July Resolution

Phew! I’ve posted a lot of little games lately! These past couple of weeks have been a lot of fun – it’s exactly what I needed after the last few months. I feel re-energised!

It’s been kinda depressing, really: in February and March, I worked on Big Hero, then around the time I moved to Cambridge I worked an exploration game that I appear not to have bothered posting about, then I spent all of May working on a Negative Capability game, and then spent a lot of June on another RPG. One project after another, not working out. Probably serves me right for trying to make two RPGs.

As a result I haven’t finished anything remotely ambitious in ages, and I want to change that. I want to start fresh this month. So today I did something rather dramatic! I took all of the folders in one particular directory on my computer, and moved them into another one. The first folder is called current games. The second is called abandoned games.

Basically, I’ve abandoned all my current projects. I won’t be finishing up any more of the minigames from TIGJam, and probably won’t be coming back to Big Hero or any of that other stuff anytime soon either. I’m moving on to something new!

My new game is something for TIGSource’s Game by its cover challenge, and I haven’t really much to say about it yet except that I’ve chosen that cover above for it. Right now it’s kind of a jumble, but I’ve been working on it for the last few days and I’m hoping to have a clearer idea of where it’s going by this weekend!


Never Opened

As usual, I totally overestimated the amount of work I’d be able to at the last minute… however, by scaling things back quite a bit from my original idea, I was able to come up with something to submit to TIGSource’s Commonplace Book competition! Here’s a link to the TIGSource thread.

It’s essentially just an arena shooter, using the backward-aiming mechanism that I’ve been meaning to use somewhere for ages. There’s a lot about the game that I’m not that happy with right now – I’m hoping to come back to it to give it a serious polish over the next few weeks – but one thing I’m really happy with is the boss that appears after you’ve beaten a certain number of enemies! I think it’s worth playing for that, if nothing else. (Believe it or not, I was originally planning on having seven bosses as well as all the “tower defence” stuff – dunno how that was gonna happen realistically…)

I should probably note here that I made this in Game Maker (as an experiment). I think it worked out quite well despite a few problems here and there (mostly with speed and getting collision to work properly); In fact I may use it again for something more serious! It saved me a lot of work, especially with setting things up in the early stages of development.

Controls: Press Z to shoot. You’ve got a limited supply of bullets, but your gun recharges after a few seconds if you stop shooting. You can also press X to quickly spin around while shooting, which can be quite useful but diminishes your supply of bullets more rapidly. The trick to doing well in this game is mastering the spin move (especially for the boss! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

[Download here, Contest Version]
(Zip File, 1.7Mb)


Peace is hell

‘case you missed it in the post below, Xoldiers was updated with a level editor and an online database of levels accessible from the game! You will fight for us! Download the new version! That’s an order!

Since the jam I’ve been meaning to catch up on all the little things I’ve been working on lately, but I never seem to have the time to do it properly – so I’m just going to quickly summarise everything:

Buster Drake:
A little while ago I updated the flash prototype with the new version of Buster Drake that I worked on at the jam. Gameplay wise there isn’t any difference; but on a technical level it’s a huge improvement. The original prototype was written in AS2 using a trial version of the Flash IDE – this version is written in AS3 using the free FLEX compiler and the FlashDevelop IDE. Aside from the fact that I’m now using free tools, I’m also approaching flash in a totally different way – I don’t have to think of things in terms of MovieClips and whatever any more – and now that I’ve gotten my head around it, I think I’m more or less at a level where I can do anything in flash that I might want to do in C++, speed concerns aside! Well, hopefully, anyway.

