Click and Collect: A Lockdown Story

Greg Giddens

Lockdown drastically changed my life, much like it has everyone’s lives. For a time, it stole social experiences from us, and forced us to into becoming reclusive. Work became remote for many, isolating us from colleagues. Even going outside was restricted. Our homes became our whole world. For many this was deeply upsetting and unfair, friends and family were hard to reach, hobbies couldn’t be enjoyed, and people’s lives were put on hold. For me, however, it presented a marvelous opportunity.

The lockdown gave me back something I was missing: time. I no longer had the commute to work to worry about. I rolled out of bed, switched on my laptop, and I was ‘at work’. At the end of the workday and just switched off the laptop and I was ‘at home’. It was glorious. I couldn’t visit friends and family, and sure, I missed them, but that saved another huge chunk of time. I found myself to be time rich, allowing me to dive into something I’d been toying with in my spare time, something I’d always wanted to do, and had experimented with in the past, but had never put in the time and effort to see all the way through. I wanted to develop and release a videogame.

I work as a software developer, and I’ve worked in this role for the last 3 years. Prior to that I was a security guard, I worked nights and was studying for a degree in computer science in order to find a career in software development. As such, my experience with programming is limited to what I’ve learnt over the last few years. I’m green still, barely out of software development diapers, therefore, making a game was a daunting proposition. But videogames have always been a passion of mine. I adore playing them, I’m fascinated by how they work and how they’ve been developed. Creating one of my own would be a hugely fulfilling experience. So that’s what I did, I started developing my very own videogame, taking that extra time the lockdown was affording me and using it to learn new skills, find a creative outlet, and achieve a dream of mine.

Approximately 18 months later and my game is complete. In fact, it will be releasing on PC via Steam on June 20th. It’s called Click and Collect, it’s a casual arcade game about serving customers in a store. I could not be more excited to see Click and Collect release on Steam. Steam is the biggest distribution platform on PC for videogames and being able to release my game on that platform is a wonderful achievement.

18 months of development, though, that’s a lot of time working on a single project. I can hear the Click and Collect music in my head. I can complete each level with my eyes closed. I dream about serving customers and points rising above their heads as I do so. So much time spent at my computer programming, animating, planning, writing, crafting and testing was an experience. I can hardly look at my monitor anymore, it makes me sick. I am, of course, exaggerating a bit, the sight of my monitor causes mild nausea at worst. It was a long project that required a lot of work, a huge amount of learning, and a lot of dedication and discipline.

Developing Click and Collect took at lot of time, and as terrible as the pandemic was, without it, I’m not sure Click and Collect would exist. It’s a product of circumstance, made real purely because I was restricted in what else I could do. As technical as creating a game is, it’s also a very artistic and creative process. It was an outlet for me to build something new, from scratch, and it’s a remarkable feeling. It helped keep me grounded and sane during lockdown. It occupied my mind and enriched my soul. I wanted to share this story of developing Click and Collect during lockdown to convey something positive. Despite all the awful parts of the pandemic I bet there’s plenty of similar stories to mine about people creating things, discovering things, rediscovering or reaffirming parts of themselves, all due to the restrictions from lockdown. Despite everything, moving forwards is always positive, and at the end of tribulations there can be triumphs.

I live at the Millend MillI, Millend Lane, an address that has the word ’mill’ in it so often you’ll never question what the building used to function as. It’s a building that has adapted throughout the centuries, acting as a woolen cloth mill, corn and saw mill, maltings, animal feedstuffs, storage. It’s residential now, but tucked away in the roof, here I sit at my computer, making videogames. It nice that the mill is still producing something, in this case digital entertainment.

I’ll be making more games in the future. I’m very proud of Click and Collect but it’s not my magnum opus. Storytelling in videogames is something I find fascinating, and this is something I want to explore next. For now, though, if a small, arcade style game about serving customers in a store takes your fancy, made by a local resident keeping themselves busy during lockdown, please check out Click and Collect over at Steam: