Robert Hornbek

Game Development & Exploration

Archive for the ‘Kernips’ Category

These are a series of articles showing the process of developing a game concept utilizing a fresh idea of my own. This category was originally called Garden Dreams, but due to the name change for the concept it will now be titled Kernips.

Kernips: Not Dead!

Posted by rHornbek on February 1, 2011

Alas it is February and Kernips has not been released to the general public, and here is why:

Near the end of our production (some time in December) key contributors to the project fell on hard time and had to allocate their time to more life saving activities, such as making enough money to eat!  This drastically reduces our ability to complete the game at the level of quality we would have liked.

So we had to make a decision, to ultimately end development of the game, even in its underdeveloped state (play sad music here).

A month or so later I had my birthday and for my birthday I was given an updated version of the game!

New Art Oh My!

There are a few outstanding issues that should get addressed, but we are all still dedicated to completing the game… at some point.

On one hand we can view the development of Kernips as a failure, not meeting our final deadline and not making any sort of return.  This is not uncommon to indie project, most of which never get played or completed at all!

On the other hand, we started this project as an experiment with no intention of creating anything great.  But when we discovered the potential that we and the game had we pushed ourselves a little further.

In the end we are happy to have come this far and glad we experienced the pitfalls that we did.

I plan to post more about the state of Kernips as time progresses, but don’t hold your breath.


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Kernips: Almost Mature

Posted by rHornbek on December 7, 2010

It has been far too long since I last reported on the development status of Kernips!  So here are some updates…

We did not raise the total money amount we were hoping during our fund raiser ‘sigh’, but we want to thank everyone who pledged what they could during that time! That of course is the bad news, the good news however is that Kernips will be complete and available to play for the new year!  No, not 2012 after the world ends, but rather January of 2011.  The fact of the matter is, the game will not be available for the iPhone as we were hoping it would be had we raised the necessary amount of money.

Our new art-style is coming along swimmingly!  As you may remember we announced the new art-style with the release of the official Kernips logo, as seen below…

Official Kernips Logo created by Rishon Wagner

But this was just the beginning for the updated art-style.  Rishon has been a busy bee creating new art assets for each of the Kernips, their stages of life and reactions to the elements.



Updated Mature Kernips

The Kernips’ sizes differ in this image, but they are ultimately all the same size when they are mature.


Orange Sprout, Green Bud, Yellow Burning (without Fire) and a Dead Kernip 'cries'

Not all of the new art assets are here, we want to leave some surprises of course!  But I also wanted to introduce the new Fissles…


Fissle Sprout, Bud and Mature states

Soon these nasty guys will be filling your garden causing all sorts of havoc for you and your Kernips.  Make sure to torch these little guys before they get out of hand!

There are a few other goodies such as game modes and stats that you will all just have to wait and see!

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Kernips: Fund Raiser

Posted by rHornbek on September 19, 2010

I have learned two things working on this second video; one is I cannot stand listening to a recording of my own voice and I speak like Michael Weston (Burn Notice) when I describe things haha!

Today (09/19/10) we submitted our project to, a website dedicated to helping investors find projects and visa versa.  If we are accepted to take part on the website, this video will help convey our mission and needs.

We will be offering to anyone who pledges various rewards and incentives, including but not limited to:

  • Credits
  • Free Copy of the Game
  • Art Book
  • P.B. Winterbottom Tee Shirts
  • P.B. Winterbottom XBOX Face Plates
  • BioShock 2 XBOXFace Plates
  • Get your image integrated into the game
  • Sponsor space on the splash screen

Wish us luck stay tuned to learn more!

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Kernips: Gameplay Demo

Posted by rHornbek on September 15, 2010

Take a look at this rough gameplay demo I put together today.  I plan on making a much more thorough demo sooner than later, but this should be a quick fix.  Keep in mind you are basically looking at the skeleton of the game.  Nearly all of our resources are going into adding skin to this monster so that it will be much more presentable.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Kernips: Team Bios

Posted by rHornbek on September 15, 2010

This post in a long time coming and I am glad to finally introduce to you the team working on Kernips!

Robert Hornbek (Me) Game Designer & Project Manager

If you don’t already know me and/or would like to know more about me just visit my ABOUT page here at my blog.

