Miracle Jam – Winners Announced!

Miracle Jam – Winners Announced!

Miracle Jam served as a catalyst to encourage the unconventional and deeply personal. We encouraged jammers to explore making personal games as a form of self-therapy and deepening ones understanding of their own psyche. The very first instalment of Miracle Jam wrapped up last weekend. We had over 40 participants from all over the world and a total of 8 games submitted! The jam far exceeded our expectations and we thank all of you for putting time into sharing a little piece of yourself.


In 48 hours jammers were asked to make “A Love Letter Game”…

“Whatever it is you love most in this world. That thing you hold close to your heart, be it a person, a pet or your favourite game. We would love to see games intended as love letters to that special thing of yours.”

Forget Me Not – Most Beautiful Visual Award

“While there were several nuggets of beautiful visuals in many entries, I would like to give the Beautiful Visual Award to ‘Forget Me Not’ by Elliot Chester and Andreea Mazarianu. Playing through the game got me transported to all of those non-conversations we all have with our pets, where we talk while knowing we will never get an answer back. Yet we find solace in those conversations, sharing our worries and frustrations. Trying to communicate that when we leave, we will come back. Cause isn’t that the most heartbreaking feeling, leaving your pet while not being able to make them understand we will return. This game is simplest yet perfect little homage to our beloved pets. And that feel of simplicity is only strenghtend by the beautiful visuals provided. Showing us that with a few well placed lines you can get your point across. The choice of using a watercolour art style is well thought out and goes hand in hand with the theme of the game. The blinking animation and falling petals are nice touches that make the game feel complete. This game made me smile. As a sidenote to the artist: I do hope you explores this art style more as I believe it is definite proof of your skill.” – Camille Carpentier

Them: Companions – Accessibility Award & Spin Tingling Audio

“Whilst many games entered into the Miracle Jam were accessible in a range of admirable ways, I’d like to give the accessibility award to Them: Companions, the personal love letter to our companion pets by Illien Alizée. The clear & contrasting gameplay elements as well as clear sans serif fonts create a visually very accessible game. The persistent and clearly presented control scheme and HUD alongside generous balancing ensure the tightly balanced experience is widely accessible. And finally the alternative input scheme gives flexibility to players with mobility impairments.”- Joe Kinglake

“The Spine Tingling Audio Award will have to go to Illien Alizée’s “Them: Companions”. We had multiple entries with beautifully composed sountracks but Them: Companions was the only game that painted a full soundscape covering every single gameplay element with accurately designed sound effects. From the footsteps to the eerie ambience, from the ghastly whispers to the cute jingle when you rescue all pets, the sound of this game truly is spine-tingling, and the fact that Illien designed it all herself just makes it extra special.” – Enrico Ercole

Homeward Bound – Most Heartfelt Game

“Homeward Bound by Kaitlin Haughton and Gina Loughlin has a special place in my heart. Not only did all the judges reacted strongly to the ending with a very genuine emotional response on Enrico’s live stream, but it’s a wonderfully complete entry for the time that was given. This was an entry I shared with my sisters and mother which they adored. This led to nostalgic conversations about our own old dogs and reminiscing of fond memories. Homeward Bound is relatable and touches on a genuine part of the human experience. The game very balanced visually and very well executed with little bugs. There’s so much potential for further depth in the gameplay here, I’d love to see this developed into a full release. I love the choice of green that’s used and its audio really helps establish a pleasant outdoorsy mood that feels like a walk in the park. The world needs more games like this!” – Brad Smith


We adored all of the entries in their own way. All of your games will have a special place in Miracle Tea history. The personal expression that individuals were willing to share was deeply meaningful and encouraging to see. You can play and follow teams from all of the games submitted for Miracle Jam #1 below:

Honourable Mention

Shout out to The Tower of Memories team and their commitment and drive! It was great to see you so active within the game jammers voice chat over the weekend and we look forward to seeing more of all of your work in the future!

Thank you!

A goal with Miracle Jam was to create a wholesome community offering a safe space for struggling creatives to express and share themselves however they see fit. This goal is already starting to emerge and we’re excited by what this space will one day grow into.

