Australia has a rich indie games development community and there’s plenty of great titles worth highlighting. Around Australia In Eighty Indies is going to be a recurring feature here at Resident Entertainment where we catch up with local developers to talk about what they’re working on and how they broke into the industry. For our first interview, we sat down with Jared Hahn to talk about his recently released mobile game Mori.
Fergus: So I think a good place to start is Mori? Tell me about Mori? How’s it doing now that it’s been set free on the Appstore?
Jared: It’s doing okay. Like it’s better than I’d expect from my first release [and one where] where I kinda botched marketing [and] left it to the last minute. It’s been really cool though – I’ve actually had people e-mail me and say how great it is and how much they’re enjoying it so that’s a really cool thing to see for a first release.
Fergus: Where did it come from? What did you hope to achieve by making it?
Jared: I was in a very dark spot mentally in my life and I wasn’t working with great people and I realised that if I wanted anything to change I needed to change something. So I took one of my lunch breaks, went out, and made a game in an hour. And I decided I’d show people and got some really positive feedback. So I worked on it a bit more, made it a bit better and the feedback decreased the more time I spent on it. And it became this thing that over six months I polished and made as tight and focused as I could. And it’s actually something that’s positively turned me around.
Fergus: Do you have any good development stories you’d be happy to share from Mori?
Jared: With major development, people spend months and months playing their game but I put this game out after an hour having spent working on it and [already] had people come back to me saying they’d played it for two hours. So, [I put] an hour in and [people were getting] more out of that than I had put in – and that’s not something I had ever really heard of before.
So I thought, ‘this core concept is great’ and then I found this group of core players and when I started adding new things I had these core players tell me when stuff was [getting] too hard. There’s been a few really close friends [who] have been happy to tell me “yeah, no, that’s not a good plan”, “that’s not a good plan” and “that one’s cool though, can you do more of that”?
It hasn’t just been me working on it, put it that way – there’s a lot of networks I’ve built that have helped me.
Fergus: How did you get into games development? Did you study or are you self-taught?
Jared: I did an apprenticeship in high school, then a different apprenticeship after school. In the second year, I wasn’t really enjoying that job and I thought “why not do this short course at AIE? It’s only an evening a week, I can give an evening a week easy” and so I did that course and after the course finished I plodded around using the skills I was taught there for a bit.
And I decided that I was going to do a games study course at a TAFE in the city and it taught me a lot of things that I just really didn’t think of before in terms of design and in terms of tech. Before then I used to want to use specific things but when I got in there, I learned to use what I’m comfortable with and can work with really fast. It became another confidence building thing as well – games saved my life, it’s great.
Fergus: Do you have any sort of dream game you’d like to try and make?
Jared: Yeah I have a few. They’re games that I want to create that are feelings. Like Mori was a game about winding a clock and I just tried to keep everything that was added to it focused on that concept. A lot of these [new] games are possibly somewhat-generic combat games but I’m really attuned to the story and want to make it just super-juicy. Like Vlambeer, just super-feedback and make every action feel good when you do it. That’s something I’ve really enjoyed from their games and I want to try and take that into mine.
Fergus: What’s on the horizon for you now? Do you have side-projects you’re working on?
Jared: I have two possible new projects that are in the works. One of them I’m working on in lunch-breaks at work again but it’s a bit bigger than Mori. It’s a bit more in-depth and so progress is slower than Mori was. The other one’s a bit of a more mind-bending puzzle game that I’m already getting good feedback for because it was another HourJam game.
I also have this other thing in the works – which is a big Mori update. I don’t want to give a date but it should be out in November and what it does is double the content in Mori.
Fergus: How do you feel about the state of Australia’s local gaming scene these days?
Jared: It’s funny because it’s actually been picking up. There are jobs going in the games industry now. There’s a strong focus on mobile in Australia [though] because it’s got a shorter development cycle, faster turnaround and… everyone has a mobile phone.
There’s a really interesting shift going on right-now because there are people looking at games funding again and [implementing] proper funding systems again. Yeah, I reckon Australia’s looking up. It was doom and gloom a few months ago but in my opinion it’s getting better. You just have to stick at it.
