Gameware Studio Diary

Thu Jun 07, 2007 - Big oops

As you may have noticed, the forums have been unavailable for several days. This is due to a rather catastrophic failure at our ISP. All the databases were lost and are very slowly being re-constructed. Painfully and slowly.

Sadly, we can't say when the forums will be back online, nor are we 100% sure that all registrations, posts or threads will still be there (as some of our Studio Diary entries, sparse as they were, appear not to have made it back to the database). We're doing our best however and will post again when we know more!

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Wed Dec 14, 2005 - Fruit flies like a banana...

And time flies like an arrow.

Doesn't it, just?

Sometimes it seems like the months fly by without us realising and clearly it's time for an update. Anything to get the 2004 entry off the front page, hey? Despite appearances to the contrary, we have been working on all kinds of new and not-so-new things, but as these things go, there's not a lot we can say that would be of interest to the wider world. So, consider this a placeholder post - a way of saying we've not forgotten to come to work, the office is still standing and we're still at our desks, soldiering on like the brave little soldiers we all are.

So, please stand by - we'll soon have things to say, places to go and people to see. The time has also come for a massive redesign of this site, and we're currently in the planning stages of that. So, there you go, the update that wasn't quite an update. :-)

Oh, and have a very merry Christmas, a happy holiday and a brilliant New Year from all of us at Gameware!

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Tue May 31, 2005 - Another May, another E3

Reflecting the ever growing popularity of gaming as a pass time (and money-spinner) this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo was bigger than ever, louder than ever and much more crowded than ever.

By virtue of the big announcements from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft about their next-generation consoles, it could also be argued it was more interesting than ever, and it’ll come as no surprise that PS3, X-box 360 and Revolution were the main talking points. More on that stuff in a moment.

Gameware had an excellent show. Our mobile 3D technology demos, which are built around our Infinite Scene engine, seemed to go down well in the mobile market. There was also continuing interest in what we are doing in bringing forward some of our Artificial Life technologies. Our experience in mixed reality through BAMZOOKi (usually referred to these days as ‘augmented reality’ or ‘AR’) was also of significant interest – in fact, showing a few fragments from the series is generally a cue for amazement, which is always fun to see in an industry that generally takes graphics technology for granted.

Some of you may have noticed that there was an announcement made regarding a Mac version of Creatures Exodus and Creatures Village. That was made whilst we were away, so I wasn’t sure of the timing before, but rest assured that the press release is very real. Yes, Canada-based Kutoka are releasing both titles in North America and they will therefore be available for PC and Mac on a dual format disk in the Autumn/Fall. Long-standing supporters of the Mac, Kutoka are doing the conversion and development work themselves and have impressively fast progress - I saw both titles running on a Mac on their booth and they look just great! So, all you old-timers, get ready for some brand new visitors to the Hub later this year. I should note that compatibility with third-party add-ons is not a guarantee at this point and technical support for the Mac versions will have to go through Kutoka. We should be able to acquire some Mac stock ourselves too, so European fans will be able to purchase the titles through our store – as well as the more mainstream e-shop channels!

As for our main, undisclosed project, we were able to show the work in progress to our publisher and the feedback was exceptionally positive, however, I’m afraid we must remain tight-lipped as to what it is for some time yet!

Back in the mainstream hustle of the show, it was Microsoft how were making some of the biggest noises (launching 360 via an MTV Special and so on) and maybe they’ve got it rather more right this time round. The machine itself looks so much sleeker than XB1 for starters and they’re trying hard to gain ‘first mover advantage’ with a planned release in time for the coming Christmas. It’s a very, very powerful machine too, make no mistake – the X360 games on show looked every bit as stunning as you could expect, with Dead or Alive 4 being my own favourite on view. Whether or not the machine will change the face of entertainment in the sitting room remains to be seen – and judging from the titles on offer so far, I’d have to say I rather doubt it.

Sony have an even nicer looking machine – that looks to be far more powerful too. It has 35 times more processing power than a PS2, redefining, yet again, what gamers can expect to enjoy so far as graphical wonders are concerned. Whilst software demos were all behind closed doors, it’s easy right now to find demo showreels on game sites like Gamespot. Sony’s PSP, already out in the USA and Japan, but not in Europe, was well represented with some great titles – and it was good to bump into erstwhile C-Labbers Piers Jackson and Mitch Phillips over there, showing off ‘Medievil Resurrected’. . Former Millennium man, and the creative force behind the original James Pond games, Chris Sorrell, along with Alex Sulman from Sony’s Cambridge studio were also there showing off the recently announced PS2 version of ‘24’, which looks to be shaping up nicely.

