Latest News

Preorder away! - September 9th, 2013

Gravity Ghost is available for preorder! Head on over to our spangly new store page – here are the highlights:

2 for 1: Preorder the game to receive an extra copy to give away to someone special

33% off until launch: Get 2 copies for $9.99 (saving $5 off the $14.99 launch price)

All-new soundtrack: Preorder the latest from the composer of FTL for 40% off the launch day price

Feelings: See for yourself in our all-new trailer:

My “Little Indie Mario Galaxy” - June 20th, 2013

I already wrote this on my Gravity Ghost devlog but I’ll post it here too because it is exciting. :)

Last week at E3 we had the chance to share the game with Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku. I admit I was a bit nervous – E3 is where all the megamillion-dollar video games show off their newest and greatest features. What would a game made by a small team have to offer that would interest a mainstream gaming news site?

As it turns out I needn’t have worried. Kirk was kind enough to call Gravity Ghost “The Little Indie Mario Galaxy that Could.” In the following video he interviews me about the game as I play through a few minutes of it (This is also your first chance to see some of the new planet types in action). Check it on out!

Sup, Holmes? - March 14th, 2013

Jonathan Holmes of the eponymous “Sup Holmes” webshow was kind enough to have me on as a guest this week! You can listen to/watch the whole thing here:


Or check out the post on Destructoid right thurr

Huge thanks to Jonathan for the opportunity to speak to such a huge audience about my work. I started out making obscure-ass adventure games and now it’s showing up as news on one of the major gaming websites. That is bananas. It’s more than bananas. It’s papayas.

Global Game Jam Keynote, woooo! - January 25th, 2013

Hello Global Game Jammers!

I’d like to personally thank Gorm Lai for giving me the opportunity to keynote the 2013 Global Game Jam. It was a humbling experience to be writing for such a talented and driven audience, and I hope my video provided at least a few ideas for getting the most out of a jam. I’m very much looking forward to playing the results.

Edit: And if you ain’t seen the video yet, here it is. : ) My keynote starts at 3:30.

P.S. By popular request, here are the ’social network’ comics that appear when I’m encouraging people to spend more time with their local friends.

(Click for full size)

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Ah, social networks. One day, a hip new media company will trademark the phrase “Go Be Social” and the word will lose all trace of its original meaning.

I’m flying home this weekend after more than two months solid on the road, but rest assured I’ll find time to participate in the Global Game Jam in some capacity. : ) If you want to keep up with more of my nonsense, I highly encourage you to follow me on Twitter.

By the way, I don’t think I ever posted this here, but my most recent game jam creation was called Around the World in 100 Cards. If you’re interested, it’ll teach you to recognize foreign alphabets as a gestalt, e.g. by learning to spot the differences between the Thai alphabet and the Cambodian one.

This is making me think there should be a jam where the theme is just “Global.” Although that could just be my pun sense tingling.

Devlog Blog & Vlog - January 20th, 2013

This will be the year that my team and I release Gravity Ghost, hooray! We have every milestone scheduled from now until our (as-yet-unannounced) ship day. Now all that’s left is a metric craptonne of work. I love it when a plan comes together.

I invite you to follow our progress at the Gravity Ghost devlog, where you too can learn the secrets to indie game development. You’ll also find tangentially game-related comics, like this one.

Although we’re a few weeks in already, I like to use the new year to evaluate my goals for the next 12 months (besides “more puns”, which is always on the list).

Here are a few of my professional goals for this year, in no particular order:

- Teach game development/programming to more young people (next week ends my third year of teaching the Indie Game Sprint at Columbia College, so we’re off to a good start : )
- Learn C# (or rather, learn it properly, not just enough to make simple prototypes)
- Improve my illustration, especially digital painting
- Start doing something comics-related with some regularity
- Learn more about DIY marketing
- Teach/lecture in more new places
- Find more silly words that rhyme with blog

I’m happy with how my independent games career has come along these last 8 years. It still astounds me that this actually is a career. Back when I started, “video games” were always big-budget studio titles. Having any creative input on a video game at all meant you needed to have 10 years of industry experience (or so the prevailing wisdom said).

My game development started as a hobby in a practically non-existent niche (I didn’t hear the word “indie” applied to games until about 2008 – before that, we were “amateur” or “freeware” developers). I expected my audience to be in the hundreds. So much has changed. Thanks for sticking with me and supporting me and my work – I’m so lucky to be able to create the worlds I do.

Exciting Gravity Developments - June 12th, 2012

Last week at E3 was amazing. I got a chance to demo the game to a ton of people, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Like, overwhelming enough that I had to calm myself down with coffee. The whole thing was pure developer soul food (the positivity, not the coffee. Well, maybe the coffee too).

One of the people I talked to was Evan Narcisse of Kotaku, who was kind enough to feature the game on-camera. So head on over to Kotaku to see the first-ever video footage of Gravity Ghost to grace the internet:

Another exciting thing I forgot to post here is that I’m now updating the Gravity Ghost devlog pretty regularly. So hang out if you want to hear me wax poetic about things like animation, inspiration, and probably coffee again.