Thank you to all the jammers that participated in Miracle Jam for sharing a little part of themselves to the world. Shout out to our judges for giving us their support and time. Make sure to give Joe, Camille and Enrico a follow and send them some love for helping us out!

Look out for more events from us in the future. We’re still very new to all of this and we learnt so much from organising this event as a result. If you have any suggestions on how we could improve the jam feel free to reach out to us in our commune.

– Miracle Tea

A Miracle Tea Game Jam!

A Miracle Tea Game Jam!

We’re hosting a game jam online for the first time on Friday 13th –  Sunday 15th November 2020. We have a bunch of Ruya related prizes that we’re going to give away to entries that are selected by our wonderful list of industry judges.

Miracle Jam serves as a catalyst to encourage the unconventional and deeply personal. If you have something to express that you feel you can’t express anywhere else. This is the place to do so. We applaud and encourage personal games as a form of self-therapy and deepening ones understanding of their own psyche.

You can find more information about Miracle Jam on on itch.io.

Participants can also join our Discord where the theme will be announced. A handful of developers, artists and other creative types are hanging out there as your read this so come have a chin wiggle. Don’t be shy, and if you are you’ll fit right in!

– Brad

Ruya – Version 1.7

Ruya – Version 1.7

Hello to you wonderful people! If you were unaware we recently did a BIG UPDATE to Ruya for you all.

Here’s what’s new:

◆ Controller support!
◆ UI overhaul with new animation system.
◆ Frame rate no longer drops when opening and closing options screen.
◆ Reduced overall sprite count.

Updated Platforms:

iOS AppStore
Mac AppStore
◆ Google Play
◆ Steam

We’re really proud of it as there’s now full controller, keyboard and mouse support. This opens up a wave of potential in terms of accessibility! Before the game was mouse only but now players are able to interact with Ruya in multiple ways opening the door to the types of people that can use the game with ease as they see fit. Accessibility is something we’ve been thinking about a lot lately thanks to our buddy Joe who’s a big advocate for it on our Twitter feeds. Hopefully we’ll be picking up some wisdom about input remapping in Unity overtime and maybe you’ll start to see some that being embedded into our games in the future.

Free to swing any suggestions our way for future updates you might want to see in Ruya to our Twitter DMs or ping us an e-mail. In the meantime we’ll currently focusing on Alula and some other secret stuff, so keep and eye out for that.

Give a follow to our coder Tom on Twitter for all of his hard work and making this update possible. You can read about some technical details on UI optimisation and controller support in Unity3d that went into Ruya 1.7 on Tom’s blog post here!

– Miracle Tea 

Indie Game Pitches & Funding Stories!

Indie Game Pitches & Funding Stories!

We’re talking about all our pitching stories for our games today. Something Miracle Tea have been fortunate enough to have met with some success in. We’ll be discussing how we’ve pitched each game we’ve made. We’ll talk about what went well which resulted in funding, what didn’t go well and made for some awkward moments and what we’d do differently next time causing us to hold our heads up and move on. Hopefully this short read is some interest to you, grab a brew and get comfy!

Pitching Ruya in 2016

Our very first big indie pitch was to Tranzfuser in 2016 for Ruya. The way Tranzfuser ran back then was teams would showcase and get judged at EGX and then be selected to later pitch in Edinburgh for the funding. The years that followed teams pitched at EGX to streamline that whole process out.

Back then Myself and the Miracle Tea guys ventured up to Scotland. We were happy to make the trip from old blighty and back. Tom drove us all the way which was a laugh. I remember talking about conspiracy theories and putting on Steve Hughes and Bill Burr podcasts most of the way down. Those guys do well to put up with me chatting shit most of the way and getting up to shenanigans. I remember the hostel being gnarly, the restaurant we ate in being shady but the drive up and Edinburgh itself being beautiful. I love how vast Scotland is.

