Back in 2015, I visited Portland, OR to kick it with some fellow indie dev friends for my birthday and they just so happened to be working on something really cool. The project was called the TinderBox and was essentially a 4-player NeoGeo arcade platform for indie games and they were just putting the finishing touches on the control panel for the prototype that was scheduled to appear at SXSW that same year. I got to witness its creator Jack Meade along with friend and musician, Terence Lee wire up the buttons and joysticks and reassign the controls for their hilarious game jam game, “Shitty Voltron” in which 4 players each attempt to separately control one of Voltron’s limbs in a downtown brawl with a giant alien invader. Truly a work of art.
What happened next would change the course of my life forever. I realized then and there that Armed and Gelatinous was capable of running on the TinderBox too. I had never even considered making it an arcade game but it just so happened to be a 4-player game with just two buttons for dash and shoot. I immediately opened Unity on my laptop and started messing with the inputs for Armed and Gelatinous and within the hour, we had it playable on the TinderBox and suddenly it was a whole new experience. The joysticks weren’t analog, however, which presented some movement constraints but it didn’t ruin the experience for anyone playing. Jack Meade asked if he could bring Armed and Gelatinous to SXSW and show it on the TinderBox alongside Shitty Voltron and a couple other indie titles in the works from the local PIG squad. Obviously I was stoked on the proposition and agreed to be a part of the debut.
So the TinderBox prototype shipped to SXSW and Armed and Gelatinous wound up getting played a ton. Jack sent some photos of the good times and it really blew my mind that our game was finding an audience at an event on the other side of the country thanks to the fact that it ran almost perfectly on an arcade machine. The revelation still didn’t come for a few more years, however. The idea of building our own arcade cabinet seemed like an impossible task and we didn’t know the first thing about how to fabricate something of that magnitude. We did know that it would involve a ton of research and time and that really put us off to the idea so we continued with development and I honestly almost forgot any of that ever happened. But in 2018, a tragic situation caused me to step back from development for a while. I took a month-long leave of absence to go home to visit family and gather myself.
I’m not one to stay idle long and I had been toying with the idea of starting a new project to keep me busy while I processed the loss of a dear friend. I was spending a lot of time with one of my best friends, Ryan McAllister, at his family farm and as it turned out, his dad had converted their garage into a fully-functional wood shop since the last time I’d visited. We would pass through there on the way in and out of his house and occasionally his dad would be there working on something cool.