Meanwhile, Nintendo continue to plough their own increasingly unique furrow, concentrating on legendary brands (Pokemon, Zelda, Mario); hardware that may not compete with PS3 – but simply doesn’t have to (Nintendo DS and the brand new GameBoy Micro); and their traditional assortment of original gameplay and madcap products you’ve just got to love (Nintendogs, Electroplankton etc). Revolution was nowhere to be seen outside of their press conference and no hardware specs were released – but, still, it would be a brave man to count Nintendo out of making a significant splash with it in due course.

And what of the PC? Well, to hear some pundits talk you’d almost think its days are numbered. Software sales have declined over the last three years, it’s true, but US dollar value of PC game sales in North America alone is still over $1.1 billion per annum. And some of the biggest game franchises on the planet wouldn’t exist without it, like The Sims, Doom, Half-Life, Civilisation and co. And whilst the console makers are full of the talk about connectivity and multiplayer gaming, the PC is still truly the only game in town when it comes to MMOGs of any flavour, from Everquest and World of Warcraft through to Second Life or Cambridge-based NiCE’s Time of Defiance. Although Will Wright’s Spore was nowhere to be seen, that’ll no doubt be another great advert for the PC as a viable platform into the future – it’s just that most publishers don’t see it as a priority, and I don’t see that changing in the face of the next, next-gen boom.

Over in mobile phone land, the main game in town was Nokia. Given that they’re the only phone manufacturer with a dedicated gaming platform (n-Gage) this isn’t too surprising. They have some impressive stuff on offer already, including a number of fully 3D titles, and announced that they’re going to be rolling games out across more and more phones in their Series 60 range, rather than sticking solely to n-Gage as their delivery platform for gamers (Java games aside). For developers like Gameware, who have been focusing on mobile entertainment as an increasingly significant vehicle for game content, this can only be a good thing.

So here ends this quick E3 wrap-up from my perspective. It was definitely worth the trip and, as ever, provided plentiful food for thought and a great chance to catch up with a few old friends too. Now there’s work to be done… time to get on with the follow-ups. Have a good Summer everyone!

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Wed Mar 02, 2005 - Back on the Box

On Monday 7th March Children's BBC (CBBC) will start broadcasting the second series of BAMZOOKi. As last year, it'll be on every weekday for 4 weeks - screening an hour later, at 5.45 in the UK. Apparently that means it should attract a slightly larger and older audience than previously. It's still not possible to see the show elsewhere in the world, but for those readers who may have wondered what BAMZOOKi is about, you can view a short behind-the-scenes video preview from the BBC website itself by clicking on the link at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/games/bamzooki/index.shtml

Obviously, we here at Gameware remain very proud of what's been achieved by the show, and our development efforts are far from over. In fact, there will be a new and improved ZOOK kit available within the next few days and the program is getting its own mini-site within CBBC too, which we've put a lot of work into. We're already planning a range of further technical enhancements that should see the light of day before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, work on the Top Secret New Project that I mentioned in the last diary entry continues apace. Almost every day a little piece of the game falls into place - usually followed by much chuckling. It's probably the most genuinely funny project I've ever been involved with and everyone is champing at the bit to share more information about it, but I'm afraid that must wait awhile yet.

I shouldn't go without mentioning the incredible work that several Creatures Community members have put into the creation of a Creatures Wiki over at WikiCities. With more articles, links, pages and background information than most games can even come close to mustering, the Creatures Wiki probably represents as much of a labour of love as putting the games together was in the first place. Hopefully not as stressful, but you get the idea. It's more than gratifying to know that the Creatures series can still evoke such enthusiasm (and even controversy) amongst users.

Until next time!

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Wed Dec 15, 2004 - So this is Christmas - and what have we done?

I simply cannot believe how fast 2004 has gone by – or how long it is since I last posted here. So in an effort to make up for some lost time, here’s a quick look at where Gameware has been at lately along with some thoughts towards the future.

One of our most satisfying tasks over the Summer was to complete work on a new toolkit for BAMZOOKi. This will be made available, via the BBC’s BAMZOOKi website at the same time as the second series of the TV show goes to air on CBBC in March 2005. Dylan and the boys spent most of the Summer preparing this enhanced ZOOK kit ready and getting some shiny new graphical effects into the system so as to enhance the look of the show. They then spent a good deal of the Autumn at the BBC’s Elstree studios helping out with filming 20 new episodes.

