Guest Editorial: +AsDesigned Games – From There To Here

Guest Editorial: +AsDesigned Games – From There To Here

+AsDesigned Games was formed in 2010 by several former Realtime Worlds employees; the small team was formed after the well publicised and unfortunate demise of the Dundee developer.

The +ADG team consisted of a few former QA testers who simply wanted to create some fun games and boost their portfolios/CVs at the same time. After a few short meetings it was clear that the passion and enthusiasm from the team was enough to make this more than a pipe dream, we believed we had what it took to create and establish ourselves as a studio.

With a core team in place we began brain storming ideas for our first title; we actually had a lot, some great and some terrible. At the end of our first meeting, set in the +ADG offices located in the back corner of Laing’s bar, we came up with what we thought was a unique concept. The product wasn’t something that was going to set the world a light, but it was an idea we believed would get us picked up by the Abertay Prototype Grant Funding committee. The Abertay Grant was our main goal as a company, it gave us the chance to really take the development process seriously and also potentially acquire a large portion of funding.

With a clear goal now in our sights we began meeting weekly to discuss our project idea, creating and defining an ever increasing design document. The early meetings were fantastic, the team were really pushing themselves creatively to make our game fantastic, and everyone threw themselves into their work to avoid thinking about our current unemployment status, or impending interviews with ‘real’ companies.

On top of this design work the team also began looking at the other avenues they needed to go down to qualify for the Abertay Grant; a business proposal was drafted up along with a marketing strategy, two essential documents that were needed not only for the Abertay Grant but also for ourselves to ensure we understood exactly what we were getting into. Further to this, meetings were set up with Business Gateway, information was key for the early stages of development and growth.

Creating our design pitch, business proposal and a document detailing why we believed we would benefit from the Abertay Grant was very time consuming, the documents were written, edited, re-written and re-edited countless times, everyone was well aware we needed to get this right first time or face missing out until next year. With our design document finalised and everyone happy with our proposal to Abertay we submitted all necessary documents a few hours before the deadline, with that out the way all we had to do was wait.

After a few back and forth emails between the team and Abertay it was clear we wouldn’t hear about our fate for a few weeks. Due to the application process we couldn’t actually start on our title until the funding was accepted and as such we were back to square one, still unemployed and with nothing to work on. Because of this we decided it was time to get our creative juices flowing again and began brain storming a title we could develop and turn around quickly. Once again we met up in the +ADG offices and began to discuss what each of us would like to do, this time we didn’t come up with a game idea, instead we came up with a game name (or main character name) that we really liked – and from here Zomblebee was born.

Zomblebee started off as somewhat of a joke, bee puns were thrown about across a few cold beverages and a hot meal until all of the team were convinced that we had to make a game around this name. With the seemingly hard part out of the way we began to discuss game concepts and platforms. Our programmer at the time was looking to bolster his knowledge of Microsoft’s XNA engine and as such everyone quickly agreed this would be a suitable candidate for our project. With our platform now set in stone we began work on our design document, which in its early stages was filled with more bee puns than actually game play elements.

With the design document underway our talented artist Michael Doig began to sketch up some work on how he thought Zomblebee would look. The whole team was blown away by his talents and how he captured how all of us felt Zomblebee would look. Further to this we also had some fantastic audio pieces created by Stephen King, everyone was really knuckling down to make this something we could be proud of.

With an artist, a programmer, a designer, an audio composer/web developer and a business developer/marketing chap we had a core team who were dedicated to the development of our first indie title. Development was well underway on various fronts, levels were created, concept art was done and a basic demo of Zomblebee in action was created, we even had what we believed was a unique and compelling marketing campaign! However as with all unpaid endeavors disaster struck, or perhaps it was salvation? Several of the team accepted games industry jobs and the lead programmer decided it was time to go snowboarding in France for 6 months. Just like that the team went from meeting every weekend with new work to show off and ideas to discuss to being situated all over the UK and Europe.

While everyone was high-fiving about their future career paths the team also received some disappointing news, our proposal to Abertay for the Prototype Grant had been declined. Our funding ambition was over and the moral of the team was dented slightly.

With the team now focusing on their individual careers all development on +ADG was put on hold and this is how it stayed from January 1st until March 1st.

With the team now all over the UK and beyond communication began to dry up, the team began to focus on their personal career development as well as their individual portfolios. Original founders Richard Wood and Adam Russell remained in contact regularly, still holding the ambition to release an indie title under the name +AsDesigned Games. The problem however was their lack of programming and artistic skills; Richard was working as Production Assistant at Dynamo Games and Adam as a Games Designer at Soshi Games. Despite this however they remained vocal about their ambition to strive forward with development of a +ADG title, committing themselves by purchasing an official domain for +ADG and also hosting.

With this commitment in place it wasn’t long before they were able to convince former Realtime Worlds employee and friend Stuart Welsh to join them on the indie development scene. Stuart is working as a Programmer at Glasgow company LiveCam Ltd and was keen to boost his own knowledge and portfolio. With a programmer on board the new and re-structured team began to discuss games ideas, all very aware that a project needed to be small and have a quick turnaround time for them to commit to it.

Further good news was the re-emergence of Zomblebee programmer Ian Simpson from his snowboarding break. Ian had taken time between hitting the slopes to improve his XNA knowledge, creating a small game of his own to showcase his talents.

With a small team now formed the guys are well aware of their limitations both technically and as an aspiring studio. With each member of the team also having personal deadlines and goals, development of titles under the +ADG name will be slow going, however each member is committed to releasing a collaborative indie title in 2011.

+AsDesigned Games are now a small team consisting of Richard Wood (Business Development, Marketing and Production), Adam Russell (Lead Designer), Stuart Welsh (iOS Programmer) and Ian Simpson (XNA Programmer).

For more information on the team please follow us on Twitter (@AsDesignedGames) or on our Facebook Page.


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