Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday, 28 February 2011

The King (Of Shaves) Speech...

King of Shaves are very definitely one of my favourite clients, even if they don't get us to build anywhere near as many games as they should :O)... however, when they do other things they come up with some real gold like this parody which... dare I say... is a moment of utter genius:

If you happen to have been living in a cave in Afghanistan for the last few months, this is a parody of "The Kings Speech" which is also a fantastic movie:

Long live the King!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Friday, 18 February 2011

It's time for Tinie

The wheels of production keep turning here at Kempt and I'm thrilled to announce our latest release: Tinie Tempah - The Game. It's been a huge week for the young rapper from Plumstead, what with scooping two Brit Awards for Best Breakthrough Act and Best Single, and now he's got his own game! Does life get any better?

The game itself is an "endless runner" in which you guide Tinie over rooftops and smash obstacles out of his path. Working on this has put a big smile on everyone's face and a lot of that has been down to the fan-submitted gameplay ideas that have been incorporated and the bespoke SFX that the man himself recorded especially. Nicest man in showbiz? Quite possibly.

The game has been very well received (check out some of the reviews on but I'll leave the last word to Mr. T. Tempah:

“The game is f**king amazing!”

Show 'n' Tell - Rampart

Here we are with the very first Kempt Show'n'Tell. Let the games begin!


What it is

Paul chose Rampart because it is, in his own words, "it's own genre" - a Multiplayer Puzzle-Shooter! The game begins with all 3 (three!) players choosing a starting castle, surrounded by walls. These walls are then shot at with cannons by the players, who then try to repair the damage in a tetris-style minigame.

If you manage to encapsulate your castle with tetris blocks; well done, you're still alive! If not, then you lose your castle and must try again.

The bigger you make your castle, the more cannons you can get in it and the more damage you can do to everyone else, but watch out! Larger castles are harder to repair afterwards, and often leave you with little fiddly bits that you won't know what to do with.

What happened

We got confused. I remember lots of shouting, accusations of Paul not telling us ALL the rules and accusations of the game just being a b*stard. This gave way as we learned how the game worked, and we were soon directing our abuse at other players, as it should be!

The game began revealing its depth; cannons can be destroyed if shot enough, secret bonus squares give rewards when built on, and small castles with no cannons make an effective secret hiding place.

We also noticed this could be the most pro-british game we'd ever played. The target cursors are little Union Jacks and the player colours are the same as the major political parties, the leaders of the losing sides being beheaded at the end of every game, complete with digitised "AGGH"s! Political accountability, awesome!

What we learnt
  • That our games philosophy here at Kempt is solid! Gameplay is key. The graphics of Rampart could be better (for me personally the main reason I hadn't played the game earlier), but they do the job and once it had begun the game's personality completely won us over.
  • The simple choices players have to make (do I build to expand for points, or for cannons, or for defense? And where DO I put that "S" shape?)...
  • ...and the cripplingly short amount of time the players get to make them! The pacing is a major part of the game's success. Too much of any of the sections of the game would quickly become boring, but when rationed out in short supply they're compelling.
Where can we get it?
Everywhere! Originally Rampart was an arcade game, so you might find it skulking in a corner somewhere in Great Yarmouth. It's also been ported to most computers and consoles right up to the original Xbox.

In conclusion, mashing together two unlikely genres can produce a surprising and multifaceted multiplayer masterpiece. Thank you Mr. Pepper!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

How to Create a Brilliant Casual/Social/Advergame

I often get asked what the secret of our success is, which (apart from the fact that we're brilliant!) is a tricky question to answer. I think a lot of it however comes down to our approach to game design, therefore I thought it might be useful to share a few pointers which I recently put together for a pitch:

Things to remember when designing your game:
  • The best/most successful games are often based on very simple ideas/principles.
  • Find a unique “take” which will help to make it stand out from the crowd.
  • Your audience are looking for a snack, not a meal, cater accordingly.
  • Make sure any important messages are clearly communicated within the first 3-5 mins.
  • Only 10% of your audience are actually good at games, build your game for the 90% that aren't!
  • Reward failure almost as much as success.
Those points might sound really obvious but as with all things, it's the simple things that make the difference between failure and success. Bear them in mind and you won't go far wrong.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Tim Smit (Eden Project) On Radio 4

This morning I was very lucky to catch Tim Smit from the Eden Project on Saturday Live - Radio 4,  I'd urge you to listen to the show on the iPlayer if you catch this in time, but in case you don't I'd like to share a couple of quotes with you:

"part of the reason that we're a risk averse country is that most of the politicians that we have in charge of us have never had a day job and most of the people in charge of distributing money have only ever made their money on the backs of speculation, betting against their own currencies and so on, and have given up the tradition of investing in people who make things with their hands. This countries wealth was actually built on the back of men and women who made things that matched the imagination of our people..."

I think Tim hit the nail on the head here and his further thoughts on challenges we face for the future are as inspirational as they are frightening (since we currently seem to be doing the exact opposite!) however there was one point of Tim's that I found particularly interesting:

"the trouble is, if you're ruled by an accountancy fear of knowing the cost of things without knowing the cost of not doing things you can bring yourself to your knees - anyone who's ever run a company knows that very often you can kill a company in your desire to constrict access to money because you think that's prudent - the 'mumsy' way to success."

As someone that started a business from the point of view of making things, as opposed to making money, I can totally relate to his points. I have to say, I find the highly conservative attitude to business in the UK infuriating to say the least.

For example, over the last seven or eight years I've occasionally received criticism from (in my opinion) stupid people for stupid reasons: "you don't have a business plan? Tsk tsk", "You can't quote your profit margin on a per project basis? Tut tut" "you don't have a clear exit strategy? Huff huff huff" "call yourself an entrepreneur?..."

For a long time I took these criticisms seriously and quite personally and it's only relatively recently, with the right support and having done a lot of thinking/research, that I've been able to see things more clearly. The reality is that Kempt, much like our produce, is a work in progress. It's true that there are some areas that need to (and will) develop but the bits that are finished work quite exceptionally well. I started this company on my own with nothing but a laptop on buy now pay next year and the trust of a couple friends who gave us business. Seven/eight years later we have a company that's always been profitable, has an exceptionally low staff turnover, owns significant IP and somehow found the time to create some of the most successful interactive marketing material ever produced...

I have no doubt that over the next few years our business practices will continue to tighten up, but in the meantime I am proud to say that our priorities will always be our company and the remarkable things we produce. Kempt will never accused of the "mumsy" way to success!

You and find out more about the genius Tim Smit on the BBC 4 site and on Wikipedia

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Announcing Kempt Show'n'Tell!

To shoo in the new year we've instigated Monday Morning Show'n'Tell, where every fortnight a nominated Kempter brings in one of their favourite games and attempts to explain to the rest of us just what we've been missing. And Muggins 'ere has been tasked with blogging about it! :D I dunno, you turn 30 and people think you're responsible...

Our first week's victim, erm nominee, erm volunteer is Paul Pepper, our Chief Spartan Programmer! Stay tuned.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Monday, 7 February 2011

Kempt Showreel Hits 150k views (well nearly!)

Today I was flabbergasted to notice that our showreel has received nearly 150k views on YouTube alone!

I'm hugely grateful to all of our clients friends and fans for taking an interest and I'm hugely pleased to see that a simple video like this could attract far more traffic than your typical commercially produced viral video ad... viva games, viva democracy of content! viva virals (as long as they're games)!!!
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