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Now that the great watershed of the End of PlayStation Home is passed it seems like high time for a new blogpost. I haven't been around on the neoforums much since the beginning of April, partly due to the Pixelhero contract work becoming increasingly more demanding and partly due to the end of Home. Writing up the final Spunland blogpost was a tricky task and one which I kept putting off, but now that it's done I finally have the time...
For the last so many months I've continually felt like I was working against the clock, this is hardly an uncommon experience in game development - but where milestones and release dates can almost always be shifted, the end of Home was unmovable. I think I got less than half of the things done I wanted to before the end arrived. What a unique experience it was, and how grateful I am to have got to spend it with friends to whom it also meant much. I planned to be there for final moments of Spunland, but a good friend bought me some Scottish soothing juice to make the event easier, and consequently I was dead to all worlds by 5am GMT, 3 hours short of the end (or #BIGPOOF as goddessbunny42 dubbed it).
I spent a lot of the next day on twitter looking out for people's reactions - trying to catch what I missed. I'm sure there must be many videos of the final moments, but the only one I watched in full (well listened to mostly tbh) was SunBunz vid, which maybe caught my eye as she starts off with our glorious neoflag, and spends her avi's final moments in the Star Wars Canteena - surely the second time such a location has been visited by a virtual apocalypse!
The graveyard of virtual worlds is a lot bigger than I thought (have a google), but PSH was perhaps unique in being on console and encompassing so many styles of world, both of which conspired to give it a very rich and varied community. Sony's final message to us all:
'PlayStation Home is closed for essential maintenance'
This blogpost would have been a lot more melancholic if I had written it a week ago, but as it is, Atom Universe made their kickstarter goal, indeed passed it by £5k. Huge congrats to them! Running a Kickstarter is a massive undertaking, and their success is good for everyone. If AU proves to be a success on PS4 it will help pave the way for more socially focussed virtual worlds on console, which I'm sure is what the whole PSH diaspora want. At this time madmunki have no plans to create content for AU, but we are continually in touch and will see how things develop, but for now I am happy to be a Universal Citizen as a result of backing their KS, and look forwards to meeting folks there as a player if not developer. Kovok are aiming to get Nebula up and running by the end of the year, Hellfire are still hard at work on Big City Stories and Digital Leisure should be bringing their 4 Kings Casino to PS4 in the near future, so there really is some choice for everyone, and that's if we only consider the direct descendants of Home. If only there was a way of connecting all these virtual worlds!
I have felt for quite some time now that Virtual Worlds will eventually become a mainstream thing, in fact the Neotopia story really began when I heard that facebook had bought Oculus. Hearing that made me wonder what a VR social network would be like, and realize that everyone having their own virtual room in which to share things rather than a wall, kind of made sense. I'm sure thats not quite what they are doing, but Mark Zuzkerberg is talking about VR being a medium in which to share things. It was during the Neotopia Kickstarter that I really got to appreciate how much Home meant to so many people. I was aware of how much it meant to those suffering from some kind of disablity, but had never considered all the other ways in which peoples isolation can be overcome virtually. I think that users of Home and other Virtual Worlds are pioneers of a sort, eventually more people are bound to find themselves spending time in virtual worlds, ageing populations, indeed overpopulation and depleting resources seems likely to drive such. Not all of this is good (always take the red pill!), but where it leads to people connecting, communicating and sharing - its awesome. madmunki may have had to give up on neotopia, but virtual worlds are clearly here to stay.
So what do madmunki do next? Well the four of us will be meeting this week to discuss exactly that, although nothing in a hurry is the short answer. As I've said before I would very much like to make a Spunland stand-alone, and although we'll want to make it multiplayer it will be a very diferent beast to what it was in PlayStation Home. In the meantime we have contract work to keep us busy. My work with Pixelhero on Eisenhorn is now mostly of a design nature, and although the work is fun and fascinating (and in many ways a real honour to get to do) it leaves little time or head space for anything else. The programming munkis are building cloud based tech to be used by Gamajun (a Czech games company) for their online games, and only time will tell what other things can be done with that. Then there are a couple of other games madmunki have in a half finished state, so ideally we'll get them finished and out there soon. When we have anything to share I'll shout from here.
