Llamasoft And The Space Giraffe

Uploaded by Google on 24.07.2007


MALE SPEAKER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
So if you had a somewhat typical childhood for a
Googler or anyone else in this industry, you probably spent a
good deal of that childhood hunched over a small computer
making it emanate very strange beeping sounds to the great
consternation of your parents.
And if you remember that era of your life fairly well, you
probably remember that some of those games had more sheep
than usual.
And that's the fault of one man, who is standing
immediately to my left, and it's my great pleasure to
introduce him, a man who has been an independent game
developer for longer than I think than I've been alive,
and is still going strong, and has a wonderful piece of work
in progress to show us.
Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Jeff Minter.
JEFF MINTER: You can all hear me quite correctly.
I've been producing games for--
well, far too long, really.
It makes me feel really old if I think about how long I've
been doing it.
I actually found the other day, I was going through some
old tapes down at my mom's place, and I found an old
cassette tape for the Commodore PET.
I thought there is no way that I'd ever be able to retrieve
anything off that.
But I took it home, and with a little bit of fiddling about,
I actually managed to get something back from one of my
first ever Commodore PET games that I never thought I'd ever
see again in my life.
This was written in the '70s for god's sake.
I mean it was 1979.
It's pretty rubbish, but I'll open with it just because it's
curious to see something from so long ago.

Oh, I remember that song.
The Commadore basic.
Now, I think I could make this work if I press--
that's wrong.
There we go.

Oh, I'm rubbish at it.
Well, it is a pretty rubbish game, to be honest with you,
and it's not exactly easy to play.
This is all hand-assembled in 6402 assembler in like half an
hour a day-- that was all we allowed at college.
We had one Commodore PET in college.
I haven't scored any points at all.
Crap at it.
And also, in this game--
this is back in the days-- nobody had ever really heard
of programming video games.
I mean you have arcade games, which could have been about
space invaders and asteroids and that kind of thing.
In the home you had things like Pong and the VCS.
But the very idea that anybody could sit down and actually
create their own games, it was just alien.
At college we had one Commodore PET between the
whole college.
I think there were only about four geeks in the whole
college who spent all their time in the computer room
making these weird little games.
We never thought for an instant that there would ever
be a market for this stuff.
It was just something which we did.
Anyway, I left college, and then I went to university, and
then I was very bored at university because I was out
on a math and physics course, and I really wasn't interested
in math and physics.
I was interested in playing with computers.
So in due course I got kicked out.
And after I got kicked out, I was then supposed to be going
back to the Polytechnic, and I spent three months there, and
then I got quite seriously ill.
While I was ill I thought, sod it, I'm going to start making
games because it just so happened that in the
intervening time, Uncle Clive brought out the ZX80 and ZX81.
And Commodore over the VIC-20.
So this arcane stuff, which we'd been doing in college
just before us, suddenly started opening up and I
wondered whether given that I couldn't be doing anything
else being as I was ill, whether I could actually write
some games and see if I could sell them.
In due course, we did sell a few.
And probably the first that anybody would have heard of me
in North America is with this stuff.

This was a game called Gridrunner, which was released
over here by an outfit called Human Engineered Software.
I'll have a quick play.

As you can see, it was based on Centipede.

In Centipede, I liked Centipede.
I think at the time I wrote this, I'd only ever played
Centipede twice.
I liked it, but what I didn't like about it,
it was a bit girly.
It was all a bit namby-pamby where you have mushrooms and
flies and things like that.
I wanted something a bit more hard-edged, so I made
It's a bit more challenging than pure Centipede because
you've got that thing, which goes on, which is actually
it's just a big bastard.
But this actually did quite well.
It look crude, but at the time, you must understand,
this is the early days of video games, and most things
were rubbish.
And certainly some of things that were getting away with
the selling were absolutely dreadful.
So even though this is pretty poor looking, and it played
fairly well, so it did pretty good.
And after that, we had--

this was the sequel to Gridrunner which came out
probably about six months later.
It's called Attack of the Mutant Camels.
I'll show you a little bit [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
It's very similar to Gridrunner.
It does have more levels you go on.
As you go on there are actually camels in it and lots
of different things.

It's a bit more smooth, a bit more fluid.
A bit nicer to play.

And this, again, did fairly well.
I have actually neglected to show you the first game, which
I did for Human Engineered Software, which sold a little
bit because it's absolutely dreadful.

It was a defend the clone, and it was horrid.
The ship was about the size of a bus.
Terrible, terrible thing.
Now, that was Attack of the Mutant Camels
over here in America.
But back in Europe, Attack of the Mutant Camels was
something entirely different.
And I can show it to you if I find the right
folder, which is that.

Now this is Attack of the Mutant Camels.

