Project Clean Slate

Hey! I thought it was time for one of my long-overdue catch up posts. Here’s what I’ve been up to recently!

I’m back in London

So, uh, I guess here’s a very brief summary of the past two years: I was in Australia at the start of the pandemic, and when flights started getting cancelled and borders started closing, I essentially got stuck there. Which, it turns out, was extraordinarily good luck. There’s nowhere else I would have rather been during all this. But visas and work and life gave me plenty of reasons to come back, so in August, after 18 months, I returned to London! Here I am again!

Settling back into London has been a bit of an adjustment. My way of dealing with that has been to pour myself into work – so I’m doing something I’ve been calling “project clean slate”. Basically, I’m tackling years worth of little jobs, bug fixes, and long term maintenance jobs that I’ve been putting off forever. My goal is to come out the other side of this with no lingering jobs hanging over me, and a clean slate to start on whatever’s next.

That means: taking a look at what needs to be done to maintain my three commercial games, and a big list of miscellaneous “other stuff”.

Dicey Dungeons

It’s weird for me to think around this, but Dicey Dungeons is now kind of an old game? Like, we launched it over two years ago! Weird because for me, it’s still my main job – most of what I do on a day-to-day basis is Dicey related. I just released an update on Steam last week, in fact. A lot of this work should be coming to fruition in the near future, excitingly.

The big question to answer here is; yes, we are still doing the mobile ports! Yes, I know they’re taking a long time. I’m sorry! But we’re really close now! Sometime in the next couple of months, probably.

We could in theory rush them out sooner than that, but I’d rather not… for one, I wanna get them right, but also… I’ve been working on something cool that I want to debut with the mobile versions.

For the past year, I’ve been slowly working on a new DLC for the game. It’s six brand new episodes, free to everyone who owns the game. I’m getting the band back together for one last show!

That’s all I’m ready to say about this for now – but I’m very, very excited to start talking about it for real.


VVVVVV

VVVVVV is actually in really great shape these days, mostly due to the recent PC open source update! The game’s running like brand new again.

The mobile versions are maybe a little rustier, but they actually still work *pretty* well, I think. I did an iOS update in 2017 to bring it up to 64-bit, and then a similar one on Android in 2019. I think it’d be nice to port the open source improvements to mobile eventually, but that doesn’t really feel urgent. As for the console versions, they’re out of my hands, but they’re very solid versions of the game that aren’t going anywhere, so that’s fine. VVVVVV is in a good place.


Super Hexagon

Of my three commercial games, Super Hexagon is currently the most neglected, I think. Over the next few months, I really want to do something about that!

First and most urgent is getting the Android version back up and running! The Android 11 update last year broke the game completely, so I had to take it down off the store. However, thanks to Daniel Rosser, we have a fix almost ready to go! (Hey, actually, do you want to help test it? I’m doing a google play beta version very soon, if you’re interested!) The iOS version is relatively up to date, but we’ll probably do an update there too just to bring it up to speed and keep it running nicely into the future.

After that, the PC version could really use an update – it was originally built on Windows 7, after all, so that’s next. After that? Well, we’ll see – I think a Switch port might be interesting, but I don’t want to promise anything!

Other stuff

So, uh, what else is there?

Bosca Ceoil

Bosca Ceoil is my music making app from a couple of years back. I released it as Open Source, and I’d really like to keep it up and running – it actually gets pretty widely used in game jams these days, which is nice! Right now, it doesn’t really work on Mac or Linux (without quite a lot of hacking, at least). So it’d be nice to fix that.

What I’d really like to do, though, if I had infinite time, is a full Haxe rewrite. That way I could make nice modern native versions for Windows, Mac and Linux, which would run better and support fancy native features like Midi keyboards that were too much of a hassle to get working in Adobe AIR. It would be a chance to fix some long standing bugs too, like, uh, how when you press escape the application immediately exits without saving your work.

Porting the application would be pretty simple, I reckon – a couple of days should do it. The blocker is the audio library that it depends on, SiON, which doesn’t have a working haxe port. I’ve done a little bit of work to try and get the haxe port working, and I have have a couple of promising leads… but it’s a little bit beyond me, to be honest. Maybe at some point I’ll try to find someone who can help?

Terry’s Free Game of the Week

So, this is a weekly blog where I post about interesting freeware games that I’ve played recently. I find myself drawn to projects like this because… I guess I want more things like this to exist? That said…

For whatever reason, the blog isn’t really getting a lot of readers. Which is not really a big deal, you know, whatever – it’s been a good project for me, in terms of having a place to articulate why I like what I like, and it gives me a good reason to keep up with freeware. And while I can’t say I’m getting better at writing, exactly, I am starting to find it easier.