To everyone who sent us lovely messages regarding Spunland via facebook, twitter, email, PSN or on these forums - thank you all so much! They were very much appreciated And to all the friends I've made through Home - we have many ways of staying in touch, let's use them!
May the Spun be with you always
Dave (twitter: @madmunkid)
Hey there folks, I thought it was about time to do a quick update on all things madmunki-wise, partly as I have been shamefully absent from the forums for the past week or so and partly as a certain question keeps coming up.
So the question first as I think that's the thing people will want to know - are we joining forces with Atom to make Atom Universe? Well the short answer is no. We have had a few discussions with them, indeed I know Atom fairly well, having worked with him for a number of years in a previous games job, in what now seems like another lifetime. We will continue to talk I'm sure, and I would not categorically rule out us working together at some point, but right now my inclination is to create a Spunland standalone, although our thoughts about that are barely even at the drawing board stage yet. The programmers from madmunki have just embarked on a big job for another company which is going to take up most of their time for a while, and the majority of my time is still taken up working with Pixelhero on their Eisenhorn game.
Pixelhero were showing off Eisienhorn at GDC last week (screenshots etc here), so the days leading up to that were fairly hectic to say the least. And here comes my excuse for not being on the forums this past week... Once they were safely out at GDC I turned my attention again to madmunki business - I tend to come up with ideas whilst actually working on stuff rather than by just sitting about thinking, so I threw myself back into a little project I had started quite some time ago, a project which had started out as a way to learn html5 and creating web browser based games. I tend to think of stuff like this as sketches, not really intending to ever finish them, but just explore an idea or learn something new. Anyway I got rather sucked into this sketch, and spent a number of days telling myself - 'today is the last day I'll work on this, tomorrow I'll get on with real work again'. I did that for more days than I care to admit, and consequently not only did I not visit the forums, but barely looked at emails or even text messages as I felt so time harassed. Anyway I have pulled my head back out of the sand now, and although I am still working on the 'sketch' I'm doing so at slightly more sane pace.
Before signing off, a couple of Home related things. Big thanks to everyone who came along to my Spunland Cottage party the other week - we got a lot of nice footage and so much fun I'd like to do another - ideally next week (week beginning 16th), I'll post a thread on this once I get organized enough. Also, for the longest time we have wanted to get footage and pics of as many people with Spun Crowns on at once as possible - again I'll post something official about this soonish, but the date we are thinking of is the second last coronation which will be tuesday the 24th of March, so if you are the proud owner of a Spun Crown please come along that day!
Ok, enough for now - seeya in the shoutbox or in Home!
All the Spun best
Hey folks, rather than try reply to individual comments I thought it best to write another blog post, a week has gone by since we made our sad announcement and some of the dust has settled, so I'll try answer the most common questions and suggestions.
First off, the main reason for stopping with development of neotopia now is simply money. Without a serious chunk of investment we cannot get neotopia off the ground, we were trying to do so in our own time, i.e. by funding the development from contract work that pays our bills, but with the competition from other virtual worlds the slow lane approach is just not going to work.
Why does it take a lot of money? Well first off it's simply to pay us, as in madmunki as we currently exist (there are now 4 of us) - we have all the same day-to-day living costs as anyone else and we have to cover these in order to be able to work. Then there is the fact that to get the whole thing up and running properly we would need to take on more people, which would cost more money. Then there is the equipment - Playstation 4 Development kits are not cheap, then the server costs and cost involved in submitting a product to Sony to be released (at least some testing would have to be paid for, beta or otherwise). All of this is money which has too be spent before a single cent is made. We don't have access to money like that I'm afraid, perhaps eventually we could have run another kickstarter, indiegogo or some other crowd sourcing method, but as I said last week we are not doing this in a vaccum, we have to consider what other devs are doing, I really believe whoever gets there first will win out and I know that there is sadly no way we are going to get their first.