As for the project itself, Buster Drake is maybe bigger than I’d expected. Even the smaller, scaled back version that I’m working on now is probably going to take maybe a week or two to put together – so I’m putting it on hold for a little while to focus on other things. Specifically:

New Strategy Game:
So without giving too much away, there’s this little game that I’ve had in mind for ages and ages and ages – since the qb minigames days, actually! It’s basically a turn based territory control game that I like because it has a really interesting “capture” mechanic, but I’ve never really tried to make it seriously because that’s really all there is to it, and I’ve always felt like there was something missing. Just recently I had a jolt of inspiration that makes the game work, so I’m going to give it a shot and see how it works out ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m going to use flash! More details soon…

Commonplace Book Competition:
Aside from the B-Games contest last year, I’ve entered every game-making contest on TIGSource so far, and I like this theme a lot so I’d love to make a game for it. I was originally going to collaborate with another guy on something small, but unfortunately our “schedules” clashed and that doesn’t look like it’s going to go ahead anymore. I have something else in mind though. Something a little… different. A little darker than the stuff I normally make.

The deadline’s next Thursday though, so I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be entering or not just yet.

Untitled Tower Game:
This is the main project I worked on at TIGJam – here’s the mockup that Dock put together!

Dock and Corpus were working on a simple platformer on rails about falling, and I had this tower platformer engine [EDIT: Inspired by Nebulus, obv] from the previous night’s 3 hour “pick a game idea out of a hat” jam (I got “Trees”), so we decided to combine the two! We don’t really have anything playable just yet, but this is going to be my main focus for the next couple of days, so I hope it won’t be long before we do! The basic engine is all in place now bar one little silly thing, so we’re at the stage of adding gameplay elements.



After the dust settles on this IGF thing, I’m taking a few days and heading to London for TIGJam:UK to work on something new, have fun and meet a few indie devs from the London scene! Ideally I’m hoping for the same outcome as Haowan:

I want to make some crappy game that makes us all laugh while we make it and then makes us laugh again when we play it. And makes us laugh while we think it up.

Any indie devs from england out there reading this? Any interest in coming along? I believe there’s still time to get a ticket! ๐Ÿ™‚


Holy crap, Squish on Bytejacker too (and my picks)

Bytejacker have a really cool episode this week, covering their favourite games from the recently finished Bootleg Demakes contest at TIGSource! If you haven’t gotten around to checking them out yet, this would be a very good way to get up to speed. They also gave a mention to my entry, Squish, which was really great of them – I’m still reeling from the Self Destruct mention last week, but my recap of “Woohoo!” applies doubly much now ๐Ÿ˜€

You can watch the high quality version here, if you’re lucky enough to be one of those gamers with fast connections (regardless of your attention span ๐Ÿ˜› ).

While I’m on the subject, in case you missed it on the forums, I’ve updated Squish since the release – it’s now got a level editor, a couple of new game elements, and best of all, a new eight level stage! Check it out if you haven’t already! Here’s what I posted over at TIGS:

I’m really happy with how the new levels came out, though I should warn you that they’re quite a bit harder than the ones in the original release… Here’s a screenshot of one of my favorite new additions! ๐Ÿ˜€

I know that chances are slim that anybody’ll be interested in making new levels, but I thought it was worth the work to implement the editor anyway, just in case I’m wrong ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the core mechanic of the game is really interesting, and I’m sure there’s a lot to explore with the concept; particularly now with the added depth that the two new elements offer. I’m sure there are a lot of aspects that I haven’t considered at all that could make for some really interesting puzzles! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, please check it out and let me know how you get on with the new levels! And thanks again to everyone who’s tried it out already and left comments, I really appreciate the feedback!

And on the subject of the contest: I don’t think I’ll have time to do a proper writeup this time (certainly not one as detailed as the Procedural Generation Competition one anyway, yikes), but I’ve written TIGSource contest writeups for almost all the other contests, so I’ll at least share my favourites! This time we got to vote for the eight we liked best – here are the ones I went for:

Macarena Of The Missing – Noyb

[Limbo of the Lost]
For me, this is the best game of the contest. It’s a brilliant parody of Limbo of the Lost (and indeed, a lot of adventure games) that features some excellent puzzles, great writing and full voice acting that’s frankly better than it has any right to be, considering all 10 or so characters are voiced by the creator.

House Globe – Oxeye Games

Oxeye clearly have a knack for strategy games. I haven’t played the original, unfortunately, but I had a lot of fun playing this. It works so well as a simple 2D strategy game that I have to wonder what the extra dimension in Homeworld really adds to it.

