In the Beginning…

The Box Kaleidoscope map of Europe depicts London in the United Kingdom, and a dotted line joining Stockholm and Skövde in Sweden.

Friendliest of greetings! Herein lay the earliest murmurings of Box Kaleidoscope: a Europe-based games studio making fun, inclusive and accessible interactive experiences. We are Gemma Thomson and Delia Hamwood, and it seemed natural to start this developers’ blog with a look back at our journey up to this point.

It all began when we first met during a frantic play session at a games event in the UK, in which an open classroom and an assortment of craft materials were transformed into a cardboard fort and dazzling foil weaponry and accessories. From there, it was only a matter of time until we worked on game jam projects together: first with a feminist exploration of body issues; then a curated jam on the topic of golden-age sci-fi. In that latter jam we worked with another coder and an artist to create A Planet Wakes – a thrilling tale of civil engineering in space.

That month-long project was a resounding success for our team, and the experience left us hungry to work on more games together. So it was that in 2015 the two of us began work on what was then called Pink Dragon Queens. The initial concept was built around the cartoonish idea of a giant, pink, reptilian monarch -the template for Maude, our first dragon queen.

A cartoon depiction of a large, pink dragon wearing a small golden tiara - Maude, our first dragon queen.

Knowing that we’d enjoyed working in the strategy genre, it was a short leap to construct a basic world around this character, and thus form the premise of the game: one in which a number of dragon queens are competing amongst each other to be the most fabulous ruler in the land. The realm itself would be the staging ground, and whilst we initially dabbled with military strategy, it soon became clear that we ought to make a friendlier-looking game than one which descended into constant fighting, no matter how bloodless.

Development dropped off for a time as other commitments took sway, but our circumstances changed in the following spring – coinciding neatly with an opportunity to join the game incubator at Sweden Game Arena in Skövde. We decided to launch a studio then, with Dragon Queens as its vehicle. Gemma looked back at the design briefs of old and cobbled them together into a more cohesive, non-military strategy game; meanwhile Delia began work on our digital prototype in Unity.

.. and that is what brings us to the present day! Box Kaleidoscope currently runs as a two-person outfit: in Sweden, Gemma balances business training with written and visual design; meanwhile in London, Delia pulls the prototype together for our debut game. Our primary goals are to gather funding with which to formally launch the business, and of course to make the game itself.

Neither of us has steered a startup on our own before, but we learn quickly and have long since gotten into the habit of reciprocal knowledge-sharing amongst the independent games community. We’ll be doing what we can to share insights from this journey here, as well as to keeping you up-to-date on our actual project progress. Thanks for joining us.

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