Simon Bland in Games


Queen of Code Project Profile: Alice Bowman

Our Queen of Code programme is currently in full swing, with a handful of female game developers heading to Crowdfunder to give their projects a boost.

Applicant Alice Bowman is using the programme to fund her game Star Catcher, an atmospheric point-and-click adventure that takes its inspiration from fairy tales. We talked to her about her game, why she decided to get involved with Queen of Code and how the funding she hopes to receives will help...

Tell us a bit about your games company and how it started…

Well I’m working on this game with Aina Fiol and Mark Bowen, two of my friends who are on the same university course as me. We’re all studying Game Design at the University of East London and we spent all summer working together on different projects and game ideas. When the opportunity for Queen of Code came up I wanted us to work together because I feel like as a team we’ve got a really good balance of skills.

How would you describe your game Star Catcher?

I want Star Catcher to encompass the feeling of a fairy tale. Something sweet and dreamy with undertones of a cautionary tale. In the game you play as a little girl called Eleana, using her you get to explore the Planetarium and the city, discovering fragments of this strange, fantasy Victorian sort of world that Star Catcher is set in.

How did you come up with the idea for the game?

I really wanted to try and create the game equivalent of a fairytale, and I’d had the idea of doing something relating to stars for a while. I was playing with different designs and stories a while ago and I had an idea for a game called Star Hunter; all the stars have disappeared and you are trying to hunt down the last ones, and it kind of evolved from that.

What are the main influences behind the game?

Well, you can probably tell already fairytales were a big one! Steampunk has influenced the style as well, we didn’t want to create a full steampunk setting, but the whole premise of machines being powered by starlight has kind of spawned from that. When I was writing the story I kept trying to think about different children’s stories I’d heard, and what made the sweetest and scariest ones special.

How did you hear about the Queen of Code programme?

I found out about Queen of Code at the Women in Games conference. I was given a free ticket to the conference via my university, and while I was there I was lucky enough to hear about Queen of Code.

What made you want to apply for it and get involved?

I’ve been really inspired by a lot of indie games I’ve seen this summer. I’ve been able to go to a few different conferences and conventions in the last few months, and I’ve seen some of the fantastic games people have been able to make with hard work and a bit of funding. Once I started thinking about how good we could make Star Catcher if we had some funding behind it seemed like Queen of Code would be the perfect way to get that ball rolling.

What do you hope to achieve with the additional funding?

If we get the extra funding from Creative England, or any extra funding, I’d really like to try and take Star Catcher to some conventions, and take the game out for people to play it. I’d love to be able to take Star Catcher to some local schools and potentially talk to kids about how they can get involved in game making and technology.

How do you feel crowd funding has changed the way games studios operate?

I think it’s given developers a lot more freedom, and it’s definitely shifted the barrier between players and developers in a good way. I think it’s wonderful that fans of a game can be so personally involved in its development.

You’ve mentioned that you’d like to use the funding to hire an artist – how do you feel this will improve the game?

My vision for Star Catcher is for it to play like the game version of a beautiful children’s book. Each “page” of the game or scene will have a beautiful piece or artwork accompanying the gameplay and story. Apart from making the game look gorgeous, I’m also hoping this will make Star Catcher more accessible - to players of all ages, players who maybe don’t consider themselves gamers in the traditional sense, and players who respond more to visual stimuli.

You made the game using Stencyl – what benefits did this offer your project?

We’re all very familiar with Stencyl so it made sense to choose it for Star Catcher, but aside from that it was also a good choice because Stencyl is open-source, it’s free for anyone to download and use and it’s easy to learn. What we want players to be able to do with Star Catcher, is download the stencyl file and make their own additions to the game, build on it in whatever ways they want to or completely change it. If that then inspires some of our players to use Stencyl to make games of their own that would be amazing.

Eventually users will be able to change your game – are you excited to see what they’ll do?

Really excited! I really hope our players will have fun remaking the story and the game in whatever way they want to, and it’ll be great to see what people do with Star Catcher.

Where do you see your Star Catcher in 12 months time?

In 12 months time I’d like Star Catcher to have been online and available for anyone to play for free for quite a while, I also want the Stencyl file to be available so people can use Stencyl to make their changes to Star Catcher. What I’d like to do is create some tutorials or a guide for people new to Stencyl, and hopefully have some kind of forum where people can share their versions of Star Catcher and talk about the game and what they’ve created with it.

Visit the Crowdfunder page for Star Catcher here.

Find out about other games funding opportunities by visiting our games page

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