“BigHead BASH” Open Beta on Kongregate

Everyone at Spicy Horse is very excited to announce BigHead BASH is now in Open Beta on Kongregate!

Who’s up for some free-to-play BASHING action?

Time to get of the farm, stop counting cows and start collecting exclusive toys and weapons! This is the first of three new titles Spicy will release in 2012 – all of them designed to push online gaming to new heights of quality and fun.

Like collecting things? You can get Mr. Destructoid and his Rooster Launcher, or if you’re in a more gentle mood, Nurse Tacky and a Chainsaw. Monkeys, lasers, robots, pirates and more! BigHead BASH is where your toys go to play!

New toys and weapons will be launched every two weeks, with exclusive posters and wallpapers on our website and Facebook page.

Check out www.bigheadbash.com and join the fun!

UPDATE: The kind folks over at Destructoid have covered the Open Beta story here.

Grimm Episode 22 – Thumbling

Thumbling Horse Profile

Horse Cross Section

And here you thought Grimm was finished! Well, I would have thought so too… I mean, he was *supposed* to be finished a few weeks ago. But it seems the guys over at Gametap needed to put the final episodes on hold while they revamped their site. So Grimm had to wait, but wait no more!

Behold, Episode 22 – Thumbling! To say this is a twisted episode would be a huge understatement. Just one look at that bit of key concept artwork, and you’ll know where going places no previous game has gone before. Probably with good reason.

But this episode, like many of the final-season episodes, has brought together a tight collection of the best game play mechanics, art production, and narrative delivery. In short, this is a great (if gross) episode. Head over to Gametap and check it out.

Direct link to the episode @ Gametap: HERE

And be sure to tune in next week when we deliver THE FINAL EPISODE!

The Grimm End is Near

Grimmvite Poster

The Grimm End is Near

Well folks, after 2 amazing years of innovative and exciting development, Grimm production is wrapping up. To celebrate, we’ll be hosting a Grimm “wrap party” at Spicy Horse, this Friday the 13th of March (appropriate, no?). If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by to enjoy pizza, drinks, and some Grimm-themed games (who can pee the furthest, make it stinkiest, etc).

Approaching this milestone in Grimm development fills me with a bizarre mixture of emotions. It’s always good to see a development through, finish it knowing all milestones were met, schedules kept, and a good game (or episodes) were delivered. Grimm is no exception. Grimm also brought with it the creation of a new studio in Shanghai, the building of a tremendously capable team, and the evolution of a beautiful company culture. We learned a ton, took some knocks, delivered some interesting content, and came out the other side – with a cool new project to show for it!

I’m really proud of Grimm. I’m even more proud of the team that built Grimm. Every person who contributed to the project deserves to be applauded for how they made the product (and the studio) into what it is today. Awesome work!

There are still a few new episodes yet to come. Be sure to check them out over on Gametap – some really fun stuff coming up!

Grimm Postmortem

Models & Animations Pipeline

Models & Animation Pipeline

Gamasutra is featuring a lengthy postmortem of “Grimm”. The article was primarily written by Grimm’s producer Wim Coveliers with contributions by all of the Spicy Horse team. It does a good job in detailing the high-level things that went right and wrong during the production of Grimm. From the article:

Going into production, we knew we had a lot on our hands: we were going to develop the world’s first weekly episodic game, and we had exactly one year before the first episodes were scheduled to air.

Since nobody had done a project with these variables, we had to create most of our scheduling and pipelines from scratch, based on the team’s instincts and varied experience.

Now, a year and a half after starting development of our prototype, eight episodes of Grimm have been released; sixteen more episodes will be distributed in the next several months.

The game has been very well received: it has become the best-selling game on the GameTap service, and with plans to bring it to other digital distribution platforms, the future looks very bright for Grimm (however much he hates bright things himself!)

And while the article provides some interesting insights, it barely scratches the surface of the story – the energy, ideas, pain, and joy that went into building a new studio in China while developing a first-of-kind episodic game. One thing that always amazes me are the personal stories carried by the individuals in our team – the backgrounds, travels, adventures, loves, losses, and other unique elements that make the people, and in turn the team, what they are… A really beautiful thing.

