done recently, it's going to look like a veritable grotto on xmas morn in my household, woohoo!.




Is this the end?

Well, the last month or so has been a nightmare to say the least. Adding to Meh's journal entry about Caveman going under, I feel I should clarify a bit more about it's situation...

Basically, a final bit of funding fell at the last hurdle due to predicted revenues from our first game not being realised and our second game (licensed) still sitting with the publisher and, needless to say, this has caused us some severe problems!.

So, we closed the office, laid off staff (Meh has been particularly brilliant throughout all this) and cut all unneccessary costs and, although we are not developing any new games at present, the company looks like it may be able to stay, as is, until revenues start coming through...it's still being looked into at present by the powers-that-be!.

Our first game (goodness, how long is that now?) has recently been accepted by Korea so, it should start selling there soon, if not already, and we've still to find out if/how it is selling in America and China.

So, there you have our current situation. It's been a bit of a bummer, but there are still opportunites out there for us next year if we're in a more stable position to grasp them....it's just a matter of whether we can exploit them as we are now or rise like a pheonix into something new........watch this space! [smile]




Smokefree times a'coming for me

Today is the first day of me giving up the dreaded cigarettes!!, yippee!!.

I gave up twice before when I was pregnant and then foolishly started again, each time, when the sleep-depravation that comes with newborns kicked-in.

Anyway, today I've been wearing my sexy new nicotine patch - a nice little 'must have' stick-on accessory, available in a subtle shade of pink with a slight gloss effect and, of course, with neat branding on it.

*walks up and down the catwalk, demurely showing a naked (gasp!) arm*

So far, I'm doing good - it's remarkable that it's actually taken a lot of my withdrawal symptoms away...which is nice :)




Musing about first interest in game development

I thought I'd decide to let all you lovely people know how I got interested in game development after taking part in this thread here, which was rapidly turning into another 'certain genders are good at this topic but generally crap in another'.

I would also like to thank people who have rated me just because I'm female - but I've always thought that I had knowledge that I believe is useful and I had assumed all of my rating was from that perspective alone (silly me..never mind).

Anyway, I was about 19, a waaay long time ago now, when I first came across the technical prowess of the VDU while doing a contract job with a scottish national newspaper (yes!, apart from the telly, I'd never encountered such a thing before). The job entailed transferring all the written data they had into the mainframe - in fact, the contract was supposed to be just 3 months and, even although there was 3 of us hired and all roughly doing 70wpm, the job actually lasted 18 months. With this new fancy technology and, having been shown the processes of computing and getting to know how/why and what programmers did, it started the process of opening up my mind to the possibilities of, what would become later, video gaming. Once I left this job, I took a 6mth place in college to do a sort of technical and data course which involved cobal programming but, unfortunately, my mind was not up to the job of remembering all the intricacies of this strange language and, although I left with a scrap of paper indicating it was a proper certificate (way defunct now), I didn't have any use for it.

It was while I was working for British Telecom, a couple of years later, that video gaming started to take-off and, it was at this point I turned from being an avid board-games player to a videogames player. My first m/c purchase was the Atari (can't remember the number now) and this was the time when I started actual 'game designing' - writing and sketching stuff down about the games I wanted to play, even though the technology wasn't ready for any of it at the time.

Over the years, I and my husband have amassed boxes of concepts that are just sitting around in the attic - hopefully, one day, some of them (the ones not already made by other developers - it used to amaze me how so many people have the same ideas!,) will see the light of day if/when we are in a position to blow the dust off them.

So, that is how I initially became interested and, even although I have no technical abilities in making games whatsoever, I have eventually managed to become involved, and stay involved, in the game development business (albeit mobile at present), by getting other people to do all the itsy-bitsy gritty work.

Meanwhile...hurray! for all the females in game development - lets keep the males thinking that there are not many of us about in their realm :)




Oh noes..beam-me-up-phones

Thanks to Mushu for my card...it's wonderful!.

Well, I've heard it all now regarding mobile stuff...here comes the Star Trek phone!!! and here's teh link
and this is what you get...(need to input your email) features
NO pictures of it though :(
source I wonder how successful it will be and I can just imagine the marketing that'll come with it.... ;)




Willy Wonka rocked

Well, trying to keep the kids happy during teh summer hols I took them to see Willy Wonka today, and I have to say I really enjoyed it..as did the kids of course!.

