A cheeky face lift!

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The site was feeling a little unloved so I decided to give it a little face lift!

What I’ve changed:

  • New promotional image slider taking top space. This will be to promote things I’ve recently released – full width too!
  • Moved portfolio up the page instead of being down the bottom & also brought recent blog posts down just below that.
  • Added a new “my story” just to explain a little bit of who I am and what I do if you don’t know me. Thought this was a tasty personal touch there!
  • Added a instagram feed – you’ll be able to see loads of derpy pictures of me at events or maybe from games I’m currently working. I’ll keep this updated! So follow me on Instagram too – it’s ChrisJeffGames.
  • Neatened up the footer a little, added my full logo and made social buttons a little nicer.

Slide the little slidey thing around to see what’s new. It’s quite cool! Some things you can’t see as they’re on other pages but it gives you an idea of front page layout.

That’s it. No more waffle from me. Crazy busy at the moment too – it’s all good as it’s funding projects but I’ll get some up to date news on what I’m working on soon. I always say this…

Ludic Ubiquity Interview

Interview

Hey guys. I’ve been a slacker on here for a good 6 months! I’m sorry for that, I suck. BUT, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth – really, I’m here!

I got interviewed last month by Ian Schiffman from Ludic Ubiquity and thought I’d share it with you guys.

With no previous programming experience, Chris Jeff started learning Flash and Actionscript on his own in 2007 while he was in college. Motivated by his love for games, specifically online Flash titles, he worked up a few examples in his own free time looking to the internet for advice and help. He eventually released his first game which received a few million plays. Working as a full time game developer, he has produced, both on his own and with artists, a number of online Flash titles with each one becoming more popular than the last as he has matured as a developer. Yet, by far, his most popular title is the one-button platformer Space is Key and its sequels which have been ported over to Android and iOS. Now, he has established a reliable brand with Chris Jeff Games working with sponsors like Armor Games, BigFishGames, Kongregate and Addicting Games. Ludic Ubiquity caught up with him during the development of his latest mobile titles.

Here is the PDF version of the interview:
Chris Jeff Interview


Ludic Ubiquity: What got you started in programming and video game development?

Chris Jeff: I’ve always had a strong love for video games. And, all throughout school and college, I’d play a lot of Flash games and was pretty active on Newgrounds. After trawling the forums a little bit, I came to understand that these games weren’t made by the bigger companies you’re used to with consoles. These are literally one-man teams making insanely fun games and Adobe (Macromedia at the time) Flash was on the radar the whole time!

I decided to give it a shot and started to learn Flash when I was in college (UK college, so I was like 16) during my free time and made some little games for my classmates to play. People in the computer suite actually ended up playing them quite a bit and seemed really addicted to them. And from then on I just kept at it. Kept learning and kept making little games. I’m completely self-taught and used forums when I had issues and tutorials to mess around with and get a good understanding of Flash. So realistically I learned to program purely in order to be able to develop and design games.

LU: What was your first game?

CJ: You can find my first release game here. To give a bit of the back story to the game, this was during my Newgrounds days I believe. It was when “scary mouse mazes” were a big thing. The games themselves were generally fun but ultimately you got scared and the whole point of the game was to scare you – not to have fun! So I played around and made one which ended up getting a few million plays, this really shocked me that there where that many people out there that would play something I’ve made.

LU: How would you gauge the overall response to your games?

CJ: At first it’s pretty scary that you can put a game out there on the web and within days millions of people will have played it and commented whether or not they loved it, hated it or whether they really just hate you. I was in the Flash scene pretty early – since like 2007 (again I was 16!). So, I think I didn’t get hit as hard with the shock as some others will be as I kinda just got accustomed to it all. But to date, for sure, I still am shocked at how you can throw something out there and get so many eyes on it. I also think being in the Flash industry has prepared me for the bigger challenges of mobile & console development in terms of being able to engage with fans. This is where I can say I love Flash, right?

I’d like to think my games have been received well. I’ve been blessed with insane fan responses to games I’ve developed which has allowed me to keep going at it really. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing sponsors and amazing collaborators in the industry too which has really allowed me to put games out there that I loved to do but couldn’t do on my own. Seriously, I can’t draw at all. I think I can draw a pig pretty well, but that’s all I can do.

LU: What’s your most popular game?

CJ: When it comes to any of my games popularity, I think it’s pretty obvious that, out of all of them, Space is Key dives out. This is literally a game that I had a little idea for one night and started prototyping at like 3:00 am. I honestly never thought it’d end up having the reception it did. And now it’s definitely at the top of my most successful games for sure. Scary how I’ve worked on games with artists and put in two to three months work, yet a little prototype with my own artwork in a night ends up outshining them all. Oh internet.