The BAMZOOKi team has also been working on a range of new web-based features that will see the light of day next February on the BBC’s website. These enhancements will make it a lot easier for Zook creators to share their Zooks with other users across the Internet and to track changes that have been made to their own submitted creatures. It’ll also feature a number of new trials that people can measure their Zooks by – all supported by a range of new league table systems hosted by the BBC. So, if you already thought that BAMZOOKi was a cool thing to play with, just wait a little while longer – it’s going to get even better.

Creatures-wise, we’ve been continuing our quest to find partners with the right level of commitment needed to take forward the series. It’s bound to come as something of a disappointment to the many devoted Creatures fans that regularly check here for better news on this front, to hear that, so far, we have not secured such a partner. True, we have re-released all the older titles now in Europe, and these remain available to purchase from our Shop. We are also continuing to host and support the Docking Station Hub, which, I hope, does demonstrate our ongoing commitment to reviving the game and bringing along new offerings based on the Shee-universe. Still, I’m afraid we will have to wait yet a while for this to become a reality. And, to be frank, we have to face the prospect that it might never happen! But, having got that bombshell out of the way, there are still plenty of interesting opportunities and prospects for creating compelling artificial life content which we believe will prove of great interest to Creatures fans and other gamers alike.

We have, for example, recently started full production on a very interesting new game title, which certainly uses our experience in designing and creating lifelike virtual beings, for a well-known publisher. Truth to tell, this project is by far the biggest thing we’ve yet undertaken at Gameware. Because the project is still very much under wraps, I’m prevented from spilling any of the beans right now, but what I can say is that the project has involved bringing together several familiar faces from the old days of Creature Labs, along with a few other developers we’ve worked with before at various companies - dating back for over a decade! I’m very excited about this development indeed and looking forwards to being able to divulging something a little more informative about it – hopefully in the early part of next year.

Sadly, the back end of this year has seen two of the UK’s largest, developers disappear from the independent scene. First, super-developer Argonaut was forced into administration and then Warthog became subsumed within the group that produces the Gizmondo hand-held device, in what appears to have been a rescue deal. Thankfully, Cambridge-based Just Add Monsters, which was a part of the Argonaut Group has been rescued from administration too and re-emerged as Ninja Theory. We wish them well in placing their ambitious next-gen title next year. Also, the last few months saw the final end to the once-mighty Acclaim – one of the world’s best known games publishers.

Against this kind of background, it’s pretty obvious why companies such as ours need to be careful in the projects we undertake and careful in selecting the strategic direction which underpins our decisions. Gameware has to continually balance the desire to innovate with the harsh climate and ever changing, face of the games industry. Our response is to continue to focus on our core competence – devising, designing and creating simulations, especially virtual life sims, for the platforms we know the most about, namely PC, the Internet, mobile devices and television. We already have some genuinely unique and exciting projects to work on next year, along with a very talented set of individuals to make them happen – and we hope that visitors to this site will continue to enjoy coming along for the ride for 2005. Meantime, we all wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy new year!

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Fri Oct 01, 2004 - Exodus and Village now available!

You won't be surprised to learn we've been busy bees here at Gameware, but we can spare enough time to let you know that our stock of Creatures Exodus (a great new XP-compatible bundle of C3, Docking Station and the Fallow and Harlequin Norn breeds) and Village (Creatures Playground and Adventures) has finally arrived!

You can buy them in the shop for only €14.99EU and we'll ship world-wide. That's around £9.99GB or $18.53US, but obviously, your final currency conversion will depend on your bank's rate at time of purchase.

Get 'em while they're... erm, in stock!

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Fri Aug 06, 2004 - Time flies…

Half the English Summer has passed now, without that much by way of sunshine I might add, and with it a whole load of the kind of development work which might best be described as ‘behind the scenes’. I guess this is partly reflected in the lack of entries in this diary of late – so I figured it might be as well to clue you in on a couple of items which we hope will be of interest to old and new customers alike.

First of these is the release of our LivingPicture applications for PC. There are two versions - one standard and one which lets you use the tool to create animated images for web-sites. They’re both for personal use only, but we'll be releasing a version licensed for commercial usage too quite soon. We’ve received a good amount of positive feedback from many different quarters about this product and are looking forward to seeing how it does in the market once users get to realise how quick and easy it is to produce their own talking characters and send them around to friends.

