Archive for January, 2010

Please Forgive Me!

I’ve got some bad news for Linux users that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to announce – I’ve tried everything I can think of, but I can’t get a version of VVVVVV working on Linux. I’m out of ideas and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Believe me, I’m as annoyed about this as I’m sure you are.

Flash is supposed to be cross platform, so I was under the impression that making a standalone Linux version just involved making a flash projector on Linux (like it did on a Mac). That’s not the case – I was horrified to discover on the day of the release that the Linux version was completely broken; it wasn’t displaying the graphics properly, and it didn’t take any keyboard input at all.

Since the launch I’ve optimistically tried everything I could to get it working, but VVVVVV is a flash game, and I’m completely at the mercy of how well flash works in Linux. I had some success using different versions of the standalone player, and I tried making changes to the game to hopefully work around the various problems I was having. The closest I got was by making an AIR version of the game and running it with the new (still in beta) version of AIR 2.0 – and that still had serious problems. The game had an audio lag of a couple of seconds, ran very slowly in fullscreen and worst of all, randomly called KeyUp events when you were holding down a key, which completely breaks the game’s controls.

I’m… disappointed that Flash support on Linux isn’t better than it is, but there’s nothing I can do.

There is at least some consolation, though – VVVVVV seems to work very well on Linux through Wine, at least in a window. With the patch I’ve been working on, I’m going to make the game a bit more Wine friendly by having it start in windowed mode. edit: WAIT FOR THE PATCH!

As well as that, I’ve also been looking into making an online version of the game available too which should work better (since the flash browser plug in on linux seems to be a lot better than the standalone version, for whatever reason). More on that in the next few days.

In any case, I’ll keep trying – hopefully a newer version of the Linux flash standalone player comes along at some point to fix these issues. I wish there was more I could do πŸ™

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TIGJam UK 2


(the venue; cheers to bateleur for the photo)

I’m just back from TIGJam UK 2! I was pretty exhausted for most of it with VVVVVV’s launch and everything, but I still enjoyed it a lot – met lots of new people (though unfortunately I didn’t get talking properly to everyone I wanted to), made a short game that I’m really happy with, and I got started on what’ll probably be my January game (as per the whole game-a-month thingy I’m doing this year).

Over the next couple of days, though, I’m going to do some more work on VVVVVV – I have a few things I wanna try to get the Linux port working, and hopefully I’ll have a patch that’ll fix a few minor glitches that people have found. I want to add some advanced display configuration options too that should help people who’ve had blurriness or slowdown in fullscreen modes.

I’ve got quite a backlog of emails to catch up on this week; apologies if you’ve been in touch and I haven’t replied yet!

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Bridge

I’m at TIGJam UK! At the last one of these things I made eight games, but I’m not really interested in trying to break that record this time. Here’s a game I made yesterday:

It’s called Bridge. It was started at one of the three hour jams for the theme “audio only”.

I used a lot of creative commons photos in this one; I’ve put a full list after the jump.

Read more »

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Level Complete!

VVVVVV is complete. You can now get it from its website http://thelettervsixtim.es/!

I apologise for how last minute this all was! I’ve just sent out the preorders to anyone who donated. If for any reason you haven’t gotten that, get in touch and I’ll sort you out.

I’ve just been told that the emails might have been marked as spam, since it got sent out to quite a few people. Be sure to check your spam filter, just in case!

I’d just like to remind you that if you like the soundtrack, Souleye is selling that separately on his own site here: http://www.souleye.se/

Want to talk about the game here? I recently added a forum!

Thanks for all the support and encouragement over the last few months. I hope you enjoy the game!

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Conundrum

Just a quick update regarding the VVVVVV launch, which is happening TODAY:

I’m having some technical issues with the Linux port of the game, and unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be ready tonight. So, I’m going to go ahead with just the Windows and Mac versions for the moment, and hopefully resolve problems with the Linux version later in the week. Sorry about this. I was really hoping to launch all three versions together.

If you have any experience with making standalone flash applications in linux, please get in touch!

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Down Under

This is a guest post by Bennett Foddy, who named the rooms in VVVVVV! You might know him from his games QWOP or Evacuation.

It occurs to me that I haven’t said very much about Bennett’s involvement with the game on this blog up to this, so allow me to quickly make up for that: The early prototypes of the game from last summer included all sorts of elements that I ended up removing for one reason or another – minor collectibles, one way blocks, a different type of disappearing platform, among other things. One element that was on the chopping block once the game got a bit bigger was the room names.