LU: Have you ever been to game festivals?

CJ: In 2013, I actually got to have Space is Key showcased at PAX Prime from a friend’s booth. He was hosting a booth in order to promote his social platform for Flash games and I got the chance to send Space is Key along. I actually didn’t get to go myself but I tuned in a few times via live chat with people playing the game and it was pretty insane to see people react to the game live. Apart from that, I’ve actually never been physically at an event with my game, but I definitely want to in the future: it looks so fun to do!

LU: What is your development process like?

CJ: I think my game development process is pretty straight forward. Nowadays I’ll actually get all my ideas down in a game design document at the same time as prototyping. I try and build the prototype into something fun and something I can really play with more. From that, I’ll start to buff the idea out and start making it into an actual game instead of a prototype, i.e. level design, art, sounds, etc.

Yet, the development process can change depending on the idea. Like for Space is Key, I had the idea of jumping over blocks: a really super simplistic idea. But it wasn’t until the end of making the game I felt like, if I polished up the place holder art I’d drawn – a bunch of squares really -, that the style could really compliment the game. Yet, it was one hundred percent about the gameplay and not how the game actually looked. Sometimes games just evolve from a little engine or prototype for another game I’ve made also; so, it really depends, but generally my process is the same.

LU: How do you go about creating the art for your games?

CJ: As I shared before, sadly I don’t draw. I’d literally love to! But I really can’t. So a lot of the time I collaborate with an artist, which in itself is amazing. Being able to bounce ideas off them and vice versa but, also, just to have someone else there on the project chipping in their ideas is completely invaluable and I love it. But sometimes if it’s an idea I think is simple enough, I enjoy running with it just by myself (like Space is Key). So usually my process for that is the same as any other game, I’ll fill the game with place holder art so I can get everything working and sometimes that art work just ends up sticking. I think with game art, if you’re not going for a fancy style, just having something super simplistic that really compliments the game can be just as effective.

LU: Besides artists, you’ve also worked with musicians. How do you go about working with them?

CJ: I love getting the chance to work with other people on projects. When I’m in a decent position in development and have the feel of the game down, it’s usually a great time to get a musician on-board. I think a good majority of my games have custom sound tracks actually. Audio is an often overlooked part of game development and really can solidify your game and achieve the feeling you want. I usually have a pretty simplistic approach with audio and for the most part I’ll talk to a musician who thinks of what style will really match the game I’m working with. I’ll show them the game and let them play it. I think letting them have hands-on time with the game lets them nail the feel of the game too. I always let them go wild with their creativity and try not to push them too much in a certain direction apart from some pointers or ideas for the track I’ve had.

LU: How has developing games changed your perspective and opinion of games you have played, if at all?

CJ: I’d say I have a pretty open love for games nowadays. I really do play a lot of different genres. However, I’ve noticed I do have a pretty short attention span when playing a game. It really has to hold me and I think that does actually shows in my games. I gravitate towards short, sharp styles. However, I’m a really competitive person naturally. Thus the likes of Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive got their hooks in me and I play those often with friends. I think developing games definitely does give you a different perspective on games. I don’t think it really changes my opinion as I don’t play them as a developer: I’m playing them as me. But I’ve noticed that, if I don’t generally like a game, I can still respect it for what it is or what has went in to it a lot more than when I didn’t know a lot about what actually went in to a game.

LU: You started mostly with Flash games. How did you go about porting Space is Key to the mobile platform?

CJ: So the current Space is Key iOS/Android app is actually in Adobe AIR. It’s using Flash which for me is a technology that is right at home with the current workflow. And for Space is Key it runs perfectly without the need to worry an awful lot about optimisation like you would with much larger games due to vector art. Before the AIR version, it was actually in Cocos2D for just iOS for a year or so before I moved it over to AIR. This was completely different: it was a bit of a struggle and I had some help getting that out there. Right now for mobile games (which is my current focus) I’m using Adobe AIR for some & Unity for the others. I didn’t really choose the game for the platform initially. It’s just what I prototyped the game in and has kinda just stayed that way in using that technology.

LU: As a developer of browser-based games, what do you think the future holds for them?

CJ: I honestly think browser-based games will stay around for longer than a lot of people give them credit for. It comes down to ease of access. Just being able to load up a web page and play a game is a great thing. And, as there are developers still creating enjoyable and creative content, you’ll always see people playing games in their browser. Also, browser-based games have had insanely high quality games and have allowed developers to make that step to mobile/downloadable games too. Just being able to throw a game out there and reach a huge audience is unmatched.