I have to wonder, though: if this blog is just for me, maybe there are more productive things I could be doing with my time? I dunno! I guess I’ll see out the year at least, and re-assess then.

FF8 Script Twitter Bot

Oh yeah, I made a twitter bot which just tweets random lines from Final Fantasy VIII, lol. I’m slowly adding lines to its database, which is a more manual process than you might expect. It’s a fun side-project, though – it’s been a really interesting script to pour over line by line! Man, I should make another RPG.

My old flash games

Sadly, thanks to the death of flash, basically all of my freeware games from before 2016 no longer work! This *sucks*. Right now the only way you can really play any of them is through the BlueMaxima Flashpoint project (essentially a downloadable flash emulator). I’ve been sort of hoping that projects like ruffle would get to the point where everything would just magically start working again, but it seems like they’ve still a long way to go.

So – one thing I could do is port them, individually, from Flash to Haxe. Which is actually not as much work as it sounds! But it’s a lot of programming work that I’m really not that good at, and I’m not sure it’s a good use of my time when I could be making exciting new things instead. I dunno. Eventually I might try to save one or two of the ones I care about the most.

Future Plans

After all this, what’s next? It’s gonna be a while before I get through all this, but I am thinking a lot about what I want to do when that happens. This sorta feels like the start of a new chapter for me.

I think it’s probably time I sat down and learned a few new tricks. I really like haxe, but recently I’ve been feeling like not working with a modern game engine is holding me back a bit. After all, ideally I would do a lot less programming and a lot more game making.

Godot seems really promising, and I think I would really enjoy spending a little more time with it, making some dumb freeware games while I figure out what I want to really want to work on next. Who knows!

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Triangle Run

I had one secret fear going into the “Stop Waiting For Godot” game jam, which I organised last weekend: man, I sure hope Godot is good. 1,200 people took part in the jam in the end, which, uh, was a lot more than expected. I think a lot of people had been waiting for a good reason to jump in and give it a try.

Anyway! As it turns out, Godot is every bit as good as I hoped it would be. I’m really impressed! There’s a very good chance I’ll be using it for a lot of my games from now on. Godot is more than ready to be the open source, indie game making toolkit I’ve been looking for.

Triangle Run is my first Godot game, created for the jam as a learning project. You play a Triangle that runs!

[Play Online (HTML5)]

[Download for Windows/Mac/Linux on itch.io] | [Source Code]

This version has been updated since last weekend – there’s a working web build now, I’ve improved some of the challenges, and something cool happens if you beat your own personal best score…

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VVVVVV 2.3 out now

Hey everyone! I’m back in London!

I’m gonna write a little blog post sometime soon about what I’m up to these days, and what I’m planning in the near future. Before all that, though, here’s a quick update about something exciting that’s happening today – it’s the first update to VVVVVV on PC in seven years!


(Adorable fan art by Cheep! Check out more of their work on Twitter!)

I mentioned this update on twitter a little while back – we’ve been in beta for a while now, and it’s feeling pretty solid, so it’s time to make it official! The full 2.3 changelog is *immense* (you can read it here), but roughly speaking, the update adds:

  • 60+ FPS support
  • Improved graphical options
  • New features in the editor
  • Hundreds of bug fixes

This update is as a direct result of making the source code available last year, and accepting source contributions. I’ve personally added very, very little to this update – which is something that I feel maybe a little anxious about! But I’ve been very careful to make sure that every change is something I was happy with, and that none of the changes to the game were doing anything other than making this the best version of the 2010 game. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who contributed to that – especially – and I really can’t overstate this, especially InfoTeddy, who did by far and away the most to make this happen. (She recorded a little song to mark the occasion!)

[VVVVVV on Steam]

[VVVVVV on itch.io]

[VVVVVV Make and Play Edition]

Thanks all – enjoy the update! <3

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Anyone could be struck by lightning at any time

So hey, I made another Roblox game! In this one, everyone’s on a little rainy island and occasionally someone is picked at random to be struck by lightning. It’s one of the… dumbest things I’ve ever made. I’m so happy with it.

[Play on Roblox.com]

Unlike my Giant Man, this one came together in just 48 hours or so. I’m still figuring out where my new-found interest in Roblox fits into what I do, but right now, I’m just excited to be able to play around with multiplayer design, at long last.