Because Attack of the Mutant Camels has to have whackin'
great camels really, doesn't it?
You need giant camels.
It's very twitchy, very hard to play.

I'm showing you the 8-bit Atari version, because
although the original version was a Commodore 64 version,
the camel in the Commodore 64 version looked like two fat
men in a Padawan camel suit made out of Lego.

For the sake of my vanity, I'm showing you the slightly
better looking version.

Notoriously, they want to play.
I'm going to kill this camel.
Go on, camel.

Go on, die.

If I ram you enough times you'll die.

Or I'll die.
Maybe I'll die instead.
That'll work.
One more go.

I play on the joystick.

I'm sucking quite spectacularly.
There, I've lost.
Anyway, you may notice a striking resemblance to an
Atari VCS game by Parker Brothers.
It was called Empire Strikes Back, and it has the walkers
out of Star Wars in very much a similar scenario.
So they're marching toward your base, and you have to fly
around and shoot them.

I haven't really thought of copying that game, really.
But then there was this magazine in the UK called
Computer Video Games, and I was flipping
through that one day.
They reviewed this Parker Brothers Empire Strikes Back
game, and they described the walkers as
giant mechanical camels.
And I went hmm.
I do like the idea of that.
I thought it would be much better, much more fun to do it
with giant camels.
However, I actually really like camels.
So this game, although it was quite nice, I didn't really
like the idea that you were killing these camels.
So I made up this convoluted story whereby the camels are
actually being abducted by aliens and reprogrammed and
made to fight against their will.
And eventually they rebelled, and thus was born this.

Revenge of the Mutant Camels.
This time the camels are the good guys.

Then you get takeover, and fight against all manner of
strange things like birds and telephone kiosks and old
boots, and all sorts of odd stuff.
It might look a bit rubbish, but for its time when it came
out, this was pretty good on the Commodore 64, and it
actually did very well in Europe.
Nobody had ever heard of it over here, unfortunately,
because unfortunately human engineered software didn't
really get into the whole beasty game thing, which I got
into, and so they refused to distribute my stuff in the US.
But this is very fondly remembered amongst British
people of a certain age.

And having done the Revenge of the Mutant Camels, I got into
my stride, and just about every game I did following
that was sort of beasties.
And for example, this one.

This is Sheep in Space, which I do believe is the first game
ever to feature an interstellar space sheep.
And it's vaguely defendary, I suppose, but it takes it a
little bit further by having two plant surfaces, and your
little sheep can fly around between them,
killing the bad guys.
And you can swoop down over a surface and try and kill the
enemies that are there and there.
You see the sheep's little legs point down.
And as you get hit, your sheep gets hungry.
And if sheep gets two hungry then he needs
to look for a field.
Let's kill that guy.
There's a field.
So if you land in the field, then your sheep eats.
And that will replenish his sheild, but you must take care
because if you let your sheep overeat, overeating to never
good, even for sheepies, you let your sheep overeat, then
it explodes.

This was followed by all manner of games, including the
incredibly stupidly named Metagalactic Llamas Battle at
the Edge of Time, which I shan't trouble
you with at the moment.
But around the same time, I started to develop another
thing apart from games.
I had a fascination ever since I was 11 years old with the
music of Pink Floyd, and particularly the light shows,
which they put on with their live shows.
Ever since I've started this into Pink Floyd, whenever I'd
listen to it in a dark room, I would always visualize shapes
and geometric things in my head that went to the music.
I always thought that was such a good idea, this idea of like
a color synthesizer to accompany music.
And one day I hoped somebody would build one and then I'll
buy one and use it.
Anyway, I'd been working on games for a couple of years,
and I thought well, actually, I could start using the same
technology I'll be using for games.
To start experimenting with that kind of idea myself.
And I came up with this extraordinarily simple little
program called Psychedelia.

All this was is a lot of cursory, you move around in
the joystick, and then when you press the button and hold
it down, you get patterns that follow the cursor and that
nicely, and you can change the symmetry of them.

Various patterns of different colors.
Green one was always a favorite of mine, it elongates
the stretches.
And it doesn't do that much on its own, but if you imagine
sitting in an early '80s bedroom listening to some nice
Pink Floyd, perhaps having smoked a recreational
cigarette with your mates.
This was actually rather good run and we really enjoyed it.
It was funny because when it got reviewed, people either
really got what I was striving to, really understood the
whole concept behind it, or they just thought I was
absolutely stupid.
And so I had both the best and worst reviews of
my life with this.
One guy reviewed it on the spectrum and just dismissed it
as a load of absolute hippie nonsense.
This other guy from, I think he was from some music
magazine, and he was a bit of an oldie himself, he found
mere words too cumbersome to describe the brilliance of it.
It's funny.
But it was the start of something.
Ever since 1984 I've been developing this idea.
The next stage to which we took it was to implement it on
the Atari, which had a much nicer set of display modes.

