FranknJohn is going to Eurogamer!

We're gonna be at the world-famous Eurogamer Expo on the 25th-28th of September - That's Thursday till Sunday folks! Look for us in the Indie Chillout Zone, right next to 'Volume' by Mike Bithell and Tom Francis' new game.

We'll be showing off our swanky new level generation and new ways to pick up skullcaps!

Click here to get EGX tickets if they're still available!

Click here to get EGX tickets if they're still available!

So do come by and give us a holler! We're the guys wearing FranknJohn T-shirts (or if those don't arrive in time, FranknJohn badges :P) Seeya there!


FranknJohn is now live on Kickstarter!

Hey you! We have put together a handy guide for all things Kickstarter. We would greatly appreciate your support, whether it is a pledge, or simply spreading the word.

What is Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for all sorts of creative projects. In return for a pledge, you get cool rewards. It is also gives us the opportunity to build a community.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for £30,000 / $50,000 / €37,000. We are also looking to build our community to help us create the best game we can make.

How to support us?

Hop on over to our Kickstarter page, hit the big green 'Pledge' button on the right-side of the page and select the tier that tickles your fancy, or enter a custom amount. When you proceed to the payment step, either login with Facebook or create a new account.

When does Kickstarter charge my card?

You do NOT pay anything up front. The money is only taken from your card IF the campaign is successful. On the payment screen, you will see the date at which the payment will be taken, if we are successful.

Thank you,

bitSmith Games

Community voting begins

Hello you! We have a favour to ask, you see, we want to make sure that we are making things just right for you. You know, exactly how you like it, Goldilocks style.

To make sure we do this, we are going to be turning to the communty to help us make important decisions and we are starting right now. Very soon, we will be launching a Kickstarter for FranknJohn, and we need your help picking the most glorious of rewards, the backer exclusive T-Shirt. 

Bellow is a series of rough concepts. Jump in to our forums and let us know your favourite. In 24 hours, the most popular one will be developed by Grand Art Magus Bas in to a wonderful piece of cotton beauty.

These are rough concepts, indicative of the final design, which will probably not be pink.

Indie game devs! Put your game into our game!

Oh indie games, how we love you. Little parcels of love and art and bytes and bits. We want to play you. We want to be near you! We want you to be IN us!

Wait, that sounded wrong, let me back up.










Right now we a hard at work on FranknJohn, our own little indie cake. It’s a game with HUNDREDS of power-ups that we call Skullcaps. These Skullcaps change the game in all sorts of ways, some simple (a demons head that shoots fireballs), some strange (a space ship that warps you to a random point in the level) and some insane (a sentient bomb, that if disturbed, will destroy the universe). Designing and building them is the most fun part of making the game, but we want more.

We want you!

It doesn’t matter how weird and different your game is. It doesn’t matter that you are making a twine text adventure, we want to make it in to a Scull Cap!

Sound good?
Send us a Tweet and we’ll take it from there!

Let’s make something weird together!

Dont call it a Comeback!


We're still here! Things have been quiet here in blogland, take it as a sign that we have been busy! Not just a sign, we have been busy! So lets fill you all in on the latest.

FranknJohn Announcement!

Just in case you weren't able to attend State of Play last Friday, we announced who would be making the music for FranknJohn, and it is... drumroll please ...


Ben Prunty! Yes, he of FTL fame!

Surprise! I'm making the music for roguelike twin-stick brawler FranknJohn! Follow @bitSmithGames for more info.

— Ben Prunty (@benprunty) November 29, 2013

We are super excited to hear what he comes up with, and we'll share anything we can as soon as possible!

Media Coverage

If you missed it earlier today - we just had an awesomewrite up in Eurogamer, but we've had a fewmoreover the course of the last few months. Check 'em.


We've submitted FranknJohn to the IGF. Wish us luck! We also were picked as one of Indie Statik's 50 Very Cool IGF 2014 Entries That We’ve Never Heard Of BatCat's Honourbound got a mention too!

EuroGamer Expo

At the end of September the team packed up our bags and headed over to the immense Earls Court to show off FranknJohn as part of the EuroGamerExpo. We were right beside the Chaos Engine (my 12 year old self doesn't believe me!):


It was fantastic to have so many people come and play the game, definitely the most exposure we've had to date!