I’ve been interested in making online multiplayer games for a while, but the barrier to making them is so high that it really wasn’t possible for me. I don’t know if these kind of experiments will lead anywhere – maybe not? But I’d be pretty happy if I end up having a body of Roblox work filled with things like this.

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Climb the Giant Man Obby


For the past year or so, I’ve been kinda fascinated by Roblox – a massively popular multiplayer game platform, mostly aimed at kids. So recently, I decided to try making a game for it!

I expected this to be a week long side project, and set out to make an “Obby” – a style of 3D platformer that’s popular on Roblox. But I didn’t expect how much I was going to love working in Roblox Studio. I’ve been working on this on-and-off for about three months, which makes it one of my biggest freeware projects ever.

You can play Climb the Giant Man Obby, for free, right here:

[Play on Roblox.com]

This is probably not going to be my last Roblox game! While I was working on this, I documented my Roblox discoveries in a big twitter thread here! Might be of interest to other developers who are curious about the platform.

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Terry’s Free Game of the Week

Hey hey, welcome back! It’s been a while! So I’ve been working on a new project recently, and I thought it was probably about time that I mentioned it here.

[Terry’s Free Game of the Week]

Since the start of the year, I’ve been writing at this new site, “Terry’s Free Game of the Week“. Basically I pick one recent freeware game each Friday, and talk about why I think it’s cool. It’s just me doing this, and it’s going to stay that way (unless I find another Terry who wants to write about freeware).

You know, at first, I wasn’t really sure how long I was going to keep this up for – even though it’s just one game a week, I still have to play everything that comes out, which is a lot of work! But I’m a couple of months in now, so I think the site is probably not going anywhere. I figure I’ll at least try to keep it going for a year, and then re-assess.

It’s been really interesting, this process of making myself write about something every week – I am not a writer, and I genuinely find this really difficult and stressful, every week. But I think this is a good project for me for three big reasons:

One: I think creative work is more interesting when it’s connected with a larger scene – people making work in conversation with each other. In other words, I think making the effort to pay attention to what’s going on in freeware helps make me better at making games.

Two: I think non-commercial work is important. Commercial viability is not the only measure of value.

And three, just like it was six years ago when we were doing freeindiegam.es, I think an incredible amount of amazing creative work out there is not getting the attention it deserves, and it feels good to be doing my bit to try and shine a light on it.

Ahem, anyway! I’m really proud of this new project. Please check it out!

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Featured VVVVVV Level: “Decennial Hangout” by mothbeanie and Allison Fleischer

“The crew throw a party for their famous mission’s 10th anniversary”[Author’s Description]

10 years after their “famous mission”, the crew throw a reunion party to catch up and hang out and play some games together on Vitellary’s fancy new VR headset. It turns out the crew are all budding game designers, and the first thing we do is play through a space station inspired level created by Violet. Afterwards, Vermilion nervously shows the crew something he’s been working on, which comprises the rest of the game.

This thing is charming as all hell. As you play through the game, the various in-universe crewmates chime in, offering each other supportive feedback about their levels. It’s cute and funny and the whole thing is just really nicely constructed from start to finish – it reads to me as a loving tribute to the community of level creators over the last ten years, all hanging out and talking about levels they’ve made for each other.

It’s also a kind of remarkable showcase of tricks the VVVVVV level making community has learned in the past ten years – Decennial Hangout depends on a deep knowledge of forbidden “internal scripting” tricks, and uses custom graphics and sounds, and incredibly, an all new soundtrack created just for this level (available on bandcamp here). There’s some stuff here I didn’t even realise you could do with custom VVVVVV levels.

This is my favourite entry to the jam <3

Favourite part: This whole level is fantastic, and it’s hard to pick a favourite moment without spoiling it: but one trick it repeats, which never failed to be charming, is the level designers “fixing” issues on the fly – “whoops, I made this bit too hard, sorry”.

Download: decennial_hangout.zip (mirrored)
(glorious trainwrecks page)

To play a VVVVVV player level, extract the .vvvvvv file into your VVVVVV levels folder. On windows, that should be in My Documents/VVVVVV, on Mac it’s Documents/VVVVVV, on Linux it’s ~/.vvvvvv. This level also requires you to install some custom music and graphics – see the included readme for instructions.