Teaming up. I know a lot of you love the idea of the PSH devs teaming up, tbh I love that idea too, it would be the most fitting way for PSH to find a succesor, real poetic justic even. We did speak to other devs at the beginning of our original KS, but understandably a lot of people had their own plans and hammering out deals between companies is not an easy thing. Who owns what, who runs and provides the infrastructure and what does everyone else pay for that, who has final say, who is it that speaks to Sony etc. We spoke to Atom late last week, and I cannot say we are going to team up - like i say that's complicated, but we are more than happy to give him the benefit of our experience in getting to this point. The important thing is that someone succeeds, but whoever that lucky developer is they are going to need a lot of money.
So what do madmunki do now? Well we are a games company, so that's what we'll keep doing - in the past year as well as continuing to support Spunland and launch into the neotopia kickstarter we ported "Strike Suit Zero : Director's Cut", to SteamOS and Linux, as well as adding Oculus DK2 support for it. We also have two unfinished games on the backburner that we were working on with other people, both of them Spunland related as it happens. One is a puzzle game and it is very close to being finished, so we plan to get that done and launch it as a free game (most likely on facebook) and see what you all think. The other is more complex and I have not spoken to the other guys working on it for a long time, they many not answer the phone to me now it's been so long. But the point is we will get back to making games that we can make on the kind of budgets available to us. Personally I'll be pushing madmunki to make a proper Spunland stand alone game, ideally on PS4, maybe even a little like what @NeoHelper suggested in his comment on my last blog post. Ultimately my passion for virtual worlds is not going to go away so that's what I'll always be pushing towards in the long run. I could fill screens worth with the reasons for why, and if you give me half a chance I will, but we're almost at too many words for now...
Before I sign off, let me thank you all again, the supportive comments to our announcement totally floored me, and the fact that folks wanted to all meet up and chat in PSH last week was just amazing. As I said last week we will keep this site running on our server so long as folks want it, and I'll keep dropping by and posting blogs when I get the chance, and I'm more than willing to meet up and chat in PSH whilst we all still have that option open to us. It strikes me that the community here know what they want from virtual worlds and the more folks band together to let developers know what they want, and really push for it, then the more chance there is of getting it - I'll be about to support you all as much as I can (and while we're at it let me plug Ransom's crew to that end).
Ok, enough for now. Take care folks and hope to see you all soon!
Hey folks, it's with a very heavy heart that I'm writing today to announce that this is the end of the road to neotopia for madmunki. It has been an honor and a privellege to walk this road with you all, but we cannot in all good conscience keep going. Let me explain why, and why now.
As you know since November we have been working as hard as we can in our spare time on getting a demo together in Unreal, given that it is only in our spare time it has been slow going, but as the project itself doesn't bring in any money that was the only way we could do it. The plan with the demo was to create an environment and an avatar and have said avatar able to run about the environment etc. We managed to get the environment to a decent enough point so that we could focus all of our attention on the avatar - so that's what we've been doing lately. Last week was the first time where I got to spend an entire week working on the avi, and my hope was to get it finished in that week, but I didn't manage. I reckon it would take another week to get it finished, but as I can only spend 3 days/week working on neotopia that means it still would not be complete for another 2 weeks. Now in theory we could just keep on working at this pace, the plan was always to get to a point where once we had enough to show perhaps we could get other developers involved, look to raising investment, possibly even do another kickstarter, but the fact is we are not doing this in a vaccum.
