Tiny Hawk was my entry to Ludum Dare 11 back in April 2008. The theme was “Minimalist”. What I made was a single-switch platforming game, inspired by the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series of games. It had a cute little combo system for getting high scores, and you had several context sensitive moves you could perform with just one button. I remember that when drawing the main character, I tried to keep the resolution as small as possible while still making it recognizable as a skateboarder.
Tiny Hawk didn’t win Ludum Dare 11, but I was very happy with how it was received. It was featured on the IndieGames blog, Auntie Pixelante called it the bee’s knees, a fellow called Palad made a couple of fan levels for it, and somebody even wrote a MobyGames page for it, with the absolute coolest description of the game; I highly recommend reading it.
Fast forward to 2010; PoV announces the October Challenge, wherein he challenges everyone to make a game or polish up an old one during the month October, and make just one dollar of revenue. I jump on it, and what better game to polish up than one of my most highly regarded LD games, Tiny Hawk? I figured that making a Flash game would be a good way to make a few dollars, because of the relative ease of making money through a sponsorship with the help from a site like FlashGameLicense. I end up tweaking the game a whole bunch even while it’s sitting on FGL up for grabs. This does end up improving the game’s look a lot, but eventually doesn’t get me many new bidders. I end up selling a primary license to the good folks at GameBods.
The Flash version does end up being quite different from the Ludum Dare version. The game now uses more than just one button, based on feedback received about the LD version, where people would sometimes get annoyed when they couldn’t turn around after they made a mistake. I also include acceleration into the game, which ends up being a core mechanic, as the player needs to make sure they have enough speed to make all the jumps. The visual look is of course also highly improved.
The Flash version ends up on many Flash portals around the world. It’s been played over a million times across different sites. You can play it on my own site TinyHawk.com, Armor Games, Kongregate, Newgrounds, etc.
After Tiny Hawk Flash is released, I start thinking about the possibility of making Flash games for a living. I sign up for some counseling on setting up my own business. Before I’m even through with that though, I get an e-mail from a representative of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and get into talks about developing PlayStation games. By March, I have set up a sole proprietorship, and have a PSP devkit ready to make games. I decide that Tiny Hawk would be a good first project to do. Mostly just to get my feet wet, and finish it quickly. I end up running into some problems though. I spend some significant time in the hospital, losing time and breaking my flow. I also end up starting the project in one of the dumbest ways possible. I decide that it would be good for productivity to use a high level scripting language to write the game logic, and only use C++ for the core graphics processing and stuff like that. This ends up not working out, as the PSP is not fast enough to run all the game logic in an interpreted scripting language, and I end up struggling writing all the necessary language bindings.
I finish Tiny Hawk PSP port in the beginning of December. I barely miss the deadline to get it out on PlayStation Network by Christmas though.
And here’s what the game is looking like right now. The graphics are all new, and there’s a new scoring system. Otherwise it’s very similar to the Flash version. It’s coming out on January 4th in the European region, which I believe in the PlayStation Network’s case also includes South Africa and Australia, at least. I do intend to get it out at least in North America as well, as soon as possible.
I’m not going to go into too much detail in describing the game right now, but I hope you guys liked this retrospective on Tiny Hawk, and I hope if it’s available in your region and you have a PSP or a PS3, you check out the game when it comes out January 4th! (Rated PEGI 3)