Latest News and Developer blogs from First Horizon


Hey everyone!

We are now in the final stretch of EGX preparations and gearing up towards the final pitch for funding which will take place later this month. We are extremely busy trying to deliver the best possible experience for players at the event and working hard to build on our final pitch.

August was an eventful month for us, with more work and more events than ever before! Among the highlights was the team built a new game mode in the form of a time limited survival mode which we showcased in Comic-Con Wales. Due to the success of the event, the team are bringing this mode to EGX but in a much more refined and polished form. Pictures from the event are below.

The day seen over 100 players try the game with such overwhelming positive feedback. It was the highlight of the summer so far to see players react positively and re-enforces our belief that this game has a widespread appeal due to the age range of players and people who had a good time playing.

There was a competition within the game, with players who found the most Geckos (without getting caught) winning a prize. Congratulations to Armand and Joshua who both won Geckos vouchers to spend at awesome local toy store Geckos, Wrexham.

Prior to this event, two of the team (Ryan and Colin) travelled to Dundee to practice our pitch in front of industry experts and although the journey up was a miserable one thanks to train delays, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found it incredibly useful as we pitch for the £20,000 top prize come end of September. 

We had great feedback again and also identified areas to work on, the experience of talking about your game to publishers and industry experts was a great learning experience and the event was a very enjoyable one. A video of the event can be found on Tranzfuser website. 

In terms of progress with the game, we are making big strides in making the mall a more interactive and fun environment with more jumpscares and interactables being implemented. The UI is taking an overhaul too, as we try to create a better user experience for EGX, building on lessons learnt from Comic-Con.

The structure of the initial demo will remain the same as the previous event, a recap of which can be found at our EGX announcement post. The competition in EGX will follow a similar format, with players given 3 minutes to locate as many event related items as possible with prizes on offer for the best score.

We have also posted our trailer for EGX on Twitter but if you missed it, then here it is.

We will make another blog update before we go to EGX so we can show the final details of what we have been working on. As of today we have re-introduced a throwing mechanic to distract the nutcracker and also have a small rodent who will need to be chased. Sounds weird but hold on and we will announce the details soon!

If you haven’t already, please sign up to the Alpha test list, we have already got quite a number of people waiting for release so spots will be closing soon. You will be among the first to play the online demo, for which we will have prizes available too. 

Speak soon!



We will be showcasing the Nutcracker at EGX this year from September 22nd – 25th!

We are fortunate enough to have to stands as part of Tranzfuser and Games Talent Wales so will be at two different locations at the event.

What to expect:

We are condensing the game into a time limited mini-game which was trialled at Comic-Con Wales this year. This will be a competition with winners on the day getting a prize for collecting the most items (whilst avoiding the Nutcracker) in 3 minutes.

Gameplay is subject to change but here’s some footage from the last event to give you an idea.

Prizes are to be announced but we already have some exciting additions lined up such as custom Nutcracker control pad so it’s worth popping by if you’re around!

We plan to extend this competition to the public by releasing an online version in the next few months, possibly to coincide with the holiday period so keeps your eyes peeled! To be notified of this please use the Alpha Sign up page.

We will be running an updated leaderboard throughout the days at EGX either on here or on Twitter, so make sure you follow us if you are participating.

We are excited to showcase our game so will see you there!


July Recap

It’s been a pretty hectic month but we are progressing well with the game. Big leaps in UI and overall performance have happened this month as well as extending secret areas. We have multiple cut scenes and a much clearer direction for the final demo we intend to release in the next two months.

We have had to sacrifice most of the old programming, this was linked to previous members of the team which we found too challenging to re-work so an overall has happened and continues to progress in terms of objectives and gameplay.

We have been focusing on set pieces like the one below, which includes mini games and bringing some of the stores to life. the below video shows a work in progress fortune teller machine, which on completion will read your fortune and act as a modifier to gameplay. Fun fact –  Iving (the monkey) is part of an old project a few of the team members worked on so we thought it would be cool to include him! Actually, that wasn’t fun at all, apologies.

In addition to the above we are working on a gameplay scene within the laser tag area. This will be the core focus from now until September as it will highlight the direction of the game and uniqueness of each store. We may bring more machines to life in the arcade too during this period.

The screenshots above are of selected areas and points of interest now in the game. We have a holographic Nutcracker within the laser tag arena, an opening point of interest and the last slide is a teaser to expanded areas waiting to be found. More details about this coming soon!

The UI and inventory system has long needed an overhaul so the team have been busy implementing this over the past month. Although still work in progress visually, we now have the mechanics in place to pick up and sort items as well as inspect them. The functionality will be expanded later to include usable items and tools. 

To accompany the above, we have been working on a main menu and loading screen and intro will be coming next month. Again, this is work in progress but a small teaser is below.

The Nutcracker is still having an AI rework, which will boost performance and allow real time kills/captures as opposed to what is currently on offer which sets the kill as a video. This is too performance heavy currently due to constantly updating target points he can move to and loading in a video on capture is not optimal.