So at the moment we are putting the finishing touches to the second area of FranknJohn, the Garden of Denial, and preparing ourselves for a Kickstarter campaign, starting in February! Head over to and add your email to the mailing list to be notified of the campaign.


So Ku is still hanging about on Greenlight, but we have now (thanks to your help, as well as Valve speeding things up a bit!) broken into the top 100! Thanks for your support - if you haven't voted yet, then do so immediately! Ku on Greenlight

That's all the news for now, here's Morrigan with the weather




June is an action-packed month for the bitSmithers, with three!! fun filled events taking place across the month. Starting off with ETOO, which took place in London during the 10th - 13th, this event was pegged as the 'indie gaming alternative' to the all consuming E3. We we're lucky enough to be selected alongside the likes of Gunpoint, Tengami and more awesome indie games, to show off FranknJohn. Basil and Ralph enjoyed it very much. They even got to discuss the game on livestream which we'll post it if it's made available. This event is one to watch for the future! Oh, we also had our first hands-on write up -

Next up, this coming Saturday and Sunday, we will be demoing FranknJohn at REZZED, a 'PC and Indie Game Show' ran by the lovely folks at Eurogamer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The whole team will be making the trip and we're so very excited to be exposing the game to such a large audience, not to mention getting some hands on time with some of our most anticipated games.

Courtesy of the fine folk at Gambitious, we will be at REZZED under the same banner as some seriously high profile games ;)

Tickets are still available -, so if you're in the area and can make it, we'd love to see you there. We also have a fun competition we'll be running across the 2 days.

Last but not least, to round out the crazy month, is Q-CON in Belfast, taking place between 28-30 of June. It's Irelands largest Annual Gaming & Anime Convention, where our bearded hero Owen will be taking to the stage to talk about some things along with a public demo of FranknJohn. Get your tickets here - Come and say hi :)

Hope to see you guys at either REZZED or Q-CON!

Over and out,


dubLUDO, a new event about gameplay and testing

Hey there guys. I want to let you know about something I am very passionate about. Play. I love playing and playing games. I love our little dev scene here in Ireland and it's wonderful to see it grow each year, every event I go to I am wowed by a new team or an idea. But something has been missing from our smorgasbord of  gatherings and meetings and that has been play. IMG_0986

If I want to find a job, or get investment, or meet new team mates, or get better at coding, or find a course, there are events for me. But until now there has been nothing to address the fun and play in our creations. I am trying to change that with dubLUDO.


dubLUDO is a semi-organised event where people bring their early stage prototypes and works in progress and get other designers and developers to play them. You play other games and give (hopefully) helpful feedback. You get people to play your game and get to hear all the worst things about it. That is scary, but great and completely necessary. Its wonderful that we have been so supportive and kind to each other these last few years, but we are getting older and stronger now, and we need this to get better.

The other big danger in our community is stagnation. There is very little game design experience in Ireland and while we have been making rapid advancements we could well plateau this year. Without senior experienced artisans to turn to for advice we must embrace and be open to each other. We must lay bare our process, thoughts and methods, so that we might all learn and benefit. dubLUDO can be a forum for such discussion.

We must also look next door, to out highly experienced neighbors  The UK, Scandinavia and mainland Europe is bristling with talent and experience and many of them would love an excuse to come to Dublin and meet some nice smart folks. We must engage with them, they are so close and have so much to teach us.

Finally, we must broden the discussion. Right now there are people making amazing games in Ireland that we know nothing about. Weird, crazy, mad things. I want to play them. I want to learn from them. I want to find these hidden folk and bring them into the discussion and community. We need them.

So if you are making something please bring it along. Don't be scared that is is rough and broken. That's the point! And if you know one of those mad tinkerers please point them our way.

Let us play.

Dublin Charity GameCraft time


Hello all! While we all wait with bated breath for Apple to accept Ku: Shroud of the Morrigan, instead of boring all your (ex) friends about voting for Ku on Greenlight, why not spend your time (and money) on a wholly more worthy cause. MINCE PIES!

