If you’ve got a PSP, and you’ve checked out the new Minis services, chances are you’ll have played a Honeyslug game. Its launch title for the service, the claymation-styled puzzler Kahoots, is one of the consistently highest rated games on the platform.
Honeyslug was founded in 2008 after its three staff – Ricky Haggett, programmer; Nat Marco, artist and star of this month’s 30 Under 30 (see page 27); and Mark Inman, producer/PR – worked together at Eidos satellite Morpheme, first on mobile phone games before being refocused on download casual and flash games. After Eidos shut the studio in 2008, the three of them decided to stick together and set up Honeyslug.
Given the small size of the company, they all have an almost equal hand in pretty much everything that’s done by the company. “The three of us share business development and high-level decisions,” says Inman, “and we each take differing shares of game design and art direction on a per-game basis.”
While the lo-fi nature of the studio might seem restricting, the trio actually believe that it helps them: “We’ve found that it’s actually no harder to charm someone with a game, make them laugh even, on a shoestring budget. In fact, it’s possibly easier, because the limitations seem to make us more creative. This was definitely the case with Kahoots, where we had an art budget of £35, and bought all kinds of stuff from Kentish Town high street to scan or photograph, made characters from plasticine and wool, and drew the interface with felt tips.”
The team also makes heavy use of freelancers in order to keep output high. “We work with different artists on different games – starting Honeyslug has given us the chance to work with some very talented friends of ours on a freelance basis, as well as finding new artists on the internet. Ricky’s brother Rob does all our sound and music, as well as patiently recording us pretending to be zombies, or dinosaurs, or whatever it happens to be that week.”
This use of freelance resources makes Honeyslug’s London location all the more useful, given the wealth of creative types within the M25’s boundaries, says Inman: “Much of the UK games industry is within an hour of the capital these days, which makes it easy for people to visit us for a chat.
“Kentish Town is a pretty easy place to get to, and this accessibility has proved useful in establishing some of our key relationships - Sony are just down the road for example, and one of our publishers is based in Kent.”
And while 2009 might have been a great year for Honeyslug, 2010 is looking even better: the studio’s first DS game is nearing release, as well as some
new versions of Kahoots.
Adds Inman: “We’re also aiming to expand our team – modestly – with the intention of polishing up a couple of our more ‘out there’ prototypes.”
Number of staff: 3 core members and various freelance artists and musicians
Location: Kentish Town, North London
Previous projects: Kahoots (PSP & Flash), Ric Rococo: International Art Thief (Flash & iPhone), My Pet Dinosaur (PC), Flora’s Fruit Farm (PC), Glean of Glob (Flash), Balloon Headed Boy (Flash & iPhone) and Keep Ahead (Flash)
Currently working on: An adventure game on DS and PC, more versions of Kahoots, a zombie game set in Hollywood.