And we called it Colorspace on there.

The Atari had this lovely display list architecture
where you could construct these curves type screens.
That obviously had a much richer color palate than most
of the other 8-bit machines.
It was really very nice to see.
I did like the old Atari.

Then we developed this further to the Atari ST. It kept
ticking along.

But probably the next time anybody here may have heard of
me would be with this is Llamatron, and
it's based on Robotron.
I'm a great fan of Eugene Jarvis's work.
The thing about Robotron is that it's really,
really hard to play.
It basically will eat your lunch in
about two seconds flat.
And I wanted to make something that was actually a bit more
relaxed than that where you could sit and have a bit more
of a longer game.
So I came up with Llamatron.
It superficially looks like Robotron except
for the sheepy graphics.

It actually is a bit more dated, a bit more involved.
You've got power ups, you've got beasties to rescue.

Now, this game it's tremendously fun to play.
I thoroughly recommend it.
If you haven't seen it before, you should get a copy on the
Steam emulator and play it.
If you like this kind of Robotron game, then this is
just an excellent kind of--
you've got to power up all the beasties, run towards
you and love you.

Kill Zippy the Pinhead.

The pace on this is a lot more gentle than in Robotron.
You can actually play this for half an hour
and just have fun.
And you got power ups and smart bombs and all kinds of
stuff that you didn't have in Robotron.
The nice thing about this game is that I made this at a time
when a lot of the software was having increasing difficulty
getting distribution by home.
The video game business was changing from something which
somebody like me could successfully participate into
the multibillion dollar business that it is today.

Move, move, move, move.
At that time in the UK, nobody really heard of Shareware.
So I decided to release that game to Shareware.
I'd been around a couple of software houses with it, and
they just said no, piss off, it's not really want we want.
I'd been having to argue with my parents for days about the
whole idea of Shareware, because this
was like real Shareware.
It wasn't what they call Shareware today, which is
This is real Shareware, where basically you put
the full game out.
I just said to people look, if you like it,
I said it's a fiver.
We didn't really expect to get a huge response with it.
Obviously, I hoped I'd get some response, but the
response was overwhelming.
We got thousands and thousands and thousands of responses
from people.
Not only did they pay five quid, but just all of them
sent letters just saying how nice it was that we trusted
them to have this game and to pay for it if they liked it.
That really rescued a lot of the software back then.
It was quite a moving experience because it looked
like I was being shut out by the industry, and then I was
kind of rescued by the people, which was absolutely superb.
That kept me going--
piss off, Dell support.
Excuse your French.
Stupid thing.
By the way, I hate it when you buy something from Dell,
because they've always put this crap
all over your laptop.

So after I'd done Llamatron, Atari's starting to keep
their eye on me.
That was when we ended up doing something which probably
is the thing which most people would remember me for if I can
just get to it.

If you don't have this emulator by the way, you
should really pick it up.
If you like your T2K, this is the boy.

I'd always loved Tempest, so in Tempest the arcade game, it
always appealed to me because there's something about those
arcade games, and particularly the vector games, which I
particularly admired.
Just the clean, abstract nature of the graphics with
Tempest because everything was just geometry.
There wasn't really the idea that it was trying to be
anything, it just existed in its own little abstract world,
and I loved that passionately about it.
And to me it stood out more than any other video game
because of that.
So when the opportunity came up to look on the Jaguar, they
said here's a list of arcade games.
We were at Dev Con and they would have had to put their
hand up for a game they wanted to do.
When it came to Tempest i was like me, me, me, me.
I want to do that.
Do that.
It was a bit scary, because at that point, on everything I'd
done before where it had always been like tile and
sprite-based, so I hadn't actually had to do any math.
And moving on to the Jaguar, it was the first time I'd ever
actually put my hands on a polygon.
So I had to dust the math books off, at least enough to
get this thing to work.
But it proved to be one of those things that was more
daunting to think about than it actually was to do, and
once you got your head into it it was good fun.
But this was where I've always started the process, which I
think is pretty much my path now, my way of doing things.
I wanted to combine the kind of abstract graphics that I
was having in those graphics toys that I showed you, the
Psychedelia, with game stuff.
With a game like Tempest, because it is so abstract you
can start to do that, so that's what we did with
Tempest. I'll play it here, you can see.

Also, the music on this game is fantastic.
I mean really, it wasn't just the game that was good, it was
the way everything fit together.
And the audio on this game is just stunningly good.

So we kind of updated Tempest for what was then the modern
day, and it did quite well, despite the fact that Atari
apparently didn't really think much of it at first. I
remember I went to the launch party of the
Jaguar in New York.
The guy who designed the Jaguar actually made a point
of taking me off to one side and telling me that he thought
Tempest 2000 was absolutely rubbish, that it didn't use
the machine well at all.
That Atari didn't think anything of it at all.
It wasn't one of their prestige launch titles, like
Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy.