I didn't read anything of the WW thread a few days/weeks or whenever ago (who cares) so I wouldn't be clouded by anyone else's judgement, and I was very pleasantly surprised. I don't care if it's not strictly to the book - the visuals, and particularly JD, was superb...a dvd purchase will entail definitely later.

The kids are in bed, I'm now drinking white wine (not touched drink for x years) and after only two glasses I'm fairly nearly pished...but ready for even more! (insert girlie laugh here)..

It's abut time my hubby and I let our hair down (always don't bother in case there's a calamity with the kids)..but only a little bit tonight to celebrate...nothing special really, the bottle's been there so long it had to be drunk before going off (great excuse!).




interval - normal communications resume next time

Due to a faux-pas I made yesterday, I would like to make up for it by presenting the following small animations for your enjoyment, although, some you may have seen before:-

You may have to give a minute or so for loading - enter at your own risk [smile]

singing horses
icon story




Happy Anniversary to me!!!

It's my wedding anniversary today!!! 12 years married although 22 years together as man and wife...

We're taking the family to a deep sea aquarium (no! - not to feed them to the sharks!!) and have a big slap-up meal later.

Marriage is fantastic!!




Teh sun...it burns!

We took our family to the beach yesterday and what a fantastic day it was - absolutely glorious weather!.

I am now paying the price though as I badly burned my feet - I am now hobbling about everywhere and being much slower than a very slow thing :(




Countdown to game release

Ah! lovely Dundee - where the wild winds whip up the loose kilts of lads and lassies - ahem!...

Ok, so the scenario is we have 3 talented people working for us, with skills more suited to pc/console development, learning the fallible intricacies of mobile development and, to boost things up a little, we also hired a friend of one of the team members to tackle level design.

It was our (co-founders) intention to allow all members of the team to be able to bring their creativity into the brainstorming sessions we had pertaining to original game ideas or enhancing old ideas if they wanted to. We had assumed that they would want to have at least some kind of creative input, whether it was in the look and play, props to be used, missions etc, after all, we were a dynamic creative team and it's not every day a young 20 something year old can say they're a director and part-owner of their own mobile game company, having a say in everything that it does!, but it was soon realised that most of the team just weren't interested in the creative side of things at all, which was fair enough in the grand scheme of things. Of the rest of the team, it became pretty clear anyway that you can have too many designers trying to flesh out a basic design (an experiment if you like on our part but one which we won't attempt again!) - while the co-founders wanted to focus more on originality as much as possible, the others just couldn't look past elements of old games....the word 'original' was very taboo, too obscure and couldn't be successfully implemented into a game apparently, so, after many arguments (sorry, level-headed discussions) for and against, an eventual design was agreed upon, big woots!.

Meanwhile, we allowed an industry 'veteran' a peek at what we were developing and, although he liked the idea, he iterated it had too much happening in it for a mobile game and suggested we take some of the features out to make it a much simpler one (his reasoning being that the mobile player does not like having different game modes in the one game and it would cut down on its size also). Now, as we were new to mobile development, as indeed any game development, we took everything he said to heart and cut out what he suggested (well, he had previously sold his share of a well-known mobile game company for a pretty penny and had set-up a new company in game publishing, so he knew more about the market and what it wanted than we did; we thought it would have been very foolish not to take what he had said on board) - we were now left with a much more straight-forward mountain climbing puzzle game (now in hindsight, it would have probably been a much, much better marketable game with the features we wanted kept in - we've certainly got an opportunity to re-use the engine and develop what we wanted to develop it as in the first place and more...if we're still around to do it of course!).