Anyway, from memory the pitch itself went well enough for us to secure the remainder of the Tranzfuser grant. I remember we are walked into a room above an art gallery with sandwiches and teas and coffees. All the other Tranzfuser finalists were there too. I think there was about 7 teams along with a panel of judges. Teams took it in turns to pitch their game, we went first…

One thing that we did that was perhaps a little unorthodox was our whole team took it in turns to talk through designated slides. We observed that other teams dedicated one person to pitch their game. At the time we were operating as a flat hierarchy and sharing the load of certain disciplines so it made the most sense for us to it that way. I don’t really know if this worked for or against us in that pitch. Maybe we came across as different and tight nit as a team, or maybe it came across as a bit convoluted for the audience to shift focus on different speakers. Either way we don’t pitch like that anymore!

One thing that went bad was we had audio playing in the background of our presentation. I remember getting feedback at EGX from some judges saying that the submission of our initial pitch deck stood out because of the music within the deck. As a result of that, we were keen to keep the audio in on the big day. Turns out that was a bit of a mistake. The audio was a little louder than expected. We nervously started our pitch with haste before thinking to ask if people could hear us okay or to adjust the audio. I remember looking into the face of another Tranzfuser team about half way and could tell they were having difficulty hearing us. I often think back to this moment and laugh a little bit! If we were to do it again the we would’ve made an effort to take our time to adjust any audio in the pitch or simply would’ve just taken it out!

I remember walking away from that pitch feeling unsure about how it went, I think the rest of the guys felt the same. When we got the grant sometime later, we were so stoked. This was a big deal for us all and we knew that we would finish what we set out to do. Getting this grant was a real catalyst of encouragement for Miracle Tea, we most likely wouldn’t exist without Tranzfuser. The development of Ruya was huge journey for us all. So many ups and downs and seeing our peer’s projects never seeing the light of day and companies going bust around us was discouraging and scary at times. Sometimes it was tempting to just quit and go and get a regular job, I’m so glad we pulled through and finished the game in spite of everything.

Pitching Oath in 2018

After Ruya released in November 2017, I started working on a prototype solo into the winter. The design of the game was very much a reflection of the time. At first, I thought the game wouldn’t be fit a good fit for a potential Miracle Tea game, for a while it was something I was just going to tinker with on the side. I eventually pitched the game to Tom as I got to a point where I’d knew it probably wouldn’t see the light of day without his help. He dug it and later got involved. Things really started to take shape after that.

Early 2018 we pitched a game called Oath (working title) to the UK Games Fund for the round of 4. We knew that after Ruya was wrapped up and as Tranzfuser alumni, the natural thing to do was to pursue the UK Games Fund grant. It felt like the next stepping stone in our careers. The application process from Tranzfuser to UK Games Fund was more or less the same so we felt hopeful about our chances. For the application we had to submit a short 2-minute video explaining the game, our business plan, target audience, dev schedule etc. Oath was unfortunately declined for the grant but we learnt so much as a result.

Our feedback from UK Games Fund was also that this kind of action game genre is super competitive making it a risky investment on their part. In theory, we ticked a lot of the boxes with this pitch though there were a few things that weren’t particular clear. One being that we didn’t discuss how far in development the grant would get us and our options beyond this. Another thing to note is around that time we were definitely prioritising the game build over our actual video application. A lot of the footage we showed was real in game content. In hindsight our gameplay could’ve been communicated with simple stills, or diagrams and more energy could’ve been on really making the best use of time in the video. Another thing that we later realised is that the subject matter of violence and gore in Oath might have been a fairly risky thing to pitch to a government funding scheme. If a game like this ever-got bad press and then it being funded by a government scheme perhaps might not be an ideal situation.

Pitching Alula in 2019

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from skateboarding is to get up and try again and eventually it’ll happen. My lecturers would refer to that as ‘grit’ in psychology. When the next round of UK Games Fund applications opened up in 2019 the was no way we weren’t going to pitch something. With an unsuccessful pitch last year, we knew some things to avoid. We had some time to recover and let the dust settle from the launch of Ruya which I think was a really good thing for our team. We spent our time between the two pitches tinkering with Oath, prototyping new ideas, working with clients and building rapport, maintaining Ruya, saving/sustaining the business and catering our personal lives which had been somewhat neglected due to the intensity of Ruya dev.

