Monday 20 November 2017

Nintendo Hard

When developing games for the NES, Nintendo designers used to have a concept of Nintendo Hard. Most kids didn’t have a lot of pocket money and games were expensive in the Eighties, so Nintendo wanted to ensure their games stood out as good value for money that provided a lot of play-time. To do this, they didn’t just make games hard; they made them Nintendo Hard. They’d do the normal three difficulty levels - Easy, Medium, Hard - and then they’d make a fourth difficulty called Nintendo Hard which was too hard for the developers to beat. Then they’d just shift everything down a space in the menu. So Easy would actually be Medium, Medium would actually be Hard, and Hard would actually be Nintendo Hard. So was the genius of Nintendo.

The above story is absolute rubbish.

There’s a thousand reasons why it makes no sense. Indeed, one of the things that makes Nintendo’s first party games stand out from other games from the same era is how intuitive, accessible and forgiving they are.

But it was told to me in a pub by a drunk guy who was very insistent and I think he liked the idea that he was imparting valuable knowledge to a so-called professional game developer. Who am I to take that joy away from him?

Thus, this is an article about what it really means to be Nintendo Hard.

Monday 13 November 2017

Winner: IndieCade 2017 Jury Choice Award

The past few months have certainly been busy! I flew to Japan to show Codex Bash at Tokyo Game Show, followed by a trip to IndieCade in Los Angeles to perform The Incredible Playable Show, and then after a couple of weeks off I was in the air again, on my way to Hamburg to perform at Play17.

The big big news is that The Incredible Playable Show was awarded the Jury Choice Award at IndieCade 2017!

The Jury Choice Award is eligible by all games chosen for the Official Selection, and is voted on by the judges, jury and production team of the festival.

The Incredible Playable Show was part of the Night Games selection, exhibited on the second night of the festival. I was allocated the main lecture theatre to perform in, and a window of four hours. Having flown over 5000 miles to be there I thought I should make the most of it, and did three one-hour shows. I'm glad I did, as the audience were really up for it, loads of people came to see it and honestly the show was the wildest and funniest it has ever been.

In fact, I was so buzzed from performing that I only slept two hours the following night!

It really is an honour to receive the award and I'm so happy that the team at IndieCade were so impressed by it. The Incredible Playable Show is something that I have worked very hard on - it's brought together everything I've learned from all the previous games I've made, but has also challenged me to learn performance skills and fearlessness. It's a piece of work I'm very proud of and so to know that people have been so entertained by it means that that work has paid off.

Photo from @seraphki on Twitter 
I'd like to send a massive thank you to the IndieCade team for the award, and also to all the staff and stewards, the sound desk operators and the Japanese American National Museum for the fantastic venue - my work can often be complicated to set up and run, so having so many helpful people behind you helping accommodate it makes a massive difference!

I'd also like to send a massive thank you to everyone in the audience who came along, who joined in the games, who made lots of noise, who told their friends about it, and who simply enjoyed the show. Having an audience who is excited to get stuck in is what makes the show work, and so I really do mean it when I say you made it a success.