Archive for the ‘My News’ Category

My Game Dev Story

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I’ve met a lot of new people recently and so I thought it would be a good time to tell my game dev story, especially as a lot has happened in the last couple of years. I hope that you find it interesting!

Early Days

I started coding on the Spectrum 48K in 1984 when I was 9 (it came with a BASIC manual), and later I got a C64 on which I learned assembly language. I also programmed a lot on BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. Eventually I got an Amiga and did more assembly until one day I found out about Blitz Basic 2 which was brilliant because it was faster than AMOS and it enabled me to make games much more quickly than assembly.

Business Software

This was all a hobby but when I was 21 I got a job making business software in Delphi/SQL which I did for 9 years! It was bookshop stock control and accounting systems – pretty boring but it taught me a lot and I ended up as manager of the company and we installed systems all over the UK including parliament, which was neat.

Going Indie

Eventually I quit and went indie in 2005 because I was working all day and coding games all night and it was making me ill. I was making a platformer at the time but I quit it and started making casual games (in BlitzMax) as they were doing well back then. It took me a couple of years before I hit my stride and programmed Fairway Solitaire for Big Fish Games. That did pretty well and eventually they hired me and moved my family (I have a wife, 2 boys and a cat) over to Vancouver where I worked for them for 2 years, mostly on a Facebook game.

However, corporate life was not for me so I quit and went indie *again*, this time armed with more experience and some savings (unlike the first time, God, I was so naive) – luckily I kept my company, Grey Alien Games running the whole time and so I was able to pick up where I left off. I released Spring Bonus after 3 months of being indie, just 7 minutes after my non-compete expired.

Full Indie Meetup

Whilst in Vancouver I co-founded Full Indie, an indie meetup group with well over 1000 members and monthly meetups with over 100 people and speakers etc. I also helped Klei Entertainment with Eets Munchies (to be released next year), and did some of my own stuff before we decided to move back to the UK in August this year (for many complicated reasons).

Back in the UK

So now I’m trying to meet up with people in the UK indie scene because there wasn’t much of one when I left 4 years ago. It’s clearly huge now which is fantastic.

I’m just about to release Holiday Bonus GOLD, my 8th casual title, on iOS/PC/Mac and maybe Kindle, and I’m also porting Titan Attacks (by Puppy Games) to iOS using Monkey. I’ve also got some other things in the pipeline. Over the years I’ve made a bunch of free games and love doing game jams, and of course playing games. I also play the guitar, compose electronic music, and teach Aikido (been doing it for 15 years). I’m also an accomplished speaker (have spoken at PAX, Casual Connect, Universities, meetup groups, Toastmasters etc.) – so if you need a speaker or panelist, let me know!

Hope that wasn’t TL:DR and it helped you to get to know me better. I look forward to hearing your stories too!! :-)

Jake Birkett
Grey Alien Games

Handed in my notice. Full-time Indie again in Jan!

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Today I handed in my notice (30 days) at Big Fish Games Vancouver after being there for just over 2 years. So by Jan 15th 2011 I’ll be Indie again under my old banner of Grey Alien Games – woot!

I’m totally “stoked” about this as I’ve got a ton of things I really want to do and I’ve met some amazing people over here in Vancouver who I’m looking forward to teaming up with. Also if any of you want to team up or are interested in working with me as a design consultant, let me know! I specialise in Casual Games and Facebook games and I’m passionate about arcade/retro games.

To pre-empt any “reason for quitting” questions, let’s just say that I need to do my own thing again and leave it at that. Thx.

Also, in the Autumn of 2011 I’ll be moving back to the UK because my wife’s work visa will run out (mine was tied to Big Fish Games but hers was not because she was a “dependent”) – unless something happens before then that makes it possible to stay.

Wish me luck in 2011! And good luck to all of you too.

Cool Kid Doing Epic Breakdancing

Friday, March 5th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago my 6-year old son, Callum, was “messing around” in the garden doing some kind of crazy freeform dancing and I thought it looked cool (and sweet). So I overlaid some Drum and Bass and this is the result. Enjoy! (Check out at 1:25 when I ask him what he is doing and he says “Tricks” and does some really cool moves.)

I told him this video is going on youtube, and Twitter and my blog, and he is ultra excited – so please give a nice rating and be polite in the comments, thanks! :-)

What I liked was that he felt totally happy being natural and expressing himself without any self-conciousness. How long is it since you or I have done that?