There were fun to implement at first, but I don’t really have a knack for naming things (hey, I called the bloody game VVVVVV, after all). When the game started to get a lot bigger, the difficulty in naming every single room in the game just seemed like too much for me. So Bennett offered to give it a try. He ended up naming every room in the game.

I can’t stress enough how much I like the roomnames in VVVVVV, and how much I think they add to the game. Bennett did an amazing job, adding a real identity to each of the game’s locations. My favourite roomname from the game is “I’ve Changed My Mind, Thelma…”, which made an otherwise not very interesting room something special.

I asked him to write a little about his approach to naming for the blog, and here’s what he came up with:

GIVING THINGS NAMES

I take the art of naming seriously. I’m not saying that I’m some sort of expert, or even that I’m good at it, but I think I take it more seriously than most people do. I think most people think that names are just arbitrary labels we use to refer to things. I want to say a bit about why I think that those people have the wrong idea.

Creating and naming are separate skills. Creating is hard, slow work, while naming is a flourish that is completed in an instant. That’s why god had to make the animals, if you believe in such things, but the naming of them could be left to a nude man with no education.

Though naming things is instant and effortless, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do a good job of it. And while naming is insubstantial, that doesn’t mean it’s inconsequential. When we create something we give it form. But when we name it we provide a means of apprehending and understanding that form. When we name things we communicate facts about whatever we’re naming, but we also attach new facts to those things.

In case you think I’m being silly, or just really pretentious, let me give a couple of examples. The first comes from the Sydney Morning Herald.

“One son was named Loser, the other Winner.

One became a policeman and was eventually promoted to detective.

The other fell into the life of a small-time crook, racking up at least 31 arrests before being jailed for two years.

But for the brothers Lane it was not a case of their unique names sealing their fates. “I went a totally separate route right from the start,” said Loser Lane, 41, a detective in the South Bronx.

Loser, a star student and athlete, went on scholarship to an elite prep school, on to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and then joined the force.

Winner’s life has gone the other way. Now 44, Winner last month completed a two-year jail sentence for breaking into a car. He is living in a homeless shelter in upstate New York, shuttling back and forth between it and the city trying to get his life on track.

Why did he commit so many crimes? “It’s just some situations I got in,” Winner said.”

Of course, Winner Lane didn’t just get in some situations. His life was mapped out for him when his genius parents decided to call him Winner.

Here’s a more practical example. (Photos courtesy of Jalopnik)

Looks like a fairly cool car. I bet the designers thought it looked chic, modern and clean. But then the guys upstairs named it the ‘Probe’.

Coming off the production line, this must have looked like a fairly macho, practical vehicle. But they called it the ‘Rural Nanny’

There is no pre-existing fact about either of these cars that makes ‘Probe’ or ‘Nanny’ an appropriate name. But now that they are named, it is a fact that the first car is for perverts and the second is for old ladies. These things are now facts about these cars, just as sure as if someone had built mirrors into the ceiling of the first car or put a valence around the tray of the second.

So naming things is Serious Business, and it’s similar to another kind of Serious Business: cutting people in half with a samurai sword.

When you cut someone in half with a samurai sword, you can do it in a long series of timid, half-hearted exploratory swipes. You can stop half-way through and start over. You can constantly second-guess yourself and adjust your progress. But when you do these things, though you end up bisecting your opponent, you will have made a mess. You will have expended more effort than necessary, and the slice will be jagged and ugly. Everyone will know you for the poor swordsman that you are.

No. When you cut someone in half with a samurai sword, it is better to do it all in one go. The same thing goes for giving things names. It has to be done decisively, or you can wind up with hamburger instead of steak.

So that’s why I’m serious about giving things names. That’s why I was honoured to be allowed to contribute names to VVVVVV, a game which needed a whole lot of names. I hope I made clean cuts of most of them.

NAMING THE ROOMS IN VVVVVV

When things go right, room names serve four distinct purposes. First, they evoke something about the room that isn’t there in the graphics. Some names are there to add more to the game world, fleshing it out and adding detail while keeping graphical clutter off-screen.

Sometimes the names need to communicate something about the room or its solution…

… or just communicate a message from the game to its victim!

