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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Summer Sundries

Spaceteam news

ESL Speech Recognition

Educational variant Spaceteam ESL and its French counterpart Astronautes FLS are getting a new feature: Speech Recognition! Now you can get immediate feedback on your pronunciation in Practice mode. I'm using Google Speech-to-Text API which is more appropriate for understanding what you mean rather than exact pronunciation so it's not perfect for our needs but it's close enough. The new versions are in review and should be ready for the new school year on September 3rd.

ESL Speech Recognition

New translations for Spaceteam (now 22 in total!)

  • Swedish
  • Estonian
  • Simplified Chinese
  • ...and Bosnian coming soon!

I paid for a good official Chinese translation in the hopes of launching in China on Android sometime soon. This is actually a complicated procedure requiring special permission from the Chinese government, documents, fees, and working with a Chinese partner. Google Play is not allowed in China so instead you have to distribute your app or game on various other competing app stores. There are dozens of these stores, each with their own terms and policies, so it's much easier to work with someone else to handle the distribution.

I'm still investigating the best way to make it happen but it seems like I shouldn't just ignore such a big potential audience!

I am in violation... of something

When I uploaded my latest beta version to Google I got an unexpected message back that I was violating their Payments policy. Apparently it has to do with linking to my Patreon inside the app (it allows people to "donate" to me outside Google Play which I guess they don't like) but after asking for clarification it's still not clear what I can do to fix it. The app has been this way for a looong time. I've resubmitted without a clickable link (now it just says "Learn more at: spaceteamadmirals.club"). Hopefully that's good enough.

CaptainsMess is being revived!

I finally decided to outsource the one part of my job that I like the least: network programming. I'm working with a local company called Triple Boris to upgrade my CaptainsMess networking library. It will make Spaceteam and Blabyrinth networking more reliable and, since it's open source, hopefully others will be able to benefit from it too!

The first task I've given them is to build a custom Android Bluetooth plugin. I was previously using one from the Asset Store, but it cost money and is no longer supported. CaptainsMess will soon have built-in support for Bluetooth on iOS and Android without relying on external code (still not cross-platform though).

Blabyrinth news


The latest Blabyrinth showing was at Montreal ComicCon in July. Here's Phil (my musician) at the booth with some random players. Our booth was a bit boring so on the second day we brought some puzzle props and Phil's partner Linda made us a great "Escape The Room!" sign to make it more obvious what the game is about. This attracted a lot more escape room fans (and designers!) so I'm going to bring it to other events too.

ComicCon booth

From watching people play the demo it's clear that I need a good way to teach the basic interactions like swiping, pinching, and dragging. When I introduce the game I still feel compelled to explain to people how to zoom in to look for clues and pick up items. So I've been working on making the game teach itself using just the right amount of hinting.

Dragging Hint

New puzzle types

I'm still waiting to open the floodgates on new puzzle types until the game is more stable but I've been adding a few here and there. Here are some previews:

Photo Clue

Letter Grid

Paper Holes

Paper Holes

Paper Holes

Meta game

I don't want to spoil anything about the meta-game but suffice it to say I've been connecting things together so that everything will work if you decide to seek out the additional challenges hidden throughout the game. The labyrinth is not what it appears!

Next stop for Blabyrinth... XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon (unofficially)

~ Henry

Berlin, Toronto, and a special announcement...

I have some big Spaceteam news to announce...

Spaceteam Logo

Spaceteam is heading to another reality! VIRTUAL REALITY!

A company called Cooperative Innovations has licensed the Spaceteam name and are making a VR version of the game. Read the full press release here. I've already seen some early demos and they're capturing the chaos and humour of the game well. They're planning to launch it later this year and I'm excited to see the finished product!

Cooperative Innovations logo

I'll be sure to mention any Spaceteam VR news here on the blog but you can also sign up for a Spaceteam-VR-specific newsletter from the Cooperative Innovations team here: Spaceteam VR page

Blabyrinth icon

Blabyrinth in Berlin

In April I was in Berlin for the A MAZE. festival where Blabyrinth won the Human Human Machine Award! I was very happy and it's a great start to this new promotional phase of development.

AMaze. Award

The game was demoing well with very few bugs/crashes, however... when the judges got to my station to actually test the game for judging, two unexpected things happened:

  1. They almost immediately started ringing the three giant bells in the demo level and accidentally discovered the secret melody to open the Treasure Room, skipping over a bunch of clues. (Note to self: should I allow these kind of accidental shortcuts in the game?)
  2. Then, three of them went to explore behind a pressure-plate-activated portcullis and the fourth unwittingly locked them all inside and then promptly stepped on a cage trap, thus trapping the entire team. Luckily they still enjoyed the experience :) (Another note to self: should I allow all players to be trapped at once, or artificially rescue them somehow?)

The festival was great for playtesting: I got to watch a steady stream of brand new players interact with the game, see their reactions, and discuss with them afterwards. I took a lot of notes :)

I was there by myself working the booth for 4 days, and the exhibition was open until 1am every day, so it was pretty tiring! I took some breaks but not enough.