Things were eventually chugging along nicely for a while - we had our final design, the coders and artists were working to it and we had a publishing contract but, after some fraught weeks and tensions, it became obvious our previous woots were very premature due to a couple of our team members beginning to lose interest in it all. Timescales just seemed to be numbers picked from the air - sometimes we'd be told it's gonna take a week to do whatever and, lo and behold, 3 days later it's done (ok nice, but not proper planning - a cunning formula to make one seem more brilliant, imo ) sometimes though they went exactly the opposite - yeah, it'll take 2 weeks to get whatever done and, lo and not behold, it would be almost a month later before we got that particular whatever bit working (and even then, sometimes it would not be working to all our expectations straight-away), testing of code was not properly adhered to as in normal development (why test while inputting little chunks of code when you can finish a really big chunk first and then test it?..huh? good grief!) and, to cap it all, to completely annoy us, to drain away any last vestige of hope of getting the game out as it was (we were rapidly running out of time and money), the publisher started moving the goal-posts, as it were...they wanted changes - this was after we'd been working on it for several months and had got a fair bit of the game working on several handsets - they now wondered what the point of the game was and began asking why there was no real background story or narrative to the game (question: why am I on a mountain? answer: it's a puzzle game - you're picking up various precious metals within set time-limits to gain mucho points) so, after much banter backwards and forwards, eventually we went ok, if you don't like it we'll change it into a 'rescue' game then - which is what we did. We gave it a background story with a narrative, changed some of the graphics and, after having to completely re-write the collision system and some other technical stuff at the publishers' request (I'm not a techie btw), it was then we got the following from them. ....we don't like the name of the game - eek!, the marketing pack was already finished and delivered to the publisher, the game was now working smoothly on several different makes of handsets with the original title written all over everything, we just couldn't change it! and, as it happens, we didn't have to in the end (well...they had to accept they were just far, far, far too late in wanting that to happen almost at the time of final delivery).

Once the porting to all specified devices, QA and translations were completed, the game was Gold to go and signed off. A huge sigh of relief descended with the satisfied realisation that finally, we had a product off to market.....sweet woots!.

Are you questioning now if we have we been successful with our first game?....well, the answer to that can't be answered for some time. In November, the game went to several portals plus Vodafone Ireland, Vodafone Portugal and Motorola. We were ecstatic with this news and happy it was going into several countries but it soon transpired that, although many of these blighters had our game to sell, it was up to each individual company to decide when they'd actually sell it on their sites which, in some cases, could take up to 6 months to release - we were gutted that only about 2 sites made it for sale straight away; the rest started catching up around March/April and some are still yet to release it. The good news is it's going to be on sale in the USA & Asia over the coming months, if not already, and we're hoping it'll be played by many more people. A quirky problem with the marketing of the game has been that many of the sites that took it could not decide on what genre it came under; currently it's either an 'action', 'platform', 'puzzle', 'arcade' or 'sports' game - quite infuriating and confusing at times!.

So there you have a brief synopsis of how we got started in mobile game development. Are we willing to go through all the stress, sleepless nights, frustration, deep worries about the lack of money again?...you bet!.....I'll tell you where we are with our current game and how things are going next time...only if you are interested of course! :)




Forming and Pitching

From the two teams we had formed for Dare, we picked 3 people to join our company (1 2d/3d artist, 1 3d modeller and animator and 1 programmer) and made them directors. There were mainly 2 reasons for this: we thought that by making them Directors they would (1) appreciate that they were working for themselves as it was their company and that (2)they would be loyal to the company for a few years (ie work damn hard and not just up and left if they had a better offer of a job come along).

Now that we had formed ourselves into a good robust team, as co-founders, my husband and I set about getting funding for our first venture - no easy task!.

We pitched at a Connect Conference in 2003 with our mass-multiplayer online idea and, although we received great interest and enthusiasm for it, we were unsuccessful in obtaining the massive amount of equity we needed to start things moving. We had a good idea beforehand anyway that there was unlikely to be anyone there who would give us the then 500,000k we were looking for due to the fact we had no previous work published or indeed, any experience in running a company, nevertheless, the Connect experience itself was a brilliant introduction to the very scary world of pitching in front of a packed room of investors. Although we gained no investment, we did gain an appreciation of our idea, our foresightedness of the fixed and wireless online gaming markets from industry experts and, more importantly, a few contacts in the industry that we have since used and can use in the future.

After the Connect conference, undeterred, we continued looking around for more funding opportunities and happened upon a new software 'incubator' company setting up who were looking for companies (not just game-related) to be facilitated at their offices, whereby, they would help with finding funding opportunities from their network of investors and give the required support to the business side of things. Having been accepted into the incubator and given some initial funding, we continued to work on our mmog idea. After a few months though, we realised that it was just too big a first project to do as our first game so, after noticing the upsurge of mobile gaming and getting familiar with the mobile market, we changed our business direction towards it.

