Red Jumper

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I play the accordion. So does this guy:

…but that’s just an interesting coincidence, not the point of this post. My trad band, Geansaí Dearg, recorded a few songs in our last practice, and we’ve now got them up on a myspace! They’re a bit rough, but I think they’ve come out fairly ok! Check them out and let me know what you think!


Sub-Pixel Message Generator

Here’s something crazy and pointless: did you know that LCD monitors draw single pixels by mixing three individual red, green and blue subpixels? It’s true! In fact, some devices (like mobile phones and handheld gaming devices) actually use this to anti-alias text and make borders more distinct. Microsoft even use it on laptops running windows with a technique called Cleartype.

I’ve made a little program that uses this technique to create a ridiculously small font, only visible on LCD monitors running at their highest resolution. Each letter is only 1 pixel wide and 5 pixels high, but should be legible nonetheless if you look really closely. Behold!

If you can read that, then feel free to check out the little program I wrote to generate it: my Sub-Pixel Message Generator. You can read more about it in these two TIGSource threads (1 and 2).

[Edit 24th Nov 2010]: Hi, ycombinator! If you’re having trouble reading this, a guy called alanfalcon on your comment thread took a photo of it so you can see what’s happening:


Swimfail, and the Major Arcana Soundtrack

Josiah Tobin‘s posting again, and he has something of an announcement. He’s selling his “Self-Centered Tales From The Project That Failed” album for $10 CAD on his site.

You can download it for free if you want, but do support him if you can, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it 🙂 If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s a sample (and one of my favourite tracks from the album):


This seems like a good opportunity to post about something that’s long overdue – in February of last year Josiah composed the soundtrack to my tarot card inspired RPG Major Arcana. I never managed to release much more than a very basic demo, and at this point the project is well and truly on the long finger. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever return to working on Major Arcana, but it’s about time people heard its excellent soundtrack!

I guess I’m a little biased, but I think it’s awesome – especially considering that most of it was created in less than two weeks. I still have the tracks on my MP3 player to this day to listen to from time to time.

You can download all seven tracks in one 30Mb zip file here, or alternatively listen to them streaming on this page!

Hiding From the Clouds:
(Download, 3Mb)
Vol (Original):
(Download, 5.3Mb)
Vol (Battle Theme):
(Download, 2.9Mb)

(This is the same song as before, sped up and used as a battle theme in the demo.)
(Download, 5.6Mb)
(Download, 3Mb)
(Download, 3.6Mb)
(Download, 3.2Mb)
(Download, 3.8Mb)

VGNG Contest: My Picks

This is a few days overdue, but voting for TIGSource’s VGNG contest is finally over! We Love Mind Control Rocket managed 11th place (out of 48 entries) – which is frankly a hell of lot better than I was expecting to do, so I’m chuffed 😀 I think most people who voted for my game did so on potential rather than implementation – all the more reason for me to do a good job on that update (more on that in a few days).

Seeing as I’d entered this one, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to say much about the other entries until the contest had wrapped up. Now that it has, I’d like to share my favourites from the contest, like I did with the B-Games.

As a disclaimer, I should mention that my little laptop had trouble running some of these games, so I wasn’t able to play everything. These are the games I wasn’t able to check out in the end: Corporate Moped Horde, Narcoleptic Soccer Rush, Russian Landmine Patrol, and Unstoppable Dwarf – Hot Pursuit. I also had to exclude the following due to severe performance issues: Emo Harvest on The Oregon Trail, Enraged Rocket House, and No One Can Stop the Farm Pioneer.

Here are the three games I eventually voted for:

Samurai Railroad Mansion – Lurk

Given the list of games above that I couldn’t get working, this one might come as a bit of a surprise. While the original version the author had uploaded was completely unplayable, the update actually worked perfectly. So although I’d already voted by the time I played this, I liked it so much that I had to change my vote.

Simplicity is hard. I have a lot of respect for any game that can take a simple idea and execute it really well, like Samurai Railroad Mansion does. The big thing it gets right is the difficultly curve – it’s pitched just hard enough that you can’t make a lot of progress at first, but once you get the hang of the timing for each enemy it becomes challenging without being frustrating. While the game is occasionally unfair, dealing you an impossible situation every so often, 95% of the times you take damage it’s your fault, and you could have avoided it if you’d been quicker or more careful. I keep coming back to this game, making a little bit more progress each time.