In the next month we have a few events which are 

  • Dundee Pitch Practice (Tranzfuser) – 7th August
  • BAFTA event (GTW) – TBC
  • Comic-Con Wrexham – 21st August

The week ahead will see us finalise small details around our pitch and game so we have something to show off for these events. We are also keen to provide a small demo for the 21st August, which we may open up to a wider audience post event (or simultaneously) depending on progress. This will not reflect the main game but will be a collectable mini-game in the environment with possible prizes to be won! Keep an eye on our socials for upcoming details.

With EGX confirmed as the 22nd -25th September this year we will certainly have a demo by then. We are committed and focused to make this the best representation of our game going forward and look forward to releasing the demo to people signed up to the Alpha sign up at this point for those who cant make the event.

In the mean time we will post some updates through the month and have a re-cap at the end again on here.

Thanks for sticking with us!


June Recap

Apologies for being less active on here! (and social media) over the past few weeks, this is because we have been participating in Tranzfuser and game Talent Wales events as well as dealing with the onboarding process for them.

We wanted to share our progress over the past few weeks and what we have planned in the immediate future. The first of which was implementing a basic menu with real-time background. This is intended to be placeholder as we wanted to use sequencer to make something more cinematic so expect change in the below but it is easily modified.

We have also been focusing on lighting as per screenshots on videos shared on social media. This is an ongoing process but its already looking much better than before. We have added fog and dust particles to the scene and will now focus on making areas darker or lighter based on tone of the store or area. If you missed it, here’s a video of the new lighting (currently still being worked on). The fog makes visibility less clear and emphasises the red light of the chasing Nutcracker however, we are undecided to keep this feature moving forward.

The kill animation at the end of the above video will be changed to something more creepier as we move up the intended age range from 7+ to a revised rating of 11+. The reason for this is that as we intend to launch on Steam we realised that to even have a Steam account you need to be 13+ and although children will always find a way round this, it does give us more flexibility in the content we can make going forward. Ben will be working on new captured animations to replace the current one in the coming few months. 


We are currently working with contractors for both Art and Audio. These will provide the team with expertise in these areas which we are lacking. We cannot name them due to incomplete work but will do so when everything is ready. However, we can list the areas they are working on. These include:

  • Cover Art
  • Merchandise Art
  • Lore related Art
  • Main Menu Music
  • Arcade Ambience

We are looking for an additional programmer to help adjust AI in the near future and will announce this once we get someone. In the meantime we may share finished work on social media when they start being completed.

Above is a rough sketch currently in progress which shows the Toy Store mascot Bailey who is undergoing a revamp.


We know a key part of our game is lore and how we deliver the lore will be the making or breaking of the game. As such this is a key area being focused on now. We have a list of ‘victims’ of the Nutcracker as well as missing items related to them to be found in the mall (and beyond). The artists are currently working on items belonging to the toy store both from the present day and old. You will be able to find retro toys, personal belongings from the missing and clues too their disappearances within the area. Your task is to find the items and work out what happened to them and the motives behind them. 

One thing we can tell you is that although we have a mall area this does not mean we are limiting ourselves to such an environment. Secret areas are waiting to be found and the eventual area will be much bigger than you imagine, as long as you can find the way to access them.

The above may sound cryptic but we believe telling everyone our ultimate plans would spoil the surprise. 


We plan on releasing a very small release of the game in conjunction with an upcoming event. This will be a 2 minute timed event where you must collect a number of items within the time period. The core mechanics of the game will be present and there will be prizes for the winner of the competition.

The plans for the event are as follows (subject to change)

  • 2 minute time limit to find as many of the items provided
  • Avoid being caught during this time
  • Find secret areas to gain bonus items/objects

We wanted to showcase the mechanics and discoverable items in a fun way without revealing everything. There will be secrets hidden with no clues given, allowing the player to discover and try new ways of unlocking them which will feature prominently within the game. 

A very small example of this can be found in the video below (apologies for UI etc as work on this has just started)


The coming month will see the team complete or start the following

  • Animation overhaul
  • Objective implementation (old system being scrapped)
  • Artwork finished from contractors
  • Seasonal items added
  • Hidden areas worked on
  • AI overhaul

We know we are some way off where we want to be but have solid plans and realistic scope to provide a good experience by the time we have major showcase events in September.

Keep an eye on our socials for more content in July



Thanks for reading!


Tranzfuser and Games Talent Wales Announcement

We are happy to announce we are part of two exciting programs which will take place over the summer in Tranzfuser and Games Talent Wales. Both of which give indie game companies assistance in making their games and a sustainable company long term. This is a great opportunity for both exposure of the game as well as a great learning opportunity going forward. Future updates over the summer will highlight our activities in these events and we have already been busy attending events and meetings surrounding this.

So far we have attended talks by industry professionals who have given us great advice as well as attending an in person event showing our progress so far in the form of a showcase at Yellow and Blue in Wrexham.

Through these programs we are looking forward to working hard and also having fun in the upcoming events. We have the following lined up with potentially more on the horizon

  • August 7th – Practice Pitch session in Dundee
  • August 21st – Comic-con Wrexham showing attendees our game
  • September 22nd- 25th – EGX (TBC)

Participation in programs like these help us with funding and expertise and we hope to emulate the many success stories which have come from them.