Little Girl in Underland – The Ivy

[American McGee’s Alice]
One of the interesting things about this contest is that there’s no obvious winner. It really could go to any of about a dozen different games and I wouldn’t be surprised. If I had to guess, though, I think Little Girl in Underland has the best shot at winning: it may not get as many first place votes as some of the others, but I have a feeling it’s going to be in everybody’s top eight list somewhere. And with good reason! It’s short, polished, funny, smart, and a little bizarre: a fantastic combination when it comes to standing out against 68 other games.

Soundless Mountain II – Superflat

[Silent Hill 2]
DISCLAIMER: I consider Silent Hill 2 the best game ever made.
Silent Hill 2 tends to be a fairly polarising game: you either love it to bits, or you don’t “get” it. Soundless Mountain II is so faithful to the original that I expect it had the same effect on people who tried it out – personally? I loved it to bits. I don’t think you could possibly pick a harder game to demake, so I’m astonished at just how good a shot at it Superflat managed.

Aquarium – Oracle

This is actually one of the first games in the contest I played, but I knew right away that I’d be voting for it. It’s aesthetically perfect, boasting gorgeous graphics and a great 8-bit take on Alec’s music. Unfortunately it cuts out before it really gets going… ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Freefall Brass – Pacian

Fantastic! I only wish it was longer! Freefall Brass starts out really well, and just keeps getting better until suddenly the demo just… ends. Agh! I think Freefall Brass has the most potential out of all the entries for the contest, particularly since it’s a demake of a genre rather than of a specific game. I can’t wait to see how it develops.

Lady Boy Love Collection – Increpare

[Mega Man, Biocosm, Zorn’s Lemma, Sick Panda]
There were two aspects to this contest – “Bootleg”, and “Demake”. Almost everyone went the “Demake” route. LBLC, on the other hand, took the bootleg theme and handled it better than any other game in the contest. It even went as far as to create a bootleg system to emulate, the “Lady Boy”! A very funny game that really should be getting more attention than it is.

Smaze – ChrisFranklin, nfreakct and Jayson Napolitano

A really solid entry that I enjoyed a lot, once I got a hang of the controls. I haven’t played the original, but I loved this! It starts a little slow, and it’s a little tough at the start, but by the time you get to the second stage you’ll be hooked.

That’s that! They’re far from the only good games in the contest, of course – even choosing as many as eight meant making some hard choices ๐Ÿ˜ฅ I tried to name some “other” games from the contest that I really liked and wanted to recommend until I realised that I was basically naming almost everything in the competition. So I’ll just do that instead – check out everything! Do so as soon as you can! I have a feeling that people will be talking about this contest for some time to come ๐Ÿ˜€


Not again, TIGSource

I keep meaning to mention this: about a month ago, my trad band, Geansaรญ Dearg went out and bought some proper mics for the whole band and recorded a few songs for a demo. They’re all up on that myspace page, so check it out and let me know what you think! (If nothing else, make sure to listen to Cush’s lovely version of Brid รณg nรญ Mhรกille…) We’re actually just back from Portlaois after playing three gigs in the local pubs for the World Fleadh, which went really really well. Got another gig this Thursday too.

All of this is great, of course, but practices and gigs have been taking up a fair bit of my time recently ๐Ÿ™ Hopefully things will settle down for a while now so I can get a bit of solid work done on Ciellus.

Speaking of distractions, TIGSource have announced their new contest – it’s one I’ve been anticipating for a while:

I’m not entering. I know I say that about all the contests, but I like, really really mean it this time. but if I was entering I’d demake Canis Canem Edit and call it Dog Eat Dog


Procedural Generation Competition: My Picks

My VGNG writeup was hopelessly overdue, so I made a big effort to get this one out before the results are announced. That’s tomorrow or the day after, I think ๐Ÿ˜›

The Procedural Generation Competition, I think to everybody’s surprise turned out to be one hell of a contest – with 60 entries, it’s by far the biggest one the site’s ever had, dwarfing the B-Games contest and Text the Halls. I can’t begin to imagine just how big the upcoming demakes contest is going to be…

If it wasn’t for this contest I’d never have made Self Destruct, which I’m really, really happy with – especially considering the time stress it was made under ๐Ÿ™‚ Even more significant, I’ve got this contest to thank for Ciellus, which is shaping up wonderfully – so for me, this contest has been a really big deal. It came out of nowhere and completely changed my direction.