Oh and yes, the ISCPCA will be the beneficiary of the first annual Charity Gamecraft! You can watch us all slack off via a live stream, and can donate all day for this worthy cause.

Oh and did I mention that you get all the games we make? Plus our all-too-altruistic office mates BatCat Games will also be throwing in codes for their awesome twin-stick shooter P-3: Biotic.

Here's the full line-up of Devs taking part:

See you all tomorrow through the webcam!

bitSmith Adventurez


We recently had some transition year students here in bitSmith Towers (namely Noah Donnelly and Tom Harris ), and while they were here they decided to put us all to shame by creating and releasing a whole game. In a week. Retires. That game, 'bitSmith Adventurez' has now been  uploaded to Static Void games for you to play. It would seem nudity and burritos are a good mix, as it is also the featured game over there at the moment.

You can play it here


Final Weeks

Hey Game Bloggers!

We are coming up to launch, so close we're sick of saying so close, but we are. So with that in mind, if you write for a games company, or keep your own blog, we would love to hear from you - we will answer most questions - just get in contact with us. We have multiple lines of communication open, including via our website, Facebook, Twitter, skywriting. We'd also love to know what you would like in your ideal press pack, telling you about the game. We probably can't do what Diablo III did but still, some cool collectables are definitely possible.

For all you non-game bloggers, are you ever interested in finding out more stuff? I was not aware of some of the sites that existed out there - some are really insightful. Here are a few we love:

Rock Paper Shotgun


Edge Magazine

GameLife on

What Games Are



Game Developer Magazine

Video Games Blogger

Giant Bomb 

Sexy Video Game Land

That Game Company 

There are likely loads more that we aren't aware of, but these are a great start.


We are preparing our giveaway. Can't say much as yet, but it's amazing. It's an object from the game, one that is very close to Kú himself. Can you guess it? You can if you want but that's not how you're going to win it. We'll announce everything on our Facebook, both for bitSmith Games and .

Greenlight updates

We still need those likes and attention! If you or any of your friends are on Steam, give us an old like. Let us join the ranks of Black Mesa, Project Zomboid, and others. Incidentally, good job, guys. That's quite awesome.

Baz will be throwing up an in-depth analysis of the Greenlight process and evolution (it's quite exciting being in it from its beginnings).

Here's one of the cut scenes from the game - pretty cool stuff!


It's not just Rooster Teeth who can do podcasts. Tonight it's all stars night: us, BatCat Games, Paddy Murphy from 2PaperDolls, Lee Cullen from, and maybe some mystery guests. Who knows? We're kooky that way. Either way, more details will be up on our social networking sites, so watch this space.


Coming in November - start getting your teams together! Even though you are meant to start it there, and come up with the ideas on your own, and you do, it's a good idea to find a team in advance, know what each are like - where their strengths are and where the idea will go with them on board. Even knowing a bit of code that can do basic things (most themes are fairly inclusive, so knowing how to construct a hitting or running mechanic, for example, in advance, probably wouldn't hurt). It's more like training for it, if you don't create games that often.


Some of the comments we get are like abstract anarchist poetry. Oh (spam)bots. We do love you. We love how you are always thinking of things we may like, such as designer shoes, and presenting it in such a creative way. Your little messages brighten up our day, and the sad truth is, because your comments are so special to us, we simply are too selfish to publish them and thus share them with the world. We hope you understand. Hopefully you will find less stupid hosts at some point. Who knows, maybe they will buy your EXCITING(*)PRODUCTS. End transmission.

Add More Pretty!!


At bitSmith Games we like to think of Kú as having a bit of a unique visual style. We've worked really hard on this to try and make something people will like to look at and appreciate! This gives us a unique problem. As the artist on Kú, I need to try to be as consistent and on top of the art quality as much as possible. However, being a relatively new artist, I'm constantly learning more and more and trying to get better each day. This means assets built a long time ago, especially before our trip to GDC (which taught us so much) sometimes do not make the cut for the current visual standard of the game - I've had to remake many of the assets, and many many more have been cut entirely as not being up to scratch!

For example, take a look at these before and after shots. This is the same room, but we think the newer version is much more suited to the overall look of the game!

