An upcoming game co-created by BA (Hons) Fine Art student Sam Machell, Brownie Cove Express, has been shortlisted for the Emerging Talent category of the Ludicious and Swiss Game Developers Association Awards, at the most prestigious ceremony for game design in Switzerland.
Listed by the Mirror as one of “the best video games at Sweden Game Conference 2018” and “among the best of the Sweden Game Conference” by Indie Games +, Brownie Cove Express is an upcoming haunted collage adventure game about trains, snow, ghosts, and memories.
Brownie Cove Express is the first feature-length game created by multimedia artist and BA (Hons) Fine Art student, Sam Machell, and visual programmer Colin le Duc, who is based in France. The two developers work together collectively as Sand Gardeners.
Originally from St Albans, Hertfordshire, 21-year-old Sam now lives in central Plymouth while he attends the college. Sam’s games have twice been featured on respected PC gaming new site Rock Paper Shotgun’s rundown of ‘Free games of the week’ and other notable publications including Gamasutra, PC Games Insider, Alpha Beta Gamer, Codec Moments, Big Boss Battle.
In Brownie Cove Express, the player explores the stories of a group of mysterious travellers, through experimental narrative and playful vignettes, as a train travels across windy mountain trails and snowy static blizzards.
Brownie Cove Express exists in the same shared universe as Sam Machell’s other Brownie Cove games, including Brownie Cove Cancelled, which Kotaku described as “an over-saturated dreamscape, one that aptly simulates the languid, draining pace of airport life as travellers slowly cook under sickly fluorescent lights.”
Sam said: “Brownie Cove started as a series of webcomics that I created with a friend, of stories set in an expanding universe. I developed a style and characters that I wanted to take further and hoped that games would be an avenue to do that, although I didn’t feel like my strengths lay in that area. The first Brownie Cove game was a piece of interactive fiction that I made on Twine to test how it would work, but I don’t think I could have gone further by myself."
“Two years ago, however, I was contacted by a French programmer, Colin le Duc, who’d been reading the Brownie Cove comics online. We talked about creating a game together, and have been working together as Sand Gardeners ever since."
“Initially we worked together on a 72-hour games jam event. Going from concept to completed game in such a short space of time taught us a lot about the process of working together. Since then we’ve developed multiple short games and applied to exhibit at a lot of games conventions and big events, to see how far we can take it."
“My fine art practice focuses on the interaction between literature and technology, incorporating text, sound and video work, which feeds into my ideas for Brownie Cove. Everything I’ve learned about installation-based work has helped me to dress our convention booths in a way that reflects the concepts of the games and helps us to stand out."
“Last year Colin and I exhibited at EGX in Birmingham, the UK’s biggest games event, which was the first time we’d met in person. We were also selected to appear at Sweden Game Conference, which was amazing, and then for Ludicious, the Zürich Game Festival in Switzerland."
“After developing a number of smaller games, Brownie Cove Express is our first feature-length project. It’s incredibly gratifying to be shortlisted as Emerging Talent for it. This is the most ambitious game that we’ve worked on, so we’re looking into all options about how to make it the best that it can be. Ultimately we’re hoping to work with a publisher and reach bigger distribution platforms. We want to see Brownie Cove available on Steam and home consoles.”
See more work by Sand Gardeners, the collaboration between Sam Machell, and Colin le Duc, by visiting their website.