This time round, we were allowed to pick our six favorites instead of just three! Even still, I found it really tough to narrow down my choices. Eventually, I voted for these six:

Artificial Nature – jph wacheski

Artificial Nature is the ONLY game in the contest built with the Z Game editor, which is pretty surprising, really, given that this was the perfect contest for that tool. And I know the engine is designed that way and everything, but I’m still bloody impressed that this game fits into 64Kb thanks to how it procedurally stores its textures.

It’s an arena shooter, basically, and a very well implemented one. The goal of the game is to bring 100 stars to the center, which you collect one at a time as they’re dropped by enemies. It’s really quite simple, but flawlessly executed with smooth and stylish graphics and fitting atmospheric sounds.

Last Colonists – Paul Morel

It can’t have been easy to get this right – Last Colonists is one of the only games in the contest to use procedurally generated music, and it does so in a way that really impressed me. Enemies just “appear” every four beats or so making a line towards the colonists you’re trying to protect, playing a short sample as they do. As the screen starts filling up with enemies the music gets more complex, backed up by the quick cymbal taps from your gun. New enemies and waves bring new sounds, so the overall music it creates doesn’t get stale.

The actual gameplay isn’t bad either – hardcore mode was too hardcore for me, but normal mode was fairly enjoyable, though maybe a bit easy at the start. Definitely one of my favorites from the contest, overall.

Dyson – Alex May, Rudolf Kremers, Brian Grainger

Aside from possibly MMORPG Tycoon, Dyson is probably the most complex game in the contest. Despite this, it’s very well implemented and balanced, and feels really polished. The game starts fairly sedately, but quickly gets very difficult and intense – but even in the slow, early stages of the game it manages to be really interesting. You start out gently exploring your surroundings, capturing nearby asteroids and building up your strength. Early highlights include sending a seed to an asteroid to discover that it’s swarming with enemies. Apparently the developers are going to continue work on it, which is great, because I think it’s got a lot of potential. I expect it would make a fantastic multiplayer strategy game.

sin(Surfing) – twohalf and Sifu Peng

This made the maths geek in me so very, very happy ๐Ÿ™‚ And again, it’s one of those wonderful, simple ideas that tend to impress me so much. In sin(Surfing) you control a little surfer on an oscilloscope wave, trying to outperform your own records. What really sold me was the attention to detail, like the score notation and trick names. Also sports the best soundtrack in the contest!

Rescue: The Beagles – Nenad

Rescue: The Beagles is a very simple, and very well designed game about rescuing puppys from cruel scientists who want to experiment on them. It’s fantastic. All the game elements are perfect – it’s loads of fun, incredibly addictive, features great procedurally generated levels, stylish artwork, and two fantastic soundtracks – I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t win first place in the voting by a clear margin.

The central mechanic of the game is really quite clever – there are three parallax layers moving at different speeds, and the game is about navigating between them to intercept the beagle puppies making their way from right to left, all the while avoiding or dispatching enemies and collecting items. You get score bonuses if you take out all the enemies, collect all the items, or manage to navigate the level without using ropes and parachutes.

For me the game really only has one major flaw. The point of the game is navigating the three moving planes, which is great, but dropping too far to a lower plane frequently causes death – there’s a limit to how far you can fall – go a pixel beyond it and you’re dead. This can even happen if you simply jump down a hill. For me, this almost kills the fast paced flow of the gameplay, and though you eventually get used to it, that hardly excuses the problem. It would be pretty easy to fix, too – simply have the parachute open automatically if you have and need one – as a result, you’d never die from a fall unless you’d run out of parachutes, and it that case it wouldn’t feel unfair. To be honest, you could probably go even further – the real issue in the game is time, so a more appropriate penalty for falling without a parachute might be to temporarily stun the player, leaving them vulnerable to roaming enemies and to the threat of losing a beagle.

