ibb & obb: How one man realised his PS3 indie dream

We’re almost there. ibb and obb is nearing completion and we hope to release the game on PSN this May.

Getting to this point has been quite an adventure. Currently there are between four and ten people working on the project, but around seven years ago this all started with my graduation project and I could only dream of where it is right now.

I studied industrial design and always thought I would become a product designer. But over the course of my studies my interest for product design faded and at the same time it felt like something new was happening in the game industry.

It was around the time that Katamari Damacy made its first appearance on PlayStation. I loved it and to me it signalled a start of more original titles finding their way to a larger audience. I strongly wanted to be part of this change and decided to focus my graduation project on game design.

Part of the project was to design a game concept myself. I was convinced that the best way to design games is to work with prototypes as much as possible. The moment I had the idea for this double gravity world, I built it.

The first prototype was extremely rough. I had some experience with modding Unreal Tournament, so the first prototype became an Unreal Tournament mod. I inverted the gravity in the bottom half of the screen, made the character flip upside down and fixed the camera to the side so it looked somewhat like a platform game.

That first prototype didn’t look like much, but it already told me two important things:

  • The continuous flow of falling up and down feels really nice.
  • You can reach unexpected places, which makes it suitable for puzzle design.

From then on I kept iterating. I added a line in the middle with warp holes, put in the second player, enemies, trampolines, diamonds and so on. I made sure to continuously let other people test the game, which immediately tells you whether something works or not. Gameplay always came first. It’s a lot easier to add nice looks to gameplay than the other way around.

ibb and obb - world overview

At the end of my graduation I had a playable prototype, about the length of one level. Hoping to find some attention for the game I submitted ibb & obb to IndieCade and to my surprise they selected it for their E3 2008 showcase.

This was my chance and I booked a ticket to Los Angeles. Being there at the E3 felt really great and weird at the same time. Weird because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had no plan and mostly just wanted to find out if the world was interested in ibb & obb.

ibb and obb - E3

But already on day one adventure kicked in. I remember showing the game to a gentleman who kept asking questions. How did I get there? What were my plans for the game? In response to my question: “And what do you do?”, he handed over a business card saying Sony Computer Entertainment and stated he was looking for new games to bring to PlayStation.

I wish I had a picture of my face at that moment. Trying to look cool, but probably looking more like a five year old unwrapping a ninja turtle helicopter.

Back home me and Roland IJzermans founded our studio called Sparpweed. We finalised the plan with Sony, found the financial means and partners to develop the game with. A little over two years ago all was ready and together with Codeglue we started the production that is now nearly done.

If you want to know more about the development, feel free to ask anything in the comments below. You can also keep track of the development through Facebook and Twitter (@ibbandobb).

5 Author replies

What engine technologies did you use to create your game for Sony PlayStation Platforms? Was PhyreEngine involved at all? What coding languages, game engines etc?

Richard Boeser 28 March, 2013 @ 17:18

Hi, we’re using the PhyreEngine indeed. All coding is done in C++ and some custom tools were made in C#.

Sorry, this’ll be offtopic.

@Fred @Chris @Jawad
The free BSI Plus stuff that Ross mentioned lately via Twitter and that Fred promised that it would be updated within the day, still is UK exclusive.

At least in the german store we only see the season pass with a discount. In the UK store there are 2 weapons and the Industrial Revolution Rewards Pack for free.

When the European Digital Sales Manager from Take Two wanted that stuff to be released for everyone, then it must be obviously SCEE’s mistake when it isn’t available everywhere. Please fix it.

I’d really prefer if such mistakes wouldn’t happen. I only randomly heard about those free stuff, otherwise it would have passed unnoticed. Makes one wonder how much else content might get lost.


@Richard Boeser, thanks for the reply. That is great. I’m a fan of what games have used PhyreEngine. It seems quite flexible.

I love the game’s artstyle and the bi-directional gravity. I look forward to playing it on other Sony devices and platforms :).

Richard Boeser 28 March, 2013 @ 17:37

Thanks and we look forward to people playing the game soon : )


Looks very interesting. :) Any chance this could come to a certain handheld with a gorgeous 5″ OLED Screen too?

Not sure if the PhyreEngine supports Vita yet.

Richard Boeser 28 March, 2013 @ 18:05

Right now we’re fully focusing on the PS3 build. Depending on how well that does we can look at other platforms like the Vita. I’d love to see it on the Vita screen, but at the moment I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

As for PhyreEngine. The latest version does support Vita. We are on an older version of Phyre though and switching this late in the development process would be tricky.

Virgo21Child 28 March, 2013 @ 18:00

Cool game. Is this a PS Mobile game or PSN?

Does it come with trophies?

Richard Boeser 28 March, 2013 @ 18:07

It’s for PSN and will have trophies. Happy hunting : )


Ok, thanks for the info. Good luck with the release. I’ll be keeping my eye on this.


Been looking forward to this since the last blog post. Do Ibb & Obb play differently? For example one jumps higher while the other further or are their differences only cosmetic?

Richard Boeser 28 March, 2013 @ 18:52

They play the same, though their way through puzzles can be different. Some puzzles include green and pink warps. ibb can pass through the green ones while obb goes through the pink ones.

Their height difference is mostly there to give the two more character and to make them easier to distinguish from each other.

I do really wonder whether players will have a favorite.


The game looks thoroughly enjoyable! Was wondering when I’d hear more.

I’m finding a lot of PSN titles to be far more interesting than retail titles as they seem to have a lot more variety and uniqueness to them.

I’ll be getting your game in May. :)


Awwww man! I thought this was Vita bound. I’ll say one thing though, I really hope this does well. If there’s one thing about us Vita owners, we’re all about the indies..


wish you luck dude,day 1 for me


This game is weird :o I love weird games <3 ^^

This sounds great – best of luck to Sparpweed, looking forward to playing this one :). Love the level design on a long piece of paper on the wall with post-it notes :D.

any no when the update is mine still showing mass effect 3 ect on plus

have this in sight. you will get my money

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