Writing and Design

Steve Ince, freelance writer and game designer, posts thoughts and comments on these two meaningful aspects of his life.

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Name: Steve Ince

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Top Ten Games I Worked On

I was sorely tempted to add Beneath a Steel Sky to my list of Top Ten games in the previous post, but I think that would be bad form because I worked on it. Although I didn’t do any of the writing and design, I still think it’s not something I should put on a list like that. So here is my top ten list from the games I've worked on.

  • Beneath a Steel Sky
  • So Blonde
  • Broken Sword – The Sleeping Dragon
  • Broken Sword – The Shadow of the Templars
  • In Cold Blood
  • Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso
  • Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado
  • Rhianna Ford and the Da Vinci Letter
  • Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure
  • Call of Cthulhu: Destiny’s End

Again, the order is not a concrete one.
I put the last one on the list because it was turning into one of the best games I ever worked on and was eighty percent complete when it was cancelled. Perhaps one day I’ll post some of my favourite scenes.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso - Special Holiday Price!

To celebrate the forthcoming holiday season, Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is now on special offer at the new holiday price:
3.99 USD, 3.49 Euro, 2.99 GBP

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Monday, August 24, 2009

A few GamesCom thoughts...

I'm still feeling a little tired from the trip and I've been back for two days! The years are taking their toll. :(

GamesCom was huge! The fact that it was so much larger than last year's GC in Leipzig shows that it needed to move and is also a source of encouragement that the industry is in a strong enough position to sustain something of this size. If we weren't in the middle of a global financial crisis would it have been even bigger?

In some ways I wish it wasn't bigger and that the event was still in Leipzig. There, the event felt like the whole city was a part of the show and in Cologne it didn't seem to register beyond the exhibition centre itself. The size also gave it a slightly impersonal touch. I didn't bump into the same friendly faces anywhere near as often as the last two years.

In a business sense, it must be a lot better if there are more exhibitors in the business halls (which must have been 2-3 times larger than Leipzig overall). But what that actually taught me was that it was more difficult to get appointments at the show and I should have organised far more meetings in advance. Some people seemed to have so many meetings booked that they were in danger of becoming unravelled.

Because I write mostly adventures, it was a little disconcerting to see that the profile of adventures seemed much lower than the previous two years. Which seems a little crazy when adventures haven't had such a good profile for years, thanks to recent Monkey Island releases, amongst others. Although I demonstrated the Wii version of So Blonde a few times, it wasn't nearly as often as I was expecting. A number of people from the adventure site press told me that they had some real trouble getting to see presentations of games they knew were at the show, which is very puzzling indeed.

There were lots of great games in other genres, of course, and many of them were really exciting. I managed to get a play on Brutal Legend, but it was in some kind of boss battle and being unfamiliar with the controls I couldn't work out what to do. I was hoping to get a look at the Star Wars Old Republic game, but they didn't really seem to have much on show in spite of a huge public stand with lots of computers. There was a pretty healthy presence of casual games, particularly on the consoles, which helped give a good balance to the show.

I met a number of people for the first time, which was a real buzz. The first of these was Josh Winiberg who did the music for Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso and is destined to go far with his talent. The second was Noel Bruton of Arberth Studios but we only managed a couple of hurried meetings because of other appointments. The third guy I met for the first time was Dan Connors, who is doing wonderful things with all his team at Telltale Games. I've been impressed with Telltale's episodic approach to adventures for some time, so it was good to meet Dan at last and have a chat.

I also met up with lots of people I already knew, such as the Wizarbox people and Mark and Rachel from Outsource Media. I also met up with and had dinner with Claas, Dominic and Jan from Daedalic who were great and gave me a German version of The Whispered World, which has been receiving great reviews. I hope the English version is as well received.

And, of course, no event like this would be complete without meeting up with the people of the gaming press, especially those from sites that concentrate on adventure games and I want to thank them all for their time an interest in what I do. I would particularly like to thank everyone from Adventure-Treff who invited me along to their community party and where I was able to meet Dan.

And if I missed anyone out who I should mention - sorry. Catch you next year.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

GamesCom 2009

As GamesCom is just a week and a half away I thought I would post.

This year I'm hoping to hook up with quite a few clients and friends, as well as help support and promote games I've been involved in.

Primarily, there'll be promotion for the Wii version of So Blonde, for which we recorded the English voices a few weeks ago. Hopefully, they'll be fully integrated into the latest version on show. Although I imagine that the DS version will also be on show, there are no voices in that version.

There are also a couple of other upcoming games with which I've been involved, but at the moment I don't know which I can talk about and how much I can tell. One of them is a new IP I created, so I'm looking forward to discussing that one. Let's hope I can do so at GamesCom.