The old version of the Troll encounter


The updated version of the same troll encounter


The improvements are all a mix of improved level design, improved assets and a lighting pass that I'll expand on.  The less cluttered look of the second screen not only increases the visual impact of the centre-piece of the room, it also has the practical function of allowing more space for combat manoeuvres.

One of the massive visual changes we think has made a huge difference is our special, one-of-a-kind, patented, super-high-tech lighting engine :D . Our lighting engine is extremely simple. Its essentially an overlay of dark areas that do not cover the areas that should have light shining or glowing in/on them. Its like painting using shadows! Below is an early concept testing out the idea.

Lighting Mockup

With a smooth gradient, this trick does a surprisingly convincing job of simulating lighting. Its not foolproof - we have to remember to limit the contrast between areas, or we'd get bits where Kú's hair is in shadow but his feet are brightly lit, which just looks weird..

However, it adds a surprising amount of atmosphere to an area. When painting or drawing, one of the things the experts always emphasise is lighting. If you get the lighting right, it can be one of the strongest visual effects in a piece. Below is a picture of an area without a lighting pass.


Cave area - No lighting


It's not too bad, the assets look alright next to each other and the scene is coherent. However, it feels a little bit flat. The lighting levels are too similar. But when we add a lighting pass, the scene takes on a little more life, as seen below.


Cave area - Lighting Added


We think there is a vast improvement in the second scene! We can even add in "light" - when Kú passes under the lightshaft seen in the picture, he seems to brighten up - again, its just a simple overlay! Light overlaying is a bit more difficult, however, as it can draw a lot of contrast away from a scene, so we try to limit its use.

So we're currently in the process of updating all our scenes to include lighting and assets, while adding in a few things here and there - stay tuned for more, and for any questions regarding this or any other topic, yell at us on our Facebook page or on Twitter, where all of us check in regularly!

bitSmith Games being social, getting into the flow, launches! Pride!


Being social

This past week has been a bit more lively in terms of letting collective hair down. At the moment, it's a pretty exciting time for games in Ireland. Indie dev meetups are springing up all over the place, Scratch has really taken off in schools all over Ireland, Coder's all happening. This week, however, was the launch of the Digit Game Studios, a new warehouse studio in Dublin, off Pearse Street. Not only is it built of sturdy enough stone to ward off any potential zombie/raptor invasion, it has whiteboard arches. (This might be just me being easily impressed and wanting to be allowed write on walls.)

The founders, CEO Richard Barnwell, CMO Martin Frain, Art Director Fergus Duggan, and David McGovern have all worked previously in places such as Jolt, Atari, EA, Popcap, Swordfish Studios, Monumental Games, and others.

It was a most excellent event, beginning in the studios where we could move from room to room and admire all (including the metal sculpture of Alien in the lift). From there, we moved on to Ely wine bar for more of feeling trendy and like Ireland is about to become an indie games hub.

That wasn't the only event this week, though. The Lombard Bar on Pearse Street was hosting an informal get-together of game developers and interested parties on Friday. A good place to meet people in a very low-pressure setting, and to meet the people from forums (hopefully to the good). If you would like to get further involved in the scene, this is one of the less-pressure ways. Best idea is to keep an eye on the Game Developers Calendar and hit up the forums while you're at it.

Another launch is that of Simple Lifeforms' iPad game Vampire Cities - the Kickstarter. Worth checking out!

All in all, a busy week, but all managed to get some serious work done at the same time. Our team can party AND code. Winning formula. This week...


We've been showcasing our levels design so far but here's a gorgeous image of our bull. Part puzzle, part scene, all amazing, and you'll find out more when you play it.

We're also working on making all the elements that we have been perfecting individually flow together, it's really getting there. Attacks and arenas, navigation, creatures, they're all coming, just watch this space. Also keep an eye on our tumblr blog for other cool stuff. We're thinking of other giveaways to put up on the blog, random based competitions. Is there anything you'd really like to win, that we haven't thought of before? Let us know!