Near the end of 2018 Tom prototyped a simple little puzzle game that started as this idea called Tangled Thoughts. From memory, it was a puzzle game where progression and puzzles were metaphorical representations of anxious thought patterns of a player character walking from left to right. I later did a re-skin and it changed into a game where a mother owl and a baby owl were climbing a mountain together where progression was measured by matching stars in the sky. The better you did the closer the characters would be to one another to show a bond. We jammed this version of the game out over a weekend or two together and then showcased it at Game Anglia in Ipswich. People seemed to dig it and were curious as to what we were up to next. The name Alula emerged at this stage in the prototype. By the time we pitched it to UK Games Fund the following year we had already re-designed Alula again.

I was in a weird place in 2019, I spent a lot of it alone and thought a lot. ‘No one is an island’ was something I heard a lot from friends and family. 2019 was a really good year for my career but one of the toughest personally. What stemmed from the personal struggle was the pursuit of work that revolved around loneliness in order to make something out of the suffering I was going through. It’s often easier for me to communicate that way. I started messing around with texture brushes and compositions in Photoshop trying to hone my skills and visualising different ways to convey some of the emotions I was feeling. One of the concepts that emerged felt like it had weight and could potentially be embedded into our already existing game mechanics. Though it meant a significant re-design, so I had to get Tom on board. Me and Tom met in a Costa in Felixstowe, I pitched to him a proposal for the drastic re-design and change in art direction, he was up for it and we were on our way!

From then on, we went with full force on our UK Games Fund application for Alula with the new art direction in mind. I spent a lot of time on video pitch and completely ignored the game build. We really honed in on making use of every second and if any line of dialogue felt off-kilter, we cut it – something I felt like we didn’t do that well previously. The content of our video featured loose concepts, some in game interactivity and diagrams breaking down our design loops or plans, nothing too fancy though it was stylistically cohesive and clear. The pitch video felt way more solid than the one for Oath. I was chuffed when we submitted. I remember sleeping so well after it was complete.

Tom got the email some months later from UK Games Fund when we got accepted to showcase at EGX. It came at such a surprise but re-enforced to us that we were onto something. As a result, we put Oath on hold and our focus shifted towards Alula development as a priority.

Once you get accepted to showcase at EGX, you don’t necessarily get the full grant. You have to then pitch in person to the UK Games Fund team at the event in a meeting room. The lead up to EGX me and Tom really focused on the game build and mastering our pitch. The month before was so intense and we worked so incredibly hard. Our experience of EGX 2019 is a whole separate story, we’ll post about it in the near future.

Hopefully this has offered some insight into the nitty gritty side of pitching indie games for funding. If you’re thinking about pursuing the UK Games Fund or Tranzfuser grants and have questions, feel free to join our Discord community for a chin wiggle. We’re always happy to help!

Catch you next time.

– Brad

Our Tranzfuser Experience

Our Tranzfuser Experience

What is Tranzfuser?

Tranzfuser is a graduate game pitching competition for a grant of £25k supported by the UK government. You pitch a prototype and teams that get selected will be awarded £5k to develop and work up their prototypes over the summer period. At the end of the summer, Tranzfuser hook you up with a free both space at the biggest trade show here in the UK called EGX. Teams demo their prototypes and go on to pitch their games for an additional 20k.

If you’re thinking of entering, you can read lots of wisdom from our friend Caoimhe here.

We competed in Tranzfuser in 2016. Back then we were younger and fresh faced. We can say with certainty that competing in the Tranzfuser programme has been the best thing for our careers to date. It not only raised the profile of our company it has made us very employable as individuals. The programme has changed a lot over the years since we competed but in the best possible way!

What was our project?

We made a game called Ruya for Tranzfuser. Ruya is a meditative puzzle game about dreams and motherhood. You can pick it up on Steam if you’re curious. Ruya launched in 2017, about a year and a half later to when we were competing in Tranzfuser.

Where did it come from and how has it evolved over the past number of years?

