Ste has some lovely prints of the Death Ray Manta cover artwork for sale. Go for the Death Ray Manta artwork but stay for the Night & Day prints which nail game development far better than thousands of words ever manage.
I might have mentioned before how happy both myself and Andy are with the cover art but just in case, I’ll mention it again because man, we’re so chuffed with it. Thanks again, Ste! It’s brilliant.
One of the important things I want to do, for myself as much as anything, with New Death Ray Manta is to let it be shaped in some ways by other people. I hope this will show in the soundtrack, I hope it’ll show with Andy’s contributions to what happens under the hood and I hope it’ll show in other parts of the game too which other people have contributed to.
I wasn’t kidding when I said that I want to rag a few heroes of mine along for the ride and to see what happens, y’know? I want New Death Ray Manta to be about more than just me. That’s important to me. Whilst the game itself, the design of the game at least, is very much the work of myself and Andy, there’s a lot of peripheral stuff that doesn’t have to be. Doesn’t need to be. Yeah, yeah, I could wing this alone, I could go on a characteristic obsession over ever last detail of the videogame or…
…or I could have some genuine fun with it.
I’m having fun with it.
I have an idea of some people I’d really love to see in the credits of the game and if I can, where I can and with their blessings and assistance, I’d like to see if this ride can be a bit of fun for them too. There is, however, one really important clause that comes with them contributing to the game. I don’t tell them what to do. I know what part I’d like filled but how they fill it? Well, that’s where the fun comes in. You see, I don’t think there’s any point in asking for someone to contribute if they can’t contribute a bit of themselves to it. A bit of what they’d like to do. What they think is appropriate. They are, after all, the fucking experts at this, not me.
I know, I know, games don’t necessarily work like this being all “oh the single minded auteur” and all that or whatever else we’re currently banging on about but do you know what’s really fun? What’s really fun is saying to someone “Look, I value what you do, I *love* what you do and I’d love to have you do something with my game” and when they ask “OK, what would you like me to do?” going “I don’t know, what would you want to do for this?”. OK, ok, that’s not the really fun bit, the fun bit is where you get the piece back and with an absolute 100% success rate to date, they’ve left me grinning like a lunatic for hours. I’m not kidding either. Like last night when I got the cover art through for DRM, I couldn’t believe it. I was grinning for hours and jumping around the place excitedly like a child who has just secretly finished ALL the smarties and you can’t have them, they’re gone now.
Part of it is disbelief. Before Xmas, I knew I was chancing it but I couldn’t resist, I asked Ste Pickford of The Pickford Bros would he do the cover art. If you’re going “Who?”, get out. Just leave. If you’re not, well, you know why, yeah? He’ll slap me for this but he’s a genuine inspiration to me. At peak-Spectrum, I’d excitedly run out and buy new Pickford Bros games because whilst they may not have always been amazing (I’m looking at you, Rasterscan), they were always different and worth it. Look, I bought a fucking darts game because John and Ste wrote it and look at me, do I look like the kind of guy who plays darts videogames? Actually, these days I probably do so don’t answer that.
I honestly expected him to tell me to fuck off or make excuses. So when he said yes, I was already leaping around excitedly. Maybe it means nothing to anyone else out there in the world having a piece of Ste Pickford art to put alongside your game but it means something, it means a lot, to me.
And somehow, here I am at the end of January sitting here with an actual, frankly amazing, piece of art to bolt onto the promo stuff for my game. And you know what? I’m honoured that Ste agreed to it. I love it, I really really love it. I love it so much that I’m kinda aching for Ste to let me buy a print of it so I can have it on my wall and all that. I showed Mrs B and she gawped at it. I showed Andy and he asked me to fuck him with a broom. I declined, naturally, but I understand the sentiment. I shown a few friends and they all, uniformly, said that they thought it was gorgeous.
I then spent the night butchering it to fit into different containers on stores and slapping a logo on top. It’s not all sunshine, like.
As I say, there’s other people I’d like to bring along for the ride as time goes on. I can’t wait to share some of the soundtrack with everyone, it’s amazing. Like proper amazing and so daft that I can’t believe it’s a thing that exists and that I find myself walking down the street singing songs from the soundtrack to my game because what is that all about? There’s someone I asked a few years back when I first started this who I’d love to go back and see if they’re still willing to throw something in the pot and on. Because you know what’s great? Having something frankly amazing land in your inbox is great. Getting to share that amazing thing with the world is the greatestTM. Lord help me if I ever strike it rich because I’ll just throw money at everyone for things like this because why the hell wouldn’t you?
But tonight? Tonight, it’s about saying an enormous thank you to Ste for his contribution and to let him know just how happy I am with it and how happy it’s made me to be able to throw this in alongside the game. Thanks Ste! Thank you so much.
You know how with videogames they spend a good hour, two hours, vaguely trying to work their way towards a set up before proceeding to spend another ten hours getting to the point a film can do in an hour and a half? Yeah, that’s a thing that puzzles me. Not that I’m averse to games that take their time to unfold but just y’know, how little we manage to cram into the time videogames consume out of our lives still surprises.
When I sat down to write the introduction to Death Ray Manta, I had Shack’s Neighbours in mind. In the space of eleven lines, Mick Head presents an entire slice of life, hopes, dreams and existence. An all encompassing thing that videogames struggle to do over their elongated run times. If Mick could do that over eleven lines, I could set up the plot to a game about a fish with lasers in his head over less, yeah?
“Look from your window, stop raining
Look for a fella who’s still outside
All he wants is to be a dealer
All he’s got left of the pride
Was it something you’re saying?
Is it something to tell me?
Are you scared of the neighbours?
Was it something on telly?
When you’re not with him it’s different
Look for a way it’s not inside
And all she’s got left of the pride”
I’m long of the opinion that Neighbours is one of the greatest pop songs of the past 30 years anyway but as a lesson in setting a scene, it’s hard to beat. Well, except maybe for the wonderful opening to “…Across The Kitchen Table“, another Head masterpiece. “In a cheap motel room, the miraculous way you bucked up when I said you were incredibly beautiful” is one fuck of a scene setter.
So yeah, with Neighbours in mind I spent some time trying to get the intro to Death Ray Manta down to 4 lines.
Death Ray Manta
Has lasers in his head
He blew up his house
Now he lives in space instead
Who, really, needs more? OK, OK, it’s no Mick Head but then *I’m* no Mick Head. Mission accomplished though, all the set up I need in less than 20 words.
Death Ray Manta was always about trying to make the pop song of videogames. I dunno, I don’t think I quite got there so this time round, I’m going to be writing a videogame with popsongs instead. Think Deus Ex Machina meets Robotron with a fish and you’re probably not even close. It’s still Death Ray Manta at its heart because how could it not be. What I wanted to do was just write a really good arcade game so that’s precisely what I’m going to do.
It’s probably a madness but that’s half the fun, right? Cool-as-fuck-electropop-vidkidz-videogames is a thing now. Or at least, it will be by the time me, Andy, Mike and Jen have finished.
And I’m going to rope in a few heroes along the way because why not.