We're working on putting together a trailer at the moment. It's really exciting, a wholly different kind of design in many ways. There are some great videos on GDC Vault about how to make a successful games trailer - it has to be different from a game, from an interview, from a normal trailer. The iPad game trailer is a genre unto itself in many ways. One amazing one is Swords and Sworcery. So many decisions to be made for such a seemingly short one. There are some fairly exciting possibilities regarding the music. Watch this space!


bitSmith Games had our own contribution to the colourful weekend that was Pride Dublin. Pride! Hope anybody who was at it had a blast.

bitSmith Games Pride

Tune in next week for more shenanigans, and see some more cool stuff!

End Transmission

Combat! Dialogue! RAAARGHH!



We're mostly focusing on combat mechanics at the moment at bitSmith Games, it's really shaping up! Each member works on a different move of Kú - spins, rolls, what weapons or attacks he gets, learns and uses. It's really exciting stuff, and you learn each move as you go along. The more you explore, the more you learn! They're really shaping up visually, too, the feedback you can get from certain attacks is top-notch.


At the moment we're working on dialogue - what characters speak, when they do, and whether that tells you anything. You can be sure that they certainly won't tell you everything - even throughout the game. If everything is explained, it's no fun.

It's definitely going to be interesting - the fact that the game is based on the legend of Cú Chulainn means that hints from the story, design aesthetic and even old texts could be explored. There's so much scope for development! (Which can mean that sometimes the decisions made exclude some really cool stuff. Of course, that stuff isn't cut out forever, it could be in the next episode.) We had the talented John Conway in and talked through a load of possibilities, it's going to be very exciting.


Last week we showed you one of our settings - the cave. This week, the lake!

Ku at the Lake

Some of the animations may feature next week. Keep an eye out for our arena - that's our next challenge. Arenas tend to feature attacks in waves - different kinds of enemies that escalate in number and ferocity as time goes on. Kú mainly explores places so an arena is going to be a shift from the explore-puzzle-boss game-play that mainly features.


We've mentioned it before, but definitely keep an eye on our tumblr. Any articles, artwork, competitions, things like that, will feature on it, as well as here. Edge magazine has some really interesting work on games genres, for example, and it's a great place to find out who we like, as well as inspiration, other amazing game devs, all that.

End Transmission.

The bits: a pounding hammer of news from bitSmith Games


Hey guys. A huge amount has happened over the last few weeks. We have been deep in the final stage of production and building out the last few areas of Kú. I am having computer problems today, so what better time to write a blog post and fill you in on what has been going on and where we are at.


I managed to fulfill a life goal and attend GDC in San Francisco. In fact we all did. The full bitSmith Games crew headed over and dove in to GDC. It was absolutely amazing! I got to meet many of my personal heroes, other indie developers and industry experts of every flavor.

Perhaps the most important is that we got a lot of people to play the game. The feed-back there was hugely helpful and encouraging, and we have since incorporated some key nuggets in to the game.

bitSmith Games meets Notch at GDC


Earlier this year we embarked in the epic form filling quest of CSF application. In case you don't know, the CSF or Competitive Start Fund, is an amazing initiative from Enterprise Ireland, that provides promising start-ups with funding and mentoring to accelerate their growth.

We were one of the lucky 15 to be picked this round. The money is going to make a huge difference to our development and launch, we are investigating the possibility of bringing Kú to the PC and Mac and we will have a marketing budget in place for launch.

Fund It

Going on Fund It was fantastic, we have written about it here before. What is exciting is that all the rewards have either arrived or are on their way. Once every thing is in we will be holding a thank you event and sending it all out. Woo woo!

Kú is almost done! Well almost almost. We will be hitting Alpha at the end of next week. From there we will be spending the next few weeks, testing, balancing and polishing. We'll also be producing a trailer that we are all super excited to share with the world.

New Smiths

We are growing. Paul, our level designer extraordinaire, has joined us full time, forsaking his XtraVision overlords! Whats more, Robby Becker of Free Wheel Games has joined us part time to pitch in on the code. This has had a HUGE impact on productivity. We are actually ahead of schedule. Its amazing and we are lucky to be able to work with such talented people.

bitSmith's Fund it Whirlwind


As you may or may not know we have been running a Fund it campaign for the last week and a bit. For those of you that don't know, is an Irish crowd funding website in a similar vein to kickstarter. So about two weeks ago we decided to put our rewards caps on and drafted up a rather large board of delicious bitSmithish rewards. Five days later and many many many reward changes, we were up on fundit and ready to see if anyone actually was bothered with us at all.