So I came away from that rather disheartened.

Anyway, I still carried on, work on it
and finished it off.
And then came back to Atari for final test
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] at Sunnyvale.
And just as I arrived at the final test, some of the guys
were getting back from Winter CES.
They all started to come up to me and saying well done.
I was well done for what?
And apparently they'd taken this thing to CES and it had
been given one of the best games at CS.
Way, excellent, and completely unexpected.
It went out there and it did fairly well.
I had the opportunity some years later of being able to
sit in a bar with that guy who was on the Jaguar who told me
it was crap and make him eat his words.
That was most fun.

Atari was good.
Another thing were they always there.
We further developed the whole idea of the abstract graphical
toy to play with music.

This is what we made.

But this really was the first of the visualizers.
This is the first time we'd actually have the ability to
make one of these graphic stories actually listen to the
music and respond accordingly.
This is pretty much the ancestor of all the ones which
you now see on Windows Media Player and iTunes and that
kind of thing.
It's basically the same set of techniques that was just
But one thing we always had on this, which a lot of people
never had on theirs, is they were always interactive.
You could always pick up the joystick and control them
because I always liked the idea of it being not just an
entirely passive thing, but also something which you could
interact with and play, but like an instrument.
And it was fun.
Unfortunately, the entire Jaguar CDRom sold to about
three people.
Not many people actually had the chance to play with this,
but I know a lot of the other visualizer guys did start out
with this stuff because I had a couple from [UNINTELLIGIBLE]
shows that said did I mind that they'd nicked all my
I said, no, no, go ahead.
But it was fun.
And if you played with today, it stands up even to some of
the modern stuff.

Anyway, after that, unfortunately, my time at
Atari ended.
When I did Tempest, when I did the VLM, I'd been freelance,
I'd been still Llamasoft.
And after that I decided to join Atari, and that was not a
good move, not just because of what happened to Atari, but
personally not for me.
I don't make a very good employee.

And also I think Atari just thought that they could lean
on me a bit too hard when I was in-house, because after
I'd done Tempest and VLM, they gave me Defender 2000.
Now that should have been an absolute joy.
But basically I wanted to do it one way, and my producer
wanted me to do it another way.
I wanted to do it with small graphics and the same kind of
abstract, trippy stuff you see in the light sense, basically
in the same style I was doing Tempest. My producer wanted
huge graphics, massive sprites because they were going to put
it on CDRom, and so it had to have all
this parallax scrolling.
I went ah, I don't really like doing it that way,
but they made me.
And I thought that was a bunch of--
this art outfit in San Jose, this place that did all the
graphics for it, I remember saying to these people that
whatever you do, if you're going to design the graphics
for my game, whatever you don't make it so that you have
the backgrounds and then you can't see the enemies in front
of the backgrounds because that really ruins the game.
So of course, what do they do?
Always you couldn't see the bleeding enemies against the
So I didn't really have the freedom to do what I would
have liked to have done.
And although Defender 2000's OK, it's not one my best works
I have to say.
I just think that my philosophy in design is a bit,
it's non-compliant with being employed with it.
I think that's why I have to be freelance.
I do suck at doing conventional design.
This whole idea that you have to sit down, design the game,
and write the whole document describing the game, give that
to a publisher who then approves it, and then they
have to go back to the programmers who make it
exactly as it said on the [UNINTELLIGIBLE], it doesn't
work like that.
To me a game is a living thing which takes
shape as you form it.
I start out with a kind of idea where when I get in I
kind of try and build the tools which do that.
And then as I'm doing that, something may turn out good,
something might turn out bad.
They have recently this space [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
I had this one technique which had been in design for a long
time, and it sounded good when I first thought of it, and it
seemed OK when I first started inventing, and it seemed OK
when I put into a tutorial level.
But then when I actually started building the actual
game levels it sucked.
It was really bad.
So I needed to chuck it out.
Fair enough, chuck it away.
And other things will also emerge, as you probably
remember technology may develop some new technique.
And you may wish to change the design.
I said actually I'm not going to do that, I want to do this.
I think if you try and hold yourself to a design that is
graven in stone before you set out, then you end up with a
compromise at the end of the day because the thing isn't
allowed to evolve properly, or in need my
game's going to evolve.
So quite often what I end up with is almost not at all like
what I set out immediately, or what I started out saying I
was going to do.
For example, to get Space Giraffe through the approval
process just to begin, at Microsoft you have to submit a
document describing 30 seconds of game play, give minutes--
I can't remember what it was.
So I just made it the hell up.
I couldn't say what it's going to be like in a year's time.
So I just kind of made it up and said, yeah, yeah, it's
going to be really bright, it's going to be really cool.
It worked.
I can't work that way.
I simply can't.