As always, I enjoy meeting members of the gaming press and look forward to doing so again at this show. It's always a pleasure to discuss the work I do with genuinely interested parties.

My composer friend, Josh Winiberg should be attending this year. For those who don't know, Josh composed the music for Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso, which went a long way towards giving the game the fun feel it has.

If anyone would like to meet up or arrange an interview, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nearly Two Years

It's been nearly two years since I released the first version of Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso. Today is the first time I've been aware of anyone visiting the page I set up as a kind of Easter Egg.

So, congratulations to the site visitor from Munich - you may well be the first person to visit the page who weren't already in the know.


Friday, August 15, 2008

5-Star Review for Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso

Over at Reflexive, someone has posted a 5-star review of Nutso. I love it when gamers enjoy the game and make known their appreciation.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wonderful Nutso Review

I like the reviewer's clear style and the way that he appreciated all of the elements of the game I'd hoped players would. I accept that the backtracking was overdone and I won't do it again. :)


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nutso Press Release


Merscom Releases Mr. Smoozles Online
Casual Adventure Game Coming to Online Portals

CHAPEL HILL, NC – June 11, 2008 – Merscom announced today it is the online publisher of Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso, the comedic casual adventure game from Juniper Games. Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is a great, fun, arcade adventure, based upon the online comic strip, Mr. Smoozles; it boasts a cast of 50 characters spread through 60 exciting and varied locations and has an original soundtrack by talented young composer, Josh Winiberg. With an addictive mix of gameplay and humour, this game is a delight for gamers of all ages and tastes. Although recently released, user reviews for the game have been tremendous, including:
“If you like British humor (Sorry, that's "humour"), then you'll love Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso.”
“The best seek and find game I know of”
“I love games with story and this one ha[s] everything.”
“WOW! A breath of fresh air!”

In Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso, the Goragons have invaded the Earth, zapped Mr. Smoozles with their mind ray and are trying to distort the whole fabric of reality. Play as Ed as he strives to avoid the attacking Mr. Smoozles, dodges many other dangers, solves numerous puzzles and interacts with a host of enchanting characters.

Key Features:
Traditional British “humour”
50 characters spread through 60 exciting and varied locations
Original soundtrack by Josh Winiberg

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso can currently be downloaded at http://www.reflexive.com/Mr.SmoozlesGoesNutso.html

“Our past successes with adventure games show the casual market is really eager for adventure games,” explained Lloyd Melnick, Chief Customer Officer at Merscom, “Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is perfect for this market as it is a ton of fun and does not take itself too seriously.”

About Merscom
Merscom is a global publisher of mass market computer and video games that distributes games through multiple channels, multiple platforms and multiple revenue models. Merscom's channels include retail distribution in the US and Europe, online sale through major portals worldwide and games on Microsoft® Xbox Live® Arcade. Merscom publishes games from leading casual game developers, including Sandlot Games, Reflexive Entertainment, Absolutist and Pi-Eye Games. Merscom publishes on multiple platforms including PC, console and handheld. Merscom produces entertaining products for gamers of all ages and guarantees all customers a great experience. For more information visit www.merscom.com.


LSM@merscom.com office +1 919 918 7741 x 237
Evaluation copies available upon request. Screenshots and information available at our Address: SmoozlesPasssword:e3h3v6r3You can either use the web-based client or a standalone ftp program like Filezilla (just enter into the address field) to access these files.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Player Reviews of Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso

Reflexive Arcade are hosting Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso and there are some interesting reviews on their player review page for the game. Most of them appear to be positive:

"It’s lots and lots of fun. I might even buy this game." (LOL to the last part)
"This is one of the best games I have played in a long time!!"
"I love games with story and this one have everything."
"I wasn't sure I'd like this game. But after 10 minutes I was hooked. It has a nice story line. It's one of the best puzzle games I've seen. Great fun."

There are a couple of reviews where I wonder what game they were actually playing:

"As it turns out, Mr. Smoozles has been injected with an alien "drug" by his friends Zoran and Grik, which makes him behave as a rabid animal." WHAT?!
"its a vey violent game! not for children and i am very discustting about this kind of games, i will never expend my money in this abomination"
I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but these last two made me laugh. I don't expect everyone to like the game, but to see it as something that it clearly isn't is just weird.

Thanks to the reviewers who were so positive and defended the game against the two negative reviews. My favourite line from the reviews is this one:
"if you've taught your children the difference between reality and fantasy..they, and you..will enjoy it." Well said!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso - online distribution

Nutso has just been picked up by Merscom for online distribution and the game is popping up on many casual gaming portals at the moment. Some of the first ones I've seen are:

Reflexive Arcade

Harmonic Flow

Myth People

Shabu Games

BD Studio Games


Game Socks

These are just a few I've seen so far. On Game Socks the game has an average rating of 9/10!

