Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Starting to wind down towards normality

Yikes. the last few weeks and months have been INSANE. I have been doing too much stuff, to the extend that I put back one project (a big one) to next YEAR, and put the thing I was coding on hold, just to take care of Shadowhand, Democracy 3:Africa and the Big Pharma:Marketing & Malpractice DLC. Plus I have another TOP SECRET thing that I’m publishing in the works (announcing that soon actually…).

But now things are not QUITE so totally insane. Democracy 3:Africa has shipped!. Its selling quite well, technically slightly better than I had projected. It has not broken even yet, but you shouldn’t really expect that within a month, or even 3 months really. If this was a new car or a wind farm, I’d expect to break even in a matter of years, not weeks, so I’m not going to worry about that for now.

We also shipped the Big Pharma:Marketing & Malpractice DLC, which is just totally AWESOME and you should give it a try. Thats also selling well, very well in fact, so that’s good news. As a result of shipping those two games, I am back to a normal, rather than insane, level of intense overwork.

So right now my focus is on a patch for Democracy 3:Africa (balance tweaks mostly), and the website for Shadowhand, which is nearly there. I hate over-complex CSS so I’m doing it myself to keep it simple, its nearly done and the code is really clean and simple, which means easy to edit. We aren’t making a song and dance about the website yet, but we will be promoting Shadowhand a lot more closer to its release in a few months time. Starting Monday, I’ll be returning to the thing I was working on before all this madness, which involves me coding again (yay!) and designing again (yay!) and I’ll be announcing what that is in a few weeks. I’m determined to really take my time with that project…


So in this slight lull in the insanity I have found time to do a few much needed things. I bought a new PC. I am on windows 10 now which I hate, but I bought stardocks app to return sanity to the start menu. Apparently Object Dock no longer works with Windows 10, so I’m hilariously using an app that runs the windows vista sidebar widgets on windows 10. How can Microsoft suck so much? In other news, I bought a cool gaming headset with built in mic, which will make skype & video blog recording easier, although so far the mic seems kinda noisy. I also bought Ashes of the Singularity, which is a fairly conventional RTS, but holy crap it looks nice, and I’m already a bit addicted. I bought a clamp/bracket for my exercise bike so I can play mindless casual games on my ipad whilst getting fit… and I bought ‘The Blu‘ for my Vive, which has the most STUNNING visuals you can imagine. If you have £2,500 spare (yeah I know…) BUY a new PC with a 980TI (nothing less), BUY a VIVE, and get it. It will blow your mind.


Right, I have gardens to strim and website CSS to wrestle with.

Big pharma just got BIGGER and more PHARMIER

Today is THE DAY that we add some slimey business practices AND some really cool extra production-line whizz-bang cleverness to Big Pharma, in the shape of this breathtakingly exciting expansion pack:

large_capsule copy

Big Pharma: Marketing and Malpractice adds a whole bunch of cool stuff. There was a lot of beard-stroking between me and Tim deciding what to put in an expansion (mostly by me, Tim is too young to grow stubble). Some of the ideas in there are cool business-geek stuff like setting individual prices for your drugs (you no longer have to just accept the market price, you can build up stock, or sell at a loss, undercut competitors, sell better drugs at a premium etc…) and some of them are things that just generally expand upon the whole production-line geekery. For example you can now link separate rooms of the factory together. Oh yeah… Plus we have ‘stock gates’…


which sound boring, but in fact I reckon are going to be awesomely popular. Essentially these are systems that let you say ‘halt production if we already have 100 boxes of this’, but the key thing is they can go ANYWHERE, which means a single ingredient can come in, and be delivered to different production lines by a branching conveyor, depending on stock level of certain drugs, effectively letting you automate the process of switching from one drug to another as circumstances and prices change.

Other stuff includes advertising, corporate gifts, sales executives, and cool company-wide ‘perks’ you can unlock such as these…


Big Pharma was as popular as an anti-aging cream that also cures obesity when we released it, so we are naturally concerned that this DLC will bring steams infrastructure to a crawl, so sorry about that. All the more reason to jump in and grab the expansion pronto. You can buy it using the cool humble widget direct from us

Or from GoG.

or the humble store.

Or this new other we are experimenting with (we think it might get popular) called Steam.

We really welcome those all-important steam reviews from happy pharma-tycoons. We also welcome people who spontaneously tweet and facebook share news of the expansion. Obviously if you really cared, you would get home-made T shirts done, and walk up and down your local mall imploring people to buy the game, but those forum posts and social media spreadings are also a good way to show you are a ‘good’ person, so don’t be ashamed if that’s all you do.


Positech in Poland (And Big Pharma DLC)

Yes it’s true. Positech has some polish news. Oh yes. We have teamed up with CDP.PL to distribute polish copies of both Big Pharma and Democracy 3. Evidence can be found below (Actually boxed copies are AMAZEBALLS).


