Usagi No Yuki: What’s in a name?

As you know, I’m working on a game titled Happy Usagi No Yuki Fortress. The other day a colleague remarked that this sounds a lot like Usagi Yojimbo, also of  Commodore 64 fame:

Well that makes a lot of sense! Usagi is simply the Japanese word for rabbit. Yuki means snow, and No is a possessive marker. As a Gaijin, I couldn’t tell you if that translates to “happy snow-rabbit fortress, or “happy rabbit of the snow-fortress”. I guess  we’ll find that out after we conquered the Japanese market (yeah, right). But in the mean time, I hope the name conveys fun, cuteness and also a bit of silliness.

Why the Japanese angle, you ask? Apart from us being a big fan of all things Japanese (from Nintendo to Kawaii bento boxes), there is also serendipity. We created the game during a competition – one of the random requirements of this competition was to include bits of Unicode, i.e. non-English text. Like so: 幸せなウサギの雪要塞. Easiest requirement ever.

Pixel bunnies

For the next version of Happy Usagi, we are giving each bunny its own look. I say “we”, but actually most of the hard work is done by Olivia, graphic designer and source of inspiration for many helixsoft games.

Would you like to hear details on how we draw the graphics? For Happy Usagi, the bunnies are drawn with the very cool aseprite editor.  It has all the features you might expect from a pixel art tool. Especially useful for us is that you can export each layer as a separate spritesheet. I programmed the game to recolor and recombine the layers again in every possible way. For example,  a layer for spots, a layer for droopy ears and a layer for upright ears can be recombined into a brown bunny with grey spots and droopy ears, or a white bunny with brown spots and upright ears.

NB, I’m experimenting with sharing on social media. Like I said in the first post, I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this. If things are not to your liking, let me know, I can tweak it for the next time.

Indie Quest

Come and join me on my quest for the holy grail! Or in this case, my quest to develop and independently publish computer games! Ni!

Developing games is my passion. When I was a kid I already wrote my own version of tetris on a ZX spectrum. In more recent years I have written several small PC games. Most of these were created during weekend programming competitions, a.k.a. speedhacks. These are always fun to do, and the result is usually interesting and sometimes even entertaining! But they also tend to be somewhat simple and incomplete.

Now I want to take it to the next level. I don’t want to just make games that  are “fun for five minutes”, after which you can lean back and appreciate “how cool that  it was made in such a short time”. No, I want to turn these into games that are lasting fun, maybe even addictive, and certainly worth paying for.

With this blog, I want to show my progress. I want to document my inroads into the indie gaming business. And I want to use this blog as a way to gather feedback, to find out if I’m going in the right direction.

So what are my plans? At the start I’m going to be opportunistic, and work with what I’ve got. I’m expanding one of the  most promising speedhack games: Happy Usagi No Yuki Fortress. So at first you can expect a lot of posts about this game.

My long-term plan is to shift to a particular niche, namely computer games that are “Educational”. That term may mean different things to different people, so I will definitely follow up in a  future post to  explain what the term means to me. And I’m working on a  “sekrit project” that is going to be an educational game. In due time, you’ll hear all about it, right here on this blog.

I’m looking forward to comments! I’ll publish this blog on various social media, so you’ll know about it. But which social media would you like to see this on? And what would you find most interesting to read about? By the way, what do you think of the graphics in the header of this blog? I’m figuring this out as I go along, so please let me know!