Third, they’re there to help you locate yourself and remember the rooms without referring to the map. VVVVVV is a huge game, and while it’s hard to get thoroughly lost since there’s a mini-map, the names act as signposts you can read without interrupting your game.

Finally, some of the room names are just there to raise your spirits when you’re attempting that room for the 185th time!

Room names died with the advent of smooth scrolling in video games. They’re one of those once-popular features that were never obsoleted but instead were voluntarily given up in the service of smoother gameplay. Yet here we are in 2010, with a revolutionary, forward-looking flip-screen platformer. With individually-named rooms.

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Select Track

This is a guest post by Magnus PΓ₯lsson, aka Souleye, who composed VVVVVV’s soundtrack!

Hello there all friendly gamers!

First I’d like to say… Terry is a monster. But more on that later.

This blogpost entry is by me, Magnus, aka SoulEye. I asked if I could talk a little about me, VVVVVV, and the music, since there’s been some questions about it. Terry being the gentle soul he is accepted so here we go!

I’ve been making computer music since the 1980’s. It became really fun with the advent of the Amiga computer. I’m very much game influenced in my music style. I love the retro games and the music that come with it and the feeling explorable within. I’ve tried a lot of genres but think that retro game music is the most enjoyable to make.

Although… It’s not always as well received by those not well versed in oldschool retro games… You know the kind. The kind that says “Theme from Wizball? Which movie was that?” when I bring up old geniuses. When I proudly announced that I have chatted with Rob Hubbard about game music, they looked at me dumbfoundedly and shook their heads in disbelief, not that I hadn’t done it, but rather that they can’t believe one can be more inclined to have anything more to do with this kind of music than hitting the off button.

But not so in the internet’s indie community! You kind folks have like me an unbridled passion for retro games, music and creativity. When I started posting songs online I never knew I’d one day be making music for games that could have been rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mega Man 2 or Mario brothers, had they only been released back then.

Which brings me to how I came to do the soundtrack for VVVVVV. I was fiddling away with my chiptunes and the more people I talked to about it, the more requests came in for game music. At one time I assisted a game development school with music for their graduating student’s exam projects, so there was always something to do.

Cutting a long story short, I came across IndieGameMusic.com and posted some tunes there. Charlie from Charliesgames.com asked to use a tune for his game Space Phallus, which then later Terry played, and approached me with an offer to make tunes for his new game… A weird platformer… What’s this, I thought. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Like you, I checked out Terry’s portfolio of games and was amazed at the depth that came with the games, even though they were small and short. My personal favorite became Don’t Look Back because of the chilling “untold” story. That’s when I knew I wanted to make this lad something special musicwise. Though I had only a little to work from, I got an idea and went with it. I wanted to make uptempo happy songs that would ingrain themselves into your minds whether you want to or not, hopefully so much so that you’d go humming on them when not playing, and making you want to come back to the game even more.

Did Terry and I succeed in creating that unconscious craving to return to playing VVVVVV when you aren’t? You’ll know soon enough, the game is out the tenth… I’m as excited as you are – I haven’t played that awesome-looking super gravitron either!

Damn that Terry. Making me wait for that, he’s such a monster… Oh right, this was his blog, I forgot. *Cough* What I meant to say is… Terry is a nice fella! Give him all your money!

Okay? We good? Okay. Phew.

Chevy Ray asked for it, and I deliver… A VVVVVV Haiku!

The flipping falling –
even snowflakes awaiten
gravitys release

– Magnus

Thanks, Magnus! I just want to add he’s planning to sell the game’s soundtrack separately for $4 on his own site for anyone who wants it. If you like his music, consider supporting him this Sunday too! He’s put together this preview track of the songs from the game:

PPPPPPreview:
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Boldly To Go

Haha – this is apparently a classic Sesame Street animation:

Thanks, StephenM3 πŸ™‚

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Leap of Faith

Over the last couple of days, I did an interview with Michael Rose for Indiegames.com. We discuss how VVVVVV came about and talk about a few of my other games: Check it out!

Also: I added a forum to the site! I thought it might be a useful thing to have for when the game comes out.

FOUR days now! I’m exhausted, but we’re nearly there πŸ™‚

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Time to get serious

Just FIVE days left, now – that’s kinda scary πŸ™‚

I have some fun stuff planned for the rest of the week, so stay tuned!

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