As you will also no doubt know Atom is on the verge of launching his kickstarter for Atom Universe. I cannot honestly imagine that there will be two virtual worlds on the PS4, or at least not two virtual worlds which are essentially containers for content, hubs that lead to many environments as opposed to providing a particular kind of content in themselves. Atom can commit more resources to AU than we can to neotopia right now, so he will in all likelihood be in a position to launch AU before we could launch neotopia. I think the fact that neotopia got to this point, with a thriving and creative community has been to the advantage of other devs, I think it shows that there is an audience and has demonstrated the ways in which developers of virtual worlds should engage with that audience. However I also think that if we continue it will be to AU's detriment, I know how I would feel if whilst running a kickstarter the competition were releasing screenshots and so on - that would only be divisive.
We have always said that the important thing was that there should be a succesor to Home on PS4, not that we have to be the ones to make it. We tried, but I genuinely believe that it is in the interest of the wider community that we stop here, if everyone gets behind Atom, hopefully AU will happen. As far as I can tell Atom is listening to the community, he is running polls and so on and is determined to give people what they want. You folks can help shape that, help ensure that it is the virtual world that you want.
The only thing saving me from feeling any worse about this than I already do is that I believe we all had a lot of fun getting to this point. I need to thank Carla & GreyNeo especially for all of their hard work in fostering this community, and all of you for being part of this community, and contributing so much of your time and creative energies into making it what it is. Madmunki will continue to host the site on our server, we know a lot of you have made friends here, and I for one have enjoyed reading people's blogs and seeing the awesome videos (special thx to Arwen), and screengrabs (special thx to Tamarra) that you have posted. We'll only take it down if it becomes derelict or something we can no longer have associated with ourselves due to inappropriate content.
So finally - apologies. It turns my stomach to think that we let you all down. I'll try my best to respond to comments, and will show up in the shoutbox to provide you with a target for rotten tomatoes. In the end we still love you all.
Hey Ho folks!
Well like last week there's not a lot of neonews, but as i said last week I have shifted work around which will give me the next 7 days solid to spend on neotopia. The fact is the last 8 days have seen me doing what may seem like a fairly random job for pixelhero; next week they are getting the actor into the sound studio to record the main voice part for their game, which meant they had to get the script for all the dialogue etc finalized - so thats what I was helping out with. I've written a bunch of stuff before (including game script stuff - check out my unfunny jokes in All Zombies Must Die - the good jokes were written by the other designers), so its not that random a job for me. Their game is based on the book Eisenhorn by Dan Abnett, and it being a novel there is a fair amount of dialogue which needed editing down. So thats what I've been doing workwise. Today I'm catching up on community stuff and may even play a game! neowork starts proper tomorrow.
For one reason or another I've played very few games over the last couple of years. Just before we set up madmunki I played Journey for the first time, which totally blew me away. A genuine, totally inspiring piece of art. I always find it amusing when cultural critic types dispute that games can be art, I think they are all going to look very stupid in another 10 years or so. Anyway a few weeks ago I was installing some software on my work machine and it was taking forever, so I thought oh I'll log in to PSN and have a look at the store. I've not bought a lot of stuff from the PSN store and tbh it defeated me. I was looking for Journey and gave up, although tbf the software finished installing while i was struggling with keyboard input.
Later that evening, in order to communicate with a certain CM you might know I installed the PlayStation App on my phone - which I have to say is another one of those things which blew me away. The fact that whilst laying there in bed I could buy games (doing so with a touch screen is soooo much easier than with a joypad!), or even via the PlayStation Live doo-dah, watch other people playing games, is just nuts. We're living in the future! As a result I bought the collectors edition of Journey, which comes with Flow and Flower; the two games thatgamecompany made prior to Journey, and have been super impressed by both. From a dev point of view it's awesome to see such a brilliant and logical trajectory - first they make a beautiful 2d six-axis game where the sound and gameplay is brilliantly intertwined (Flow), then they do a similar thing but in 3d with Flower, then they do all of that and so much more with Journey. I hope students are studying their whole oeuvre at college in the same way that I had to study the work of authors aeons ago when I was at college. So I made a late New Year's resolution (yesterday tbh) to play a new game every week this year. Last week's was Theif Town, but I've rambled on so long here already I'll leave that for you to check out - saying just; it's one of the most innovative multiplayer games I've seen (I've never seen the key mechanic at all before).
