Introducing Slow Down, Bull: Insomniac’s Open Development Experiment
Ahoy ahoy, humans! My name is Lisa, I’m a designer here at Insomniac, and today I’m going to tell you about…
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…
WAAAAAIT! STOP EVERYTHING!
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 -Lisa