Another thing I think that is important to me, this is how I
work now, and I think makes it easier for me to survive as an
indy is the fact that I work entirely in the abstract.
I'm really into this idea of bringing together the whole
audio reactive light synthesizer stuff, and the
video game stuff.
In doing that, I make a different kind of game.
I'm not making a game where I'm trying to tell a story,
I'm not making a game where I'm trying to simulate
anything or make anything realistic.
What I'm actually doing, when I design a game, I'm trying to
get to a feeling, I'm trying to get to the pure essence of
video game.
It doesn't matter what the graphics are saying, as long
as what they're saying is nice.
It doesn't matter what the audio is doing as long as it
fits in with what the graphics are doing.
I'm trying to make a feedback loop that includes you and the
graphics and the audio and everything, and just gives you
that experience of getting into the zone.
I'm not a story teller.
I think for me that's what good because it means if
you're telling stories or being realistic and you need
hoards of art people to design characters, and you got to do
dialogue, and you've got to do all this stuff which takes a
lot of resources, and it soon get beyond the scope of what
two guys can do.
Llamasofters doubled in size recently.
We're two guys now, instead of just one.
So I'm now forseeing this work entirely in the abstract, and
it's really good for me because it means I can use my
light synthesizer tools to actually create the in-game
environment and all the stuff that happens in the game.
The light synth work eventually came to fruition--
I don't know if any of you have got the Xbox 360 and have
ever used the music visualizer thing on it.
That thing is our design.
Its an engine called Neon.

Basically, Neon in the Xbox Neon is purely a visualizer.
Well, it's an interactive visualizer.
Up to four people can use it together, as well as it being
driven by the music.
But I always wanted to use it as well as
the basis for a game.

So now we're moving on to--
well, let's change here.

Space Giraffe.
Now, Space Giraffe is the first game that's built
entirely on the Neon engine.

Basically, I wanted to produce a game which would appeal to
people who remember Tempest 2000.
However, I don't want it to just be another version of
Tempest for various reasons.
I've done Tempest 2000, I did Tempest 3000 on a little known
system called the Nuon, which I'm sure most of you are
blissfully unaware of.
And basically, there's a problem with--
I don't want to be tied to the same game.
Tempest is based on an elegant, but
very, very simple design.
Much in the same way as Llamatron starting out being
like Robotron, but then expanded out into all kinds of
different directions, became much more fun I
think in the process.
I wanted to do the same thing, and basically start out from
the starting point of Tempest 2000, but move away into its
own direction.
So at the end of this when I do a sequel to this, it won't
be Tempest blah, blah, it will be a sequel to Space Giraffe.
It'll be my own thing as opposed to being hooked to
Dave Theurer's old game for the end of time.
I mean bless him, and I love that game, but it's
time to move on.
So it's time for the giraffe.

Anyway, I'll show it to you.
I'm sure when you first see it you will think hey, it's
Tempest. And indeed, you can play it like Tempest.
I'll show you what happens if you play it like Tempest, and
if you play it like Space Giraffe.
I'll demonstrate on level two.
I'll play level two [INAUDIBLE].

Shoot everything before it gets to the top.
Because in Tempest you could get to the top and die.

OK, so you see we've got 62,500 points playing as
Tempest. Now let's play that same level of Space Giraffe.

All that won't get to the top, which if you did it in Tempest
it would be certain death.
But here I'm going to make a special move.

As you can see, my score is considerably bigger.
So the thing with this game is you can play it as Tempest,
but if you play it as Tempest, you'll hardly get any points,
you certainly won't get any extra lives, and you won't get
anywhere on the leaderboards.
You need to learn the new techniques.
Basically, all the point scoring and progression
techniques in this game don't even exist in Tempest.
In some ways, this is the anti-Tempest because in
Tempest you had to prevent stuff getting from the top.
Your stuff got to the top, then that was
it, you were dead.
You actually had a smart bomb left.
Whereas in this, you really want to get to stuff up to the
top, and then you use a special technique called
[? bulling ?], which when your ship is powered up, you can
just push stuff off the top of the rim.
And the more of it you collect up to do, the
more points you get.

Because it's built inside the graphic synthesizer, we could
also use the environment as part of the
difficulty of the game.
There are only, for example, in levels 33 upwards called
feedback monsters.
What they do is when you shoot them, they're pretty
innocuous-- at first they're innocuous.
On later levels they get quite bastardly actually, but first
they're innocuous.
But what they do is when you're playing your level,
they will cause the whole level to flare up.
I'll show you.

At first it sounds a little bit disorientating, but
actually after a while you get used to it
and it's just trippy.
It's just nice.