LU: Last question: What’s next for ChrisJeff Games?

CJ: What am I not working on?! I’m actually working on three to four mobile projects still. They’re still in the early days apart from one which is leading the pack. I haven’t revealed what they are publicly nor shown pictures so sadly I can’t show anything. But I can say that one is an arcade/action/reaction game in the sense that Space is Key is and the prototyping has been great with it. It’s rather fun! The focus for ChrisJeff Games currently is mobile games. I’m feeling super excited working on these games on tablets & mobile.

I think my simplistic design approach generally compliments the mobile platform. So, it’s been a fairly nice transition but I can’t wait to get more content out there. As far as web games are concerned, I’ve had a game I’m ninety percent done with from, easily, over a year ago that I need to finish off and get out there. It’s called Beard Quest and you can see it here! It’s very typical of me to work on way too many things at once which sadly slows the development of a lot of them but when I do have stuff to show I generally blog or tweet about them pretty fast.

But yeah, hope you liked that and found something you can take out of it. If you have any questions, I’m happy to talk!

I’ve got a few blog updates planned to share what I’m doing at the moment as sadly I can’t actually share a lot of it yet – and I’m busting at the seams to tell you guys what I’m working on.

You also can view the interview over on his site at: http://sett.com/ludicubiquity/chris-jeff-interview

2014 Flash Games Market Survey!

During the past year, the flash game market has witnessed the surge of HTML5 as a significant contender to browser-based games, the rise of Unity’s web player, the corresponding end of Unity’s Export to Flash support, and a rapidly swelling “flash is dead” movement. Many argue that Flash’s competition, at least on the web, has yet to present a comparable replacement, but the downtrend is difficult to deny.

The recent closing of Mochi Media, one of the few significant industry stalwarts of the web-based Flash Games Market, is sure to have a significant impact on both the current market and it’s future. The goal of this survey is to both assess the current status and direction (or change there in) of the market, as well as to continue one of the most important industry contributions that Mochi has made over the past several years: the Flash Game Market Survey.

We have carefully reconstructed this survey from Mochi’s past surveys in order answer the most pressing question plaguing our market today: “What now?”

Our goal is to get at least 1,000 respondents in order to maintain the survey’s statistical relevance and correlation to previous years. So, please forward this survey to as many of your fellow Flash game devs as possible.

The results of this survey will be shared publicly, although we expect the collection period to take a few months in order to reach the needed response level. So, please be patient, and you’ll get all the juicy stats from the survey! In a nice edible form.

So yeah hit it up and share it around <3

http://dev.playvue.com/2014-flash-games-survey/

Farewell Mochi!

1309v9-max-250x250 It’s sad month! Mochi Media announced they were shutting up shop (And at no decision of their own) after Shanda decided they kinda didn’t want them any more. Huge shame as Mochi has really turned to many so many hobbies in to careers and fostered the growth of the Flash game industry and really been around since it started kicking off more and at its peak! Sadly it all closes down on 31st march :(

Not only did Mochi really open my eyes (Whilst I was 16 actually!) to the flash game world and still continue to support me as it turned from a hobby to a career but I was honoured to have them work alongside Ernesto and I with Mochi London. They really helped us a tonne financially and with their expertise on running events (From FGS), so it’s sad they won’t be involved any more as Colin is a legend!

So speaking of Mochi London – it will still live on! Just because Mochi went away, doesn’t mean this event will. I’m still willing to put in the time and energy to continuing it all as from the start we wanted to get the community in one place and get creativity flowing, this can still happen! The only thing is I won’t have funding for the event so I’m going to keep my options open and feel around and see what I can do with the event. I still want it how Mochi London was but I want to open the event up a lot more to the indie scene as a whole as in the past it’s been pretty Flash heavy. So yeah, Mochi London will still live! 😉

Here are some cool stories I’ve screen capped from the forums. Seriously so cool to hear everyone’s stories and how everyone really started off the same way when Mochi was around!

My little Mochi story I posted on the forums:

So I started developing games 7 years ago in 2007 (Christ!), it was around the time that Mochi was in beta actually! And to be honest, I feel like I’ve grew up to what I am today with Mochi, so it sucks to hear this! Whilst I was deep in Flash at School and just experimenting, Mochi allowed me to earn whilst I was still picking everything up and even after I was established and earning from sponsorships, it was still bringing in revenue. Aside from the Ads too, Mochi provided some great services, especially Mochibot which I’ve pretty much religiously relied on for accurate and reliable analytics!