The second piece of news relates to BAMZOOKi. Whilst the first series is presently being repeated and work is well underway on the second, we’ve also reached an agreement with the BBC which will allow Gameware Development to produce and distribute new and improved versions of the ZOOK creation kit from this very web-site. I can exclusively reveal that our version will be called BAMZOOKi eXtra and will be completely free to anyone downloading it. We plan to follow this up with an add-on pack which will sell for about 14.99 euros and which will contain most of the contests from the TV show itself as well as the ‘House ZOOKs’, Nosey and Bernard to play against. We’ll be supporting all this with a new, dedicated BAMZOOKi section on the web-site and have plenty more plans afoot to take things forward with. This is all so hot off the press we haven’t even done a news release yet, so remember, you heard it here first!

Our first Creatures compilation pack, The Albian Years, is out now in Europe - I re-arranged a few copies on the shelves of Cambridge’s branch of GAME this lunch-time ;-). Stocks should be available from purchase from our shop any day now – watch this space. Creatures Exodus and Village will follow in the next two months. Meantime, in a development which may be surprising, but is certainly true, Gameware has signed an agreement with Infinium Labs, for distribution of all the Creatures titles on their PC-based broadband-delivery gaming platform, Phantom. The Phantom launches in the US in November this year.

So there you go, Gameware’s summer so far, strangely quiet on the surface but paddling away like a turbo-charged swan underneath. Now what we need is for the sun to stay out for a while...

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Thu Jul 22, 2004 - silly season

It seems like the news always stops in the summer and it's obviously no exception for Gameware. That's not to say we're not busy - we're still working furiously on BAMZOOKi and LivingPicture titles and other, we-can't-say-anything-about-it-yet projects. But proper news is in short supply for the moment.

As our LivingPicturePC beta programme draws to a close, we'd like to say thank you to everyone who participated. LivingPicturePC will be officially launched very soon. If you are still interested in seeing what LivingPicture is all about, go download the beta while you still can. I'll be closing the site within the next couple of days!

Other than that, have a great summer everyone and we hope to bring you more and more interesting news as the silly season draws to a close!

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Sun May 30, 2004 - Iconic Creatures

An enduring feature of trade shows are the many and varied brochures, folders and press releases that you collect as you tour the stands. GameIcon1-sm.jpgThese are aide mémoire to all the products and services you saw at the show. I still have literature I've collected from shows 3 and 4 years ago.

The DTI, in their fabulousness, created a great pack of press releases and brochures for attendees at the UK State of Play Pavilion of which Gameware was a part. And while we knew they were preparing materials to support UK developers, we were surprised and delighted to be featured prominently on two brochures in the pack.
GameIcon2-small.jpgThe Guide to the Pavilion opened with an overview of the British Games Industry and of iconic British games characters throughout the ages. How wonderful it was to see a little silhouette of our Norn front and centre! Click on the pages at left to read what they've said. Of course, it's also a testament to the loyalty and persistence of the Creatures Community for keeping the spirit alive even when it seemed Creatures was finished for good.


DTIBrochureZooks-sm.jpgWe were also surprised to see BAMZOOKi featured on the cover of another DTI publication as well. This is great for Gameware as this sort of publicity within the industry is difficult to buy. Don't those ZOOKs look great on the cover?

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Fri May 28, 2004 - E3 - The aftermath

So we got back from the big, brash and (if you like that sort of thing) strangely beautiful video-game show of the year in the middle of last week. A few days later and the stacks of missed e-mails are back under control (kind of), and we’re properly into follow-up mode.

How did we find it? How did we get on? What did it tell us about where our next steps should be directed? Well, in some respects, these are questions which we, ourselves, will have to wait awhile to find the right answers to. There was a fair bit to take in, to be sure. But, we certainly came away from this, the tenth E3, with a good feeling about the products, plans and know-how that we have to offer…

If you want a blow-by-blow on the show, there are hundreds of web-sites and magazines which will be reporting on it for months to come, and most of which will gain you far more insight into what went on than I can muster here! The bare statistics, like over 60,000 visitors in 3 days, over 3,000 first public showings of products, at least a hundred companies that I’ve never heard of, a multitude of press pronouncements, product announcements, and, yes, scantily-clad booth-babes, don’t adequately portray how intense E3 can be to visit.

