5 min read

How it started… 💥 (Triple Eye's origin story)

This one kicked it all off, explaining why I started prototyping games, who I brought on board to help, and our initial prototypes (codenamed "Appleseed", "Null Sweat", and "Gumshoe").

Thank you!

Firstly, thank you for wanting to know more about our history as a team. The fact that you’re reading this means the world to me!

How It Started…

My name is Lucas, and my earliest memory of games is playing Utopia on the family Intellivision, and running dad-drawn mazes on the backs of napkins. I grew up playing JRPGs on the NES & SNES, as well as a lot of tabletop RPGs as a young adult. I appreciate any game that requires me to manage a set of counterbalanced objectives and resources (deckbuilders & management games, especially).

I’ve been working in the games industry for over a decade (notably: Blizzard, CDPR, and Dear Villagers) in both engineering and production roles. It feels like I’ve been gradually working big-to-small, taking lessons learned along the way and discovering how they apply to indie-sized issues.

In 2022, after some life-altering medical news (a story for another time), I reassessed my own counterbalanced objectives and resources. After a supportive conversation with my wife, we agreed I could spend some of our savings on prototyping a few game ideas I’d been kicking around for several years.

2022 - Building the Team

To get rolling ASAP, I wanted to find a team that was already comfortable working together.I spent a few days reviewing Ludum Dare game jam submissions, checking to see if the jam team had worked together before and - if so - looking at the types of games they tended to make together.With that list in-hand, I started emailing folks. I was particularly keen to work with the Hobfield Games duo as their game Little Lands had gameplay and art that matched what I was looking for in my first prototype.

Little Lands shows a lot of gameplay talent, don't you think?

I also appreciated that they always continued to refine their projects after a jam; it’s that kind of tenacity that I wanted on my team!After a bit of back & forth I was happy to sign Robin & Billy to a short-term contract for our first game prototype together: Appleseed.

Prototype #1 - Appleseed

We spent 2 months on Appleseed (named after the American folk hero, not the Japanese anime/manga series) - a logistics simulation game (akin to Mini Metro and its clones) which was about sustaining a network of interplanetary settlers while also spreading life across a dead, Mars-like planet.

Paper Prototyping is Important!The very first sketch ever drawn, while describing Appleseed's mechanics.
Appleseed in ActionNote the different delivery drone types, and how life spreads out along their paths.

In the end, Appleseed was an interesting idea which wasn’t much fun to play; the central conceit required balancing several unrelated systems against one another in a way that left the logistics gameplay in 3rd place.

Instead of attempting to continue to try & find the fun, we shelved it and moved on to our next prototype, codename: Null Sweat.

Prototype #2 - Null Sweat

I enjoy classic Shadowrun, and I especially enjoy video game adaptations of Shadowrun; I find that they usually don’t do hacking very well, though. I think the best attempt so far has been on the Genesis; it feels like it brings some of the best qualities of classic dungeon-dive games & wraps it in a shiny, chrome cover.

I have long wondered what that hacking game would look like if adapted to modern game design principles, with a story driving the player to perform their nefarious deeds.

Whereas the Genesis maps were all pre-drawn...
... players will find both pre-defined and randomly-generated networks in Null Sweat!
The real-time aspect of the Genesis game was revolutionary at the time. There was quite a variety in combat options, as well (for the time!).
In Null Sweat, we're experimenting to discover what we can do to add some tactical decision-making while keeping things real-time.

After the first 3 months, I felt like we were onto something interesting - and so, we’ve spent the last 6 months working more on that prototype; I’ll share the details on our progress in the next newsletter.

2023 - Expanding the Team

Null Sweat is ultimately an RPG, so I asked a friend and former coworker on other projects (Pete Drummond of Myopic Studios) to help flesh out the storylines you’d find in a futuristic, semi-dystopian world. We’ll share more on his excellent, reality-bending work when we dive in on Null Sweat (next time).

At the same time that we were working on Null Sweat, I wanted to start prototyping on an episodic detective game. So as not to distract the Null team, I reached out to Alasdair Reavey, who also agreed to do a little prototyping with me. I was happy to have him join as a solid all-around Unity developer; he's been able to do a bit of everything it takes to get a game prototype up and running!

Prototype #3 - Gumshoe

I like old detective TV shows (Mike Hammer, Rockford Files, Colombo, Murder She Wrote). I wanted to make a game that felt like those shows, without the puzzle-ish trappings of an ACTUAL detective game.

We started off making a dominoes-based game intended to be a premium mobile experience, however that didn’t work well in the format; I was committed to designing the game in portrait mode (because I had been carrying my newborn daughter around for months and only had one hand to do anything else while she napped).

Although this prototype was shelved, I’m committed to trying some different gameplay mechanics to see if I can come back to it. Stay tuned for more Gumshoe clues in future episodes. ;)

(up next) How it’s going…

In the next newsletter, you’ll learn more about how Null Sweat changed through the course of 2023 - and you’ll meet some new team members who will start working with us shortly!