Steve Hornbek (Brother Steve) Artist

“If I could put my mind on paper I would need a lot more napkins to soak up all the blood from my oozing skull. Thinking literally never got me far in creativity. However, I am an artist! We’re different… right?

Succumbed to daily labor, whether it be a screaming face or my own half brained schemes to act as God and create a world best to my liking on paper, I toll each day praying that my hand will be that much better day by day. Each project is a long process full of disappointment and fleeting success. Its like i am searching for the perfect picture, the holy grail of art that I can look at on a wall and feel at peace with the world only to be welcomed by my next failure. Art was never a means of creating the finished product, it is my journey from one failure to the next. Every fingernails worth of led on paper i look at from my own hands is a mark of dissatisfaction in my eyes because it is not what I am truly searching for. This does not stop me though, it is my driving force.

This project is my next legacy in hopes to better my skill and further push myself to the next level of visual satisfaction. What is one days success will soon become foresights mistake. When I am done with this project, perhaps I might have gotten closer to my goal of achieving perfect craftsmanship of paper and pencil. This is my duty, this is my pencil and it wont fall till my skull is restitched and my mind can be shut of its creative juices to rest.” – Brother Steve

R. Steve Warren (2teve) Programmer

“My love for gaming began at a young age when my elder brother introduced me to both videogames and pencil/paper RPGs. My first hand experience with fencing (sword fighting) and study of magick and religions lead me to belive, as a GM/DM, that there could be a better fighting system established for RPGs. After this I began creating my own system for everything that seemed lacking and it eventually bloomed into its own world and set of rules. I hope that one day they could all be implemented into a videogame. As an extension of my anal-retentive nature that became apparent in creating the framework for RPGs, I spent several years learning computer programming. Kernips has thus far been an interesting challenge as this is my first time using ActionScript. In the interest of avoiding a shortened life that tends to befall programmers, I have spent the last 4 years in school learning Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbology).” – 2teve

Stephen Reider (DJ Steve) Composer

“I grew up in California and am now attending law school in Washington. I started writing music in high school as a hobby, and over time it developed into a passion of mine. Although I’m going to law school, I’m also constantly pursuing a career in music. I’m always looking for a good excuse to sit down and write music. Kernips is a great project to be a part of, and I’m looking forward to working with the team in the future as well.” – DJ Steve

Rishon Wagner (Rio) Artist

“I recently graduated from San Jose Sate University with a BFA in animation. I has a very strong background in drawing fundamentals, but I spend most of my time drawing cartoons. I love to create concepts and ideas. Kernips represents a new and interesting challenge for me, designing for games. I enjoy working as part of a team and I am very excited about working on Kernips. My favorite part of the process is when a finished product has been achieved. It is a great feeling to see everyone’s hard work come together.” – Rio

Sonja Just (SQRL) Advertising

“Since I was a little girl I have always gravitated toward the cute, morbid, collecting, goal setting and entertaining video games. I have always been a creative person since as long as I can remember and if I can be a part of a project that entertains people, I’m there! I have a BA in Cinema/Television Arts from California State University Northridge. By profession I am a video editor and I spend much of my time working on web based programming. Kernips is my first experience working on a game and I plan on making it as popular as I can through advertising via video and social media.” – SQRL

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Kernips: FaceBook Page

Posted by rHornbek on September 2, 2010

In case you have not seen the official Kernips logo, here it is!!!

By Uncharted Interactive. Kernips is a puzzle game where users cultivate and grow precocious plants called Kernips. As they mature the Kernips may be plucked from the ground revealing precious gems for points. Points can then be spent to purchase additional Kernip seeds and utilities to further the development of the garden.

However, this post is intended to announce the grand opening of the official Kernips Fan Page on FaceBook!  This is our first attempt outside of my blog to present Kernips to a wider range of the community.  The goal is to develop awareness of the game and hopefully interest.  Later on when we decide to raise some money to bring the project to completion we will have venues to do so… oops spoiler!  Keep you eyes open and spread the word.  Cheers!

Click here to check it out!

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Kernips: Growing

Posted by rHornbek on June 23, 2010

Kernips' art progression... will you be a part of the next step?


If you are interested in working on the Kernips project you are in luck!  We are currently looking for individuals who can collaborate in the following roles…


We are currently seeking an additional artist who can help catch many of the art tasks up with the rest of the team.  The individual with the following traits would be most valuable…

  • Experience Animating
  • Knowledge of Color Theory
  • Familiarity with Adobe Flash would be a great benefit, but not a must.