Thankfully, we formed part of the UK State of Play ‘stand’ which acted as both a reliable meeting point and even a relatively quiet haven from time to time. Plenty of the great UK developers, like Kuju, Argonaut, Blitz, and Rebellion and more were also in the area. Our friends in Cambridge from Nicely Crafted and Just Add Monsters were also around much of the time. A very good crowd, you’d have to say!

I suppose we focused quite narrowly on the goals we had had in mind before the show started. For obvious reasons (hopefully), I cannot relay the specifics of our meetings and chance encounters - which are often the most fruitful moments of a show like that. However, highlights certainly included witnessing the generally gob-smacked amazement viewers showed at seeing extracts from the BAMZOOKi TV Show. The potential for BAMZOOKi is genuinely huge, by the way! Watch this space for an announcement in June about how we’re planning to spread the word.

Another highlight would be the response we received in talking about Creatures being re-released in the US with certain publishers. A deal for Albian Years, Exodus and Creatures Village should be done in time to ensure retail availability in North America this Autumn/Fall. I can’t comment here on the prospects for Creatures Mobile, but I can say that we remain very optimistic about the prospects we have for making it real.

Demonstrating our Living Pictures app on actual mobile camera-phones was also a big hit and always very funny to watch – the most serious of people tend to crack up when they see themselves animated and talking back at in words they never said…

Speaking of Living Pictures, our PC Beta program got underway whilst E3 was going on thanks to Jason, our lead architect and programmer on the project, David, our business-development wiz at Scene Machines and Lisa, here on the web-site, putting it all together! Actually the Living Pictures pages do look cool and show off the stuff pretty well. Fear not, Netscape-based browser users. Soon we will have the stuff properly viewable for you too. The Beta program is set to end soon, so look out over the next couple of weeks for PC Living Pictures to go to Master and become available for purchase from Gameware’s shop.

Away from the workplace of the show, I was lucky enough to be in LA at the same time as my son, Tom, who was there on one leg of his gap-year round the world trip, with a couple of good friends. Before the show (doing Hollywood and West LA) and after the show (doing Vegas - baby) we had some really great times. Being gamers from an early age, Tom and his mates ended up enthusiastically attending E3 all three days of the show (as Gameware’s guests) and were able to see far wider and more in depth than I was able to. They gave me some interesting reports and feedback on the titles on offer, the low-down on Sony PSP vs GameBoy DS, The Sims 2, Halo 2, and any number of other key new releases. But by far the most valuable thing they brought me, having queued up for two hours to get it, was a hardback edition of the first twelve episodes of SpiderMan, signed personally ‘To Ian, from, Stan Lee’. Fantastic, they got me my all-time literary hero’s autograph!

In summary, E3 was as good a forum and showcase for us as we could have expected. Suffice to say that we expect to be pretty busy these next few months and more. There’s plenty to be done, but plenty to play for too.

Cheers!

PS If you’re in Europe, look out for the new, XP-compatible C1 & C2 pack, Creatures – The Albian Years, published by Fusion Software, appearing in stores during July.

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Wed May 12, 2004 - Hey, hey, E3 Day!

Today is the first day of E3's tenth anniversary and Jeremy and Ian should soon be starting a full day's worth of meetings, meetings and more meetings, with perhaps a few meetings thrown in as well. We're quite excited about this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo as you may have gathered and if you check out our latest press release, you'll see why.

Besides the fabulous BAMZOOKi, we'll be showing off our new LivingPictures application on Mobile and PC. We're also starting a limited public beta that you can participate in! Just visit the LivingPicture.net website and sign up for the latest Beta release. It's loads of fun and you'll be helping us get the product ready to launch. We're also hoping to see what kinds of funny and amusing LivingPictures you come up with, so get downloading!

We're also presenting a concept for Creatures on Mobile phone and we're all very excited about the possibilities. It's all quite hushhush at the moment but all will be revealed in good time!

If you're reading this and wondering what in the world E3 is and why we get so excited about it, there's a new window onto the exposition in the form of E3 Insider. There are webcams, articles, interviews and more. Maybe you'll get a glimpse of Jeremy or Ian, or indeed, any of the many Cambridge games developers that have gone off to the show!

Finally, in homage to all the developers in the UK gaming industry both at E3 and here at home this week, here's a brilliant bit of Flash called Hey, Hey, 16K that I just couldn't resist posting. Enjoy!

