Introducing Slow Down, Bull: Insomniac’s Open Development Experiment

lisa_sdbAhoy ahoy, humans! My name is Lisa, I’m a designer here at Insomniac, and today I’m going to tell you about…

…an experiment.

Insomniac has a lot of exciting things going on with Sunset Overdrive, Outernauts, and the Ratchet & Clank Movie and game, but we are always on the lookout for ways to throw even more excitement into our lives. We love AAA games, and mobile has been delightful, but we also love watching all the fun, amazing things coming out of the indie games space. We’ve been super inspired by our friends at DoubleFine and their adventures with Amnesia Fortnight, and we love Vlambeer’s performative development initiative with Nuclear Throne. Seeing all the cool, small games and development streams popping up is incredibly inspiring!

That led us to consider what a true indie project of our own would look like. While we’ve been a 100 percent independent game developer for 20 years now, few people would classify us as “indie” even though we pride ourselves on that very spirit. For example, many folks don’t know that Insomniac founder and CEO Ted Price burned through his life savings creating our first game demo, literally down to his last dollars when he signed a three-game deal with Universal. Chief Technology Officer Alex Hastings was sleeping on Ted’s couch when he wasn’t madly programming Insomniac’s first engine. Several weeks later Brian Hastings, Insomniac’s Chief Creative Officer joined to bring more programming power and ideas to the party. The three dove headfirst into production, all wearing lots of hats. When I think of the term garage developer it’s an apt moniker for how Ted, Al and Brian describe their early days.

Fast forward to today and despite the fact that we’re bigger, the independent, “everyone contributes” spirit has never waned. So when this question came up: “What’s the smallest number of Insomniacs it would take to make a great game?” it was very familiar territory for Ted, Al, Brian and Chief Operating Officer John Fiorito. They enthusiastically fired up the laboratory! Now, all that was needed was a guinea pig…

And that, dear reader, is where I came in. Captured from the wilds of the Insomniac design department, I was whisked away to the lab, microchipped, supplied with ample stock of food pellets, and then put to prototyping under the watchful observation of our top Insomniac scientists. A game was spawned, a team was formed, and here we are today. This is such an experiment that they even let me write this announcement post!

Let me tell you about our game…


Wait a minute, what? Who is that? What are you doing in my blog post?

This is Ryan, and what are YOU doing??? We can’t announce this game! It’s not ready yet! We don’t even have a game logo!!! And where’s the trailer??

But, Ryan this game isn’t even half finished yet, that’s the whole point, we’re going to show…

WHAT ABOUT KEY ART??? We don’t even have key art!! We can’t announce a game without ASSETS!!


Wait, who’s that?

This is Ted. Ryan, chill out, man. It’s an experiment!!!


Hey, Ryan, what if we show some draft versions of key art soon as a work in progress, then we can show its evolution over the summer as the game goes on and we update and change the key art until it is final! The goal is to show off the development process after all. We can even get people’s feedback along the way!

So, we get to post key art?

Well how about we just start with some concepts.

Okay…okay I think we can do that. Carry on!



About the Game

Slow Down Bull is a small action game about a stressed out, overachiever bull named Axel. He loves collecting beautiful things, but has to overcome his innate bull nature to accomplish his goals. Axel tries very hard to be graceful and cautious while he collects, but it’s very stressful! What if he bumps into someone? What if his bull-like nature erupts and ruins everything he’s trying to collect? What if he messes up???

The trouble is, if our bull *does* get too stressed out, he *will* succumb to his bull instincts, and tantrum and trample all over that which he loves. Can you help him achieve his goals and keep his cool at the same time?

Slow Down Bull is being made by a team of 4-5 people in Unity for the PC, and we’ll be streaming our work on the game on Friday afternoons (PST). Our first stream will be on Friday, June 27 at 2:00pm PST on the Insomniac Twitch Stream. We’d love for you to stop by and hang out with us in the stream! We’ll also be posting development progress here on the blog, so stay tuned for updates about the game and stories about the team making it.

We hope you’ll join us in observing the results of this Insomniac experiment! See you in the stream πŸ™‚ -Lisa

  • Orange Lightning

    Sounds very cool! I’d love to watch this but I’m not available on Friday afternoons. Why don’t you alternate the streaming days every week instead of always doing it on Fridays?

    • Lisa Brown

      Hey there! Since this is a pretty new experiment for us, we’re going to start with this plan to see how it goes, logistically. At the very least, we’ll certainly be archiving the streams so people can check them out at any time. If we do any day switch-ups, we’d definitely announce it well in advance.

  • Muffinrex

    This sounds very exciting! I’m very interested in seeing how you awesome Insomniacs develop your games, and the concept is kind of cool. I’ll be watching for sure! πŸ˜€

    • Lisa Brown

      Thanks! See you in the stream πŸ™‚

  • Sunset Overdrive, Outernauts on mobile, Ratchet and Clank remake, and now Slow Down, Bull… Can’t wait to get my hands on all these games! The Insomniac label’s going to dominate the coming years! Wishing you the best on this new endeavor, Lisa πŸ˜€

    Also, Ryan and Ted cutting into this post was gold!

    • Lisa Brown

      Thank you so much πŸ™‚

  • Anson

    Looks cool, and I guess Ryan was channeling the bull right there. I’ll be keeping an eye on this.

    • Lisa Brown

      Yeah he was a little on the stressed side πŸ™‚ Hope to see you in the stream!

  • joao antonio silva

    This is extremely exciting for me! I’m studying informatics engineering with the aim to become a video game dev, as a life long dream, that combined with the love i have for insomniac games seeing all the process behind game developing will be awesome! Hope you guys really show it all, from the basics to the finished product! great experiment!

    • Lisa Brown

      Thanks! We’ll basically be showing us working on various things, with the team in the chat talking about the problems we’re solving and stuff. We’ll try and switch it up so we show streams on programming, design, art, and music/sound work.

  • LlawlietVemo

    This sounds really cool always been a huge fan of Insomniac, really love your guys work and also can’t wait for the Ratchet & Clank movie along with the game also really wanna try Sunset Overdrive πŸ™‚

  • WikiDreamer

    Wow! Kinda wondered what else you guys were working on (as if you didn’t have enough as it is) this is pretty much why I love you guys and your work ethic. What I wouldn’t give to be a part of such a team. I alas I am but a mere college student with a lot more to learn. Still, I do like axel’s concept art. ^-^