A great video of the Brighton Mini Maker Faire last year by Andrew Sleigh showing the making of You’re The Boss 2. Applications for this year’s Maker Faire are now open and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with this year!
A week ago over 5000 people streamed through the foyer of the Brighton Dome to see and build hundreds of amazing things at the first Brighton Mini Maker Faire. Luke and I went along with 2 laptops, a scanner and a pile of pens, paper, glue and scissors to make a video game with what felt like most of those 5000 people.
We arrived at 9:30 in the morning and were still working out how to plug out laptop in to the big plasma screen when the doors opened at 10:00. From then until the doors closed at 17:00 our table was a tornado of cutting, gluing, drawing and colouring as dozens of children and adults dived in to the task of drawing bosses for our shoot ‘em up with wild abandon. For a while my picture scanning, data wrangling and game copying efforts kept up with the stream of submissions and people were delighted to see their creations flying around on the big screen within minutes of their creation. Soon enough though, the stream turned in to a deluge and by midday I had a sizable backlog of pictures to process.
Despite working non-stop all day with only a 20 minute break to grab a milk shake and have a quick look around I ended up with a backlog of dozens of pictures at the end of the day. At that point another problem emerged: the game is designed to slowly get harder at each level, but with so many bosses to add the game would get impossibly hard before half of the bosses were seen. Realizing that I had a lot more work to do before the game would be finished I released an initial version at the end of the faire and collapsed in an exhausted heap at the after party.
All of this is by way of being a long winded explanation as to why “You’re The Boss 2” wasn’t finished a week ago. Last night I finally got around to scanning in all of the remaining images, tweaked the difficulty curve to make it possible to get to the end and released “You’re The Boss 2 Extended” which can now be downloaded here.
Despite being one of the most exhausting days of my life, it was also one of the most enjoyable. It was incredibly rewarding seeing dozens of children and adults alike delighting in creating something fun together and watching Thomas Truax perform with his DIY instruments while talking to a professional gingerbread house maker made for a truly magical end to the day. I’m very proud to have been part of the first ever Brighton (not-so) Mini Maker Faire and look forward to taking part in many more (although I might bring along a friend to help next time!).
I hope you enjoy playing You’re The Boss 2 as much as we enjoyed making it.
Since moving to Brighton 18 months ago I’ve been pretty busy finding my feet, moving house twice, sorting out schools and setting up Linden Lab Brighton, so I haven’t had as much time to make music as I’d have liked. It hasn’t helped that my brother Roo, who collaborated with me on Vanishing Trick has gone from being a medical student to an opthalmologist, so has been pretty busy too.
I’ve still been reading create digital music though, so couldn’t resist buying Luke a copy of Korg DS-10 for his birthday just before Christmas. It’s a great piece of software that reminds me a lot of ReBirth (which is now free!) — the same infectious acid sounds and a fun interface that you can’t resist tweaking. Within hours Luke was coming up with screaming synth noises that would have made the Chemical Brothers proud, so I told him that when he had a track finished we could record it on to the computer, add some more sounds and make a CD.
30 minutes later I had Luke to thank for finally convincing me to unpack my bag of midi and audio cables for the first time since we rolled up in Brighton. While adding bits to Lukes DS-10 and Electroplankton creations, I took the opportunity to finally play around with Ableton Live properly and was completely bowled over. It’s one of those pieces of software that as a software engineer you can’t help admiring. It makes you want to use it and turns the complex process of sequencing and producing music in to joyful fun. I’d been a Cubase user for 10 years, but I’m not going back.
Over Christmas I put together a Live rig that lets me use my ancient Yamaha MFC05 MIDI controller to switch between drum beats, record guitar loops and automatically switch between effects settings without touching the computer. With some tweaking I’m going to get it to do the same for my Nord Modular and switch patches on both the Nord and my POD allowing me to quickly record, compose, arrange and perform music from 5 foot pedals. I’ve also got ITM set up on my iPhone which I’m planning to mount on my guitar giving me a wireless X/Y touchpad that can control any number of Ableton parameters.
I also finally got round to playing around with circuit bending for the first time. Last Christmas Roo got me a reissue Stylophone, which is a fun toy, but whenever I read about circuit bending online I kept thinking it would be fun to try connecting the headphone output of the stylophone to the MP3 input. In the end it only took an hour or so of poking around inside the Stylophone while telling Luke about electronics to find some bend points that turn the mild mannered Stylophone in to a wailing banshee of feedback distortion that’s more Hendrix than Harris. The modded Stylophone is shown below and I’ve added annotations to a picture of the opened up Stylophone on Flickr that shows the points that I connected. If you’d like to hear the evil sounds it makes there are a selection of Creative Commons licensed samples on Freesound, but I advise turning the volume down and using headphones if you give them a listen.
It’s great to be having fun making music again. Thanks Luke and Roo!