This article was originally posted on the trailer here.

It Began:

It all began at the Tiny Invaders build. So it is very much to Iain’s credit that he took us on our word that we were making an awesomely fun game…

If I’m honest the whole idea came completely from left-field and by left-field I mean Ben, who was to the left of me. In his usual enthusiastic style Ben’s arms flailed around in a manner not unlike Stan from Monkey Island. But the blur of arms and frenzied chatter that came forth was matched by an ever widening grin from Iain. Yes this was another harebrained scheme cooked up between two extroverts of which I was to find myself the victim…ahem I mean linchpin, in this ridiculous plan:

Ben: “You see Iain, we’ll have Pete up on stage and he’ll be frantically churning out levels! In the level editor!! LIVE and all mic’d up!!!”

Stan from Monkey Island aka Ben

I hadn’t particularly remembered signing up to this, but Iain and Ben were already shaking hands and congratulating each other on a great idea. I was to be some sort of performing design monkey. How is it, even when running my own company, I’m still in this situation?! So there I was, signed up for two events; a presentation at Gamecity Festival…and to top it all even the expensive coke hadn’t even tasted that nice.

It was Rehearsed:

The rehearsal for the crazy level design competition was due to take place on the Elite II Frontier…Luddites.

Beyond my gymnastic brick dodging skills however the highlight of the evening was the level design/puzzle element competition we ran. The task, I boldly claimed across the mic, was to come up with a new puzzle element monster for Holyrood School – Somerset circa 1995. Brilliant.

It was Competed Over:

The competition was scheduled for Tiny Invaders. This is a pretty awesome prize, if I may say so myself. However disaster struck a week before the event! It struck Ben to be precise, one of his teeth starting falling apart and it turned out he would need emergency dental surgery and the only day that it could be done was the day before the competition. In many ways I attributed this to Karma. After that fateful meeting in the Hilton back in July, the universe was telling Ben that his fellow co-founder is a not a commodity to be shipped from festival to festival, but I digress. To be fair the poor chap was really suffering, Ben would have to be left alone in a drug riddled, drooling quagmire of pain and I would have to do the competition alone. I wasn’t prepared to do this however. So I quickly phoned our stand-in-Hogrocketeer Ami who would prove to be a much more beautiful and useful companion on the day than Ben anyway.

We arrived at the venue and I immediately demanded my beloved OHP. This competition was going lo-fi and I would be rushing around the lovely people in attendance as they scribbled their designs onto acetate once more. I’d given up on Ben’s idea of doing the levels live on stage as to be quite honest it was a bit mental and our editor application is no Little Big Planet. Here is a picture of me taken whilst I was talking the entrants through the EGTV video piece on GameCity Festival where we’re featured at 6mins in.

Hogrocket at Gamecity Festival

It was Fought Over:

As with the GameCity Nights entries, I was blown away by the creativity of the awesome group in attendance. We also had a large contingent of young students from a project organised by the County Youth Arts Team in Mansfield and taught by the exceptionally friendly and forward-thinking Mr Salt. Getting to work directly with the up and coming game designers of tomorrow really made this event particularly special. Just look at the giant pile of level design entries from the day…oh and my cat Smudge:

 Gigantic pile of level design

But three main prize winners needed to be announced. For each of the three finalists we were giving away the fantastic (indie budget) prize of Blur for the 360 (Tiny Invaders. But these were the finalists and rather triumphantly two of the entries happened to be from the same group of 3 young designers from Mr Salt’s class named: Oliver, Bradley and Nathanial, congrats chaps and well gamed on the prizes!

Winning designs

In Hogrocket competitions though, nobody goes away empty handed. Everyone was to become the first recipients of the Hogbuck; our new currency, which with every note gives away a promo code for Tiny Invaders. At 69p worth of promo code in comparison to the note value of 1m it doesn’t make our currency worth a great deal, but these will be collectors items one day I tell ya! As one of the kids delightfully proclaimed upon receipt of the note; “TO EBAY”. Remember kids I own the printing press of this puppy, hyperinflation or not I’ll derail the Bank of Hog and retire in a blaze of glory if I have to!!…ahem.

 The Hogbuck...and no that promo code won't work ;)

It was Won:

There had to be one winner though. Over the past few days I’ve been feverishly building and trialling a lot of the designs in our Tiny Invaders level editor. However one stood out in it’s simplicity. It is a timing based level involving the lavish use of teleporters and a tricksy dose of white blood cell avoidance. In short it is the exact kind of pulling your hair out/addictiveness required for the next level-pack. The winners were Kat Wojna and Adam Butler, here is their design, followed by the level in-game:

 From Design to in-game

Adam and Kat were delighted to have won the competition and were asked to name their level. They came up with the perfectly apt name ‘Tiny Teleportz’ and had the following to say:

“As aspiring game developers we are extremely happy that our efforts have been implemented into a game, it almost feels like our first step into the games industry. We are looking forward to people being able to play and enjoy the game level we made :)”

Tiny Teleportz

It was Concluded:

So there we have it, the great GameCity adventure closes for another year. The mad plan concocted in July has resulted in us crowd-sourcing our levels and puzzle ideas across GameCity Nights and GameCity Festival to great affect. At every step along the way I have been warmed by the enthusiasm of all involved and amazed at the creative output. I’ve learnt that kids are like knowledge sponges and pick up concepts and new ideas incredibly quickly. I’ve also learned that given enough beer adults are also very capable and stunned me with incredible breadth of creativity and imagination when it comes to drawing a cock and balls.

The new level-pack will be available in early Dec. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did. I’d like to conclude with a fantastic piece of feedback we received from Mr Salt after the Festival which really made the whole event worthwhile for us here at Hogrocket:

“The students that came to it with me said it was the best part of their day and two of my kids won the comp on the day so they were well chuffed about that. I also found out that one of my students had a dream about tiny invaders believing himself to be a ‘tiny invader’!”