This is Show and Tell, where we ask local Indie developers to tell their stories, in their own words. Today we're talking to Leigh Jackson who, along with High School buddy Paul Jancar, founded Flyleap Studios!
Can you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your studio? My name is Leigh Jackson and along with Paul Jancar we are indie game studio “Flyleap Studios”.
The studio has just started up in Melbourne and right now we are indie in the truest sense; we don’t have any external funding or an office etc., so we truly own what we make; we’re making the games we want to and have the freedom to release them when we think they are ready.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got started? Paul and I first started working on games together in about 2006 while in high school. We were so inspired by the vibrancy and capability of the Half-Life MOD community (people our age) and the games they could make , that we decided we would teach ourselves whatever we had to learn in order to make games like they did.
Since then we released a half-life 2 MOD called Kingdoms Collide, it was a really fun project to work on and I still love to remember the times when it had hundreds of players, enjoying our multiplayer game over the internet all at once.
Both of us then studied at RMIT in Melbourne, Paul doing Software Engineering and myself doing Digital Art.
And just a few months ago we forked out all the dosh required to start up “Flyleap Studios” as a legit Australian company and have been working extremely hard on making something good to share ever since.
What game are you working on at the moment? I’m currently very busy launching Little Dragon 3D, our first commercial release.
For years I’ve wanted to play a game where the player gets to have a feeling of what it’s like to fly, in the organic/animal sense of flying. There are plenty of flight simulators out there and other games that let the player be a jet or a plane, but I wanted a game that would let me swoop, soar, glide, flap my wings etc. A game that felt like being a bird (or a dragon!).
So that’s how the gameplay of Little Dragon came about, I got to work on some gliding physics that would enable this satisfying feeling of bird-like-flying and once that prototype was done, and I enjoyed it, I got to work on making it something shippable.
Little Dragon was initially meant to be a very small project, intended to give us a better understanding of how releasing a commercial game might work, (since it would be out first experience in doing this). However what I thought would simply be a few weeks work quickly exploded in scope, as games always do, play testers kept bugging me to add in this and that, and in a lot of cases, the things these playtesters were wanting became things I started to see as necessary additions. I am very glad now to be on the other side of that process and now I just hope that people will enjoy playing the game as much as I do!
At the same time as this Paul is hard at work programming Stampede, our upcoming mobile title.
Stampede will play like a blend between a bullet-hell shmup and a hack-n-slash arcade style game. The gameplay involves dodging many little enemies running all over the screen, but as the game progresses the player gains abilities to fight back and knock these enemies out rather than dodging them.
Our upcoming title Stampede will hopefully be joining Little Dragon on the mobile marketplaces soon, at this point it looks like there’s only a couple of months work left it in before it’s also ready to play.
What’s next for your studio — any big plans? We do have big plans, once we’re finished with these first 2 titles for mobile devices we plan to move on to a game that will be called “Kingdoms Rise”. Kingdoms Rise will be a standalone “sequel” to our old Half-Life 2 Mod, Kingdoms Collide. We found KC to be really well anticipated and received by the modding community, but still lacked polish and was somewhat limited in its potential by being a mere MOD of someone else’s game (not to mention how much worse we were at making games back then!).
So with Kingdoms Rise we hope to start over and make a stand-alone game that really achieves that initial vision we had for Kingdoms Collide, we hope it will reach the true potential that the game concept has.
Any words of advice for those who want to get into the games industry? I think the single most valuable experience in becoming a game developer is that of finishing a project, seeing it all the way through to the marketplace.
In a positive light I can look back on my half-finished games from university and say that they where good practice, I got slightly better at 3D modeling or programming etc. but what I couldn’t realise until now was just how much I was missing because we weren't FINISHING projects.
The closer you get to actually finishing a game, the better your perspective will get on how large a project really is. When you think you are in the last 10% of your game, that means you’re not even halfway done!
If you haven’t finished a game, and you have a game project for school, university or just for yourself, cut the designed scope down to 1/10th of what it is, make your design seem so insignificant and small that it would take hardly any time to do, then, after you’ve been working on it for months longer than you thought it would take, you’ll understand why.
Going right along side my advice of “finish a game” I would also like to add the importance of just getting things done, even if it means doing them yourself!
Especially at university, I saw a lot of aspiring game developers who refused to take the initiative to do or learn something for themselves, they kept waiting for someone to show them how to make a game. If you really want to make a game you can start right now, hit up google, youtube, start learning, start making, all the resources are out there, just do it!
Are you an indie dev with a cool project to show off? Is the game still in development or recently released? We'd love to hear from you! Get in touch with us here with the subject line "SHOW AND TELL".