Hi, I'm Henry. In 2012 I quit my job as a programmer at BioWare to spend a year making my own indie games. This blog is about what happened next...

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Back off the Ground

✈️ Back off the Ground

Back in March my producer* and I flew to the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) in San Francisco to pitch Project M to publishers and investors. No strong bites yet, but we do have a couple of leads that might turn into something.

If you know any boutique publishers who are interested in a unique party game, please let us know!

☝️ As an aside: I don't normally have a producer (I'm still the only employee at my "studio") but it's been nice to have one for this project as he's been handling the business development, coordinating artists and other contractors, and helping to fund the game. I wouldn't have been able to afford GDC by myself (it's a very expensive conference) but this time it was paid for!

I also got to stay in a hotel, which was a treat as I usually stay in a hostel. I actually like the hostel atmosphere, they're great for meeting other indies over free breakfast. But the hotel was a nice change, and helped reduce our COVID exposure (I was also diligent about wearing a mask indoors).

Our hotel was in the Tenderloin, and I was reminded daily of the extreme wealth disparity in SF as we walked to one of the most expensive conventions in a billion-dollar industry.

This was my first GDC in 5 years, so I tried to make the most of it. That meant business meetings and playtests, but also catching up with faraway friends, and doing four escape rooms :) Once again, I highly recommend the Palace Games rooms (we did the Edison Room this time).

I was also happy to end the show by joining GDC Feet, the extremely chill day-long beach walk after the conference run by Richard Lemarchand. Also recommended.

Here are your (now traditional) contextless teasers of the game:

It's possible that by the next post we will have officially announced the game, so I'll be able to share more about it.

🚀 Reconnecting with Spaceteam

The Spaceteam networking code has been long overdue for a complete overhaul despite my resistance (it's my least favourite programming task) and I was finally forced to work on it because "Internet" mode stopped working.

I used to rely on GameSparks because they had an indie-friendly plan with a generous free tier, but they discontinued it, and after a long grace period it eventually stopped working.

In my quest for a replacement I experimented with a few choices that seemed to fit:

I don't need a dedicated server to host Spaceteam games, so all I needed was a "relay" service for the phones to send messages to each other. But I did have a few wishlist features that made the decision more complicated.

  1. I want to choose my own "room code" (like "team1" or "XYZ")
  2. I don't want to make the player choose Host or Join, because this is an implementation detail that the game should figure out.

Unity Relay didn't meet either criteria. It picked the room code for me (eg. "WWDCFW") and forced the player to decide whether to host or join.

PlayFab Party came with integrated voice chat (bonus!) but had a bunch of confusing idiosyncrasies, so I abandoned it. I might come back to it later.

I settled on Photon, but after doing so discovered that it has an additional wrinkle: it segments players based on physical location (eg. Europe, US West, India, etc) and they can't connect to each other. I discovered I had a 3rd criteria: players from different regions should be able to play together.

I stubbornly refuse to give the player more work to do (selecting a region) so I worked around it by creating a separate "Room Finder" web app that the game uses to figure out which region a room is in (eg. room "1234" is in the "us" region). It was annoying to create and is an additional potential failure point for the app, so it ended up reinforcing my general dislike of network programming...

And this is just for "Internet" mode. Wifi and Bluetooth modes are different beasts entirely!

Thanks for indulging me on a bit of technical stuff. If I can get into a better blog-writing cadence, I'd like to alternate between technical and non-technical posts.

👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 Personal Life

If we don't find funding for Project M soon, I may have to (dramatic pause)... get a real job!!... because I legitimately have a family to feed and not much regular income. But I am absolutely not fishing for your pity. I do still have some savings, I remain quite employable with my programming experience, and I'm very lucky to have stayed afloat as long as I have as an indie. In a large part thanks to all of you!

My older daughter is in Kindergarten so now suddenly we have to figure out what she'll be doing over the summer! We never had to worry about this before, since daycare stays open all summer.

So she's now signed up to a few specialized day camps, but the main subsidized summer camp is apparently one of those deals where the registration website opens on a specific date and time, and the places are all gone within minutes. It felt like ordering a PS5! So now we're also on a bunch of waiting lists.

Board games I have played recently:

  • Ark Nova
  • Blue Moon City
  • Paper Tales
  • Wayfinders
  • Many games of Jaipur (with the aforementioned 5-year old!)

There are more and more board games she's able to play, and it's awesome to unlock one of the many bonuses of having kids: a built-in board game group to play with! :)

Escape game boxes that are still in shrink that I'm looking forward to playing:

  • Emerald Flame
  • Mother of Frankenstein

🎁 Parting Gifts

Thanks for reading this far! Here are some free Steam codes.

  • [TAKEN] Jackbox Party Pack 2
  • 🎁 Guacamelee! Gold Edition
  • [TAKEN] Void Bastards
  • 🎁 Waking Mars
  • 🎁 Mushroom 11
  • 🎁 Super Hexagon
  • 🎁 VVVVVV
  • 🎁 This War of Mine
  • 🎁 Endless Space® - Collection
  • 🎁 Kingdom Classic
  • 🎁 StarCrossed
  • [TAKEN] Worms Revolution
  • 🎁 Psychonauts
  • [TAKEN] Crawl

If you want one just send me a message. First come, first served.

Space out! 🚀


Catching Up

Catching Up

It has been a year since my last entry...

Sorry about that! My main excuses are the baby (almost 2 years old now!) and the still unannounced "Project M" which I can't reveal the full details of yet. But I do owe you some updates. So here are some things I can say.