I was always told in writing class that the most important info in any given piece of writing should be at the beginning or the end, so on that note, I'll finish on community stuff. GreyNeo will do a proper community post at some point after this goes live, so I'll let Grey handle the details, but there are two things I want to mention here. The first is neoflags - simply; big thanks to everyone who came along to the EU event on thursday - it was a lot of fun and as you've hopefully seen already we got some awesome pictures from it. I look forwards to seeing Arwen's video
Secondly, you may have noticed that Seminole and Sky have resigned from their roles as moderators - I just want to say a big thanks to both of them, and I'm truly sorry that things didn't work out - being a mod is a fairly thankless job; no one likes their posts to be edited or deleted, so mods tend to get people complaining about rather than praising them. Semi, Sky and Guthi all did a great job whilst they were here, and I sincerely hope that they stay on as part of the community. We'll be addressing the need for new moderators really soon, but like I say I'll leave GreyNeo to handle the details of that one. Before I go I want to pass on a link which is worth checking out - it's fascinating how communities can develop online - check out the story of this secret community based RPG that grew out of Starship Titanic. Ok I'll shut up now, and hopefully come my next post I might even have something to show. Fingers crossed.
Spun Salutations folks! I don't have too much neonews for you right now - so I'll get to that right away - the first week of contract work after the holidays overran, meaning I sadly didn't get to spend my usual 3 days on neowork last week. I got the previously mentioned jeans, plus some groovy variants into Unreal and did make a serious start on spreadsheets and planning in general. I hate spreadsheets, but its an important job that needs to be done.
The contract work overran as, well I'm pretty out of practice at making levels for games - making the Neohub Apartment was fairly straightforwards compared to designing and creating the inside of a spaceship that looks more like a cathedral (working on Eisenhorn for Pixelhero Games). I started out in games doing graphics (the first game I ever worked on was Micromaniacs for the original PlayStation - I am that old!), and although I've always done some graphics on whatever I have worked on, for the past few years the biggest proportion of my time has been spent programming. So when it came to working on something like Eisenhorn there was a serious amount of catching up to do, and given that Pixelhero are not only our client but also my friends, some extra time really had to be done. So it goes.
People have asked quite a few times now if I am the only madmunki working on Neotopia, as it is only me who comes around here spouting off about this and that, so for the record - no I'm not Jagz, animator extraordinaire is also on the neocase - but I shudder in horror at the thought of him unleashing his keyboard skills on you all, so we keep him and his family firmly locked in the basement. Oh that's right, he has a family too. Me, I live here. If two guys doesn't sound like enough to make something quite as epic as neotopia, don't worry - you're right - its not, but we have other folks waiting in the wings as it were, not to mention the mighty Jam Games We also have a long history of making not only original content for PSH but also games on many different platforms over the years, so we are quite capable of handling the prototype work on our own for now.
Next week I'm hoping to juggle my working days around a bit so that I will have a longer stretch to spend on neotopia, we'll see what effect this has on posting blogs etc. but I will defo post at some point. Hope to see you in the shoutbox, Spunland or at neoflags!
Al the Spun best!
Happy New Year folks!
First off apologies for not updating the blog over the festive period and for taking until now to do so - I had a whole week off for the first time in an age, and I hope you all had as much fun and feel as rested as me!
I was hoping in this post to go into a lot of detail about exactly where we are and give some idea about likely deadlines and so on, but we're still not in a position to do that to as great a degree as I'd like. A quick recap, especially for those who may be new here:
madmunki ran a Kickstarter campaign back in October, we were trying to raise £250k ($380k USD) to create neotopia - a new virtual world for PS4, inspired by all that is great about PlayStation Home on PS3 and to be developed with the community every step of the way. Given the understandably negative attitude towards virtual worlds following the announcement of PSH's closure, and the fact that we had no real advertising or external promotion to speak of, it was perhaps no mean feat to reach the 20% of our Kickstarter goal that we did. However as with all Kickstarter projects if you don't hit the target you don't get the money, everyone was reimbursed and we sat down to have a big think.
