Stephen Childree

Developer, Editor, and Composer

I'm a professional developer, composer, and editor with several years of experience in each field. I always strive to get the small details right, as I believe that's what makes a truly great product.

If you're interested in working with me, click here to send me a message.

Games

I've been making games for more than 6 years. I've shipped 2 — soon to be 3 — commercial games on Steam. I'm primarily a programmer, but have worked as a generalist on every aspect of game development, from prototype to release and beyond.

Neon Ride

Retro-inspired 3D runner-platformer with an 80s futuristic setting and soundtrack.

More info  

Super Cuber

Minimalistic, traditional platformer with tight, responsive controls. Includes a powerful level editor and Steam Workshop integration.

More info  

BattleStorm

Arcade-style shoot-em-up inspired by 90s classics like Raptor. Features 25 levels across 5 distinct environments and tons of powerups.

More info  

Web

I specialize in making fully responsive small business and portfolio websites, but I am capable of taking on larger projects as well. I have a strong passion for the small details that many developers ignore, and I pride myself on maintaining a clean, consistent style throughout the entire website.

B&L Home Services

A website for a landscaping company. Features pages for each service and reusable modules like a quote form, testimonials, etc.

Details  

Cyklon Games

Single-page, responsive website I created for a Bulgarian indie game studio, with sections for their team members and an application form.

Details  

Portfolio

A professional portfolio I designed and developed for myself with an emphasis on a clean, functional, and seamless experience.

Details  

Music

I've been making music for more than 5 years. I mainly like to make upbeat, arcade-style electronic tracks, but I have worked on other genres like metal, EDM, and pop. I have composed and produced original soundtracks for two of my games: Neon Ride and BattleStorm.

Neon Ride Soundtrack

A love letter to retro arcade games, this soundtrack aims to capture the classic synthwave sound with urgent, uptempo tracks.

Playlist  

BattleStorm Soundtrack

A dark, but upbeat soundtrack. Each track was designed to reach its peak as an onslaught of enemies rains down at the end of each level.

Playlist  

Arcade Tracks

A collection of simple arcade tracks which I made in 2016 to showcase my musical style. They're meant to be short and simple with little polish.

Playlist  

Editing

I've worked as an editor for both freelance clients as well as high-profile companies like Xsolla. In my editing, I always strive to achieve the highest standard of quality while ensuring that the original writer's voice and writing style is maintained.

(Excerpt) How Do I Find a Publisher?

An excerpt from an article which I edited and proofread for Xsolla's Game Development blog.

Read  

(Excerpt) Game Development Myths

An excerpt from an article which I edited and proofread for Xsolla's Game Development blog.

Read  

(Excerpt) Get It Right From the Start

An excerpt from an article which I edited and proofread for Xsolla's Game Development blog.

Read  

Contact

If you're interested in working with me, or just want to talk, send me a message using the form below.

Neon Ride

Developer Icy Studios

Platform Windows

Release 2022

Role(s) Lead Developer, Composer

Neon Ride is a retro-inspired 3D platformer all about going fast while avoiding obstacles on roads set in retro-futuristic worlds

It features 36 levels across 9 distinct environments, an immersive, original synthwave soundtrack, and Steam Trading Cards, Achievements, and Leaderboards integration.

It also features a robust level editor with complete Steam Workshop integration, so you can easily challenge your friends (and the world!) to the brutal levels you create.

The goal was to make a game inspired by old-school runners like Skyroads and upgrade that concept for the modern player with intuitive controls, awesome visuals, competition, and endless replayability with custom levels.

Super Cuber

Developer Icy Studios

Platform Windows

Release 2017

Role(s) Sole Developer

Super Cuber is a minimalistic, traditional platformer with an emphasis on speedrunning and competition, as well as user-made levels.

It features 60 built-in levels, a powerful level editor which all built-in levels were made with, Steam Workshop integration as well as Steam Trading Cards, Achievements, and Leaderboards.

The goal was to create a platformer all about simplicity, with tight controls, and a powerful level editor with Steam Workshop integration.

BattleStorm

Developer Icy Studios

Platform Windows

Release 2016

Role(s) Programmer, Designer, and Composer

BattleStorm is a top-down, arcade-style shoot-em-up game developed for Microsoft Windows.

It eatures 25 levels across 5 distinct environments, tons of powerups and enemy varieties, boss fights, an immersive, original soundtrack, and Steam Trading Cards, Achievements, and Leaderboards integration.

The goal was to create a game inspired by old-school shoot-em-ups with satisfying, addictive gameplay, high production values, and excellent presentation.

Cyklon Games

When 2020

Role(s) Web Developer, Designer

I was contracted to design and develop a website for an up-and-coming indie studio, Cyklon Games. They wanted a single-page, responsive website with a neutral color scheme, with all their important information front and center. This included a landing area with a brief, snappy introduction and a call to action for recruitment. There is also a team members section, a simple area for their game projects, and an application form which even includes a dropdown list with all the positions they are currently looking for.

I completed the design and development of this site in about a week.

Unfortunately, the studio disbanded, so the website is no longer live. However, there is a link above to a Live version of it on my website.

Portfolio

When 2021

Role(s) Web Developer, Designer

I needed a portfolio with a clean, modern design, but one that was capable of showcasing my multiple skillsets without being too complex or messy. I settled on this design because it's clean, easily made responsive, and fun to browse with its smooth, seamless experience, offering many opportunities for me to incorporate smooth CSS transitions and animations.

A key feature I needed was the ability to have individual pages for each project, while still maintaining a seamless, functional user experience. I think the end result works well.