(Please note that we are not responsible for links from 3rd party sites. The links from the above Flash presentation may contain content unsuitable for children and other sensitive souls.)

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Mon May 03, 2004 - Gameware's First Birthday!

On Friday 7th May, Gameware Development celebrates its first birthday, having been officially incorporated exactly this time last year. I’m writing this diary entry a few days early because on the day itself I’ll be in the air, flying off to Los Angeles, with Jeremy, our amiable but diary-shy CEO, for this year’s E3 show. There we will do our bit to mix it with the great and the good of the video games industry – something I look forward to each year with a strange mix of excitement, anticipation and a certain amount of panic at the thought of all the work, hectic meetings and noise of the place. Still, if you want to experience the buzz of being involved in the games business, there’s really nothing comes close to being there, surrounded by literally thousands of new product offerings, some of which won’t see the light of day for at least a year to come, hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of industry-types clamouring for the spotlight to fall on their stand, their products or maybe just them!

I’m sure it will be a great show and for us at Gameware it's a neat reminder of how far we’ve come these past twelve months. Last year, I spent much of my time there in something of a haze. We were still recovering from the rather traumatic end to the former Creature Labs and not entirely sure of what the future might bring. In some senses, that E3 crystallised what Gameware’s approach would be about. We would focus on our own IP, we would stay small and lean, we would try and reach a buying public directly, rather than relying wholly on arms-length distribution channels and we would pursue the interesting projects that we enjoyed and not attempt to compete head-on, in the mainstream, with the big studios. This year, quite literally, from a standing start, we’ve managed to complete most of the projects we set out to work on and we are increasingly optimistic about the future. This year we have a story to tell and it’s a forward-looking one.

To be honest, pride of place in what we’ve done thus far probably belongs to BAMZOOKi – a whole new idea and development program undertaken in less than one year from start to airing on national television. The TV show was at least as successful as we had hoped for, enjoying viewing figures in the UK of up to 1.2 million for the Monday shows on BBC1 and around 100,000 for each of the 20 episodes shown on digital Children’s BBC. Additionally, over 50,000 ZOOK kits have already been downloaded from the BBC’s web-site! Now a second series is in the works, for airing early next year, which will feature bigger, better and faster ZOOKs as well as a range of new contests and trials. Maybe even more importantly, Gameware is in the planning stages of a significant upgrade to the ZOOK kit which will enable users to not only design their own ZOOKs but eventually to compete against each other in a variety of ways. We hope this will bring the whole BAMZOOKi experience to a much wider audience around the world. Development is very much an ongoing process and, whilst I’m restricted from saying too much more about what we’re cooking up at this stage, seriously, we think it could be very BIG!

Another big achievement took place a few months ago when we were able to add a 3D mobile technology to Gameware’s arsenal by acquiring nascent developer SceneMachines and adding their system to the roster. As I’ve mentioned before, this is an important stepping stone to the work we are planning to start soon for a mobile version of Creatures, which will be the first time a Creatures product will be available that plays in 3D space.

Before we get to that, we need to be able to derive ongoing revenues from selling and licensing that technology and the first application of this, LivingPictures for PC, is about to go to Beta. If you haven't seen them already, take a look at our SceneMachines pages to read more about the system (and to see a cow talking). Also, keep your eyes out for an announcement, coming very soon, about how you can participate in the LivingPictures PC Beta program.

On another track, we’ve also secured a new publisher in Europe to bring back all the old and hard to find Creatures products, in XP-compatible form, in 3 packs: The Albian Years (C1 & C2 + 2 lifekits); Creatures Village (CA & CP) and Creatures Exodus (C3, C-DS, and bonus Norn breeds). This has actually proven to be incredibly hard work - and kept Sparky up for many a long night since early this year. The publisher’s name is Fusion Software and the first pack should hit retail in Europe by early June. We will also be making these packs available from our own Creatures mall and, of course, will be seeking out North American bricks and mortar distribution as part of our mission at E3. In other Creatures-oriented developments we have not only got Docking Station up and running but re-instituted much of the DS experience which was lost, with the recent return of Docking Station Central. Not too shabby for a free service!