Post University Update

What have we been up to?

University finished a few weeks ago and are readying up for the next period of work over the summer. Taking a step back from the project we have been able to identify key areas we need to work on and improve during the next period. These will be summarised in this post for clarity.

Phil will be leaving the team to pursue other career goals, we will be covering the work with a variety of contract workers and the rest split between the team. We wish him well in the future. The rest of the team are fully committed to the completion of the game during summer and beyond.

The areas we have identified we need major work on are the objectives, AI, animation and lore. These will be the core focus of the summer period. Without giving too much away, we plan environmental story telling in secret areas located in the mall which is the first thing being worked upon. Once this is implemented we will have a base camp of sorts where a player can store and find information. This sounds very vague but we cannot give the whole game away! There are images from some of the assets we are working on below though as a clue.

The area in question is currently in early stages of development but early footage of layout can be seen in the video below. Again, this very early stages so is not a reflection of the finished product.

Contract workers will be finishing the AI and attached animations of the Nutcracker and the team will undergo a UI and objective overhaul once the environment is complete. We also have someone working on the theme and sounds for the game.

We need to redo current animations of the Nutcracker for quality purposes. Animations to be implemented over the summer include

  • Confused
  • Trapped
  • Opening door
  • Walk/sprint
  • Pick up off floor
  • Look around
  • Stunned
  • Rotation of head 

In summary, we will produce (by September) the following

  • Nutcracker who patrols with multiple capture animations
  • Game with start and end
  • Objectives which demonstrate the direction of the project
  • Lore within the game and some form of external lore
  • Each store will have a hidden item related to lore and an interesting way to acquire it
  • Inventory system which keeps track of items found
  • An example of seasonal change (Christmas items)

We will be posting less frequently on here but social media presence will be ramped up during the period. You can follow us on Twitter for the latest updates. Thanks for reading and like always any suggestions get in contact with us.

Developer Blog Week 13

Week 13 seen big improvements with the mall area. Objectives are slowly being implemented in to the game and the initial first quarter of the mall is near completion. We should have something resembling a vertical slice with a gameplay loop within the next two weeks as environment and programming branches are merged together. This will need refining post university (ends 27th May).

We have a few screenshots to share from the new look environment, which are below.

As you can see, work has begun on the final store within the first section of the mall which will be an esports arena style area. This will be a store in which a user must solve a puzzle to unlock the next area but we don’t want to reveal too much at this point!

We also have a completed map of the first area, entitled the ‘Diamond Zone’. Both of floors will have their own separate map to help you find your way. 

We have introduced a further teaser to the Mystic Dungeons store in the form of the overhead train tunnel which we plan to expand in the future. This will be coming when we expand beyond the initial quarter of the mall. We plan on using secret tunnels and areas a lot more after we have established a base level. 

We are rapidly approaching the end of the University year and should have a trailer to show within two weeks, this will be posted on social media and on the website. After this time we will be actively looking for alpha testers to iron out any bugs which may be present so if you are interested please use the Alpha sign up link to show interest.

There’s still plenty to do and we are all very busy currently. Expect a further update around the time we end university where we will have a lot more to show. Thanks for reading!


Anyone for Blu Juice?

Developer Blog Week 12

Another week (or so) has rolled by and as expected there has been much improvement in the scene. Lot’s of work has gone into the stores and and floor area with minimal areas needing work now until this section has been completed. Current estimated time for this section of the mall to be completed is around 3 weeks so expect further major improvements in this period. Some screenshots are below of the current state of the environment as of today (06/05).

As you can see the arcade has taken a major overhaul with only minor details remaining (such as filling the claw machines and prize counter) left to complete in terms of the environment. The laser tag store is currently being worked on and we expect this to be completed soon as well as the sports store. More signs, decals and posters now populate the area to make the mall seem more alive but this is not complete as of yet. In the screenshots above you may notice a new store coming soon too in the form of the dungeons, which will offer something new in terms of gameplay. Work has not started on this yet but plans are in place.

The above video shows an interactable machine within the arcade which will be important for gameplay progression. This is not complete but highlights the type of interactivity we expect in each store as we focus on exploration and searching for items. The idea being that players won’t be limited to static environment and we can introduce exciting ways of obtaining key items. The above example is an arcade machine which requires a skill shot to get a keycard to unlock a new area. The Nutcracker will always be lurking though so you need to time this wisely. To counteract the Nutcracker lurking we are working on mechanics which can help you distract him, which includes (but not limited to) throwable items to lure him away from key areas.


As mentioned earlier the new store will be a dungeon/museum which we hope offers something new to the mall. The above is a teaser poster within the mall you may find. Look closely though as a hidden clue is in there somewhere.


The following tasks will be focused next week with any bleed over rolling to the next as lots to be done!

  • Laser Tag completion
  • Sports Store completion
  • Food area completion
  • More ‘scatter’ objects
  • Play tests
  • Merging of Environment and Programming so we have a gameplay loop

See you next time!

Developer Blog Week 10

New stores and animations in this weeks update

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