Introducing Little Things!

Personal Projects

Earlier this year, when I was starting to think seriously about my mental health and began to seek treatment for Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I decided to start working on a series of apps and games I thought might help me out. Some time later than originally planned, I’ve finally finished the first one! It’s called Little Things, and it’s designed to help you allocate little bits of time for yourself and others. I tend to stress about time-use and often convince myself I just don’t have time to do things like watch a video someone’s sent me,  go for a spontaneous trip outside or even sort through and close the tabs open in my browser! The idea behind the app is that you give it a list of activities you don’t let yourself allocate time for, and then each morning it suggests one little thing that you might like to do that day.

It’s a small app but I’m proud of sticking with it and it’s already proved itself useful to me! I have lots of ideas for other helpful apps and games which this whole process has been a little test run for – hence using Unity and uploading the app to itch! Next, I’m going to focus on the idea I think will be most immediately useful to me – a friendly to do list! It’ll present tasks in a way which focuses on how I feel while doing them rather than getting as much done as possible.

In the meantime if you’d like to check out Little Things (completely free!) you can use it online or download it here. You can also get it on Android here! (Sorry iOS users – I’m not in a position where I can pay for a developer account yet but maybe one day!) One of the things I’d really like feedback on is the info box in the app – this kind of self-care can be helpful but tends not to solve any underlying issues and I’ve tried to reflect on that in a positive way. I’d love to get my message right if I’m going to be making more of this type of thing in future! <3

Thanks for reading! I hope to blog more soon about my mental health developments and share some of the wonderful resources I’ve been recommended, inside and outside of video games!

Get it on Google Play

Joining Lost Words (and a fun coincidence!)

Career News

Hello! Wonderful news!! Last Monday I started work on Lost Words, a multi-award winning narrative game set in the pages of a diary, with a story written by Rhianna Pratchett. You can read more about the game here: https://lostwordsgame.com/ if you so wish. I’m actually joining my partner who’s been working on the project for 5 months already. So we’re working together again, but this time we make up the entire (current) programming team!

Working on Lost Words is a particularly good fit for me; it’s a running joke that I actually came up with the idea for the game before its creator, Mark, did! As part of my first year at uni in 2011, we were tasked with writing a ‘product overview document’ for our own game designs and I wrote mine about Novella, a platformer in which the player moved across the words of a short story. As they played, certain words would behave dynamically – the word ‘fall’ would fall down the page, the phrase ‘back and forth’ would move back and forth etc. The player would have to use these to traverse different levels. 

It wasn’t until 2013, 2 years later, that Mark conjured up what would become Lost Words at Ludum Dare 26, creating a platformer in which the player moved across the words of a diary. When first talking to Mark about joining the project and discussing this bizarre coincidence, I actually made the effort to dig out my original document and what I found was eerily similar to the Lost Words concept – from the prominence of emotion in the game to having no lives or Game Over. It’s amazing – I feel like he’s done all this hard work, recruited Rhianna Pratchett and assembled this great team, won all these awards, and I just get to come along afterwards and work on my idea!

My assignment cover.
My assignment cover.
My assignment intro - yes, the rest of the document is equally pompous and self-important!

I’ve been working on Lost Words for a week now and am starting with one of my favourite tasks – setting up an automated build system! (Not sarcastic, I get unusually excited about this stuff.) What’s more, the Xbox One and PS4 dev kits just arrived and I can’t wait to stuck into the ports with Karn too! I’m delighted to be able to contribute to such a lovely game and it’s looking wonderful so far – I guess I’ll let the pre-existing team take SOME credit, even though I technically had the idea first…

Changes!

General

Quite a few big things have been happening with me recently so I thought I’d put them all in a big update for your perusal.

THING ONE: WENT TRAVELLING AND IT WAS GOOD

This Summer I spent a few months backpacking around the UK, Croatia and Slovenia! It was mainly fantastic but tough at times – there’s so much to say about my trip I’ll probably write a summary of it for my next blog post, but here are some pics as a teaser.

THING TWO: NEW WEBSITE

I had a sudden realisation that my old site looked completely awful so I went ahead and started from scratch with this new one. Please let me know if you see any issues – I’ve been messing around with scripts I should probably have left well alone!

THING THREE: QUIT MY JOB

After some developments which took place while I was away I decided to quit my job at Playtonic.  I had a lot of great times there and am grateful for the opportunity to work on such a cool project with such a legendary team. As this was unexpected I’ve moved back home for a bit – I’m incredibly lucky to have such a supportive family, and to have built up sufficient savings to live off for a while. So I’m actually feeling really good about the situation!

[[[These screenshots are from Night in the Woods which you should play immediately.]]]
[[[These screenshots are from Night in the Woods which you should play immediately.]]]

THING FOUR: I HAVE IDEAS AND PLEASE TALK TO ME

The plan is to spend several months at home figuring out what I want to do next. This will involve a lot of research/contemplation and messing about with some personal projects I’ve got ideas for. I’m really interested in the use of games to solve real world problems and help people (in big or small ways), and I’d love to discuss this with anyone who’s worked in the field of serious games, or anyone who knows of good resources I should check out/events I should attend! I’m starting to build up a big list of these myself and I’m really excited by what I’ve found so far. Also, if anyone’s made changes to their lifestyle – inside or outside of work – because of feelings about the current state of the world I’d love to hear about how that went! Any info I can get is really going to help me come to some conclusions about what I’d like to aim for next.