Cue frantically checking my phone every twenty minutes to see if anyone had donated, followed an hour later with some relief that we had raised €100 from five people (phew!). Checking back four hours later, was a nice surprise as we had been boosted to the 400 mark. Half eleven rolls around and we are all collectively floored by the figure. €1,000. In five hours. WTF? It's a glitch right? Apparently not. By Monday afternoon we'd hit our target of €2,000.

So here we sit, a week in and 125% funded. It was a bit of a roller coaster of disbelief and gratitude, but then - it's not over yet! According to Fund it we are the first game to be funded on the site, and the second fastest funded project ever on the site! All thanks to you guys out there in internet land. We have raised enough to send ourselves over to GDC, and we thank you so much.

Here's the But...


We are going to continue to push our campaign, and hopefully you guys can help us boost ourselves up to a self-sustaining indie studio (I'm getting a bit sick of koka noodles tbh :-P). We are now aiming to get the funds up to €3,000 at which point we will be able to afford some audio equipment that previously has been begged, borrowed, and yes, sometimes even stolen! (em well not really, maybe dropped back a bit late once or twice). If we hit that figure we'll have another special little something for all our contributors!

Also if we hit €4,000 we will be able to send someone over to PAX East to present the game to the general public, and help announce ourselves on the world stage! We'll see if we can make it this far, and if we do I'm sure we can dream up some kind of awesome extra reward for our funders!

bitSmith loves... 3D Buzz

3D BuzzThere are many great resources out there to teach you how to make games, but my favourite is 3D Buzz. So far, the good folk there have taught me Unity3D, Unreal 2, UDK and XNA. Their range of topics is huge, and the best part is, much of it is completely free. When I get a bit of free time over Christmas I am looking forward to dipping in to the new ZBrush and Photoshop series.

The format is informal video tutorials with a lot of chit-chat and banter. The style will not suit everyone, but for me its perfect. If you would like to learn how to make games, or you are looking to add a new skill to your repertoire, I encourage you to check them out.

A howdy, and a note on the website

Hello there!

As this is my first post on the blog I guess I should formally introduce myself - hello, I'm Ralph Croly and I'll be working on the research, puzzle design, UI and sound design for the game.

As resident web designer my first job was to design and build this spiffy new blog that you are currently reading, I have designed and built many websites and blogs before (you can see some on my website pluggy pluggy! apologies if it's a little stagnant - I haven't had a chance to update it in a while), so I decided to use this site as a chance to test out some of the newer technologies that are beginning to emerge; namely HTML 5 and CSS3.

With new technology comes great er, responsivity?

As with any new technology it takes time for the community to get to grips with it, and to figure out the best practices and pit-falls. HTML 5 and CSS3 bring us a whole host of new features; better semantics, the promise of better cross device support, and better media support. As a front-end developer type the stuff that most interests me is the new @font face CSS feature, which allows the simple embedding of non-standard fonts into a website. Look at the post header up there, it's an example of this technique in practice. Font Squirrel Is a fantastic resource for this technique.

Another excellent feature of this new technology is media queries. With their use it is easy to deliver different styles to different devices, just with a little bit extra CSS enclosed in a media query. As this is a blog about the development of an iPad game, it made sense to me to optimise the site for each category of device. Try it! If you are looking at this on your computer, try resizing the window and see what happens (If you are on Internet Explorer 8 or below, I'm afraid this isn't going to work for you. Anyway, cop on and download Firefox or Chrome will you!? At least Internet Explorer 9...). If you're on an iPad, change the orientation and see what happens. Magic!

This is the first time I've employed this technique, so there are bound to be a few hiccups and inconsistencies - there are just so many internet enabled devices out there it is impossible to test on them all. I used the excellent Skeleton Framework and a bit of guidance from the wonderful A List Apart's book Responsive Web Design. Here's the original post on responsive web design

If you have any comments, notice any bugs, problems on certain devices or want to put me down, please leave a comment!