Hello Games is Sean Murray, Grant Duncan, Ryan Doyle and David Ream, four friends who ditched big studios to make their own game, Joe Danger. Set for release on PlayStation Network any week now (and hopefully on other platforms shortly after), Joe Danger is a gloriously giddy take on Excitebike, via a little bit of Sonic and even a tiny spot of Super Monkey Ball.
We already interviewed the guys and got our hands on the game, but that’s not what this is about. Oh no, this is about shining a light on the weird and wonderful world they’ve created. You see, Hello Games is a singularly odd studio, even in the eccentric world of impoverished indie developers. But maybe you already know that.
Here then, are TVGB’s 5 things you probably know about Hello Games.
1.THEY PLAY WITH DOLLS
No matter how old a bloke is, if you put him in front of a box full of toys he’ll quickly regress into a chortling six-year-old. Hello Games is no exception. In fact, they’ve managed to turn an afternoon pratting around with an Evel Knievil doll into the basis of what looks like an absochugginglutely great game. Here’s Murray, speaking to Reso:
“Grant brought in a box of toys from his parents’ attic, and something kind of beautiful happened. There was an instant power to demonstrating your latest game idea with Optimus Prime or Lion-o in your hands. We kept coming back to that one toy though, an Evel Knievil stunt cycle. We just sat and actually played with it, building bigger and bigger ramps, launching it out of windows, down corridors. It didn’t matter that he crashed all the time. In fact, that was almost the point. So we started to build this little character around who this hapless guy was: the world’s most determined stuntman.”
As wonderful as Joe Danger looks, part of TVGB will always wonder what their Lion-o game would of looked like. Bloody amazing is the answer.
2. JOE DANGER GOT THEM ARRESTED
The life of a humble indie developer is one of suffering and poverty, love and sacrifice, late nights and… dunno, Pot Noodles or something. Point being, they work their little malnourished bums off. And their reward? In Hello Games’ case it was an early-hours police raid on the studio. Don’t believe us? Here’s Murray again, speaking to GSW:
“How about this? We once got arrested in our office. We were working so late on a Sunday, they assumed that we were trying to rob the building. It was actually surprisingly difficult to convince everyone that we worked there.”
We can just imagine them being bundled into the police van: “We’re working, officer, we really are – the She-Ra doll is part of the job! Heeeelllllllp!”
3. THEY’RE NOT GOOD WIV NUMBERS
Third, or perhaps that should be 3ND, is numbers. Yup, they may be able to create infectiously joyful games from just a toybox and an overripe imagination, but numerical grammar certainly isn’t their strong point. As evidenced by this, from the first batch of screenshots released for the game:
“Imagine you’ve been baking a cake for a loved one, slaving away in the kitchen all morning,” says Grant Duncan. “You’ve written them a love poem, carefully rendered in delicate fondant icing. Now imagine, upon presenting the cake, you realise you’ve spelt their name wrong… This is kind of how I felt after realising we’d accidentally used ‘3nd’ instead of ‘3rd’. Oh well, we’re just going to have to use 3nd from now on and pretend it was all intentional.”
See, that’s why we like Hello Games so much. Cocking things up and passing it off as intentional has been the TVGB way since 2006.
4. THEY LIKE TEA, LOTS OF IT!
Tea, the British Empire was built on it. Probably other places too. But none more than Hello Games towers. During the production of Joe Danger the studio has quaffed a staggering 8542 cups of the stuff*. And then made lots of little graphs about it. Takes all sorts, I suppose.
“Tea is very important here at Hello Games,” says Duncan. “It is one of the pillars upon which our might is founded, along with deception, slave labour and beards.
“We even have a set of rules surrounding tea. The order in which we arrive in the morning dictates the size of the mug you have for the day, along with who must make the first round. The only exception to the Mug Allocation Sequence is Grant who always drinks his tea from a bowl. The one thing you can see from this is that we quite clearly spend too much time here together.”
5. THEIR PLAYTESTER IS THE GROCERY DELIVERY MAN
And lastly, while other studios have QAs and beta tests to work out the kinks in their game, Hello Games do things differently. The use Rob the Tesco groceries delivery man. Reluctantly.
That’s right, the man that delivers food to their office – which they then stuff into filing cabinets as it’s the only furniture they have – briefly became their product tester after grabbing a controller one day. And he’s pretty useless at games. Only in the world of Hello Games could this happen. Funny thing is, he turned out to be the ideal man for the job. This is from their Edge blog:
“Of course our first reaction is to try to dismiss his experience. He doesn’t read tutorials, after all. He skips cutscenes, and can make the same mistake a hundred times without learning a single thing. Grudgingly, though, we realise this also makes him the perfect tester. A talking mole explained the special moves a couple of minutes ago, but he was too busy trying to see if he could kill it.”
We’re with Rob the delivery man, talking moles are just asking for a tyre in the head.
So there you go, development Hello Games-style. We’d say they were completely nuts, but when you can come up with something as promising as Joe Danger, we’re far more likely to forgive you a few foibles. The game’s targeted release date of “late May, early June” just can’t zoom around fast enough for us. Let’s hope they don’t get arrested again before then.
*Numbers calculated up to February 16, 2010