At this point in time, we realised that the skills we had were not initially suited to mobile gaming - we had a 1st class honours programmer who was now required to learn J2me and a 3d modeller who had to forego most of those skills in order to get to grips with the mighty pixel graphics! and, although they weren't entirely happy at first, they understood the company had to go in this direction in order to feasibly get a game out as quickly as possible.

So... the learning began and, while this was going on, we relocated our offices to Dundee as the Scottish Executive were attracting new start-ups into the city with the lure of grant aid and hinting at the myriad of funding packages that would be available to qualified companies in the future...yeah!....all seemed well and bright in dowdy Dundee...or was it?....

Next time - getting to grips with our first mobile game...





Although coming from an IT background, my strengths are not in programming or art but rather in just the ideas of what games I'd like to play. I played many Atari then PC games throughout the 80's and early 90's and I always came up with ideas on how each game could have worked better, little knowing that I'd be in a position today whereby I can create games, albeit mostly in my head and on paper at the moment.

Waay back then, it was unheard of for anyone to set up as a new games company - even if they had the desired skills necessary to succeed at it - a totally alien concept in the eyes of the business community and, in some respects today that still holds, due to the very high-risk nature of the gaming market. Unperturbed, my husband and I went to the local business shop to discuss ways of entering the unknown (at that time we were thinking about multiplayer internet games) which turned out to be a waste of time because no-one understood what we were about. Meanwhile, we plodded on with our normal boring IT jobs, still writing down all the different ideas we would constantly come up with for games - at the last count, we have roughly 40 odd game ideas that would be nice to work on at some point :)

Years passed by and little footsteps appeared on the scene! - you'd think we'd be sensible and continue with normal jobs, now that we had a family to support, but we were at an age that, if we didn't try and get into the games business for ourselves while they were small, then we would never do it later because we'd have been fully settled and too scared to try something different when they were older. So, we went to the local business shop for advice and they were extremely helpful with our situation and understood what we wanted to achieve (by this time the games market was well known about). They put us on a small-business course which gave the basics of setting-up, marketing, publishing, accounts etc, over a period of about 6 weeks (2hrs per week). Meanwhile, we were introduced, through someone at the business shop, to a local person involved in games and we ran a couple of ideas passed him. Although he was impressed with the ideas, he did not see a market for it (online interactive games were at their infancy then), we had no business acumen, we had very little technical knowledge, we had no track-record of producing games and we had no funds - needless to say we were VERY downhearted.

We kept in touch with the local business shop, passing many different ideas about how this online game could work and get paid for etc and, one day, they advised we should take a university Entrepreneurship course for a year, whereby, we can suss out much more of what we need to know about business, get contacts within the gaming industry and get paid a small amount of money while doing it!, great!..so we did!.

It was while at university, we saw the opportunity of entering a team into the Dare to be Digital 2002 competition ( a competition open to, at that time, universities in Scotland and a far-east country (can't remember which one it was then) where 6 teams are selected from the many to work on a game project with the hope of winning a prize. We were pleased that we not only got 1 team in but 2 teams! (we had 2 game ideas that could fit perfectly with each-other as 1) - what a day that was when we found out! - we were going to work on 2 projects at the same time, woot! and omg!,omg!. Working on the projects were great fun and you could tell who were working harder than the others. Finally, the great day came to be judged and, although it went ok with one team, the other team just basically fell-apart on the day - someone had not set up the equipment properly or the correct version of the game and there was a LOT of dead time hanging around while he buggered about - not a good impression to make in front of business and industry big-wigs!. Suffice to say, we didn't win a bean (the far-east people got the 5th prize I think it was (probably just for being there seeing as their country had an interest in plying money into the university later that year...am I saying that there was a conspiracy around?, go figure!).

Anyway, we got heard about from some industry peeps, mainly due to the game ideas and amazing graphics we produced - Channel 4, BBC1, the local papers and Butterfly.net in good ole USA were interested in what we wanted to make - the buzz of interest really lifted us....we thought we were going to be on our way!.

This is just a brief background of how my interest in games took off - I will be working on how we actually got started in the next instalment.




A slow start..

What you looking here for? - I've nothing to say at the moment but, hopefully, will be putting ideas down at some point

Thanks for the nice welcomes!...I hope to be putting stuff down regarding game development business stuff (lol, boring to some but hey-ho!) and, of course, to inform you lovely people when our mobile game(s) come out onto the market!...woot woot!

take care peeps until the next time!



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