By this point we had built up quite a substantial and creative community right here and could see that there was a huge demand for a virtual world like neotopia, although other developers were starting to announce their own virtual world ambitions it seemed to us that neotopia was the closest match to what the Home community wanted. We felt that not hitting our Kickstarter goal was not a reflection of the lack of demand, but rather a result of the circumstances under which it took place combined with numerous missteps on our part. We have a ton of experience in both making games and virtual worlds, but almost none of fundraising. So we decided to press on; if you don't give up on us, we won't give up on you.
Having no exteranal funding to progress with (i.e. live on), the team essentially pared back to the core of madmunki and we had to take on contract work to enable us to survive, this is what has slowed everything down as we now only had all of our spare time to spend on creating neotopia. At the same time we took on the very generous voluntary help of a number of community members, meaning we now have Moderators, a Community Manager and Technical Admin for this site and thereby were able to continue listening to the community, doing neoflag events and keeping our shared neotopia dream alive.
So the current plan and where its at. Without a doubt one of our greatest problems with the Kickstarter was in not having enough to show, so we resolved to create as much as we could before seeking funding or partners, this is what we have been doing. We approached this from the angle of considering what would be the most effective thing that we could publish as the start of neotopia, something we could launch and build on. PSH itself started with not much more than a couple of public spaces and Harbour Studio, so surely this should be possible, also, doing so would mean that we could have the community really involved in its development from a very early point.
The goal thus became to create an environment with an animated avatar in UE4, once we have this we can make realistic estimates about how long it would take, and thus how much money would be required to get stage one of neotopia created and published. Having an environment and an avatar will also tell us exactly what stage one could be, and this is what we really want to lay before you all, to see that what we are proposing fullfills enough of your desires for a starting point. There will also be a number of choices in the exact details of what stage one is, and this we will want to get your input on as soon as we possibly can.
What we have now is an environment and a new female avatar, but the detail and extras that we strive for are not at the point that we would like them to be before showing images and movies. We do have an animated avatar in this environment capable of running around, but she is not finished yet - indeed I spent all of this weekend learning cutting edge new software to create her a very realistic pair of jeans. We will continue working on these elements and at the same time sketch out the plan for stage one, including how Jam Games can help bring all of this to fruition. We will present you with these details as soon as we can - in some ways that is the most pressing job I have, but more time needs to be spent on the avatar first, just to be sure of what we can do. Ideally we will publish the plan for stage one right here in the next few weeks, certainly by the end of the month. Once we do so we will want your feedback on many elements to make sure that we make the most of the collective creativity and knowldege on display right here.
Thank you all so much for your patience! We are constantly humbled by the community that have gathered here; there are trolls on the web everywhere you go, but rarely do you find such a concentration of imaginative, open and friendly people. We'll take up the weekly neoflag events again shortly, but I'll leave that to GreyNeo, our awesome CM to deal with, and if you are interested in all matters Spunland related please have a look here. In the meantime; peace and big love to you all!
Greetings! As the days tick by towards Christmas it often feels like everything slows down, as one realizes all the things which suddenly have a date to happen before and more time than normal gets taken up with meetings and greetings and messing around. I was hoping that we would have some stuff to show you before Santa arrived, but we're not quite there yet. In my next post I'll go into a lot more detail about exactly what we are up to, and will be looking for suggestions from the community on a range of things. For now let me say I am spending all the time that I possibly can constructing a scene in Unreal and Jagz is doing his best to get an animated avatar in - we're getting there, but slowly. This week I actually took a weekend off for the first time since before the Kickstarter launched, which is why this blogpost is actually later than I'd have liked...
