Archive for the 'Mind Control Rocket' Category

PC Gamer UK: February

Xoldiers was on this month’s PC Gamer coverdisk! And that’s not all – this was in the magazine!

Hi, I’m a game developer!

They got in touch about this a month or so ago very soon before the deadline, so I had to rush my answers a bit and they ended up a bit long winded and chaotic as a result. Thankfully they edited out most of the rambling bits though, heh. (although I guess it was at the cost of some coherency; I mentioned Deus Ex and Silent Hill 2 separately from FFVII)

I noticed they went with a screenshot of We Love Mind Control Rocket instead of, say, Self Destruct! Which is kinda cool! I wonder if that was just a visual composition thing or if someone at the PC Gamer office has played it? I’ve thought quite a bit about returning to that game concept…

(Anyway, needless to say I’m pretty chuffed about all this, heh.) 😀

(This seems as good a place as any to mention: I turned 25 last week. 🙁 )


Some side projects, featuring the return of Buster Drake

I’ve set up a redirect from the frontpage to this blog until I actually have something worth putting up there! Somebody told me that it sucked, and they were right. Also, I got sick of updating it. This makes much more sense anyway – splash pages are, like, so ’90s.

Believe it or not, my April Fool’s post was dead serious. I really am working on a puzzle game. Though the word “puzzle” could be a bit misleading – it’s a word that’s come to encompass a load of games that I wouldn’t really consider to be puzzle games – you know, gem matching, falling blocks, all that nonsense. The game I’m working on isn’t anything like that. It’s more like this.

That game (which I still haven’t thought of a title for) is pretty much my main project right now, but it’s not the only thing I’m working on. I’ve been meaning to write a catch up post for ages now, but it’s been held up by the fact that it’s too soon for me to talk about my main, super serious project. So instead, here’s everything else I’m working on at the moment:

We Love Mind Control Rocket

Because of my other projects I haven’t touched this in about two weeks, but I’m going to make a big push this weekend to finish the update. One one hand, polishing a game that’s basically complete is really tedious, and I’d really prefer to just move on at this point, but on the other, I know there’s potential for a good game here – and if I don’t do it now, it’ll likely get pushed aside and eventually shelved, and I don’t want that to happen.

The update is a massive departure from the gameplay of the contest version – which wasn’t anything like how I originally wanted the game to play – it sort of just emerged from incomplete features that I had implemented.

Untitled Futility/Dream Logic Game

This started as a sort of parallel game for the VGNG contest at TIGSource under the title “Boring Magic Power”, but it’s since become something very different, so I don’t know what I’m calling it at the moment.

There’s an interesting theory about dreams that I’ve always liked: it says that dreams are a way for us to practice handling difficult real life situations that may come up. They give us a chance to improvise, and just see how things play out. Not everybody can relate to this, I guess, but it’s always been the case for me – my dreams are like scenes from soap operas.

This game is a bit autobiographical (to a point, anyway) – I’m trying to make a point about fear of change, about taking chances, and so on. In the game, the main character works in a repetitive office job, and it plays out by offering you meaningless choices that either don’t really matter or lead to ruin. The point of the game is that nothing ever works out: any attempts to break out of the monotony of day to day living leads to failure, and eventually, to a repetitive and bleak lifestyle. Even rather innocuous choices lead to worse case scenarios – in the example in the screenshot above, if you run through the traffic lights you might knock over a cyclist, or get hit by a truck, and so on.

I’m using the Mind Control Rocket engine, so there isn’t really a lot of coding work involved – it really just involves putting together a script and getting some appropriate photographs. So I don’t know when (or if) it’ll be finished – really there’s just a few days work involved, but I’m waiting for inspiration to strike, to develop a clearer idea of what I want the game to say.

Benzido over at TIGSource has a somewhat similar idea in mind, so I put together this mockup for him with the engine 🙂

Buster Drake: The one with the descent into hell

Buster Drake is a character I came up with for the Text the Halls Interactive Fiction contest at TIGSource last Christmas. I was too busy to finish it, but the gist of the game was that you played this really over the top secret agent on an infiltration mission, and you had a load of high tech gadgets at your disposal that you had to use to solve typical little text adventure puzzles.