Tom built the core mechanics as a university project. I later got involved and started helping him with the design and the visual style. The art that I brought in come from another game I made for a game jam called Indie Speed Run. We kind of merged that art style and Toms mechanics and then it grew from there. We set out to re-imagine match style games, to try and make them ‘cool’ I guess, they get a bad rap from a lot of people in the indie scene I find. Our thinking with Ruya was to marry the mechanics of a game like Bejewelled with the emotional depth of a game like Monument Valley.

Ruya - Tranzfuser Booth, EGX 2016

How did we find out about Tranzfuser? 

Tom heard out about Tranzfuser through the news and mentioned that we should apply. We were trying to pursue our own thing and make own video games full time for a living, but didn’t necessarily know the whole logistics of doing that. I think we were both good at making games but had little to no idea about setting up a business, so it seemed like a no brainer. We applied, got through and started working out of the Eastern Enterprise hub – a lot of the work for Ruya was done there, especially working out our pitch and deconstructing its design. Back then it felt like doing a fourth year of University and getting paid for it which was really cool!

Why Tranzfuser?

As a team we simply wanted to form a game company to create the kind of games we think have value. There was also an element of wanted to compete in a more serious and professional capacity. To see what we could do and where we sit relative to the rest of the industry. We had entered a lot of game jams in the past but Tranzfuser was a big step up with tangible rewards and greater stakes at play.

How did you apply your university learning to Tranzfuser and beyond?

My dissertation was in game jams which taught me to work quick and iterate and fail a lot. We were taught at university that are first 10 games would like suck and that you should just get them out of the way. Most of how Miracle Tea approach making games specifically the emotional and mechanical side comes from our teachings from University. Our lecturers really encouraged that. There was also a part of me that wanted to prove to lecturers that what they taught us at University had value and that we really listened to them and that their teachings had a real impact on their students. I think Tom really learnt how to get good at coding and craft mechanics. And I got really into the more emotional side of game design. And I think when we come together it makes for an interesting team dynamic. There’s a kind of push and pull that happens when me and Tom work. We pitched a lot of games at University. Every couple of weeks we would have to pitch our game to a panel of lecturers – so when it come to Tranzfuser it felt very familiar.

What did Tranzfuser do for you?

Tranzfuser opened a handful of opportunities in the industry that otherwise would have taken us years to understand and achieve. How Miracle Tea pitch our games today is built upon how we pitched to Tranzfuser back in 2016. Only with more confidence! Tranzfuser gave me personally a shortcut to a certain level of confidence and growth that I never knew I had. As a result of that growth, we’ve been asked to mentor students at our local university, be a judge for game jams in our community and asked to speak at conferences overseas.

High Points?

The psychological impact of getting into Tranzfuser was a big deal for us. We saw a lot of our peers getting big studio jobs or succeed in various game jams and competitions. It gave us a certain level of confidence and esteem that I think we all needed. Observing people play. People taking photos with plushie. We knew that even if we didn’t get the funding for Tranzfuser that we’d be able to get work in the industry, people were coming up to us saying if this doesn’t work out email us and we’ll hook you up with a job. All of that was really re-assuring and motivating.

Low Points

Watching people being confused by your game is always difficult, it still happens too. We were bug fixing stuff throughout the EGX competition, Tom would setup his laptop around the corner from the booth and would be iterating big usability issues on the fly. A lot of sleepless nights and anxious days! Game development is really hard, such long hours and staring at a computer can sometimes be really soul draining. I think back then the way we worked wasn’t necessarily the healthiest. We’re a lot more balanced these days.

If you could turn the clock back, would you do anything differently?

Pre-EGX I would’ve spent less time crafting the later stages of the game and more time focused on refining the first 10 minutes of gameplay. Because that would’ve resulted in a stronger slice for the EGX demo, and allowed us more time for testing to iron out usability and readability issues beforehand. With the pitch, I would’ve worked on projecting more to the entire room to assert a level of confidence. Also, avoiding apologetic language when discussing the game or ourselves might have been useful. With networking to be more assertive when seeking out the people that could help us achieve some of the things we needed at the time. I think when your starting out that is normal though and it gets easier with time.