This week saw a slew of anniversaries, PlayStation is almost old enough to drink alcohol in NA (20), PSHome should be starting it's 2nd year in School (6) and Doom must be trying to recover from an almighty hangover (21). YPSH also hit it's 6th birthday this week - so big congrats to the whole team there, and especially to Carla Birch who we were proud to announce this week as our neotopia forum admin. Besides Carla, our biggest news this week is that we received the sales figures for the Neotopia Hub Apartment, which as we promised we'd let you know: Drum roll... In the EU we sold 345, and in NA we managed to shift 550! Given the circumstances under which it went on sale (I lost count of the number of folks I heard say, understandably, that they would buy nothing more in PSH), and how few weeks it was in the shops (a mere 20 days altogether) we are really pleased, and so must thank you all for doing so much to promote it. Special thanks to Sam1knight and the whole crew who organized the apartment competition!
I'll post again before christmas hits us, I hope that everyone's festive prep is going swimmingly and hope to see you all at this week's (postponed) neoflags, last week in the EU was a particular blast, my face still hurts from laughing at the can-can line featuring our favorite Happy Spunling on the MuiMui Ship Happy Holidays to you all!
Hey folks, hope you all had a grand week - I said I'd try to update you weekly on what I'm up to, so here goes. First off apologies for not making it to neoflag flying on thursday, I trust you all had fun despite the appearance of an objectionable historical character! I will definitely make it along thursday coming for the EU event.
Work on actually building neotopia itself went very slowly this week for a number of reasons, key among them being that I took a trip up to Nottingham (of Sheriff of and Robin Hood fame) on Thursday (hence why no NeotopiaDave at flag flying) which although instigated by the contract work I am doing, afforded me the opportunity of meeting up with Michael from Jam Games - which I'm pleased to say may well prove to be much more significant for realizing neotopia than the two days of work I missed That's the first time that madmunki and Jam Games got to meet face to face and it was a productive meeting. I even got to sample a number of great pubs in the town thanks to Michael. We'll let you know more details of exactly how we are going to collaborate once we have them, but for now know that we are committed to forging a way forwards with neotopia
As I say the trip to Nottingham was instigated by the contract work I'm doing for Pixelhero; they are working on an Action RPG for Games Workshop, based on their Eisenhorn books set in the Warhammer 40k Universe. Games Workshop kindly invited Pixelhero up to their HQ where their games and miniatures are designed. It was a bit of a childhood dream come true for me, and I really wasn't prepared for how big the place is, or how deeply immersed it is in their fiction - from the life sized 40k tank in the car park to the huge Space Marine statue out front, the two headed eagles everywhere and then having a beer in 'Bugman's Bar' (replete with Ork heads on the walls!). I grew up playing paper & pencil RPGs, I still have a 1st edition box set of Warhammer (somewhere in my parents' basement), and I must have spent countless hours pouring over the engimatic art of John Blanche - who we had the spectacular honor of meeting of Friday. We also got to meet Jez Goodwin - the artist who designed many of their figures including the iconic Space Marine, to get to chat with him about the inspiration behind his designs left me and Neil from Pixelhero buzzing like hyperactive kids.
A round up of this week would not be complete without mention of the final day of shopping in PlayStation Home. On Wednesday the shops shut, truly marking the sad beginning of the end of Home. I am determined to enjoy as much of the final four months as possible, as I hope are all of you, so on tuesday i charged up my PSN account and went on a shopping spree. Much of what I bought I know you all will have had for a long time (I finally got Juggernaut's awesome Essence of the 7 Winds!), and I'm very grateful to those who educated me in what to get. My final Purchase was the beautiful City by the Bay Loft "Window to the World" apartment by the ever impressive Granzella. It would be great to see a list of everyone's final purchases, I wonder what that would tell us?