Hugely addictive and lots of fun, as far as I’m concerned it’s the best game in the contest by a wide margin. That the graphics and animations are breathtaking certainly helped too.

Time Shark II: Medieval Shark Strike Force – I Like Cake

While it’s a decent enough platformer with some nifty ideas, if it wasn’t for the intro sequence, I probably wouldn’t have voted for Time Shark. But it’s so hard to be critical of a game that starts with the line “The last Hitler is in captivity”.

This game just delighted me the whole way through – the excellent storyline, the setting, the Metroid references, the clever level design – everything – I reached the end and knew I had to vote for it. After all, I had more fun with it than I did with practically anything else in the contest.

Morbidly Obese Rugby Nation – Sega

For me, the joke entries in this contest had a special significance. Most people (myself included) took a name from the generator and asked “What kind of game can I make with that title”? The joke entries, on the other hand, asked “What would a game with this title actually be like”? Which straight away makes them pretty interesting! I can only wonder what sorta entries we would have seen if every game had approached the contest like this.

Not only was Morbidly Obese Rugby Nation the funniest game in the contest, for me it was one of the most interesting too. So it got my vote.

That’s it! It really was tough choosing only three to vote for – I hope the 3-game limit is something that’s re-evaluated for whatever contest TIGSource holds next. It kinda sucks that over half the entries got less than five votes each. If I’d had a few more choices, there were a few other games that I would have liked to root for:

Planet of the Forklift Kid – shaktool

Before I got Samurai Railroad Mansion to work, I’d originally given Planet of the Forklift Kid my third vote. It’s a clever little physics-based platform puzzler that really stood out for me – partly because it was the only puzzle game entered out of nearly 50 games in the contest.

Brain-Damaged Toon Underworld – Cactus

My first reaction when I saw the trailer was “right, that’s it, contest’s over” 😮 . The visual and audio style is spectacular, even by Cactus’ standards. However, while there’s clearly potential for a hell of a game here, the short demo Cactus posted at the deadline wasn’t substantial enough for me to vote for. I can’t wait to see the finished product, though.

No One Can Stop the Sloth of the Blood God – Pencerkoff

While flawed in a lot of ways, the game hinted at some original and clever ideas that could have worked with a bit of balancing and development time. I hope to see more from “Pencerkoff”, whoever he is.


A nifty little game that went on to take first place in the contest. Compared to some of the other entries it didn’t really have much of an impact on me, but I had a lot of fun playing it! In particular, the ending was excellent! (In fact, the whole “glitch” effect thing was handled perfectly.)

My First Skydiving Academy – Farmergnome

I really love this game’s silhouette style and the game is heaps of fun, but I felt it was a bit one note compared to some of the other stuff in the contest. The idea behind the game was brilliant, though 😀

Post-Apocalyptic Unicorn Uprising – Montoli

Another game that really stood out for me – the rainbow shield thing was really clever and whole style and setting was brilliant. I didn’t get very far though – it starts out way too easy (which kinda discourages restarts) and then gets hard far too quickly.

Enough rambling from me. Congratulations to everyone who entered! And to everyone else, if you haven’t already, check out the rest of the games here!


An early preview

It’s been strange not updating the blog properly this year – I used to update so often with all sorts of nonsense about what I’m doing, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance. And it’s gotten that everytime I mean to post something I’ve got so much to catch up on that I never get around to it.

Well, it’s a new month, so I’m going to put an end to that pattern. Starting with some details on my current “big” project. I don’t have a title yet, so for now I’m just calling it “Untitled Puzzle Game”. I’ve been working on it since the start of the year. Actually, it’s something I’ve wanted to make for a lot longer than that – it’s based on something I tried to make in secondary school back when I was programming loads of Qbasic minigames.

I apologise for being so secretive about it – usually I post pretty much every WIP screenshot I can hack together, but this time I want to get it further along before I start talking about it properly. This is probably the biggest project I’ve ever taken on that has a realistic chance of being completed, though, so it may be a while longer before I have much to say in detail about it.

Nevertheless, I’ve put together a little video which shows the mouse driven control system I’m using and some of the basic concepts in the game so far. But keep in mind that this is a *very* early version – all of the graphics are placeholders and nothing here is final yet! Let me know what you think in the comments!

I should have more concrete info in a few days.