What were the challenges of team working?

Sometimes the worry can be paralysing but at the same time the amount we worried probably sometimes helped because we’d be over prepared as a result. We all got really close after Tranzfuser, our team getting funding kind of built more mutual respect and re-assured everyone that we’re on the right path. When we started out communication was difficult, we’ve slowly figured out how to articulate things with more clarity. Talking about finances was something we shyed from in the early days but we quickly got over that once things started getting more serious with the business. A lot of that also seems to come from just slowly becoming comfortable with another person and being real and honest and clear about what your goals are.

What Motivated Us?

The idea that we had people aware of what we were doing and had eyeballs on us is a real motivator. You know, being awarded funding and having people say congratulations is a motivator, there’s a moral responsibility associated to that to set out what you indented to do.

Being in sticky financial situations can give you a certain amount of drive to get something done and I think when we were starting out that was true for all of us at a point in time. I think we’ve all realised what we have going in our team is quite rare. Just the idea that we still get on post-release of game is apparently not always the case within the industry – people often end up hating each other from what I’ve observed.

Why should the up-and-coming game dev talent of tomorrow apply to Tranzfuser 2020?

We took part in Tranzfuser to make running a video game company a reality. It’s the best way to show the games industry that you’re serious about what you do. Tranzfuser was for sure the best thing we could have done for our careers coming out of education. If you don’t try it you’ll never know what you’re capable of.

Why is Tranzfuser important?

It allows the opportunity for great games to exist which is a really important thing, especially right now with what’s going on in the world. You know, games are a safe haven for a lot of people to escape or unwind from their life, and that’s important. Tranzfuser increases the chances of those games being put out into the world. I think we’re really lucky to have something like this in the UK. I’ve met developers from other parts of the world that don’t necessarily have that support and as a result the game scene is really sparse and it’s difficult to survive. It’s an initiative that works too. We’ve been able to stay in business and hire people for almost 4 years and Tranzfuser was the catalyst for all of that.

After Tranzfuser?

We got really motivated after Tranzfuser and then Ruya launched about a year and a half later. We pitched a hack and slash game called Oath to UK Games Fund shortly after Ruya released – that would’ve been in 2018, I think. Oath got rejected but we learnt a lot as a result. Then we started doing client work to sustain the company and working on prototypes on the side. We trickled out Ruya on other platforms slowly maintaining the game overtime and secured a licencing deal after shortly after Ruya launched on Armor Games. This was a big deal for us.

How have we sustained our business?

We’ve had good client work post-Tranzfuser. We worked with lady called Helen who we helped build a platform that teaches people about financial education. We made her a series of small games for her. The licencing deal was a real help. We have the mentality of playing the long game and trying to sustain ourselves over a long period of time. A lot of developers seem to bank on having a hit game and I think that’s kind of the wrong attitude to adopt. I think it’s better to plan worst case scenario which means expecting your game to make no money. If you always plan for that, you increase the chances of staying in business. I think it’s really important to live within your means too.

What are we doing now?

Miracle Tea have been running for over 3 years now since competing in Tranzfuser. We are a remote studio and our list of working contractors is growing. Ruya launched, it won a handful of awards that have given us studio recognition. We are now working on our new game Alula that was recently awarded the UK Games Fund round 5 grant. We aim to launch next year.

If you have any questions for our team about Tranzfuser, feel free to join our lovely Discord community, don’t be shy!

A Sketching Process

A Sketching Process

When I sketch, I try to sketch a lot. I start with a line, a circle, something rude or whatever. I try not to think about it too much. I push away any doubt or care or worry or opinions. I don’t want my sketches to look good. I want my sketches to say something. To make someone see something they’ve never seen before. Above all else, I want to make someone feel a strong emotion. The emotional response is in the end all that matters.

When I sketch, I’m searching for something. It’s manic and desperate and immediate and ugly and raw. I strive for flow. Only in flow I’m likely to grasp the thing I’m looking for. The more I sketch, the more I throw away, the sooner I get rid of the white page, the more likely I am to find it. I don’t know what I’m looking for but I’ll know it when I see it.