This week also saw Atom announce their contribution to Virtual worlds for the PS4; Atom Universe. It must be heartening to see that another developer is committing to bringing a virtual world to PS4, if only we could all pool resources somehow! We were particularly pleased to see that Atom is also employing Unreal Engine 4, so we should expect a world of high visual quality. We wish Atom all the best
Before signing off I'd like to say a few words about these here forums. Until we can all meet up and hang out in neotopia then these forums really are neotopia. I love getting to chat to folks in the shoutbox and browse the various forum threads when I get the chance, and am ever indebted to all of those who work to keep this running smoothly, from Admin and the Mods (great band name, no?) to our dedicated CM. Occasionally things get a little heated, as they did at one point this week, and things get said which probably shouldn't, but this is a side effect of caring passionately about something - which is to say it is the side effect of a good thing. Lets all (myself included!) try real hard to play nice!
Ok 'nuff for now, see youz in the shoutbox or flying the neoflag in Home!
Hi there, hope you all had a great thanksgiving! I just thought it worthwhile to give you all the detailed low-down on neotopia and madmunki for anyone who wants more details.
So we set about looking for funding, and we are still trying to do that, but it's slow going and to be honest is not something we are experts in, but we are experts in making games so we decided to properly get on with trying to make neotopia. As we don't have spare cash in the bank to keep us in food and shelter we are also having to do some contract work and follow up some other odds and ends, but more about that in a minute.
The first step to getting neotopia up and running is to get an envornment running in Unreal 4, so I am doing that with all the spare time that I have right now, Jagz is also doing what he can to get an avatar in and running about this environment. We'll show you what progress we've made as soon as we can - but don't hold your breath quite yet! Without funding what we will attempt to do is get this working with multiple avatars and have it running online in some kind of limited way. We'll then seek to release this somehow and work towards a closed 'Beta'. We'll be looking for your input on what you'd like to see in this environment and initial avatar themes etc in the nearish future. We may well get to the point where we are looking to raise funds through the community again, be that donations or some other kind of crowdfunding, but we will not do that until we are very sure about what we can provide and actually have something to show.
Other munki business involves me spending 4 days of my week (which as I don't have what most folks would consider a life leaves 3 days and most nights free!) contracting for Pixelhero on their Eisenhorn game for Games Workshop - I'm making levels - from an art point of view in this case, not a design one - you can check out their stuff here. Pixelhero were a key part of the Kickstarter campaign, indeed Nader, the Pixelhero gaffer (sorry dude) created the neotopia avatar mockup - without the funding though Pixelhero cannot afford the time to spend on neotopia and have to focus on their own project, thankfully they can afford to pay madmunki to help them out.
The other madmunki project which we hope to derive some funds from is, confusingly enough a mobile game called 'Topia'. Topia was created by our mate and computer game legend Glenn Corpes (he wrote Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Magic Carpet among many other games - he also shares the madmunki office with me), Glenn released the game on iPhone and we ported it to Android for him earlier this year. Now we're working on putting an actual game in it for him, right now Topia is really just a fun little sandox where you can deform the landscape and lay down hudreds of little creatures to see them running about and eating one another etc. The name neotopia did in a funny sort of way come from Glenn's game, but thats a story for another time.
So we have other things on our plate because we have to in order to survive, but neotopia is a dream we are not going to give up on just because we don't have the money right now - its just going to take a while. In the interests of transparency; we won't hear about the sales from the apartment till next month, and we won't see the actual money till next year, but as with all things we'll keep you posted. Ultimately we want to see neotopia, or something very like it happen on PS4, that is to say; a virtual world where people can can interact through text and speech, where there are private and public spaces and where there is a system in place for it to be properly developed WITH the community. It does not matter what the thing is called at the end of the day, or (due dilligence aside) who runs it, only that it exists and that we can all be a part of it.
We will continue doing the neoflag events to keep the dream alive and to be honest because they are fun - I for one get a real kick out of all the beautiful images that we manage to make together, and massively appreciate all of those posting pictures and video (thx Arwen!). I'll sign off for now, but I'll try post on this blog once a week from now on, it is really important to us that you know exactly where we are at. Let me finish by saying; I am massively proud of our community, it's commitment, imagination and humour are genuinely an inspiration - so thank you all!
Seeya in Home or in the Shoutbox!