Coool huh? Plus CDP have done some amazing thing with democracy 3 that includes polish scenarios and other cool stuff. They have really gone the extra mile. Plus they have put up with my dumb ineptitude of having not coded the engine in unicode and all the HELL that has resulted from this mayhem… Here is a box with some stuff…


So yeah…I don’t normally work with retail publishers because some total bastards really screwed me over once and I am still annoyed about it, but CDP seem really cool. Also, as a result Democracy 3 on steam is now also available in polish. I know the way it all works is a mess, we will eventually fix this to be like Democracy 3 Africa with a simple drop-down box to select language but thats all in the future. And if you aren’t excited enough already, here is a youtube video with Tim talking about the incredibly cool new Big Pharma expansion pack thats coming VERY soon:

I didn’t really know racism until I made a game about Africa

So…I’m a white guy from England. You can see a picture of me on the right there. I grew up in London in the 1970s and early 1980s. Racism was a thing, for sure. We had TV programmes that i remember watching such as ‘the black and white minstrel show‘. That was on prime time TV. We also had ‘love thy neighbour‘ a ‘hilarious comedy’ about what happens when a non-white neighbor moves in next door. To quote from wikipedia:

He is even more annoyed when Bill gets a job at the same factory as he has, and refers to him as a “nig-nog”, “Sambo”, “choc-ice” or “King Kong”. He also has a tendency to call Chinese, Pakistanis or Indians names like “Fu Manchu“, “Gunga Din” and “Ali Baba“.


Thats the world I grew up in.

Luckily, that world isn’t here any more. I think Britain has come a long long way in this regard. I remember the guy who everyone knew as ‘the black newsreader’ because that was such a big deal. Recently BBC Radio 4 got a Jamaican continuity announcer and hardly anyone even noticed. If you watch ‘Life on mars’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’, you see the world I grew up in, and its striking how different it seems to the world today regarding both sexism and racism.

So I thought here we all were in a wonderful modern non racist society and I could make a game about African Politics and the worst thing that could happen would be people not being interested.

But no! In fact the worst thing that can happen is spending a lot of time deleting, blocking, banning and reporting racist abuse on twitter, facebook and the steam forums (to name just 3). I’m not exactly a cosseted middle class liberal who has never seen online (or real world) harassment. I used to be a boat-builder and bridge builder. I was just surprised at home many people could, in the year 2016, go out of their way to tell me that the solution to all Africas problems would be ‘rule of the white man’ or that ‘they are all savages and rapists anyway’ and so on, and so on. I guess so far, so normal stupid internet abuse, albeit with a particularly offensive nature. The other thing that shocked me, and was arguable more interesting was the skewed world view…

It seemed to me (mostly from the time of day when such comments appeared) that a lot of North Americans have a complete warped idea of what Africa is like. The assumption from a large swathe of the comments I’ve seen is that no African states have Democracy, that there are no functioning economies there, that basically the whole continent is kept afloat by foreign aid, and that at least half the continent is constantly at war, or raping or beheading their neighbors. The most popular comment was ‘Democracy, Africa, pick one! LOL’.

Now of course, I’m not the one to point out that the USA is currently pitting a guy who inherited millions of dollars and is best known as a reality TV star against the wife of a previous president in a two-party race which they call ‘Democracy’ and possibly is in too glass a house to throw stones. I do have some understanding of why people have this point of view, and here it is.

This is Russia:


This is Iran:


This is Japan:

japanExcept obviously thats all bollocks isn’t it? This is the media ‘image’ that we get fed, and used as the ‘shorthand’ for those countries. I have not visited any of them, and in my mind, Japan really is full of Samurai soldiers guarding cherry blossom while geisha girls sing karaoke. Thats laughable, about as laughable as assuming because I’m English, I live here:


Ok, TBH I do live there, but that isn’t the point. To turn it on its head and show the American ‘shorthand’ its probably this:


Which again, we can all laugh about. The thing to remember is that ALL of these are simplifications, exaggerations and caricatures. And that means SO IS THIS:

aidBut in some parts of the world we forget that.

The population of Africa is 1.1 Billion people. It contains 54 sovereign states. I can’t even name them all, and we just made a game about 10 of them. The idea that all 54 states can be summed up in the same image, or the same way is laughable. If I said people in Chicago probably all wear sombreros and eat quesadillas, you’d say ‘hold on thats Mexico’, but thats about as daft as lumping South Africa in with Egypt, or Mauritius.

Its similarly dumb to discount African democracy. take a look at the ratio of Female to male politicians for one thing. You will find Senegal, South Africa and Rwanda all rank above both the UK and the USA. To look closer at South Africa, it has higher voter turnout that both the UK and USA. In terms of economics South Africa has a lower budget deficit that the USA, the USA’s total debt is 65% higher as a proportion as GDP than South Africa. Total crime rate in the USA is 4 times higher than South Africa. SA has 34% more cellphones per 1,000 people than the USA…etc etc. Obviously I’m cherry picking, but the idea that everyone in Africa sits in a tent waiting for an aid package to arrive is bullshit, and yet it persists.

So TL;DR: USA, your media gives you a very, very skewed opinion of the one billion people living in Africa. Do some research. Do not accept stereotypes as facts, just as you don’t expect us to see you all as obese, flag waving, hummer driving, gun-toting cliches. I would write more on this topic, but Carson informs me that tea is served in the drawing room, and I do enjoy those cucumber sandwiches.

Big Pharma DLC update

Yup, we released Democracy 3 Africa a few days ago, and its nothing but Africa and Democracy around these parts right now (although as I type this, the royal air force are practicing above my head and its like apocalypse now…so maybe not). HOWEVER, the positech EMPIRE is now so vast that we have other stuff going on…for example this rather exciting enw DLC for Big Pharma called Marketing & Malpractice… here is the latest video from designer Tim, showing off some of its cool bits…