2013 has brought much change here at Team Cooper HQ. This time last year we were still mainly making browser games in Flash; but since then, with many clients noticing ever increasing tablet usage in their user stats, we have switched to delivering projects in HTML5 too.
Many of the projects we have built over recent months have been based on our growing library of white label game engines that we have been gradually building up. Each of these engines has been developed in both Flash and HTML5 in order to target modern mobile browsers as well as older desktop machines. So with Christmas fast approaching (and with a few things falling into place at just the right time) it felt right that this year we should “Eat our own dog food” and build a new cross-platform game for ourselves.
With the game ready to launch, I thought it would be nice to write this post with a little more information about how our upcoming game ‘Farter Christmas’ came in to being.
Like many of our games, this one started life as a silly idea. Only where normally these ideas originate from conversations in the pub, this one came from my (then) 6 year old son, Stanley.
I’ve actually wanted to make a Team Cooper Christmas game for the past couple of years, but for various reasons we simply couldn’t find the time. Last year while in the park with Stanley one day, I mentioned that I was thinking of making a Christmas themed game to which he suggested:
“Daddy, I think you should make a game with Father Christmas in it and he should be doing lots and lots of trumps. On his reindeer.”
So when we got home, we sat down together and thought about how the Santa trumping game might actually work and after a few discussions and iterations of ideas, Farter Christmas is what we came up with. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure that it would ever go any further than that, but it was a nice way to kill an hour or two together.
Making the most of resources
Fast forward 12 months to November this year, and we were due to have 15 year old work experience student Ben join us for a week here at Team Cooper HQ. We don’t often have work experience students in the office, but when Ben had originally got in touch I was impressed with his enthusiasm and the selection of animation work he had already put together, so felt he would be a good fit. I wanted to give him a small project to work on over the week and with it being close to the festive season, Farter Christmas immediately sprang to mind. So, Ben eagerly got on with putting together a variety of graphics and animations and, by the end of the week, we had a first draft of the game’s artwork.
The next step was to start actually coding up a prototype and as fate would have it we found ourselves with a little spare development resource available. As we normally use any spare development time we have to work on new game engines anyway, for us this was a nice way to kill two birds with one stone – build ourselves a Christmas game plus develop a new game engine.
Bringing it all together
With the prototype complete and the project gaining some momentum, we decided to devote a bit more resource to the project in order to release it properly. I wanted to release this game using the same process and to the same standard as we would for a client, so we spent some time polishing the game play, the UI and, of course, the all-important ‘farticle’ effects. Throughout the project I was keen to keep Ben’s original character animations intact and, while inevitably we needed to replace or update some of them for practical or aesthetic reasons, the majority remain. I was also keen to feature some voice over to provide an extra layer of humour and so we found a dark store cupboard in the bowels of the Electric Works and recorded our John doing his very best Santa impression. Ho ho ho!
The final touch was to offer entry for a free prize draw to anyone who could set a high enough score. We thought long and hard about what this should be, feeling that it needed to be something silly and very ‘us’. In the end we decided that it should be an inflatable Penguin, just like our office mascot Pete, along with a hamper of candies to sweeten the deal.
Ready for launch
So, with the new game ready for public release, I’m happy to say I’m really pleased with the final result. It was a lot of fun to put together and the whole team has enjoyed setting some high scores for you to try and beat when it goes live. I think Ben enjoyed his week with us and it’s been nice to have given him a placement opportunity where he actually got to make something.
Stanley also thinks it’s pretty awesome too!
Update: If you haven’t played the game yet, you can check it out at http://farterchristmas.com and if you submit a high score before the 31st December, you could be in with a chance of winning that inflatable penguin!