The Road Ahead

Now that Goatup 2 is out there, it’s time to reveal a bit more about our plans moving forward. Much though we’ve enjoyed working on iOS, it’s clear to us that it’s not a good idea for us to concentrate on that platform alone. So we have a couple of things we’ll be doing, starting immediately.

- We are going to release certain things as “donationware”. What that means is that you can download them in full, use them in a completely unrestricted and DRM free fashion, and then if you like them, you can pay us whatever you like through a donation. This is very close to the old idea of “pure” shareware which we espoused back in the days of Llamatron. We figure this is a nice, fair way to distribute some goodies that were never released, and other things that if sold via conventional App Store means would bring in next to bugger all.

We’ve begun this process with the release of the Android version of “Gridrunner”. You can download it from the donationware page, install it on your Android device, and make sure that it runs nicely and that you enjoy it. If you do, then you can donate whatever you want to us.

The donation page is open for nonspecific donations too, so if you just like us and feel that we’ve done some nice work over the years and want to show support, you can bung us a curry that way too. It’s all good, and keeps us happy and working and hay in the mouths of the sheepies :) .

Over the coming weeks and months we have more items that we’ll be adding to the donationware page, some of which are quite rare and never saw release for various reasons. One of these in particular is quite special; one of the best things we’ve ever made.

The donationware page has been up for a few days now and we’ve had a fair number of donations already; we’d like to thank everyone who has already donated. Thanks guys, it really is appreciated.

Visit our new Donationware page right here!

- Secondly, we are happy to announce that we have just begun work on a new game for the Playstation Vita. I’m very grateful to Shahid Ahmad at Sony for the opportunity; he’s a man on a mission to bring a ton of indie talent to the Vita and we’re fortunate enough to have been invited to the party. And cheers to Gary Liddon from Ruffian, who gently nudged us in the direction of this exciting opportunity.

19 years ago saw the release of one of the best games Llamasoft ever made, a game which came to be recognised as one of the best games on an entire system – Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar. I’ve often thought that one day I would like to revisit that game and do some kind of an updated version on modern hardware.

We’ve had a couple of cracks at it before, it’s true, but neither of them quite managed to achieve the same level of greatness as the original. T3K for the Nuon was in its own way remarkable, given that it was built using shader-like techniques (doing significant per-pixel computations) before shaders even existed, in software, on a 54 MHz CPU. But that game never achieved its full potential given that the NUON chip that it ran on only ever had very limited distribution, and the resolution and framerate were never quite what I hoped they would be.

Then there was Space Giraffe on the X360 and PC – still in my opinion one of the best things we’ve ever made, and a game that pushed boundaries by making sensory overload an integral part of the game’s difficulty. For those players that got what we were trying to do, SG could be an almost transcendental experience, and those people who love it REALLY love it. In that I still feel that we succeeded admirably. But I also have to admit that the game was divisive; some people didn’t like the complete immersion in eyeball-searing psychedelia and the gameplay modifications that made it not quite the pure shooty T2K upgrade that the initial look of the game seemed to promise.

In considering what we could do on the Vita I was thinking about the various things we’ve done with Gridrunner over the years. Super Gridrunner on the ST and Amiga, Gridrunner++ on PocketPC, Gridrunner Revolution on the PC – all good games without a doubt, each more complex than the next. But the best version? I think that’s the recent iOS (and now Android) version. To make that I went back to the core design of the game, and made a new version in that same spirit – modern enough to be satisfying to today’s players, but true to the design of the original game.

And so that brings us to our new project – TxK on the Playstation Vita.

We’re going to base it on the essence of the original T2K. It’ll be the pure, straightforward shooter that maybe you hoped for when you first saw Space Giraffe. We’re not going to overload you with ultra psychedelia, but we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking on the Vita’s delicious, vibrant OLED screen. We’re going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that’s just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design.

It’s going to be *awesome* :) .

Thanks again to Shahid and his team for making this happen and getting us all set up and ready to rock so smoothly. Looks like we’ve got a busy summer ahead but it’s totally going to be so worth it.

We also plan on doing a bit of a development blog as we go along, so watch out for that. I’ll link it up when we make the first entry.

But right now it’s back to the devkit for me!

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