Feature

An Interview With Tin Man Games

Lucas | January 14, 2011 6:14 pm

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Tin Man Games is an independent Australian game developer based in Melbourne and made up of two men, the founder Neil Rennison, and Ben Britten. I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Ben, who is the sole coder behind the Gamebook Adventure series available on the iTunes app store for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

In 2005, what to Ben seems many life times ago, he was honoured with an Academy Award for ‘Scientific and Technical Achievement. He was recognised for his hand in the production of the Spidercam, a camera design that allows a suspended camera to be moved around in multiple directions on a movie set. He has since left the motion picture industry to follow his childhood passion for gaming, and in 2009 teamed up with Neil Rennison at Tin Man Games.

The Gamebook Adventures are essentially a re-hashing of the classic story telling style of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, now a distant memory from many people’s childhoods. These books filled my shelves as a child and with the ability to re-read a fantasy story and live another scenario each time, I felt drawn to Gamebooks to rekindle the flame I once had for them. The iPod Touch and iPhone were the perfect devices for these books, as they made them ultra portable, interactive and very easy to read.

When Ben joined Tin Man Games in late 2009 three Gamebooks were in different stages of production and the first book in the series titled An Assassin in Orlandes was released in February 2010 to a positive reaction. After the completion of the first book Ben set out to create what later became called the GAML (Gamebook Adventures Markup Language), a totally new Gamebook engine made to streamline the production of future titles. This was then used in its infant stage to create the second book The Siege of the Necromancer, which was released on the iTunes App Store in June.

After the release of ‘The Siege of the Necromancer’ Ben began working on refining the GAML, unfortunately this was around the time Apple released the iPhone 4 and iPad. This subsequently required further upgrades to the engine to make GAML compatible with the new systems, which delayed the release of two further chapters of the Gamebook Adventures in 2010. The Slaves of Rema released in high resolution on the iPhone 4 in September, followed by Revenant Rising which was released on the iPad in December.

Ben and I discussed the plans for Tin Man’s future releases and porting the series to other OS’. Ben also describes the challenges faced with Apple updating its mobile technology and the work that was needed to change the system of production for the iPhone 4 and iPad. We talk about the creation of the GAML engine and Ben offers a few tips to start up Developers who would like to avoid the challenges an established team has faced.

The full interview will be played during this week’s podcast, ‘Episode 2: Dropping Bears on a Tin Man’, so make sure you watch the site for the podcast and get some hints from an Academy Award winning Aussie developer!

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