I put an emphasis on turning up. To just sit down and do the work. Not to wait on anything or anyone or kid yourself with excuses or cop out with other duties. No matter how important they may seem. I let it spew out of me. I don’t let my emotions get in the way of turning up. I try to be honest with my emotions. My emotions are often my fuel.

My old man sketches. We bond over it. He sketches as a way to document his life and stories. We laugh and joke and be rude to one another and come up with juvenile ideas. There’s a kind of child like fun to juvenile art. People roll their eyes at it. I think there’s a lot of value in it. It adds balance and counteracts all the seriousness of life. Humour is a way into the subconscious and it feels healing.

When a child sketches, it’s done without ego or pretence or judgement. To be able to sketch like a child must be a wonderful thing. Care free and void of approval. I try to put myself in that state of mind. To see sketching as play rather than work. I’m learning to see everything as play. It takes time. Everything worth pursing takes time.

Miracle Tea’s Game Design Philosophy

Miracle Tea’s Game Design Philosophy

I’m going to talk about some of the things that we consider important when developing games. If you want to know more about our process and what’s important to us, this is the place! Our design philosophy has matured a lot with time and no doubt will continue to. Often, learning something new forces the introduction or emphasis of a new idea. Hopefully this offers you some useful insight into the thinking behind a Miracle Tea game.

Pursue deep work

We want our games to say something. To mean something to someone and feel meaningful. To be real and honest and authentic and personal. To reflect the human experience. To question how someone thinks. To be memorable. Even if it’s just one person that takes any of this away from our games, that’s all that really matters us.

Design around emotions

When designing, we prioritise the emotional response above all else. It’s arguably the most important thing. All the matters is how our players feel, once we know what emotions we want to create, we start studying and prototyping ways of achieving that. The very best game designers are those that know how to juggle all different types of emotional responses. Knowing which ones complement each other and which ones leave a bitter taste to send players on an emotional roller coaster ride.

Design by subtraction

We’re try to get to the essence of our idea throughout development. Often, that means adding components just to take them away. Anything that doesn’t compliment or support the core is usually not needed. Embracing the removal of content that doesn’t reflect the essence can sometimes be tough and discouraging. We’ve found though, that embracing this gets us closer to that thing we’re trying to communicate with much more elegance and grace. We’ll go into more detail about core pillars in design in a more fleshed out post in the future, so look out for that!

Treat players with respect

We imagine our players to be forward thinking open minded and intelligent individuals with their own thoughts. We try to not pander or come off condescending. We try not to hand hold and to let players discover things for themselves. We try to make them feel special and let them know that we made this game just for them.

Design for accessibility

We work to find creative ways to allow for our games to be played by as many different people and play styles as possible. If this means including dyslexic fonts, colour blind settings and controller remapping, we’ll strive to do it!

Embrace limitations

We’re a very small team, it’s important to remind ourselves of this fact. A part of that territory means we have to be wary of our capabilities in what it is we make. Embracing our limitations often results in creative solutions to solving problems. Though, we’re not shy about pushing something as far as we possibly can – especially in terms of design!

Be open to feedback

It’s useful to listen to people’s suggestions. Though, sometimes this can throw a curve ball of confusion into the vision of what you’re trying to say which can be paralysing. It’s most useful when it comes usability. We take on board feedback, digest, interpret and meditate on it before we ever act. Acting too quickly isn’t always productive for us. If you listened and acted on everyone’s feedback, you’d never get anything done and you’ll never have work that is interesting or that pushes evolves the video game medium forward.

Show don’t tell

We try to communicate ideas with visuals rather than overtly making things obvious or defining the gist to them. Meaning we don’t report on a character feeling shy or cute, we show this through their actions! This is the key to rousing players emotions allowing them to step into someone’s shoes and experience their feelings.

“If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.” -Alfred Hitchcock

Scaffold Teaching

In our games, we don’t like to bombard our players with many ideas or visual elements at once. Doing so can feel overwhelming and cause confusion. Confusion leads to frustration. Frustrations leads to immersion being broken. Immersion being broken leads to people walking away. We break our gameplay/visuals down into chunks and gradually introduce more components overtime. This is especially true when it comes to tutorialising.