The whole thing about this game is that Tempest, in the
original Tempest, Theurer's Tempest, in the same way as
Jarvis's Robotron, it was a wonderful game, but it was
absolutely brutal.
It would kill you stone dead, even if you're good, kill you
stone dead in a few minutes.
Whereas what I want to allow with these games is much more
of a restful experience.
To me, the act of playing a game should be in and of
itself a reward.
Just playing it should be fun, so much fun that even if you
die, even if you don't get your high score, even if you
don't do pretty well, you should always walk away with a
smile on your face, because the act of playing itself
should be a reward in and of itself.
With this, you can just settle in and zone out, or what I
find that when I'm testing it, I'll go to test one level and
I'll just sit there and play 20 because I
just felt this out.
I love the feel of it.
It's really, really nice.
I believe in there being a nice difficulty curve, which
should ramp up nicely.
I don't believe there should ever be spikes
[UNINTELLIGIBLE], such as you get with [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
I hate boss levels in games.
It's horrible.
Those things, you run up against the boss, you just hit
a brick wall, and you've got to do the same thing over and
over and over and over again, and you just
get fed up with it.
Bosses get right on my tit.
And so there are no bosses in this game.
There are, yeah, there are some difficulty increments.
Like level 64, for example, level 64, if you get to level
64, I guarantee the first time you get there you would just
go what the smoke is going on there and you'll die.
I'll show you.

Right, check this out.
It is bonkers.

So I didn't die straight away.
When you get used to it it actually makes sense.
But the first time you get there, I guarantee you will
just go, oh, my god, my poor brain.
But the thing is even if you die I do have spikes in
difficulty, but they will never hold you up.
Because even if you die, it doesn't take you back to the
start of the level.
So even if you died five or six times, you could still get
through the level, because when you die, it doesn't send
you back to the start, you keep the progress.
So you never hit an absolute brick wall.
OK, you may not get that far afterwards because you could
be down to one life and you can't get much further, but
you never get that complete and absolute block that you
get in some games.
I really don't want to do that.
In fact, I want to do the opposite.
We're going to have a set off boss rounds, there'll be a
chill out round.
So as you do levels, you'll get access to the
[UNINTELLIGIBLE] round, and you'll just do something nice
graphically, you'll just be able to [? wivel ?] the thing
around and do something fairly easy, pick up some points.
Have a roll of whatever and chill out.
So the whole idea of this is to take you to the zone.
It's to take you to the place where--
I don't know how many of you are shoot them up game
players, or how many of you have been to
that kind of thing.
There is a place where you can go where
you just lose yourself.
It's just you and the game, and the whole experience, and
just the feedback of being immersed in it becomes so
Space Giraffe is designed to take you there, and we
certainly hope that it will do.
I'll take you through some of the--
I'll scroll through the actual level select so you can see
the variety of environments that you can generate with
Neon engine.

This one I like actually.

You can see the eyes.

It looks like Tempest. People are sure to come to this and
go oh, my god, it's Tempest 4000, but when they start
playing it, they're just going to [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

And you'll expect some people and then [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

We're trying to make so it just looks like
nothing else really.
Xbox Live Arcade is good, but I think a lot of the stuff
that's on it so far as been a bit-- it's either old
emulations or it's ports with PC casual
games or this and that.
We need something a bit more out there on the--
Another one of those just oh, my goodness the first
time you get to it.

If anybody's got any questions they want to ask about this.
Or if anybody want to play Space Giraffe, I'm more than
happy to assist. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: I'll start out with a question.
I swear I did not bring you all the way here just to ask
this question, but where is the PC version of
JEFF MINTER: Where is the PC version?
It's right on my PC.
No, the PC version, Owen, we're just getting ready to
replace the--
getting ready the online shop in order to sell it.
We had a nightmare with it basically.
It's been finished for over a year.

My bus des guy said, there's a possibility of hooking up with
a really big hardware manufacturer to achieve some
kind of distribution.

So that's a really good idea, he said, hey, you should hang
out and try and do that.
So we said all right, we'll do that.
It was just a nightmare dealing with these people.
They kept saying yes, we'll do it.
Yes, we'll do it.
Yes, we'll do it.
And then like nine months down the line said,
no, we can't do it.