Fergus: Finally, is there an Australian indie game that you think is really cool and deserves more attention?
Jared: The one I know is Daniel Linssen. He’s won Ludum Dare a couple of times and made some really awesome experimental things and my favourite game of his is Garden.
Mori is available on iOS for $4.49 Check it out and watch this space for the next installment of Around Australia in Eighty Indies.
Crawl is a film which comes directed by Alexendre Aja who some may know as the director of The Hills Have Eyes (2006). The film stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper.
Crawl is a film about a young woman named Haley (Kaya Scodelario) who attempts to save her father (Barry Pepper) who is trapped in his house during a category 5 hurricane. Tremendous damage has occurred to the home and the surrounding area during the storm, with the streets slowly flooding But that’s not the only danger to be wary of, the flood waters have paved the way for dozens of alligators to come into town and they’re ready to feast on anyone still around. Will poor Haley and her father survive though?
Going into this film. I was actually quite excited. I do enjoy these action films where there’s some creature out there and it’s preying on whatever character the film is about. This film is a little similar to The Meg, but it most reminded me of Anacondas (2004). All of these films and Crawl included wouldn’t be ones I’d say were legendary films, but gosh, I definitely have fun watching them!
Crawl as a story is about survival. There are themes all throughout it related to man vs nature and also the idea of the apex predator is scattered all throughout it. Both characters in the film are constantly challenged and struggle to survive in the a town getting torn apart by the storm.
The main reason most people would go to see Crawl at the cinema would be for the action and that’s the same reason I wanted to go along and see this one. I wanted to see what the alligators could do and I wanted to see some people get eaten up. Did I get that? I certainly did! Did I need much more out of this? Probably not.
As for Crawl being scary. I’m not too sure, I find it all quite fun. But there are people who this would probably frighten a little. Much of the film is cgi and for what it is and for the type of movie this is I think it was just the right quality. They didn’t try to go too big like in The Meg where the cgi seemed to struggle in certain areas. Although the limitations of the cgi are visible in Crawl, it’s not too bad in the end.
The acting in Crawl isn’t too bad. Kaya Scodelario is who you’ll be watching for basically the entire film and she delivers a pleasant performance. Some may recognise this actress from her appearance in The Maze Runner (2014) where she played Teresa. Hopefully there is more to come from her in future films.
The tone of the film, while at times can be a little intense with all the danger out there did actually feel a little light. Alexandre Aja seemed to keep the tone not too serious and embraced the silliness of it all in certain areas to keep it light and fun. But it was also tense and scary when it needed to be.
Overall I had a good time with Crawl at the cinema last week. This isn’t a film that is going to blow anyone away with how good it is, but it’s something to see for a bit of fun over the weekend. You get to watch two characters try to survive a massive hurricane and not get eaten by alligators. Crawl was 1 hour and 27 minutes of fun!
Sea Of Solitude Review
Sea Of Solitude is a game which was developed by Jo-Mei Games and was published by Electronic Arts. It is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC via Origin. It is a single player third person adventure game. The game has the player control a character named Kay who explores an abandoned and flooded city.
This was a game which caught my eye only very recently when I first heard about its release. After watching the trailer, I thought the art style, strong colours and animations looked very interesting. Also as a person who went mad one day and subscribed to EA’s Origin Premiere late last year so that I could play some games I had missed out on over the years, I was pleased to see something new added to the store that wasn’t a typical Electronic Arts style major franchise game. Knowing I could get this one for free was enough to give it a go. But if you’re not part of that program to get it for free, I’d say that the $26.95 asking price for this digital title is certainly worth it.
The game isn’t too long, most hardened gamers will probably be able to finish this one in a single session, which I actually managed to do yesterday morning. I didn’t time myself, but I’d say to expect about 3 or so hours out of it, a bit more if you look around for collectables.
On the surface, Sea Of Solitude is about a young girl named Kay, who is searching through a city, which is for some reason flooded. You start the game all alone on a tiny boat, way out at sea on the water. You make your way to the city, where you find a monster clad in darkness is blocking your path. Through exploration and activating certain things, Kay brings light to an otherwise dark city.