Project M

If you missed the teaser from two posts ago, Project M (not its real name) is yet another co-op party game like Spaceteam and Blabyrinth. This genre seems to be my specialty at the moment :)

Here are some more tiny out-of-context glimpses:

Project M Screenshot

I'm building it on contract for someone else, and it interrupted development of Blabyrinth, which has been on hold since before the pandemic. (Sorry escape room fans... your time will come!)

The core mechanic of Project M involves playing minigames together, in order to build (something) and survive as long as you can. After each session you get (something) you can bring with you into the next game, so there is a sense of progression as a team. I think this is an interesting idea and doesn't happen in most party games, but it also adds complexity.

Most of my time is spent wrestling this box of toys towards the finish line in one piece.

There is also pressure for it to be a free-to-play "live game" with things to buy and monthly events and new content. But to be honest, for the last year or so I've been anxious and a bit burnt-out about the direction the project was going. There has been a lot of tension between the party game side and the free-to-play side. I still don't have a clear idea how to make money from games like this.

Recently we came very close to getting a nice deal with a publisher, but they pulled out at the last minute :( So we are continuing to look for publishers.

Side Projects

To supplement the dwindling income I get from Spaceteam and its spin-offs, I've been taking some small contract jobs:

🔥 Gazteam

In a strange coincidence, I have now had commissions for customized versions of Spaceteam from TWO unrelated utility companies based in France. They claimed not to be aware of each other's Spaceteam customization. This latest one is for a natural gas company so there is now a Spaceteam-like all about managing pipes, valves, soil resistance, and "coke dust" (apparently).

Gazteam Screenshot

🎛 Large Hadron Party

I'm still getting some occasional work done on Large Hadron Party, the 100+ player game for science educator/comedian Sam Gregson to use in his shows. This project is also composed of simple cooperative mini-games, the latest of which is a "pipe race" where each player controls a particle zooming down a pipe trying not to touch the walls.

Watch this space if you want to join us for more large-scale beta testing.

LHP Screenshot

🦄 8 Things

This was actually a pro bono project to help someone out. I was contacted by another indie creator who wanted to make a digital version of a fun Family Feud-style party game they created. But the game itself is technically quite simple and I needed practice making multiplayer web apps in Javascript so I agreed to do it for my own education.

We'll release it to the public soon so that you can play too!

If you're interested in playtesting this game in particular, sign up here: https://bit.ly/3BySFzf

8 Things

8 Things

Spaceteam showing its age

Spaceteam itself, almost 10 years old now!, has definitely been neglected with everything else going on. I'm well aware that:

  1. Bluetooth mode no longer works on iOS due to a system permission problem (and was always sketchy on Android)
  2. Internet mode is about to stop working at the end of the month due to GameSparks terminating their service.
  3. Some people are even having trouble with Wifi mode, which is usually the most reliable.

But, given the importance of Internet mode in the era we now live in, this gives me a hard deadline to fix some of the problems before September 30. It will happen!

Personal Life

Our 5-year-old has started Kindergarten (in French!). My own French is still terrible, but I've started Duolingo again :) Our new baby (Yoshi) is almost 2. I'm getting a lot of new and exciting germs from school and daycare.

I'm gradually starting to play physical board games again, after a severe drought caused by pandemic + new baby. Sara and I have been playing a lot of Lost Ruins of Arnak.


This has been a popular feature of the blog in the past, so here are some more Steam codes to give away. If you want one just reply to the post or send me an email. First come, first served!

  • 🎁 Slay the Spire
  • 🎁 Boyfriend Dungeon
  • 🎁 Drawful 2
  • 🎁 Pikuniku
  • 🎁 GNOG
  • 🎁 Into the Breach
  • 🎁 Baba Is You
  • 🎁 The Stanley Parable
  • 🎁 Undertale
  • 🎁 Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • 🎁 The Witness
  • 🎁 Bioshock Remastered
  • 🎁 Surviving Mars
  • 🎁 Kerbal Space Program
  • 🎁 Hollow Knight

That's it for now... Space out! 🚀


Chaos & Discord

👉 [NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, this post is going up late so the playtest mentioned below has already happeneded, sorry!]

Just a few quick notes. First, an invitation to unbridled chaos:

Help me test a 100+ player co-op game!

One of my side-projects right now is a large audience-participation game that I'm building for a science comedian/educator to perform at school shows. It's supposed to be played in-person but since that's not possible right now I'd like to do some tests online.

I would love it if you could help me by joining a large Zoom meeting this Sunday Sep 12th at 3pm EDT/12pm PDT/8pm GMT

Zoom link: No longer active, sorry :(

It's a VERY simple game, so don't be shy. You only press one or two buttons.

All you need is a phone or tablet (join the meeting on your computer so you can play on your phone). The game itself will only take about 5 mins but with setup and explanation and experiments it will probably be more like 30 mins.

Large Hadron Party

Spaceteam Discord

Several folks have asked about making an official Spaceteam Discord server for the community, which is a great idea (especially since the forums have been dead for a long time now) but I just haven't had time for it. So I'm joining forces with the Spaceteam VR team, who already have a Discord server. They are happy to have Spaceteam mobile players join their community, and I'm guessing these two groups probably have a lot in common :)

Discord Logo

Here's an invite link: https://discord.gg/p7befeZ9

All Spaceteam Admiral's Club Patreon backers will get a special badge on the server with their rank!

Spaceteam: The Second Dimension

Spaceteam: The Second Dimension The Spaceteam VR team is also working on a 2D flat screen non-VR version of their game that you can play on your computer. It will be available on Steam and other PC platforms in the near future, but if you want to get a sneak peek you can sign up for the beta-test here:

Spaceteam: The Second Dimension - Beta test

Space out!

~ Henry