I was gutsy because I don't like having finished codes I
haven't released yet.
But I figure what we're going to do now is release it at the
same time that we release Space Giraffe, because it
would be quite nice to be able to say well, here's Space
Giraffe, hope that people will be talking about Space Giraffe
and all the trippy neon backgrounds.
So we're actually here's the tool we used to build that.
So we can release that at the same time.
AUDIENCE: I'm a big fan of Edge magazine, it's a lot more
intelligent than a lot of games.
Do you want to talk about your experience writing with it?
JEFF MINTER: Talk about my experience writing with edge.
It's been generally good.
The only time when we came to loggerheads, as it were, was
when they released a supplement in the UK version,
although it was the same over here, which was just a
complete puff piece for the PS3.

was tasked with that, and they got a bit upset about that and
I had to kind of change it back a be a bit more polite.
But generally it's been very good.
They just let me write about what I feel like writing.
They have told me recently that I should try and write
more about the actual process of development rather than try
and pontificate on the nature of video games in general.
Which really, I was trying to avoid doing at because I
didn't want my columns to be seen as just being advertising
for Space Giraffe.
I wanted Space Giraffe to speak for itself rather than
be me plugging it in Edge every month.
But that's what they want to hear about.
Generally they've been good.
AUDIENCE: Do you seem a bit sort of justified now, people
are moving to far more agile processes compared to

JEFF MINTER: Distribution processes you mean.
AUDIENCE: No, agile itself changing things as you go
rather than working through a--
I think it's important to work that way.
I think that the reason that a lot of games have become so
boring and monolithic is because some publishers insist
that they only publish successful formulas.
So if a game doesn't conform to that,
it won't get published.
And that's a vicious circle.
You end up with about five or six genres and that's it.
So I think being independent and having new means of
distribution, such as online distribution where you don't
have to go through publishers at all gives people much more
chance to be spontaneous and be creative in
the development process.

when one guy could make a game, and they've moved on to
the portable format.
I was wondering if that's attractive to you at all.
JEFF MINTER: Is that asking me if I've ever moved, thought of
moving on to the portable format.
I did actually do a few things on the pocket PC, and it was
quite nice.
I really did enjoy myself doing that.
But at the end of the day, I like doing my big shoot 'em
ups, so I like to do my trippy stuff, and I think I need a
bit more of an immersive player.
I find the small screen a little bit off-putting because
I like stuff to be big and fill the screen.
That on a big plasma is what I want to see, not something on
a tiny thing.
But I did have some fun with that, and it is quite a good
place for small devs to go.
But it's nice that there is stuff emerging that allows
small devs also to work on the consoles and work on the large
scale as well.

AUDIENCE: Could you talk a bit more about the difficulty of
getting distribution as an independent through your
online services or other publishers?
JEFF MINTER: Difficulty getting distribution.

Well, I mean I think half the battle is you've got to be
known a bit.
You really have to have some work in hand which you can
show them, or some history which you can show people to
open up the channels.
I guess I was lucky with Xbox Live Arcade because at the
time that they asked me to start working on it, at least
two of the guys there were really fanatical Tempest 2000
fans, so they approached me and said, come on, do some
stuff for us.
Once you're in there, I think it's great.
Also, if you could afford to get in there self-funding,
without actually taking any funding from the people, then
that's great as well.
We've managed to do that with Space Giraffe basically by not
eating for a year.
But it does mean that when it comes out we get a much larger
percentage than we would have got if we'd taken
funding from Microsoft.
But I think in terms of actually getting into the
channels in the first place, the only real way to do it is
to have something to show people, to have some form of
demo you can go to them and say look, this is what I've
done so far.
And XNA would be a good way in I think to Xbox Live Arcade.
You could do stuff on XNA pretty easily without a lot of
investment in development tools.
It would get seen, and that would be a good way of getting
into Xbox Live Arcade.
I don't know what it's like on the Sony side, and it's not
that you don't want Sony, but it's probably quite similar.


to revive Shareware on the Mac?

JEFF MINTER: We haven't really looked into that yet.
We made it.
I actually bumped into one of the guys from there yesterday
when I was at GVC.
The thing is we're now nicely hooked into Xbox Live Arcade.
I think that's going to be our thing.
But the guy was asking about taking some of our old titles
and putting it out that way.
Or anything which could make Shareware more effective has
to be a good thing.
Or anything which basically enables people to reach the
market more easily in a way which actually viable has to
be a good thing.
On Shareware, it could be a bit willy-nilly.
When it doesn't work it could be really disappointing.
You could do something really good, then you sell about
three, and it's oh, what's the point.
So yeah, anything which makes that more
effective is a good thing.
puzzle games and [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
JEFF MINTER: Absolutely.
The biggest gamer I know is Elaine down the pub.
She plays far more games than me or any of my gamer mates,
because every single time I go down there, she is sitting in
front of that machine.
She's playing some card game, or she's playing a PuzLoop or
she's playing these little puzzle games.
She puts five or six hours a day.
I don't have time to play them, I don't
play that much games.
I don't know anybody else who plays that much games.
Because certainly the casual gamer market
has got to be huge.
I bet PopCap and those people are coining it.
They must be.