Please let me know of any other portals you spot the game on.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso - a new review

I love the internet! Just when I thought interest in Nutso was waning, along comes this incredibly good review of the game. The reviewer appreciated it in all the ways I could have hoped for.

"The game will get pretty engaging over time (being chased by a cute orange cat with a huge gun can get pretty engaging). The script is peppered with witty repartee and well, just plain insanity. And although the elements of the story are crazy, they're interwoven in a way that makes sense (does that make sense?)."

(Sorry I haven't been posting much lately.)

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Nutso in the top 100!

Game Tunnel has done a top 100 independent games. Although Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is only at 87, it's still pretty cool to be in the chart. :)

Check it out, and some of the games that it features.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Over at the Develop site there's recently been posted a report on Nintendo's WiiWare. This must be the coolest idea for a long time. Mr. Smoozles Goes Wii, anyone? :)

Now, if I could just find where I can get hold of the right tools...

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Nutso - New Vista Version - Special Pricing

I have just released a Windows Vista compatible version of Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso. Players can also buy it at a specially reduced price for a limited time only! For more details, please read the press release here: http://www.juniper-games.com/blog/labels/Press.html

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Strange kind of reviewing...

This review of Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso must be the weirdest I've seen. But actually it's also quite funny and in-between the weirdness he actually says some nice things about the game.

"...which would make this an ARCADE ADVENTURE game! You see that, a completely new genre! Take that to your message forum and see how they deal."

Way cool! A new genre! :)

"I want this game ported to Xbox Live Arcade"

Me too.

If you're so inclined, you can also rate the game. Or is the rating for the review? Who knows...


Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Press Release - Nutso on the cheap!

The following is a press release which I sent out earlier today.

Nutso Price Reduction!

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is half price for one day only

EAST YORKSHIRE, UK (May 24, 2007):
Game developer, Juniper Games, in conjunction with gaming site Game du Jour, is pleased to announce that the downloadable PC game, “Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso” will be available for half its normal price for one day only – incredible value!

On Sunday 27th May, gamers will be able to buy the game for a 50% reduction when bought through the Game du Jour website.

“Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso” is a fun arcade adventure, based upon the online comic strip, Mr. Smoozles. It boasts a cast of 50 characters spread through 60 exciting and varied locations and has an original soundtrack by talented young composer, Josh Winiberg. With an addictive mix of gameplay and humour, this game is a delight for gamers of all ages and tastes.

From press coverage of the game:

“Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is really something a bit different. It's also a lot of fun.” - Gordon Aplin, Quandary review, 4/5

“Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is a genuinely lighthearted, entertaining arcade-adventure brimming with personality and easy to play without being a walkover.” - Kim Wild, Adventure Gamers feature article.

“... we'll wager no publisher will come close to bettering our favourite game name of the year: Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso.” - MCV magazine, UK

GAME OF THE MONTH “I almost forgot I was playing an adventure instead of an RPG at times - that’s how involving Mr. Smoozles is.” - Game Tunnel

About Juniper Games
Juniper Games was founded by Steve Ince, formerly of Revolution Software where, among many other things, he was writer and lead designer on the acclaimed game, “Broken Sword – The Sleeping Dragon”.
Juniper Games has a number of projects in the pipeline and “Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso” is the first game to be released by the company.
Juniper Games website: http://www.juniper-games.com/
Juniper Games can be contacted on info@juniper-games.com

About Game du Jour
Game du Jour, launched in December 2006, is the first company in the world to offer one deal a day in the casual PC games market. While the company aims to be best known for its daily deals, Game du Jour is at its core a marketing partner to game developers, giving those companies the opportunity for a rush of sales and heightened brand exposure during their products' 24-hour lifecycle at GameDuJour.com. For more information about Game du Jour, visit http://www.GameDuJour.com/about-us.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nutso Special Offer - Coming Soon!

I've been approached by the site, Game du Jour, and as a result will be offering Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso for half the regular price for one day only. This fantastic event takes place on the 27th May, but I thought that I'd give you plenty of advanced warning. Be sure to mark your diaries! However, don't worry too much about that as I'll be posting further news nearer the time


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso - a new review

Game Tunnel has just published a review of my game, Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso. It's a very good review that looks at the game pretty favourably.

"Players may actually find themselves liking this game more and more as they play."

"Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is the kind of game that should satisfy the waking hours of any gamer who enjoys the strategy and scavenging from classic point-and-click titles, but wants something with a bit more interactivity and driven action."


Friday, February 09, 2007

Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso - a top game!

The Dutch gaming magazine, PC Gameplay has apparently published a list of what they consider to be the best indie games of 2006 and Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso is one of those featured. There's no online version of the article, but it's pretty cool all the same. Thanks to Christiaan Moleman for letting me know.