I spent significant time on some arguably trivial details, such as getting the address bar to update to the correct "page" you're viewing so the back and forward buttons will always work, as is a common problem with single-page designs. I also spent a considerable amount of time making sure that the main content container always updates to the correct size & padding values under a number of conditions, most of all when the window is resized, so it would be impossible to break.

I completed the design and development in less than a month.

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B&L Home Services

When 2021

Role(s) Web Developer, Designer

I was contracted to create a website for a landscaping company. They needed a modern, responsive, easy-to-use website with individual pages for each of their services, reusable modules (a call to action, a quote form, and a section with their service area and testimonials) which could be used on every page to help convince visitors to get a quote, and an overall eye-catching design.

I used PHP to include the reusable modules on each page, as well as for the quote form submission and a special feature that displays whether the company is open or closed at the time the person is visiting the website.

I spent significant time on the color scheme, ensuring the site had a nice, inviting look to it. I also spent considerable time on CSS transitions and animations, making sure the site had satisfying feedback for every hover, click, and initial page-load.

I completed the design and development in less than a month.

(Excerpt) How Do I Find a Publisher?

Client Xsolla

Published 2021

Role(s) Editor

How Do I Find a Publisher?

First, ask yourself why you need a publisher. To find the right answer, audit your studio and find out:

  • your weaknesses; whether you have sufficient manpower; whether you understand how to scale the project or it might be tricky for you to do; whether you are confident in the quality of your product or might need external expertise on that

  • whether you need extra funding in light of the fact that even best-selling games only start to bring revenue to the studio a few months after release

  • how well your marketing goes or might go. Perhaps you only need help with promos and can handle the rest yourself?

Of course, assistance would be much appreciated in all of the aspects above. But this little audit helps better realize where your future publisher must have the best expertise in order to filter out less suitable candidates and waste no time negotiating with publishers that cannot offer what you need. Remember that time is of the essence; it is not an asset to let go of.

Now you can start your search. Further text outlines a case of searching from scratch, i.e., when the developers only have Google and knowledge of what they need. Here we start!

(Excerpt) Game Development Myths

Client Xsolla

Published 2021

Role(s) Editor

Myth 1: An Original Idea Is All You Need to Succeed

This is one of the most common (and dangerous) development myths. The industry news claims ‘’the market is tired of similar games’’. Players often say in forums and social networks that they are bored and want something new. In turn, enthusiastic developers start to invent ultra-original, ambitious projects that no one really needs.

As it turns out, we are not huge fans of originality. People are fairly consistent in their tastes and habits and rarely venture into serious experiments, especially in games whose main goal (for many players) is to help you relax and have a good time. Most people don’t like mastering a non-standard interface or an extremely original control of a mecha.

The originality of an idea or presentation is not the only component of the game’s future success. Before you start developing the game, you should find out what is popular in the market right now and which games are trendy. Instead of painful attempts to reinvent the wheel, you will likely be better off providing people with something familiar but with a few improvements.

In addition, originality always brings additional complexity and adds to cost. By promising a ‘’full-fledged bulldozer simulator’’, you doom yourself to long hours of work trying to accurately recreate the machine’s physics. Are you sure that you have the time to do this?

An original idea is a good thing. An idea that meets market requirements and is implemented according to your knowledge and capabilities may not be so exciting but increases your chances to complete the project and make it popular.

(Excerpt) Get It Right From the Start

Client Xsolla

Published 2020

Role(s) Editor

Get It Right from the Start

Unlike Steam, EGS does not allow you to simply register and publish your game. The platform owner continues to select projects manually based on factors that are not disclosed to the general public. So, everyone has a chance (in theory). To increase your chances, check whether your game meets the following requirements:

Your project has a community - fans who are waiting for your game and follow its development. We are not talking about millions of subscribers or thousands of likes for each Facebook post, but a lively, growing and engaged community is a big advantage since someone is already interested in your project. It      will be great if you can attract the attention of the gaming press or influencers. This indicates that the project is not only interesting to players but that developers understand the importance of marketing.

Your project supports several languages. Not everyone in the world speaks English, and many even refuse to play if their native language is not available (vive la France!). Thus, the more localization options you can provide at the start, the more attractive the game becomes in the eyes of decision makers. At the very least, provide text localization and subtitles if you can’t afford to voice dialogs. By the way, many active participants of your community will be happy to help with localization, especially if you are ready to share fame and add their names to the list of the game’s developers.

Your project has original gameplay or visual      style – or both. Look at Dead Cells or Transistor if you want to see what we are talking about. Independent developers are expected to innovate rather than repeat others’ work. If your game provides the players with a unique gaming experience or changes the boundaries of familiar genres, your chances to get published will   increase. The visual style is also important – someone bets on hand-drawn locations, others invest in general style of the game, but an outstanding picture will always be appreciated.

Your project uses a well-known franchise. That’s a rarity in the indie developer world but sometimes it happens. Any known IP (or a continuation of a well-known game series) will put you ahead of unknown titles. A famous name leads to more sales, and the ultimate goal of any platform is to maximize profits.

Your team has its own website and a portfolio or released games (at least, a portfolio of projects in which your team members were involved). The myth that indie developers huddle in the basement and make games in their spare time is long gone. You must show that you have a team that is capable not only of generating      brilliant ideas but also meeting deadlines, ensuring quality and being responsible. The platform owner is interested in guaranteeing the quality and timely release of the project. Put simply, you must earn the right to say “the game will be done when it’s done”.

Is your project guaranteed to get the green light if you meet the above-mentioned requirements? No, but your chances for successful outcome will greatly increase.