Games

2015

Contract work

iOS app for Cinext. 2014

iOS app for Noirnoisette. 2014

Finalists

The last few weeks have been very exciting !

We’ve been selected to be part of the first round of Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur 2014. And we’re also finalists at the Bank of Ireland startups award 2014  ! Yeeha

I’ve also updated the look (after a tough fight against wordpress) and the content of the website so have a look around ;) ( Below, there are some great posts by Niamh about how it felt to make Primal Flame )

 

Summer’s over, here is what’s comin’

logo

Oï,

The summer is over, and here at Irrelevant Fish we’ve been busy. We made a movie app for Cinext (http://www.cinext.fr). It was great to use our skill on a short term project.

Apart from that, we’re working on an update of Primal Flame ( more on that soon). And we should have an announcement soon(ish) ;)

Cheers!

Pierre

The hidden factor in time estimation

dali

Project overrun and the difficulties encountered when trying to accurately predict development time still brings the finest war stories to any IT Christmas party table. Over the years, numerous methodologies have been developed to tame the beast, but with software still the adolescent of engineering, the dark art of estimation remains elusive.

Powering towards them like a Mexican wave of guesses and preemptive overestimation.

As a developer who is drawn to those romantically told war stories forged in the quiet cubicles of industry, part of me kinda likes it that way. A shocking confession perhaps, but in my head the orderly world of left-brain logic will always long for the great unexplored chaotic space of imagination. In some ways, it is the occupational necessity for both of these that makes the IT department the most romantic, humorous and fun bunch of dreamers in the cold world of carpeted cubes.

MahoganyCubicleMakeover

 

In recent years, the issues of vague requirements and incomplete proposals have been somewhat addressed by the addition of that layer of people between IT and the rest of the world. But despite this progress, we have all seen the look of fear in a developer’s eye when the question ‘how long it will take’ ripples across the morning stand-up meeting, powering towards them like a Mexican wave of guesses and preemptive overestimation.

with undoubtedly late nights, we usually hit the target – there or thereabouts.

We’ve all done it – aired on the side of caution, made a quick estimate without knowing where we’d start and then added a few days ‘just in case’. Of course the more confident you are, the easier it becomes to ask for more time or demand more specifics. But with varying degrees of competence, confidence and out-and-out optimism on any given team, when all estimates are pulled together they will usually contain a few land mines. And so with a balancing act of cautious early estimation and frantic late re-estimation, by the seat of our pants and with undoubtedly late nights, we usually hit the target – there or thereabouts.

 

mike-twohy-low-self-esteem-dear-diary-sorry-to-bother-you-again-new-yorker-cartoon

Estimating for oneself however, now that’s a whole different story. Cover-ups and management-pleasing are no longer required. You are free to be totally honest with yourself, even if that means admitting “I haven’t got the foggiest notion”. Of course you still need to make a stab at it for your own sanity – and it was this stabbing that taught us a lot about what is required to get it right.

Before making Primal Flame, we did not have Industry experience managing a full project life cycle and were unfamiliar with the freedom and responsibility that comes with manning ones own vessel. So how did it go..? Our initial estimate was wildly inaccurate, with the final release having 100% overrun on our original estimation. But why..?

We estimated with our hearts and not our heads.

We had minimal experience with iOS development, even less with game engines or animation and for reason outlined in another post, our design was not fully envisaged before we started. But as it turns out, our biggest mistake in estimation came not from these obvious stumbling blocks but from a hidden factor – Emotion. Our original estimation was actually a reflection of ‘when we would have ideally liked to be finished’, ‘when those around us would have expected us to be finished’ and ‘how long we thought we could do this for’. We estimated with our hearts and not our heads.

1-Underestimating

 

Whether we have truly learned to remove the last minute panic and serious all-nighters from our development cycle remains to be seen

Making our first game has taught us a lot about getting involved in long-term projects. You must be prepared for the long haul; to see it through even if the ‘proposed’ finish line fades into the distance behind you; to be honest about how long it will take you to produce something really great.  No matter how much you want to feel like a fast coder or a genius designer, casting aside your emotions and focusing on the cold hard facts will serve you well in the long run.

 

Whether we have truly learned to remove the last minute panic and serious all-nighters from our development cycle remains to be seen, but at least this experience has given us one more great war story for the Christmas party table :)

Primal flame’s reception

primalFlame

Hey,
a quick post about the release of the Primal flame…It went well !