The other thing I might change is how the soundtrack works – there are two separate and excellent soundtracks to the game by Aesque and Disasterpiece, but the player is given the choice between them. Since I liked both soundtracks, I probably would have preferred if the game handled that for me – perhaps by, I dunno, alternating the music every three levels or every other time you visited the title screen. I would have liked if the levels were shorter too – by the time you get to level 8 you have to collect about 40 puppies, which just throws up a wall which it’s difficult to progress beyond. It might be better if the levels got faster and more intense without just getting longer.

These are just little niggles for me, though – it’s only that I enjoyed the game so much that I care about any of these things. The fact is, this is the best game in the contest by a long shot. I can’t recommend it highly enough. If we only had one vote instead of six, I wouldn’t even have debated giving this one my vote.

Minus – Melly

Another game that falls into the simple-but-very-well-executed category that tends to win me over ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s not much to it, really – you’re trying to get back to your home in the sky by jumping through levels composed of clouds, thunder storms, gusts of wind and floating enemies. While I did feel that there could have been more variation to the random elements, I liked what was present. In a contest largely populated by technical experiments, Minus really stood out for me as something different.

Of course, there were loads of other games in the contest I considered voting for: (this isn’t even a complete list, but I had to draw the line somewhere…)

Space Shot – Pacian

The only joke game in the contest, believe it or not. The procedurally generated aspect of the game primarily comes from the random insult generator, which basically just strings together lots of vaguely naughty words to create insults like “Ear Hugger”. Every so often though, it hits gold and comes up with a classic like “Motherwad” or “Fuck Fucker”.

Despite the gameplay clearly being an afterthought, it’s actually quite a bit of fun to play – there’s a bit of skill involved in positioning yourself safely and dispatching the enemy spaceships, and the first time the fast shooting ones appear it’s genuinely nerve wracking. The upgrade system works really well too, giving the game a feeling of progression – something key that’s sadly missing in many of the entries to this contest. Things taper off a bit once you’ve completely leveled up – at that point, the game doesn’t really get any harder, and the only thing left to do really is start again.

Biocosm – Toastie

This is gorgeous, but unfortunately it’s so buggy that it’s practically unplayable. My very first turn involved gently driving into a specimen, which sent it hurtling into space and flipped my buggy onto it’s back! That experience aside, though, I really loved the atmosphere of the game and the beautiful landscapes it generates. With a bit more work on the actual gameplay there could be something really cool here.

Loboton – grickmin

I almost voted for this. It’s so simple, but really quite addictive. It’s another shooter, this time nothing but bosses. (there’s a word for that, isn’t there? A “Treasure”, maybe? Anyway.) The basic gameplay is spot on, but the problem is that there’s very little variation in it. It’s fun to see the expressive procedurally generated faces appearing, but they’re all basically the same, except that the later ones fire more disgusting skinflakes and the occasional practically invisible missile at you. I feel like there’s so much the creator could have done with this game – I don’t even know where to start. More variations in the enemy firing patterns definitely – perhaps different elements could correspond to different attacks – the ability to shoot off elements separately would have been cool too, as would the ability to wear away at the enemy by shooting off the skinflakes bit by bit – some graphical variation would have been nice, someone suggested colour changes as you go on which would have been cool – maybe some kinda goal too – right now it’s just survive as long as you can, but for me it would be more interesting if there was a cap, a goal of say 20 enemies which got more and more complex to reach. I could go on, but I don’t want to seem critical – I really liked this, I just kinda wish there was more to it.

Night Raveler and the Heartbroken Uruguayans – Daniel Benmergui

All I’ll say here is that I really like this one – it’s charming, it works as a game first, and the author had a clear idea of his message. Be sure to check it out.

MMORPG Tycoon – mewse

This is a game that’s badly in need of a blow by blow tutorial to get players started. It’s possibly excellent maybe, judging by the many favorable comments by players who were able to figure it out, but I wouldn’t know because I didn’t really have a clue what I was supposed to be doing (or to be honest, how a MMORPG actually works – my online gaming experience is about an hour of Final Fantasy XI that I played before I uninstalled it for good).