Phil (my musician) mentioned something recently that I had never really thought about: it's kind of weird that games can win awards before they come out. It's not true for most other creative industries: music, movies, books, etc.

Blabyrinth in Toronto

In May the whole family went to Toronto for TCAF (the Toronto Comic Arts Festival) which had a small games presence organized by the Hand Eye Society. This time I had Phil to help with the booth and the show only lasted two days, so it was much more manageable.

Everyone seemed to like the game. Quite a few Spaceteam fans stopped by to say hi. And we got a bunch of new sign-ups for the mailing list.

More than one person mentioned that Blabyrinth felt a bit like an old game from the 90s called Indiana Jones Desktop Adventures (and another called Yoda Stories) so now I have to check those games out and get some inspiration!

Henry at the TCAF booth

The image on the TV is from a rough-cut of our new trailer with some storyboard graphics. We'll be recording some live-action footage for the trailer soon!

I am now a Corporate Overlord

After working under my own name for 6 years as a Sole Proprietor I finally decided to get an accountant and incorporate my business, which will hopefully save some money on taxes. Canada, and specifically Québec (where I am), has some great incentives for video game developers but I've never taken advantage of them. My accountants are going to help me apply for SRED (Scientific Research & Experimental Development) and the Multimedia Tax Credit. Possibly others?

My company's official name is now... drumroll... 9397-6124 Québec inc. (it was cheaper and quicker to register a numbered company) but my "trade name" is still Sleeping Beast Games. And since I'm in Québec I also have to have a French name (which I needed Phil's help for): Jeux Le Dragon Dormant.

Now that I'm starting to promote a second game it looks like I'll need to spend some more time on my website and branding to connect everything together.

Until next time!

~ Henry


When we last spoke I was preparing to show Blabyrinth at DemoNight here in Montreal. It didn't go perfectly: the music didn't work and there was confusing video lag between the two devices, but it was a good learning experience.


It's tricky to present a game like this on stage because I need at least two video streams, and preferably four (one for each player). I've tried it before by streaming each device wirelessly to my laptop using an app like Reflector but I've had problems with lag before. This time I connected one device with a cable through Quicktime Player > "New Movie Recording..." and streamed the other one over wifi (Quicktime can't show two devices for some reason). But there was still lag, probably due to interference from so many other devices in one space. At one point the streamed video was 20 seconds behind the hard-wired one, which made the actions very difficult to follow.

Next time I present I'll try to avoid wireless streaming entirely. If anyone has tips on how to show four iPads on one screen I'd love to hear them.

State of the Game

I realize that I haven't actually shown much of the game in action so here's a video playthrough of a random level showing what the latest build looks like:

Level Playthrough Video (YouTube Link)


I traveled to London for a week in February and, despite no longer having an official reason for going (the Digital Culture Awards was rescheduled for April at the last minute), I still had a great trip. Since I had no more Spaceteam obligations I spent the whole week working with my artist Sam, running Blabyrinth playtests, and hanging out with escape room folks.

I had some great brainstorming sessions with Sam and my host Ed. We came up with some UI improvements and I've started experimenting with two new features/mechanics: light & darkness, and personal minimaps.


Dark rooms & torchlight

Puzzles involving light and darkness were always on my wishlist but I hadn't planned to implement them for version 1.0.

But darkness came up as a solution for keeping people together in a group. Something that happens a lot in playtests is that as soon as the team drops into the level everyone runs off in different directions. So the idea I'm exploring is to make the level completely dark and give one player a torch so they have to stick together in the beginning... until they find additional torches throughout the level at which point they can start splitting off.

It might be overkill for the entire level to be dark, so I'll probably just have a few dark rooms, but it's a useful tool to have in the box.


Minimap, large

Minimap, in hand

I was planning to include a "magic", auto-updating, level map as a special item or reward, but now I'm considering making them a default feature to make navigation easier. At the moment it's very easy to get lost in the labyrinth because the rooms all look very similar, and the way I previously solved this was to add player "shouts" (which you can see in an earlier blog post). But one of the insights from the brainstorm (thanks Ed!) was that while this helps players find each other, it doesn't encourage them to talk to each other. Once you see the shout callout on the screen, you can start heading in that direction without any further interaction. But if instead you can see both of your locations on a map, you can guide your teammate to you by describing the route.

It was a welcome reminder that I should always be prioritizing face-to-face interation when trying to solve game design problems.

Another interesting side-effect of carrying a map around with you is that it takes up an inventory slot that could be used for something else. So you have to make a choice about whether to keep the map or drop it to carry more stuff!

No San Francisco

I had tickets to GDC in San Francisco but unfortunately I got sick the week before and had to cancel the whole trip :( I'll be there next year for sure.

...then we take Berlin

Next month my travels take me to Berlin for the A MAZE. festival. Blabyrinth is nominated for an award and I'll be showing the game there in person. Maybe I'll see some of you there!

~ Henry