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Featured VVVVVV Level: “Traps R.J.” by InfoTeddy

“This is a troll level fashioned after Super Mario Maker and Super Mario Maker 2 troll levels, complete with misdirection, deception, and anti-softlocks. […] I recommend playing completely blind, i.e. not knowing anything about the level at all, no spoilers, no hints.”[Author’s Description]

More than anything else, this level is just really, really funny. It knows VVVVVV well enough to know how to make it completely fall apart, and it uses that knowledge to tell some really solid mechanical jokes. Its description as a troll level made me worry that it would be impossibly hard, but turns out it’s the *other* sort of troll level, the prankster type. (Not that it doesn’t get, er, a bit hard in some places. There is one particular room I’m thinking of here which got a little too esoteric even for me, though it’s optional.)

It’s suggested that you play this level on camera, if you can. I didn’t, not my thing. But if it’s yours, you definitely should!

Favourite part: Skip this bit if you want to go in *completely* unspoiled – but I loved the joke right at the very first checkpoint, which parodies the bizarre sub-1 minute speedruns of the game that are possible.

Download: traps_rj.zip (mirrored)
(glorious trainwrecks page)

To play a VVVVVV player level, extract the .vvvvvv file into your VVVVVV levels folder. On windows, that should be in My Documents/VVVVVV, on Mac it’s Documents/VVVVVV, on Linux it’s ~/.vvvvvv

* 3 Comments

Featured VVVVVV Level: “6×7 Planet” by ncrecc

“Viridian and the gang (part of the gang) got stuck in some other dimension-type thing again! With spikes and whatnot. Ha ha ha how does this keep happening?”[Author’s Description]

A simple, design-focused level in a 6×7 space, with four crewmates lost down four distinct paths.

This one’s great! It has some genuinely fantastic level design, including more than one section that features a mechanical “punchline”, which I always love. It’s pretty hard in places, but the hard bits can usually be solved by rethinking your approach – at which point you can bypass the challenge. All four crewmate paths are really well designed, and the trinkets are great too. In terms of level design, I think this is the best entry in the jam.

Favourite part: After finishing this one, I went through the level in the editor to pick out a highlight, and found it hard to narrow it down to just one room. But I think my favourite bit is the transition between “More of the same” and “Haha nope”, where the level plays with your expectation that it’s going to continue to use screen wrapping, and then… doesn’t.

Download: 6×7.zip (mirrored)
(glorious trainwrecks page)

To play a VVVVVV player level, extract the .vvvvvv file into your VVVVVV levels folder. On windows, that should be in My Documents/VVVVVV, on Mac it’s Documents/VVVVVV, on Linux it’s ~/.vvvvvv

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Featured VVVVVV Levels: 10th anniversary jam roundup

Happy new year! High hopes for 2021!

Today’s the 11 year anniversary of VVVVVV’s launch. Last year, I made a big splash for it, and released the game’s source code during an AGDQ speedrun. The source code got, uh, more attention than I was expecting, especially once people actually dug into it…

Good times, good times.

Some fun stuff has happened with VVVVVV since the source code release!

  • We’ve accepted and merged more than 400 pull requests, which will form part of a new version that will probably come out a little later this year. Many of these pull requests are contributions from one particularly prolific contributor (shout out to InfoTeddy)! The changes are mostly fixes for a lot of long term bugs, but also include new features like 60fps support, and improvements to the editor.
  • There’s a Dreamcast port now, as well as a port for the Haiku operating system, and you can play the Make and Play edition in web browsers thanks to a webassembly port.
  • At some point in the future, it’s possible there’ll be a localisation update – there’s a branch on the github that I’m watching closely for the technical side of the task!

So, I guess for other game developers thinking about doing this, here’s a data point! Only good things have happened. This whole thing has been a really positive experience, and I’m really glad I did it.

One regret: in the blog post last year, I talked about the 10th birthday game jam independently organised on Glorious Trainwrecks, and said that I’d do a round up post of the entries when the jam was over… which I never did.

A lot of time has passed, but I’d like to make up for that right now. Over the course of next week, I’m going to be posting three of my favourite entries in classic featured level style. I haven’t done this for 10 years.

There was a lot of cool stuff entered in this jam, too much for me to usefully filter here. Still, here’s an attempt: a quick roundup of other entries that I wanna encourage you to check out, beyond my three favourites:


DROD: KVD / Level 1 by EpsilonTheDerg

“My favorite puzzle series’ first level recreated in one of my favorite platformer games! Happy birthday, VVVVVV!” – [Author’s Description]

Hah! I’m a huge fan of the DROD series of puzzle games, and, as this level points out, DROD: Architects Edition was a pretty major inspiration towards the Make and Play Edition of VVVVVV. That aside, though, the two games really don’t have much in common, so I was curious how this concept was going to work.