The individual’s responsibilities would include collaborating with the other artist to add additional art assets and update much of the art that currently exists in the game.


We are currently seeing an additional programmer to help improve some of the existing code and help with the work load when we begin adding necessary features for the FaceBook application.  An individual with the following traits would be most valuable…

  • Experience with any scripting language, preferably Action Script, Java or C++.

All Roles

In either case, individuals are desired to have the following traits…

  • Willingness to work on and complete an unpaid project.
  • Willingness to learn what ever may be necessary to complete your tasks.
  • Consistent communication skills.
  • Familiarity or passion for casual games.
  • Eagerness to make the project their own and have fun doing it!

If you are interested in participating in the development of Kernips, please contact me asap!

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Kernips: Going Beta!

Posted by rHornbek on June 3, 2010

Starting (June 2nd) many of our friends and family will begin to play Kernips for the first time in our first ever Kernips Beta!  Each of our 15 or so tester got an email from me containing a game guide and the game itself.  I am hoping by the time we are done the game will be self explanatory enough that I will only have to send out the game.

This will be a great opportunity for our team to hear what others think about the game and hopefully the feedback will help make Kernips a lot better.

Latest Look of Kernips!

Some of the major changes we made for this version is art.  This includes new images for each of the Kernips, their full life cycle, bench items, fire and water effect.

For the most part gameplay is right on target.  Based on the feedback we get from our testers we will make minor changes, but we cannot see any major changes occurring to the game at this time.  We did however change how points were earned.  Before I could earn as much as 100 million points in a few moves, which is utterly too much.  We simplified the amount of points you earn so that the numbers are not as ridiculous while still maintaining motivation to pluck more at a time.

This is regrettably a short short post, but I hope that the following will be much greater.  At that time I should have a lot of solid feedback that I can share here as a precursor to Kernips’ future!

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Kernips: pre-Beta

Posted by rHornbek on May 1, 2010

If you haven’t already heard Kernips is nearing beta, which is extremely exciting for me!  In the next week or so we will be putting the final touches on the core gameplay so that while testing we should only have to make minor variable changes.

Some of the things changed in the latest build can be seen in the image below…

I cannot wait for updated art!

Updated in this version of Kernips includes…

  • New Item icons in the bench.
  • Implemented Water and Fire Storm Items (not seen here).
  • Implementation of the Hopper system (right side of the image).
  • The user now earns additional items when they pluck 4 or more Kernips.
  • Skewed the placement of Plots in the Garden so it is clear which Kernips are connected.

And while these changes are grand there are a few key elements we are trying to work out.  For our next build we need to do the following things…

  • Remove random Seed drops in the garden.
  • Make all Dead Kernips permanent.
  • Implement Seed Storm Item (to make up for removing random Seed drops).
  • Implement Item Drop Modifiers (IDM) to control what appears in the Bench.

Once these features have been added we will test them internally.  If these changes solidify the gameplay and don’t cause additional challenged we will be good to go into beta.

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Kernips: Budding

Posted by rHornbek on April 15, 2010

So we just started our third week of development on Kernips and the game has come a long way.  We have the 8 x 8 Garden, we have 6 different colored Kernips with a full life-cycle, you can water them to help them grow or prevent them from getting dry, the bench now produces random items including seeds, water and fire, fire will burn and spread and you even earn points for plucking groups of Kernips.

Splash Screen

Above you can see we added a splash screen to test the game using different variables which is a huge help.  With this we were able to determine which phases needed to speed up or slow down.

In Game

In the image above you can see many of the features I have already mentioned, even the glove we created for the cursor.  The row of items at the top are not going to be there, but it gives anyone testing the game a chance to use any item at any time.  The row of items at the bottom (the Bench) can be used in the Garden and a new item will replace it.

I am really excited and proud of how far Kernips has come!  However, like any growing game it has much work ahead of it.  Some of the changes and improvements we plan on making for the next set of builds are…

  • Earning points for burning dead Kernips.
  • Implementing Water, Fire and Seed Storm items.
  • Updating the item system so there are limited items that can only be replenished by the user’s actions.
  • Adding sounds placeholder effects and music!

I look forward to the updates and putting the game in front of additional testers.

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