Disappointed that none of his games made the “Top 10 Arduboy Games” YouTube video he was watching, alumnus Jonathan Holmes set out to make a polished game worthy of the list. The result was a game called Circuit Dude.
At a young age, Holmes enjoyed playing games on many different consoles. After learning how to develop basic games, he decided to pursue game development and coding at UTD as a software engineer, learning problem solving and researching new ways to program.
“I remember at one point I didn’t like video games, “ Holmes said. “And (then) I was exposed to all these … video games and I was like, ‘Woah, I’ve been missing this my entire life.’”
After graduating, Holmes began developing his own games for the Arduboy — a simplified Nintendo Gameboy — eventually publishing two free games.
After watching “Top 10 Arduboy Games,” Holmes began working on the original version of Circuit Dude. He said he drew inspiration from older puzzle games he played as a child. He talked about wanting to create the same frustration-to-reward ratio using mechanics from games like Sokoban, Adventures of Lolo and Fire n’ Ice.
After approximately a month and a half of work, Holmes released Circuit Dude on Nov. 17, 2016. It recieved positive user reviews, and the online Arduboy community voted it their number one game.
With this positive reception, Holmes presented his game at a meeting of the Dallas Society of Play, a group of game designers and developers from the Metroplex.
“People fell in love with it,” he said. “They were like ‘This is hilarious,’ or ‘This is awesome’ or ‘I want to buy an Arduboy just for this game.’ And a person said, ‘You should put this on a console so more people can play.’”
Holmes continued getting favorable reviews and attempted to convert his game to PC, based on user suggestion. He soon encountered the financial and motivational burdens of independent game development.
One of the biggest issues for Holmes was the decision to monetize the game. He previously released all his games for free, but pursued monetization to cover the estimated $2,000 in contractor fees, marketing and Steam (a gaming marketplace) application costs. After submitting all the required information, Holmes was quickly approved to publish his game on Steam.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna do it. I’m actually gonna do something and not fail,’” he said. “I’d sunk so much money into this project that if I didn’t finish it, I would not be able to eat.”
Approximately 100 days after he began converting Circuit Dude to PC, Holmes released it for sale on Aug. 3, 2017.
“If you ever play Circuit Dude, you can realize that mechanics taken from other games can be used together in such a unique fashion that you can create a new scenario that you would have never seen,” he said.
Circuit Dude is currently available on Steam for $5.99 with 100 levels, an original soundtrack and over 12 hours of gameplay. Holmes is currently working on improving Circuit Dude, as well as converting it to iOS and Android. Holmes said he’s also laying the groundwork for other games he hopes to release in the next few years, specifically an online trading card game.