Underpinning much of our outlook on our work and how we approach life day-to-day is the fact that we’ve also got this wonderful, fact-filled, fun-filled, and ever-changing web-site to enjoy and to develop for. The forums, I can tell you, make this site just as much as a window for us to look out through as it is one which the world can use to look in on us. It has been truly gratifying to see a steady increase in forum members, visitor stats and page views, these past few months and to find that the simple entry of Gameware’s name into Google returns this site listed first, amongst some 34,000 entries. Hopefully, the next year will see all these trends continue their upward path as we bring more new offerings and downloads online – which, rest assured, we shall!

So, it’s been quite a year. Happy birthday to us! Here’s to a successful E3 and here’s to anyone reading this – thanks for coming along for the ride.

Cheers!

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Thu Apr 08, 2004 - The hub has landed!

Well, it's been a long wait, but the Docking Station Hub is back online in its new lean and mean format! We're still working on the best and most bandwidth efficient way to display league tables (OK, Sparky is!) but you can now do a lot of the cool and groovy stuff you used to be able to do, including tracking your Norns, getting information about Docking Station worlds and finding new players to add to your contact list.

You'll also find that most of your in-game links work now as well, so if you've got yourself a mysterious new immigrant and you want to examine its lineage, simply click on the link in the Creature Info Screen and voila! - instant geneology dot com! How do you get to the info screen, you ask? Easy - just select a creature and click on its name in the HUD in the upper left corner of your Docking Station screen.

Still have no idea what I'm on about? Well, go have a browse around the Docking Station Hub and then download the fabulous and free Creatures title, Docking Station!

Where are your Norns today?

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Fri Mar 05, 2004 - Hi, Dylan here!

This is my first entry on the diary. As you may be aware, we've had our heads down working solidly on the BAMZOOKi project for as long as I can remember; only now have I got a chance to say "Hi!" out there.

We've completed the BAMZOOKi Zook Kit and it will be available for free download from the BBC website on Monday. We're quite pleased with the results; both the TV series - which is an excellent laugh to watch - and the Zook Kit. People in the UK will be able to judge the series for themselves. As for the Zook Kit - everyone will be able to download that come Monday afternoon and start creating. Although only kids can participate on thc CBBC website I'm sure sites will pop up for everyone else (me included!) to exchange hints, tips, ideas and even Zooks. In fact we're bound to provide a load of useful information here on our site and maybe you'll find some interesting chat in the forums. You're going to need a reasonably decent PC and graphics card to run the software on but, hey, we're talking cutting-edge technology here, so that's not too much to expect, is it!

There's certainly an air of expectation here at Gameware that is palpable. We're all very excited at the prospect of seeing our hard work make it onto the television screens. It's actually been a long and tortuous journey that we've been on to get us here but I won't bore you with the details ;) Many have come and gone along the way; however, the core are here and more dedicated than ever.

... all I have to do now is sort out one of these new fangled digital aerials and, with a bit of luck, I'll be able to kick back in the office and watch the series from my desk.

Catch you lot laters,
Dylan

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Tue Feb 24, 2004 - Now it can be told (set your VCRs)

I've been a bit quiet on the diary-front of late, but now I'm very happy to report that, after many months of work and mounting excitement round these parts, the first series of CBBC's BAMZOOKi game show airs in less than two weeks. So, if you're in the UK and want to catch it, tune in to BBC1 at 16:35 on Monday 8th March for the opening 10-minute special, then (if you're on digital) switch over to CBBC at 16:45 for the first of twenty 15-minute programs which will be broadcast every weekday for the following four weeks! There will be three more shows on BBC1 on the following Mondays too.

This really is a TV show with a difference. The way that the BAMZOOKi simulation software is integrated with the BBC's virtual 3D studio technology creates a fantastic impression, as the children can actually see what's going on in real-time - they're not pretending. If you haven't already checked them out, have a look at the pictures here http://www.gamewaredevelopment.co.uk/gallery/Bamzooki to see what I'm talking about and how close the kids are to the action.

Now for the good news for all our readers outside the UK! The software we've written for the BBC to enable contestants to create their Zooks is going to be made available to download, for free, from the CBBC website from March 8th! So, if you'd like to have a go at creating your own Zooks, no matter where you live, you'll be able to visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc and click on BAMZOOKi to be taken to an area where you can read more about the show and download the kit.

Hopefully, our own site will also attract some comments, debate and new ideas which will help support what the BBC is doing and help to foster interest in the TV show amongst our community around the world.