Underneath the main plot though, is a game with strong messages and themes related to loneliness and relationships. Kay as a character is someone who has become lonely, isolated and quite depressed after issues with her family and her boyfriend. The game sends the player on a journey to free Kay and other characters from suffering from the effects of loneliness and related themes. What I didn’t expect this weekend, was to play a game which seemed to have the objective of tackling these mental health issues in this way and I never expected to play something this weekend from the gaming genre with such deep meaning to it.
In many ways, Sea Of Solitude reminded me of my experience with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which was also a game that focused on mental health issues and is still a game I hold in very high regard. Both of these games were experiences that I could not put down once I started playing as I just had to find out what was going to happen with my character. Games tackling these mental health themes and the issues involved are quite rare in this medium, so when an experience like this does come along, it’s very unique and interesting. The difference between Sea Of Solitude and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is that Sea of Solitude is a little lighter in tone and not the intense gruelling experience that Senua’s was. This makes a player’s time with Sea Of Solitude one that is peaceful to experience.
The art style in Sea Of Solitude is something I enjoyed looking at. The animations are very rounded, colours stand out on the screen and the use of blacks in contrast with visibly bright blues, whites and orange was what I loved the most. The music and also the voice acting, was soft and did fit in well with the tone of the game’s themes and art style. All together, visuals and audios seemed to be just right.
The gameplay in Sea Of Solitude is something I’d say is probably a little simple. It’s essentially a platforming game where you will jump, swim, drive a boat and shoot flares onto enemies. There aren’t any button combinations to learn or any level up systems. The game is accessible to people of most ages and even to people new to gaming could easily pick this one up and get through it.
Overall coming out of playing Sea Of Solitude, I was filled with positivity and happiness. The story is quite heavy when playing through it, but very warm in the end. The art style and animations are nice to see and the sound and voice acting was just right. I do like to see that the games industry can use the medium to tackle such heavy topics and release games like this which show how well this medium can tell a story and provide its audience with something of great meaning. I’m happy to recommend Sea Of Solitude for your gaming collection.
Stuber is a film which comes directed by Michael Dowse and stars Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani and Betty Gilpin. The film is an action comedy adventure about an Uber driver and a policeman who go on a wild ride together.
Going in to see Stuber I didn’t really know where to set my expectations. Knowing only that the film was a comedy, meant I went in for the lols and didn’t expect all that much from the story. But coming out of the film, I’m sorry to say, but it’s not really that great.
The film starts off okay and the opening scene features both Vic (Dave Bautista) and Sara (Karen Gillan) engaged in a dangerous shootout with some bad guys. Both are seriously injured and Vic loses his eyesight, which means he gets some urgent surgery. His eyes need time go recover, but as soon he’s able to walk he calls for an Uber and continues on with his police business, which is catching the bad guys who got away in the opening scene. This is where Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) comes in and the journey between this awkward duo begins.
I wish I could say that it was all good once the Uber ride began but it wasn’t. The film is only really mildly funny. Dave Bautista who I do really like in action films really isn’t great at comedy. Kumail Nanjiani basically was just screaming and yelling the whole time and talking about his Uber rating and reviews. I admit I did find some of the bad reviews he got from his previous customers in the film funny when they were shown, but that’s about it. Some of the jokes were also drawn out way too long. Dave Bautista’s character being blind was kind of funny in the first minute when you saw him trying to walk around without being able to see. But it’s only funny once and they did this joke over and over again almost all the way until the end!
In addition to this, for quite a bit of the film, I wondered if this was some sort of product placement or advertisement for Uber. There were so many mentions of Uber, Uber reviews and the difference between Uber products and services. What are we paying to watch here? Who cares about Uber!?
In the end I would suggest avoiding Stuber at the cinema this week and choosing literally any other film currently showing. After leaving this I instantly thought that Stuber needs to be on my list of worst movies of 2019 which I created just after seeing this and that says a lot because I was not compelled to make one after seeing X:Men Dark Phoenix.
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