[Wormlight is a spotlight feature where we introduce someone/something awesome and explain why itʼs worth your time]
It’s been a while since I’ve done a Wormlight. With the holiday season approaching, most of us are either playing the big games we’ve been waiting all year to play, or staring at the tree hoping they lie beneath it. We have a few weeks until that day so it seems like the perfect time to bring back our premiere spotlight feature.
Today we are going to focus on the developer Lazy Brain Games.
Lazy Brain is John Bell and that’s pretty much it. He is the guy that codes, Photoshops, and crafts these games that look like they were ripped straight from the NES. Sometimes he gets a bit of help from his friends and even his brother with music and art, but Lazy Brain was built up by one man’s wish to figure out game development. That makes him interesting, but I’m even more impressed by how he focused his game development. Instead of devoting a long development cycle to a game, he decided to just kick it all into overdrive. Each game he made fell under one condition: he only spent a week creating them; that’s 5 days during the week spent dreaming the game out in his head (never on paper), and 2 days devoted to coding.
Now this has become a popular method among the indie movement with game jams. I, however, don’t know of one other developer who has gone through so many games with this kind of process. It truly makes John Bell a one-of-a-kind at putting a new twist on nostalgia. Constrained by the 2 day limitation, he had to craft something simple which changed the entire design he had originally started with when he began Golden Beast Studios. This meant he had to concentrate on simple pixel graphics and really grow into his own as a developer.
This limitation raised the bar and has turned him into a shmup, platformer, and puzzle game developer that has a portfolio of ideas worth looking at.
[Why Should I Care?]
They are free and they are actually surprisingly good little games in spite of, or maybe, because of their limitations. Over the course of developing these 16 games, this developer grows new techniques off of pretty solid foundations. The evolution is quite remarkable and it’s only a shame that he has been forced to retire. In the span of his time as a developer, he has had to go through a wealth of challenges. The result of which has left him no option but to focus on righting his financial predicament.
There is a story of what a person can achieve through simple hard work in the format Lazy Brain Games has presented their product.
Whether this is going to be a long term hiatus, only John really knows. What we do know is that there have been serious hints that his website might go down, which means you might want to check these games out in case something big happens and they get lost forever. So far his download links have been overwhelmed and gone down, and he’s publicly gone on record that the games are “basically public domain.” I just spent a good week of my life trying in vain to find an interesting game from the Indie Stone. I’d hate for something similar to happen to some really cool little games.
Plus some of these games have a really bitchin soundtrack.
[Where Can I See More?]
Currently the list of 16 games is available on the developers website in a bulk download. You can also download them individually through Game Jolt and I’ve even posted it up if those ever does go down.
The games are ordered like so:
|Season 1||Season 2|
|Game 1||Crystal Wave||Omnicron|
|Game 2||Sky Scream||Infernal Edge|
|Game 4||Cyborg Virus||Necro Gaia|
|Game 5||Runner Gunner||Selectra|
|Game 6||Space Fish||Space Test 48|
|Game 7||Bug Hunt||Time Squid|
|Game 8||Mecha Spider Island||Continue? Philly Under Fire|
I legitimately recommend playing these games in order just to see where this developer has come from and how he grew into his swan song of Continue? Philly Under Fire. His final commentary on Continue? really shows how and where he gets his inspiration from, and is the game I think he would agree showcases what he could do if he fully went all out as a developer.
[How Can I Help?]
That’s actually an interesting question I had asked myself. Without getting to into his personal situation, John Bell has been throwing the number $30,000 around which seems pretty daunting for anybody to raise in his situation. See, after Season 1, John decided to try growing a bit. Season 1 was the experimental phase with quick ideas in 2 days. Season 2 was where he would try to spend a bit more time growing his ideas into full games. Once Infernal Edge came about, it was finally time to really look at developing these games into something real. The 2 day games were over, It was time to try fine tuning. This was preparing him for bigger pursuits, but after a failed Kickstarter for Infernal Edge 2, everything was shrouded in doubt.
Recommendations to bundle the games for sale have popped up. Another Kickstarter has been proposed as well, but the honest answer was simple to him: “The existing games aren’t ready to survive the rigors of the games market. With whatever little monetization I got from the little games it would probably take another 3 years to get the money together for a Kickstarter.”
Whatever the case may be, it will be a shame to see a developer of some really cool games go out before he finally has something commercial to bring to the table. The only thing there is to help support this struggling developer is a small donate button on his site. So if you do indeed find his games enjoyable, that looks to be the only way to help this guy out. Right now though, it’s pretty doubtful we’ll be seeing a season 3.