We had great reviews from the major websites ( thanks guys), here are some examples :
5/5 – AppAdvice – Game of the week – “a real gem [...] gameplay is completely unique ”
5/5 – Cult of Mac – ” It just keeps on being amazing”
4/5 – TouchArcade – “Primal Flame could start a whole new genre”…”beautiful … poetic”
4/5 – 148Apps – “extremely cool and tactile mechanics”
- IGN – App of the day ( 25 / 02 )
- GamesRadar – “Might be one of the most beautiful [games] you’ll find on iOS”
4.5/5 – Appgefahren.de – “An absolute download recommendation”
4.5/5 – iPhonelife – “refreshingly enjoyable”
4.5/5 – Apptual Gamer – ” One of the most beautiful mixes of art and arcade you can find nowadays.”

The fear – Life in the wild west

tombstone

You’d be forgiven for assuming that all creative endeavours involve a similar blend of fear and exhilaration, but game development really is in a league of its own. For the digital world is the frontier of our generation, the wild west of our time, where fortunes can be made on the turn of trick, on bravery, madness, ingenuity, cunning or just plain luck. Billion-dollar empires spring up from student houses like oil once burst forth from the dry dust bowls of the old west, and start-ups, well they’re the new rock’n’roll.

indiegame-600x3691
How to create a generation of indies

Who could resist the desire to jump on the next stage coach and play a hand at the saloon tables of the new boom town ?

Everyone wants in, everyone wants to be in a ‘band’, a band of co-founders, entrepreneurs, VC, angel-investors and any other term you can dream up to secure your pass to dodge city. And sure, who could resist the desire to jump on the next stage coach and play a hand at the saloon tables of the new boom town.

 

It was this desire for adventure that led us away from all that was secure and familiar for a chance to ride out west and seek our fortunes. And what a ride! Oh yes the exhilaration we sought was ours for the taking, but nothing had prepared us for the accompanying fears.

 

MPW-65436
Doc Holliday

 

Your 15 mins could fly by in 15 seconds and you would miss the last train out of tombstone

At any stage along your journey you could ‘get it’ in the back, relentlessly pursued by your fears. Fear of someone releasing a game too similar to yours, of new devices that would extend development time, of ‘highwaymen’ stealing your game as soon as it came out and making off with your bounty, of someone using your desired name, of hitting the upload deadline before you’re finished, of getting the marketing wrong, or even seeing the whole app world fall before you get finished… It seems as though you only have ONE shot at this, and any mistake you make will result in lethal punishment. Within days your app will be relegated to the scrap heap without a sinners chance of resurrection.

 

Django unchained
Django unchained

Or maybe the frontier has always been, and will always be the wildest place to head for, the place of fear and frenzy.

Because you see, this is the wild west and the wind can change so quickly that your 15 minutes could fly by in 15 seconds and you would miss the last train out of Tombstone.

There’s no doubt that a lot of love goes into finishing a game. It has to be full of the passion that drove you out here, and so you make it a part of you. If you fail, it’s going to hurt – bad.

Maybe we will look back and wonder if we had taken it all too seriously. Or maybe the frontier has always been and will always be the wildest place to head for, a place of fear and frenzy. You just won’t know until you’ve stepped down off that train.

Indie game development – A flexible approach

BarrelMaking

When we first took the decision to start an indie games studio our knowledge of the game creation process was limited, requiring us to take a flexible organic approach to design. In the very early stages of development we were often unsure if a particular concept we dreamed up was even possible, given the processing power or memory requirements of the featured envisaged. For us the learning process continued throughout the project, with a ‘dream up – research – learn – design – develop – dream up’ cycle becoming the pattern of production. It may have been foolhardy to take this approach but there is one often overlooked psychological reason this strategy was best for us at the time – motivation.

We needed to start rolling immediately or heaven knows if we could have summoned the energy to pick ourselves up and continue

 

imindieOur very first game concept took a big hit (a major player produced a very similar game concept) and we decided to abandon its production. We needed to get started on our second idea straight away, we needed to start rolling immediately or heaven knows if we could have summoned the energy to pick ourselves up and continue. We needed to see a result, something tangible, graphic, that we could interact with there and then to help us believe that it was worth continuing. And so we started with the flame, and worked through the dream – research, learn – design – develop cycle with this single aspect of our game concept.

 

This obviously lead to issues later in the development, but would there have even been a “later in the development” had we not seen our flame come to life and been motivated by it – probably not.

 

but for a small team in need of motivation, it was what worked when nothing else could have seen us through.

 

And so we continued as we had started, researching as we went, learning as we coded, and designing as we learned, and because we had started, we couldn’t drop it now. Had we worked on animation or game development before, had we worked on iOS dev before, had we experience running a project from start to finish before, perhaps we could have taken a less maverick approach from an industry standard point of view, but for a small team in need of motivation, it was what worked when nothing else could have seen us through.

Welcome

Welcome to Wooly the Pyrate’s diaries, I will be expressing my thought and feelings about the journey of creating Primal Flame.

Primal flame is the first game of woolyCorp. Yaar !