The Clueless Journey of Pale Blue Dot Games
LUMBER LARRY, my first game, was born out of a culmination of inspiration, ideas, grand naivety and absolute ignorance... Not necessarily in that order. I remember the moment quite clearly that the broad concept of the gameplay came to me, or was rather thrust upon me. A lover of cinema I had been exploring the back catalogue of the great Buster Keaton – although I still firmly belong in the Charlie Chaplin camp I thoroughly enjoy Keaton’s films. The film was called “Seven Chances”; a silent comedy released in 1925, directed by Mr. Keaton himself. The plot can be summed up in a single sentence, conveniently provided by IMDB.
“A man learns he will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. today.”
This may sound completely unoriginal but remember, this was 1925 and “Seven Chances” has since gone on to influence countless other films and spawned many remakes… for better or worse… I’m looking at you “The Bachelor”…
Anyway, I digress. “What does this have to do with LUMBER LARRY?” I hear you screaming. Well, there is an iconic chase scene in “Seven Chances” in which Jimmy (Buster Keaton) is running for his life to escape a mob of money-hungry wannabe wives. At one point in the chase Jimmy, in desperation, hurls himself down a hill and inadvertently causes a rush of giant boulders to crash after him… for anyone who has played LUMBER LARRY this is probably starting to sound familiar.
And thus, inspiration was born! It wasn’t immediate, it may have been the next day or a few days later, but something about that scene stuck with me, something I had to get out! That something became my somewhat underwhelming first sketch of what would eventually become LUMBER LARRY.
Now, I have a confession to make… I’m not a Game Designer (or at least I wasn’t), I don’t know anything about programming and development. I didn’t even know anyone in the industry. All I had was a strong desire to turn this thing I’d drawn on a free pharmacy note pad into something great that could change the World! … Enter grand naivety and absolute ignorance.
GRAND NAIVETY AND ABSOLUTE IGNORANCE
Some might see my lack of knowledge and experience in the game design world as a weakness, and those people are probably right. But I saw it as a huge advantage. To me it meant I could not be confined and contained in a box of rules and limitations. I was not held back by what is and isn’t possible, what does and doesn’t work, how things should or shouldn’t be done. I was free to make it all up, learn and discover as I went along… This was (and still is) a great feeling.
I knew I wanted to create this game. I had to create this game! I had gone through life up to this point having had many ideas and surges of inspiration but I had never gone on to do anything about it. There is a feeling you get when inspiration strikes, a feeling so strong it can, for a moment, completely take over your consciousness and your very being. Everything else fades away… it’s like being hit full force in the belly by a rainbow. It can leave you restless, breathless and tingling all over. There is no truer feeling. For me, I pace... just constant pacing up and down with a seemingly endless stream of unorganised thought. That’s where I was... I had been there before but I never had the drive or confidence to do anything about it. This time was going to be different… it had to be different.
So, back to the whole changing the World thing… I didn’t want to create yet another endless runner that would just sit in the AppStore collecting digital dust while all the Clash of Clans, Candy Crush and Angry Birds of the world crowded and drowned it out. I wanted to make something bigger, something that stood something, something that could make a difference and inspire change.
My whole life I have been interested in nature, the World around us and space. At one point in my childhood I wanted to be a nature documentary filmmaker, simply because I wanted to be able to see and learn everything about this Planet we are hitching a ride on as it hurtles through space at 67,000 miles per hour!
This lead me to the idea of not just creating a game but creating a game and a company that could leverage off the hugely successful and lucrative market of mobile games to raise money and awareness of global issues; issues that affect all of us, issues that can change the World. Ambitious? Hell yes! But… Rainbow Gut Punch!! I just knew I had to follow through on this one. No more wondering what if. No more talk with no action. "Who cares if I fail, I need to at least give it a shot".
This idea enabled me to land on a name for my imaginary company and game development studio, PALE BLUE DOT GAMES. A name inspired by the very humbling speech given by one of my heroes, Carl Sagan, in his documentary series “Cosmos”. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch this YouTube video.
So, at this point I had the basics of a game idea, I had a vision of a company that I wanted to create and what I wanted it to stand for and... I had no friggin clue.
I felt like Jimmy running down that hill. Scared out of my mind, but damn it was exhilarating!
Part 2 coming soon - I will talk about how PALE BLUE DOT GAMES became a real company and how LUMBER LARRY became a real boy (clever Pinocchio reference).
LUMBER LARRY is out now and free-to-play on iOS, download and play here - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lumber-larry/id979141193
Let me know you want to hear more about my story by liking and sharing this post!