DIY Animation - April 24th, 2012

Head on over to the Gravity Ghost devlog if you’re interested in seeing how I think about animation and character design. It turns out that designing a character who is both dead and endearing is quite a challenge.

If you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you’re open to the idea of making your own games. I’m here to tell you that making your own art isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially if you’re interested in improving your drawing skills. It’s a good way to level up your art really fast, and leave each game looking better and better.

The art for my first two games was largely created in MS Paint. And while I wouldn’t actually recommend that if you’re interested in having wrists that work, it did sure teach me a lot about making readable game art.


Needs more pixels.

New Game: Gravity Ghost! - February 15th, 2012

Surprise! Here’s what I’ve been doing all these months. My team and I are proud to announce our new game, Gravity Ghost. Hop on over to that site for a much more detailed breakdown of the game, with many colorful images for your eyes to enjoy. : )

You can follow our development on the brand new dev blog, on Twitter, or as always, by following me (@Livelyivy). Hope you like it!

Kinda looks like a lowercase g, if you squint
I just realized all my games are about robots, dead girls, or communists.

The Ghost in the Shell in the Monkeyball - August 24th, 2011

I have written an article! It’s here on Gamasutra, and it’s called “The Top 10 Weird Children of Video Games and Neuroscience.” I’m glad so many people are finding it useful and informative. :)

Several people have asked me for the list of studies I referenced, so I’ve listed them all at the end of this post. For the most part only the abstracts are available publicly, unless you belong to a school or workplace with access to academic journals. Or, you’ve got a good friend from university willing to do you a favor (Thanks Effie :) ).

In the article I mention my high school psychology teacher, Max. Though I haven’t talked to him in years, I decided to send him the article. If you ever have the chance to do something like this, do it! Teachers sometimes don’t know the power of their words until years down the road. I heard back from Max within a day.

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Aww. Good old Max. :}

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Articles referenced in Article:

1: Replaying the game: hypnagogic images in normals and amnesics [link]

2: Bupropion sustained release treatment decreases craving for video games and cue-induced brain activity in patients with Internet video game addiction [link]

3: The efficacy of playing a virtual reality game in modulating pain for children with acute burn injuries: a randomized controlled trial [link]

4: Television and video game exposure and the development of attention problems [link]

5: A feasibility study using interactive commercial off-the-shelf computer gaming in upper limb rehabilitation in patients after stroke [link]

6: “I feel more connected to the physically ideal mini me than the mirror-image mini me”: theoretical implications of the “malleable self” for speculations on the effects of avatar creation on avatar-self connection in Wii [link]

7: The effect of internet video game play on clinical and extrapyramidal symptoms in patients with schizophrenia [link]

8: The development of attention skills in action video game players [link]

Improved probabilistic inference as a general learning mechanism with action video games [link]

9: Brain training for silver gamers: effects of age and game form on effectiveness, efficiency, self-assessment, and gameplay experience [link]

10: Oscillatory brain responses evoked by video game events: the case of super monkey ball 2 [link]

Games Arrrrt - May 18th, 2011

A few days ago the announcement went out that the NEA is now offering art grants to video game developers. Fast Company asked me a few questions about what this might mean to independent game developers like myself. I answered honestly, although I’m sure other game devs have some differing opinions (also: “a bit of a hit” means “enough to keep me fed and working on new games” ;) ).

Some of the folks I know who make artistic/independent games didn’t feel that the announcement made their work any more or less legitimate, which is why I described their reaction as “eye-rolly.” They weren’t waiting for an official notice from on high to tell them it was all right to do what they loved. They just went out and did it. If anything, this is a sign that the rest of the world is catching up, and not that games haven’t mattered this whole time.

It’s worth noting that governments have long recognized the power of games, and have been funding them for years. The difference is that those games were almost exclusively of the ‘educational’ or ‘training’ variety (the earliest I know of was in 1992). Some countries have been offering art grants for games for several years. I’m most familiar with Canada’s Telefilm, which has funded a few of my friends. The NEA endowment could be a godsend for devs in the US who are otherwise at a loss for how to fund their work.

Shortly after the Fast Company article went live, the NEA got in touch with me and asked if I would clarify their position:

We were thrilled that “one of the Most influential Women in Tech” had seen our announcement and I’m hoping that you can help us correct a misperception. Projects resulting from NEA funding CAN, in fact, be sold. Just like filmmaking organizations can charge for their DVDs or museums can charge for admission, games can be sold. The nonprofit organization producing the game must use the revenues to sustain the organization as well as make good on whatever arrangements they’ve made with creative/production personnel. But they are in no way restricted from sales. Can you help us spread the word?

And I’m happy to spread the word as much as I can. As with any publisher deal, it’s important for developers to know what they’re getting into. But I see this a step in the right direction, namely because it will help new game ideas get explored in a big way. What are your thoughts on the endowment? Would you go for it, knowing your game had to be ‘art’?