One of the best things I’ve got to work on was Mochi London with Colin. I learned so much from it all and having you guys there to really guide me was just priceless! I think it was a brilliant three year run for us & can’t thank you chaps enough for getting involved by both financially making it happen and pouring your time in too!

I think without Mochi being around (Even just in terms of community), it’s going to leave quite a hole and I second what Wayne said, it’d be good to get somewhere to regroup and kind of keep the community side of things going.

So yeah, definitely sad and it’s been a pleasure! Mochi seems to have incubated some insanely talented and cool people so even though you don’t need it, I wish you all the best with what you end up pursuing and hope it’s awesome!

Other peoples stories:

So if you’re a developer/publisher using Mochi’s services/have money in your account, you should head over to http://mochiland.com/articles/mochi-media-winding-down-services-end-date-of-3-31-2014 and read the official announcement! Also before the 31st of March you should hit up the community and show some love, it’s great to see how people have came together and shared their stories! https://www.mochimedia.com/community/forum/topic/mochi-media-winding-down-services-end-date-of-3

But yeah it’s been a privilege to work with the folks at Mochi and I wish every single one of them good luck in finding somewhere new. Huge shame it had to happen! Nice one Shanda….logical decision.

What I think is the best of 2013!

Best of Flash

Kingdom Rush Frontiers

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Last year I wanted to put Kingdom Rush in there but it came out in the middle of 2011 so I totally couldn’t. Now I get too! Seriously this is by far the most enjoyable tower defense game I’ve ever played, the game oozes polish and luckily I got to play this in March 2013 at GDD with the Ironhide guys in the Kongregate offices, I felt privledged! All in all though, you can tell what’s been put in to this game when you pick it up, each level is perfectly balanced and feels like it’s been played a tonne of times and tweaked to get the perfect difficulty on it, which by the way, isn’t easy. It’s a tough little game and you’ll find yourself losing a fair bit but it all adds to the game, when you do beat a level if feels like you’ve done a lot to get there and not just tapped a few things!

Crush the Castle Adventures

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So you pretty much have to be familiar with the original Crush the Castle that launched with Armor Games in 2009 or so and all the ones in between developed by Joey Betz. I think the biggest thing for me, aside for the huge world to explore as a level map – is the art! The game has had such a breath of life breathed in to it with Jimp’s artwork if I’m honest, it feels like such a new and fresh game now and I had tonnes of fun playing this. A well deserved best of 2013 if I’m honest and It’ll keep you entertained for ages, it’s massive! (As I wrote that I laughed so I’m keeping it in (Ohhh ho ho ho)).

 

Best AAA

Bioshock Infinite

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I was late to the party with this one actually, I only played it in December on PC! Honestly the story in this game left a huge impression on me, one of the biggest in a game I’ve ever had I feel! The story is amazing, sure it’s not perfect and people are picking plot holes but they can shut up for all I can, it’s phenomenal! Combat in this game is pretty much how it’s all been in Bioshocks which is great and hectic with the addition of skylines which just crank everything up a notch. I’d have honestly been happy to just walk through the story without all the fighting though, that’s how I feel about it. But for the budget of this game it doesn’t really appeal to the masses so it is what is it. An insane bloody game :)

GTA5

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It’s hard not to say this game was bloody insane. I’m a big fan of the GTA series however GTA IV didn’t really click with me as much so I when I got this game on launch I didn’t go in to it with huge hype (Even though I should have as Rockstar usually deliver well) and man did I get hooked.  Once I done the story I had to wait what felt like forever for the multi player as I just wanted more but sadly this didn’t deliver as much as I wanted, it felt full of grinding and samey after a while. I’m not sure what state it’s in now but I played for 2-3 weeks after launch. Saying that, that can’t take away anything at all from the single player experience, which is amazing!

 

Best Indie

Gone Home

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So Gone Home was more of an experience for me I feel. And to be honest it’s not something you can really go in depth in to without revealing what it’s all about but it’s a fantastic game! I think I clocked around 2 hours (Although it’s a little short for the £15 price tag I admit) but it’s all about the experience and atmosphere of it all for sure, after playing through it I’ll definitely say right now you won’t regret it.

Best Mobile

Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time

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I’m not sure if this would be an unpopular choice for people purely because it’s full of micro transactions and from face value it really shouldn’t work with this game as the first one was amazing without them. You’d instantly think they’d just get in the way – BUT they really don’t. I had an insane amount of fun playing this game and didn’t part with a penny actually. It seems most micro transactions were to unlock stuff that you’d unlock by playing the game anyway so I think it’s fair that I get a great experience without getting nickel and dimed to buy stuff!

So that was a top 6 I guess. Who does top 10’s anyway? Matched last years top 6, just to keep it all the same 😉