…ok, turns out, I don’t think you can say that this combination works, exactly. Mostly, it comes down to a lot of timing challenges. But as a big fan of the game it’s referencing, I found it interesting to see the layout reinterpreted, and there’s something I really like about the sheer unlikeliness of the concept in the first place.

Favourite part: It does feature one genuine puzzle, which is how to get back into the entrance tunnel in Quince North, Twice West. The author makes it very clear in the description that this is possible, and it is!

[download on glorious trainwrecks]


Steamed VVVVVVams by EpsilonTheDerg

“Viridian’s Luncheon doesn’t go as planned.” – [Author’s Description]

But what if Viridian were to purchase fast food, and pass it off as their own cooking? Delightfully devilish!

This *maybe* would have been stronger if it had just stuck to the one joke, but eh, what can you do? It’s still a great level.

Favourite part: Honestly, the second I saw that icon on the glorious trainwrecks page, I couldn’t wait to play this.

[download on glorious trainwrecks]


VVVVVV: Moonfall by Azure48

“As for the title, it’s from a dream I had a few months back, about a nonexistent sequel to VVVVVV called VVVVVV:Moonfall. The story would’ve tied into it, but I never got that far.” – [Author’s Description]

Rather than a .vvvvvv level, this one’s a pico-8 demake of VVVVVV. While it’s very unfinished, it’s worth checking out anyway for its charming atmosphere and wonderful demade version of the original soundtrack.

Favourite part: It really is super impressive that so much of the original soundtrack is remade in Pico-8’s synth, and it sounds fantastic. I happily stood around in empty rooms so I could hear everything.

[download/play on glorious trainwrecks]


The Groceries by Lollipop

“Viridian has to go buy the groceries, but of course, there are some small inconveniences along the way…” – [Author’s Description]

I’m not sure where to start! This very story-heavy level opens with a cutscene where Violet asks Viridian to go out and buy some groceries – which they don’t want to do because they’re sick (this hits a bit different after 2020). After Viridian says no a few times, Violet tricks them and locks them outside the ship, and off we go.

On the way, Viridian takes a train trip, and bumps into lots of random people who proceed to argue with them about morality, philosophy, and in one case just try to bully them into getting a drink from the dining cart for some reason. The whole thing has a kind of a strange, fanfic energy, in a good way? The final section when you actually get to the store is pretty strong in particular.

Favourite part: The store section is good, but so is the bizarre quiz section that occurs about halfway through, where an AI needs to check that you’re “not a robot” before it’ll let you continue by quizzing you on the events in the level so far.

[download on glorious trainwrecks]


Simulation by nicholas

“Vitellary makes a simulation for adventure-seeking Viridian! Nothing wrong should happen, right?” – [Author’s Description]

Ok, so, I think I’m pretty good at VVVVVV? Maybe I’m a bit rusty, I guess? But I could get *absolutely* nowhere with this one. This is definitely one of the hardest VVVVVV levels I can remember seeing. I know that a lot of VVVVVV player levels skew hard, so I guess it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that there’d be at least one entry in this jam that was just beyond my skills.

Still, it was pretty clear from the first room (in the screenshot above) that this was a competently made thing, and I was curious about what the rest of the level was like – so I turned on invincibility mode, and went exploring.

What I found was frankly terrifying. Lots of really, really hard challenges, but all tightly tuned and carefully designed. Clearly a tonne of work went in this! If you like VVVVVV, but think that it’s just, like, way too easy, you’ll find this interesting. I, for one, would love to watch a successful playthrough.

Favourite part: If you view the map screen, the name of the level is written vertically along the side, which is cute.

[download on glorious trainwrecks]


Pointy Hazards by ureytw

“Phew, I made it! This is a song i made inspired by the Soundtrack. Enjoy, and happy VVVVVV 10th anniversary. :)” – [Author’s Description]

Not a .vvvvvv level this time, instead, just a really, really great tune inspired by the VVVVVV soundtrack.

Favourite part: That bit that starts at 33 seconds is *killer*. Uff, what a banger.

[listen on glorious trainwrecks]

To play a VVVVVV player level, extract the .vvvvvv file into your VVVVVV levels folder. On windows, that should be in My Documents/VVVVVV, on Mac it’s Documents/VVVVVV, on Linux it’s ~/.vvvvvv

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