Are you pushing games on 360 nine, 10, 12 times a day?
Do you do much development on the PC and then push the Xbox
once a day?
Basically, you've got the deck hooked up to the PC.
You compile on the PC, and then it compiles and then just
copies the XE over to the Xbox and it runs on the Xbox.
It's not running on the PC side at all.
So every time you compile it, a new version
appears on the Xbox.


JEFF MINTER: Yeah, I've seen that.
It's really nice.
I like the fact that it also mentioned sheep, even though
they don't look very sheep-like.
So it's very pretty.
do all that kind of stuff.
AUDIENCE: I know Microsoft's been talking about upgrading
from the Xbox, the Live Arcade games over to Vista, some
download service.
Is there any chance to see Space Giraffe on the PC?
JEFF MINTER: Yeah, I think there's every
change of that happening.
One way or another there will be a Space Giraffe
version for the PC.
We're planning on doing our own port.
But I think it's quite likely that Microsoft would ask us to
do it for Vista Live Arcade or whatever.
AUDIENCE: Co-op multi-player?
JEFF MINTER: Multi-player.
Co-op multi-player.
Well, maybe not for Space Giraffe.
I think Space Giraffe is Space Giraffe, but
Space Giraffe 2, maybe.
That's something which we want to move in to.
And getting all this stuff actually working first time
out on the Xbox 360, getting it to play.
Now I see we've just go the live leaderboard stuff.
There's a load of infrastructure there that's
really to be built up.
And we can't really spend much more time on
development this time.
We've got to finish it off and go out the door if we're going
to be cost effective.
But having done a lot of work to get this going, that's a
lot of work we don't have to do on future games, and that
may give us time to actually start implementing stuff like
online multi-player, which will be fun.

AUDIENCE: Can I play some Space Giraffe?
JEFF MINTER: Absolutely, you can.
Yeah, sure.

I should explain pretty how it works.
I will just take you briefly through the tutorial.
I'll show you it first. See that white blown line across
the bridge, that's your power zone.
Imagine the whole grid is a power meter.
As you shoot things and do various things,
the power zone extends.
If you don't shoot, then it drops away.
Now, the whole efforts of Space Giraffe is that when the
power zone is extended, stuff that's on the
rim you push off.

So as long as it's there, it doesn't really matter about
stuff here, that stuff getting to the top.
So you can let it accumulate.
The more that it accumulates, [UNINTELLIGIBLE].
However, if you let it close down, then it'll grab your
hoof and drop it.
These things are power ups.
If you grab those it also extends the power zone.

And you see, each one you grab, you've got two things on
piles there now.
Those are jump pods.
If you jump, it not only jumps you, but it fills up the whole
power zone.
So you can use that to your advantage to do that trick,
which I did on level two.
You let them all to come to the top.
Don't worry that you've got no power zone, then if we jump
further up and then go--
when you get them to move that's when you increase the
bonus multiplier.
I'll stop playing and do you want to play this tutorial or
you'll start straight in, it's up to you.
AUDIENCE: So you move the giraffe--
JEFF MINTER: Basically, move the giraffe.
When the power zone is extended you can aim the shots
with that as well.
That's smart bomb.
That's jump.
This trigger here is jump.
AUDIENCE: Which is fire?
JEFF MINTER: It fires continuously.
AUDIENCE: So I read the [UNINTELLIGIBLE], did you
actually have their rights to that information?
JEFF MINTER: What, the Tempest 2000?
Well that's just a remix to it a friend of ours has done.
We've got various people contributing music.
I don't know who even owns the rights to Tempest 2000 music.
I mean obviously, there are people who own the rights to
Atari who have the rights to Tempest, but Tempest 2000?
Where does that go?
And it's been cleared by Jimmy [UNINTELLIGIBLE] who actually
got in touch with him and said, do you
mind if we use that?
And he said no.
go ahead and use it.

JEFF MINTER: Yeah, you really need to read
their Wiki page there.


JEFF MINTER: Yeah, they did.
JEFF MINTER: And also, the thing is if you do Xbox 360
basically, the PC version pretty much falls out anyway.
AUDIENCE: What about the Nintendo Wii controllers.
Is that giving you any ideas?
JEFF MINTER: I would look to work on the Wii.
It's always this question of finding time really.
And also persuading Nintendo to give us a kit, but I think
we can do that.

JEFF MINTER: They still own a packet of [UNINTELLIGIBLE] and
And they haven't paid me yet.

I haven't heard anything more from the guys.
I hope they do do it, because it would be
tremendously funny.
This was my favorite game when I was 12.
Bless it.


Basically it's a shame that Nuon I think came to market
about a year too late.
If it had been a year earlier, I think might have been the
It's still a very good DVD player.
But instead of it being a game machine, Owen, the thing is,
unless you want me to write anything more than very simple
games, you really had to understand
how actually it works.