Time is precious

Time is all we have. It’s a real treat to have people devoting their time into something you’ve made. When you consider the ethical ramifications of making games, you quickly realise how much of an impact you could potentially have. Your creation could be played by thousands if not millions of people in its lifetime. That time is precious. If the position of a button takes a fraction of a second longer to load or it’s hard to find, that will ultimately add up to hours of wasted time for humanity that could’ve been spent elsewhere.

Personal health over work

We want to make video games well into the later stages of our life. This means that we need to learn to sustain ourselves over a long period of time. We’re in this for the long haul. Whenever work is too much, we take the time we need to recover. This is very important. We’ve pushed ourselves to the point of knowing where our limits our and whenever we teeter on that, we reign it in. Our projects take as long as they need. As a result, we’re happier and healthier and still making games.

Stay grounded and let go of your ego

Having an inflated ego is a killer a deal breaker and often a real turn off. The moment I start thinking I know it all or have the answers I try to tap into the part of me that is observing myself to consider why I’m saying what I’m saying. Freud called it the superego. Usually it’s tied to wanting to one up someone in some hypothetical game or competition I’ve made up in my head. Ultimately, it’s seeking for approval or gratification. Acting on that makes me realise it’s just an extension of my insecurities and believing it stunts my growth. It feels redundant and unproductive and surface level. Being grounded through self-awareness is a trait I really admire in people.

Go outside, observe people and nature

Spending all day indoors hunched over a PC staring at a screen that’s spewing radiation into your face can sometimes feel very soul draining and inhuman. No matter how much we love making and playing video games, we try to stay balanced by hanging out in nature, touching soil and exploring the world. Having down time and switch off is an important part of the creative process as it tends to supplement deep work.

Having a design philosophy, especially if you’re pursuing creative work, is vital. It lays the foundations of intent in your work and opens the doors of potential in the pursuit of goals with greater purpose. It’s something that all game developers who are starting out should work to define. You’d be surprised at how many developers never seem to consider this kind of stuff or just shrug off its value. At first, it perhaps doesn’t really matter what your design philosophy is, so long as you have one. All that matters is that you’re thinking about why you’re doing what you’re doing and what’s important to you as a person.

Who is Miracle Tea?

Who is Miracle Tea?

It’s 2am in the morning. All of a sudden, I’ve had the urge to start this blog. We’ve been running Miracle Tea for almost 3 years and only now have I had the realisation that keeping a blog might be a productive and healthy thing to do. Better later than never I guess. If you already follow us on twitter you would have had a taste for our work. But this is the place where we’ll be baring all. All the gritty game dev tricks in what into making a Miracle Tea game. All for you. So welcome!

Anyway, hello! I’m Brad, I run Miracle Tea with my buddies Tom and Enrico. They’re lovely. These last few years have been a real trip for us. Here’s some of the highlights of what Miracle Tea have achieved to date:

◆ Won Tranzfuser back in 2016

◆ Launched our first game Ruya – Nov 2nd 2017

◆ Ruya featured in UK, US, China and Australia iOS App Stores

◆ Game of the Show – Game Anglia 2017

◆ 700 twitter followers

◆ Wonderful press coverage

◆ UK Games Fund Awards – They Delivered

◆ UK Games Fund – Round 5 Official Selection

We’re best known in the independent game scene around the UK as the creators of Ruya and have made some wonderful friends in those spaces along the way. Recently, we wrapped up our announce trailer for our new debut game Alula. Check it out…

These next few weeks are going to be intense for our team. We’re currently working up the mvp build in preparation for EGX in October next month. There’s a lot riding on that event for us. We’re competing for funding in Round 5 of the UK Games Fund. Not only does the build have to be solid, so does the way we communicate about it, how the stand looks, and all of our supporting pitch material.

We’ll be throwing up new posts as and when we can, we figured the announcement of Alula would be a good time to start a dialogue about its development. Hope you enjoy the ride!