Realizing potential

by mediocregames

I have a bunch of old colleagues now working at NVIDIA, and one night in January while chatting with James Dolan, I sent him a small screen capture video of our new project. The video was unlisted on youtube, but as James sent the video around internally within NVIDIA, I could see there was a lot of activity as the view count was ticking away. It didn’t take long before we were contacted by an account manager about possible collaboration around the title. Especially the fact Sprinkle requires a powerful CPU catched their attention as devices with their new Tegra 2 chip were just around the corner. Here is the screen capture video I sent James. Here you can also see the point-to-sprinkle control scheme we used at the time:

At the time we were not planning to releasing on Android at all, but after meeting up with the cheerful guys at NVIDIA and they started sending us hardware for testing we just couldn’t resist. Since Sprinkle was already running on Windows, MacOS and iOS it didn’t take that long to make an Android port as well. Only the sound system needed a full rewrite, since Android still doesn’t support OpenAL.

Getting all this attention from NVIDIA made us realize that Sprinkle maybe had more potential than we first thought. Up until now, we were only planning on making a small game for fun, but this was a turning point where we realized Sprinkle could actually be something big. This is also when we decided to start a company around the project. The name “Mediocre” started as a joke, but grew on us and represent our humour really well. Other ideas we had for company name include “Polite Entertainment” and “Considerate Games”.

The name Sprinkle came about relatively early in development. Our first idea was “Squirt”, but after a quick google search we firmly decided against.

While making a trailer for NVIDIA we also started thinking about music. Both Henrik and myself are interested in music and occassionally makes electronic music, but we never felt it was an option to make the Sprinkle music ourselves, especially not now when we were onto something!

We talked to a couple of friends, but their style didn’t feel quite right for the game. I started thinking about a band I listened to many years ago – Swedish indie band “Dr Higgins”, doing a cheerful, electronic pop music with acoustic elements. The band itself was never big, and closed shop over five years. It was even quite hard to find out the members’ names at this time, but finally I stumbled upon an old german interview that revealed who was in the band. One of them had a rather unusual name “Douglas Holmqvist”, so I could easily track him down and found out he happened to live in the same city as myself (Malmö), now being a professional musician. I sent him some video footage asking if he was interested in making the music for Sprinkle, and it didn’t take much convincing before he decided to jump aboard. For the trailer, we got permission to use one of the old Dr Higgins tunes, and here is the final result:

Douglas has also created most of the sounds effects in Sprinkle, including the sound of the Titans. I don’t know how many different types we tried before this current one. We wanted them to sound organic, but not human. Douglas even invited professional actors to do the sounds, but it never felt quite right. The end result is Douglas himself talking through a vocoder with lots of electronic filters. He got the vocoder idea only a week before we had to submit the game, and the result is exactly what we were looking for!

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