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to reuse the character for this – RPGDX were holding an ASCII RPG contest, and I had my mind made up that I’d really like to try making a shooter (since I’d never tried to make one before). It tied in enough with the old text adventure idea that I thought it would be a good chance to use some of the ideas.

I really liked where this was going, but then out of nowhere TIGSource announced their VGNG content and I decided to go with it instead, putting this on hold. I haven’t really gotten back to it, but most of the hard work is done – the engine’s finished, so it’s down to creating the content, which I figure would take about two weeks. I know it’ll work – I’m using the aiming system from Warning Forever, which worked out far better than I expected it would – it’s already fun to move about and shoot things, and there are some really nifty ideas with enemies that I’m dying to try out… Unfortunately, I think I pretty much have to put it on hold. I mean, I love the idea and I really want to work on it, but I’ve already taken over a month out with all these side projects.

What I’m probably going to do is spend about a month working on the puzzle game, and then revisit this. It’s either that or scrap it altogether 🙁

(By the way, in case you’re wondering, I came up with the title while watching episodes of Friends 😀 )


About a month ago, Cactus posted on his forums looking for level designers for a couple of games that he had in the pipeline. One of them was Space/Void – and I volunteered to help.

That’s the only screenshot he’s put up of it yet, but the game’s actually more or less finished. I made some levels for it and sent them his way, all he’s got left to do is to add a few game elements and some final touches (menus, save function, and so on). Given his prodigious release rate, I don’t expect we’ll have too long to wait before it’s ready – which is great, because it’s excellent, heh. It’s a total departure from the sorta games Cactus usually makes.


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!

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Mind Control Rocket: Tutorial

Some people seem to be getting a bit lost with MCR, so I wrote a tutorial to help people get started. See after the break to read it.

Oh, and I should have mentioned this a few days ago – the rest of the entries into the contest are up. There are almost 50! Check them out here! I was going to put together a post with some of my favourites like I did with the B-Games, but as I’m taking part it’s probably not a good idea. After the contest it might be a nice thing to do, though 🙂 I’m just sorry that I could only vote for three games!

I should also mention that I’m working on an update for my entry, which I feel was a bit rushed. There are a few very crucial things I didn’t have time to add that I really want to see in the game, and I’m hoping to reduce the amount of “tweaking” required to play the game and make it more political/combat focused. This will mean some major changes, though, like completely changing how unit production works and reducing the number of countries down to 4 or 5. I’m also going to change the share buying bit to work in intervals of 10% and give your siblings 10% to start with, so that aspect should be significantly downplayed. And of course, the Mind Control Rockets will be taking more of a centre stage 🙂 It’s not really that much work – the hard part is done, so it shouldn’t take much more than a week to put together. Oh, and I’m still planning on writing that “bloggy catchup post” that I’ve been promising since the new year…

Anyway, the tutorial 😀

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All Hail Mind Control Rocket

It’s out! Download We Love Mind Control Rocket (2.8Mb, Windows) here!

I found an artist eventually – the very talented Derek Yu volunteered to create all of the art for the game, making it look better than it has any right to.

I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to make a tutorial – I’m going to work on a text one to post later on. I’m a little drained after working some crazy hours to get this finished for the deadline, but when I’ve recovered, expect a long post-mortem on the project 🙂 I’m also hoping to release a final version in a few weeks which fixes some of the balance problems in the game and adds some of the features that I didn’t have time for, so I’d really appreciate any constructive feedback that you can offer!

Here’s a link to the game’s thread on TIGSource, which will probably get updated more often than this post. 🙂


We Love Mind Control Rocket

One little side project that I’m working on at the moment is a little strategy game for TIGSource’s VGNG contest. I hope to have it finished by Tuesday week. The game’s about political manipulation: will post more in the next few days! For now, check out the forum thread on TIGSource for a bit more info.

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here: but don’t worry, it’s a good sign. I’ve been real busy lately.