I’m proud to have been a part of it all. And hopeful for what the future holds in store for Spicy Horse. As we head into the New Year (Chinese!), I’m wishing everyone prosperity, health, and happiness.

Bring on the Year of the Cow! Moo!

Episodic Development with UE3

Grimm Production Timelines

Grimm Time Lines

Develop Magazine is running an article highlighting the episodic development of Grimm using the Unreal Engine 3 technology. From the article:

McGee’s core team explored several engines before settling on Unreal Engine 3 and ultimately found that they were able to integrate content and achieve the visual results they wanted faster and easier with Unreal Engine 3.

“This was primarily attributable to the superior reference materials, tutorials, and content pipeline and tools. Once our decision was made, attracting other team members with UE3 experience and gaining critical knowledge on our own was easy,” explained McGee.

“Because Grimm is such an experimental game concept, rapid prototyping was essential to proving our new ideas. Being able to quickly build a world from near-final content allowed us to focus on the challenges of implementing original ideas.”

If you’re interested in how we pulled off on-time development and distribution of 12 hours of episodic content, while building a studio from the ground up, AND being in a foreign land – then you’ll want to check out the full article. I will say a lot of our success is owed to the robustness of the UE3 toolset.

Attached to this article you’ll see a time-line which roughly illustrates the cycles our production went through in order to accomplish our development goals. This time line only gives a broad picture and a little detail related to Level Design production. There were in fact many similar time lines running concurrently through all departments, including Concept Art, Asset Production, Animation, and Programming.

Soon we’ll release a Post Mortem on the Grimm project which goes into more detail about the development of Grimm. Keep an eye out for it!

Grimm Episode 16 – Christmas Carol

2008 Christmas Card

Ugly Christmas Baby

It’s that wonderful time of year again – time for another episode of Grimm! And something else… oh yeah, CHRISTMAS! And wouldn’t you know it, Grimm has a special treat for you! Is it a lump of coal? A stick? Nah! He’s cooked up a special presentation of “A Christmas Carol”. Not only does this episode deliver some critical commentary on the commercial “celebration” we call Christmas (joyful alliteration!), but it wraps up this “season of 8” – bringing us to 16 episodes in total! How’s that for weekly episodic content?!

But as usual you don’t have to take my word for any of this. Take a read at what David Craddock over on BigDownload has to say:

“In fairness, when Grimm Season Two was good, it was great. Episodes such as The Master Thief, The Pied Piper and Iron John are some of the most enjoyable casual gaming romps I’ve experienced — quite a feat, considering the plethora of free flash-based games available within the Internet’s many tubes. The conclusion of Season Two, A Christmas Carol, isn’t one of the series’ best offerings, but its excellent art direction, as well as its depressingly truthful analysis of the true meaning of Christmas circa 2008, does make it quite entertaining.”

So there you go. When it was good, it was great. And when it was just released, it was FREE. On top of all that, it was predictable, easily accessible, and unlike anything else out there. Pretty good first year of Grimm if you ask me. More fun stuff in store for next year.

In the meantime, check out Grimm, Episode 16, “A Christmas Carol”.

Now with all that Grimm stuff out of the way – I just wanted to take a moment to say, “Thank you!”. To all the people at GameTap who made Grimm happen. From Ricardo who gave it the green light to Roger who watched over its production. From Trent and Wendy who publicized it and marketed it. Of course MANY huge thanks to the dedicated team at Spicy Horse. Without their creative vision, process-driven production, and technical brilliance, Grimm would be nothing more than a little grumpy dwarf twinkle in my eye.

Last but not least, thank YOU! The Grimm audience. You guys have been great – providing feedback, praise, and criticism in all the right places. You made Grimm a truly interactive development process. Your comments were read, they mattered, and they impacted the product we were building in a real (and real-time) way. It’s been great to have you along.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, safe, and healthy Holiday!