Zazie and Analog Defender

Analog Defender at Game Developers Conference

March 24, 2014

Alexander (AKA droqen) and I were super-pleased to hear that our eccentric space alien zapping game Analog Defender had been accepted into Ctrl.Alt.GDC 2014. This was the first year for this showcase of non-standard game interfaces at the massive GDC conference in San Francisco.

With ridiculously short timelines I set out to completely rebuild the hardware (I wrote up some build notes with more behind the scenes detail). The original was too big, heavy and potentially flaky to travel to SF without me there to nurse it through. We shuffled some elements around and Alexander rebuilt the game to take some of the heads-up-display elements that had been in the console itself in v1. It all came together with about 20 minutes to spare. I was very fortunate in this crazy optimistic project that Idée, my generous hosts for the build, have not only a laser cutter equipped maker space but also a secret nap room.

The response to the game at GDC was pretty great. I wasn’t there in person, but the view I got through Twitter made all the work worthwhile and triggered some ideas for version 3…

@pdinnen @AnalogDefender @droqen You two made something really cool.
2014-03-21 2:46 PM


@AnalogDefender it takes a special kind of insanity to make a game that controls like a modular synthetizer. Definitely a good one.
2014-03-20 8:00 PM

Ben Serviss made a nice mini-vid of Analog Defender in action. Ars Technica features us in a gallery of the exhibit and described AD as being akin to the POTUS’ portable nuclear control system. Engadget had these kind words:

The wooden control board for Analog Defender looks more like a missile control console than video game, but it had our attention right away. The complicated array of arcade buttons, protected toggles and switches control a complex Space Invaders clone, tasking players with managing power, weapon modes and special attacks by frantically mashing buttons and changing analog input plugs. The learning curve is steep, but the novelty of the controller makes it an easy climb — the experience is fresh, despite the game’s nostalgic familiarity.

So, long story short. We were at GDC and it was great.

I’d like to thank my Mum and…

On every project there are always a bunch of people to be thankful to and I’m working on being more explicit in my thankfulness.  So, in pretty much random order, I would like to thank:

Jonathan Guberman for his early technical advice and generous offers of help when timelines and my sanity were very much in question;

Mark Argo and Ann Poochareon from Aesthetec for use of their wood-shop (try mounting flangeless threaded inserts without a pillar drill);

Pearl Chen for the loan of her vinyl cutter machine;

Leila Boujnane and Paul Bloore from Idée for their patient support, laser cutter, space and delicious muesli;

Superbrothers and David Bouchard for early advice and support (I still come back to Craig’s early concept art, aiming to one day work that level of fun and design out of the control panel);

Em McGinley for amazing facilitation of the Peripherals Initiative (while under fire);

Peter Kuplowsky for producing the unusually nice trailer for Analog Defender Mark 1;

TIFF and Hand Eye Society in the persons of Nick Pagee, Jim Munroe and others for powering the original Peripherals Initiative where Analog Defender was born;

GamerCamp for providing an inspiring space to show AD Mk1.

Ryan Roth for carrying AD mkII to GDC (taking it through airport security for the first time);

John Polson and GDC for creating the wonderful Alt.Ctrl exhibit;

And of course: droqen for sharing the loony early vision for Analog Defender (then Analog Fetish) and co-creating this beast.

Even after that list I have a feeling I’m forgetfully missing people that are owed thanks. Really, thank you to everyone who helped Analog Defender come to life. It’s been a fun ride and we’re not done yet.

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