We could even find some BAMZOOKi fans interested in other forms of virtual life but yet to experience the Creatures phenomenon. That would be a neat feedback loop since, as you might imagine, it was our past experience in the making of the Creatures series that attracted the BBC's attention to Gameware for the BAMZOOKi project in the first place!

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Wed Feb 11, 2004 - it's all go 'round here

...as they say in the regions to the east of us here in Cambridgeshire. And as we say now!

At the moment, we're trying to wrap up some Bamzooki stuff, sort out some Creatures issues, revive the Docking Station website and do all sorts of other top-secret-running-around-and-being-busy type things.

In the meantime, the Creatures Developer Network has made a comeback, with the most recent developer articles and tools uploaded and online while the Creatures community is happily drifting back to the forums, as friendly and enthusiastic as ever! Why not join them?

Of course, both James Pond RoboCod and Creatures 3 Raised in Space on PSOne are in the shops now, so keep your eye out for those. What could be better than some fun retro gaming or cuddly Norn lovin' on your TV screen this Valentine's Day? (Wait - don't answer that!)

Hopefully you've been keeping your eye on our website as well. More exciting changes are coming, but we'll let that remain a suprise for now. Must dash!

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Tue Jan 20, 2004 - Shop Gameware

Gameware's Online Shop is now open for business and you'll find all the old Norn Packs and breeds available at reduced prices! As I've explained in the forums, we are only able to accept PayPal at this time, primarily because it provides the best fraud protection of any of the online payment methods and this is good for you and for us.

With our old shop, we frequently had to deal with fraudulent card purchases and this is extremely costly, both in time and bank charges. PayPal eliminates this because they verify your credit card before you are able to purchase goods online. This unfortunately means a delay when setting up an account, but means safer shopping for you and fewer chargebacks for us. This also means that we can not offer refunds, but will be happy to provide replacements should a file be faulty.

Besides all the great Norn Packs you can buy to add on to your Creatures 3 or Docking Station, we've also put tons of previous items online for free, including the C2 and C3 CAOS tools, and the Creatures 1 Genetics Kit. More will follow, but we don't want to swamp our servers in the rush for downloads so these will be released over the next week or so.

Happy shopping and cheerful downloading everyone!

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Mon Jan 12, 2004 - Website, mail lists and downloads, oh my

Quite a lot has been happening on the website over the last week or two - you may want to have a bit of a browse, but in brief, here's what's new:

But wait! There's more...

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Tue Jan 06, 2004 - Back in the groove

We've shaken off the sloth of the holiday period and are getting down to business again, slightly fatter (inevitable), in need of a detox (unlikely), and very much looking forward to 2004. In the meantime, the Creature Labs pages have benefitted from a lot of updated materials and free downloads and the Forums are busier and look better than ever. We really appreciate all the positive feedback!

image An unexpected new year's bonus, which greeted us on the newstands yesterday, was that for the second month running we've got a product on the front of Official PlayStation monthly - and here's the proof! Inside there's a nicely favourable review (overall mark 8 out of 10) and a final paragraph which may well ring true for many existing and future Creatures players: "Okay, so it's hardly 'Quake' and it might sound like a load of gooey nonsense, but after a while it really pulls you in and you'll lose hours of your life playing it. Everything from its music (Simon & Garfunkel meets Enya), incredibly cute graphics and inane Norn ramblings will get you hooked and leave you feeling like you're really responsible for these daft little alien creatures. We thoroughly recommend that you give it a whirl - you have nothing to lose but your social life..." Pretty well summed up, I reckon!

Next up, with any luck, the long-awaited reintroduction of the mall (be patient just a while more, please) and an announcement about some next step technology to keep you guessing!

Read on...

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Tue Dec 23, 2003 - Happy Holidays!


It's the night before Christmas Eve and we here at Gameware are pretty much done and ready for the upcoming holiday. It's been a great December, topped off nicely by completing the team's stint on filming BAMZOOKi last week, getting 'almost there' with the Creatures remastering, the support knowledgebase and free downloads being made available (watch this space for an announcement on that subject soon) and plentiful celebrations at our Christmas lunch last week!
Right now we're off to The Elm Tree for some more pre-Christmas cheer and we won't be back (officially, at least) until the 5th Jan 2004 so it'll feel like a good long break, though we're already looking forward to the new year and continuing with our plans to build a worthwhile presence in the games market, for Gameware Development and for our products.
Special greetings to the many thousands of Creatures users who've stayed the course with us for so long this year and to anyone else reading we wish you a Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2004.

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