Everyone Loves Active 2 – Kyle Pulver

I’m afraid this one goes in the same category as MMORPG Tycoon for me ๐Ÿ™ I feel like there’s something I’m missing here. Either my computer doesn’t run it properly, or it’s just a very slow game. I thought I’d mention it because a lot of what it’s doing is pretty interesting (I really like the curve shot thing) and it’s very aesthetically pleasing, so if you’re playing through the entries make sure and check it out.

dropTD – Nurykabe

One of the most experimental games in the contest, featuring the most interesting procedural mechanic of the lot. You pick a file and drag and drop it onto the window: this creates a tower defense level. Adding more files creates towers with surrounding blocks that you have to position as best you can around the path. In my case, I just found one good one and continuously dropped it, so I didn’t really find it that difficult. A really interesting idea, but the gameplay wasn’t really my sorta thing.

Triagulon – BobFM

This is sadly unfinished, but interesting enough in its current state to be worth checking out. I spent ages looking for those pterodactyls ๐Ÿ™

ZICZAC – 0rel

I’ve never really understood why games like this (and tetris, and lumines, and match 3 games) are referred to as “puzzle” games – for some reason it seems that any game where you control blocks instead of a more traditional character gets called a puzzle even when there’s nothing to solve. Well, who cares really! ๐Ÿ™‚ ZICZAC is a clever twist on the whole tetris thing, which works quite well and is fairly fun to play. Though it’s not exactly my sorta thing, if you like these type of games, you might really enjoy this.

K2 – Bezzy

This was an absolute nightmare to get running, but worth the effort when I persevered! It’s an interesting 3D shooter that really only got to a prototype state, but is already quite fun to play and has some cool elements to it. My favorite is the way the missiles work – the whole game is controlled by the mouse, so as you move, you follow the cursor to look around – if you “circle” the enemies while looking around like this you target the lot of them and can shoot powerful missiles at them.

My only major complaint about the game is the way movement works – you’re always going forward a little, and you can hold right click to thrust forward even faster, but I don’t think this gives you enough control. The biggest problem the game has right now is that you frequently end up in the fray among a group of enemies, having to spin frantically to fight them off. This means you have to desperately thrust away and turn around completely to fight them properly. What I’d probably do here if this was my game would be to have right click reverse you, and speed up your general forward motion. This way you can back away from enemies while still aiming and shooting at them, which feels like it might work a lot better.

Also, I had some trouble dodging and even knowing when enemies were shooting at me, but that might just be me being rubbish at it ๐Ÿ˜›

KrebsWelte – Cactus

I’m a big fan of Cactus’ games, but this one didn’t really work for me. There’s lots about it that I love, but on the whole it just feels too slow, the player feels too underpowered, and it’s too hard to make progress. That last one especially. When you do eventually progress the game offers more enemies and variety (and some satisfying new weapons!), but this seems to hit a ceiling fairly quickly. I did quite like it though – aside from Rescue: The Beagles, this is probably the game I’ve come back to the most out of all the entries, getting a little bit further each time.

Space Game : Mujakwi – Fifth

I had trouble getting my head around the controls (it uses absolute movement instead of steering), so I didn’t really get very far with it – but I’m very impressed with the level design and general feel of the game! I really loved the exploration aspect – it generates a level based on absolutely any string you type in, so there’s this whole element of finding nice planets to loot that really appeals to me.

Space Cat on Mutant Planet – shrimp and RayRayTea

A short, simple shoot em up exploration game with some really good procedurally generated levels and interesting bitmap brother inspired graphics. I found it a bit easy to finish and a bit unbalanced when fighting enemies (it’s too difficult to shoot enemies and avoid bullets at the same time, as your gun and jetpack use the same power source – but this doesn’t matter because you’ve got loads of health), but it’s generally really well done and feels very complete!

Because it’s fun, Fay – Oxeye Game Studio

A procedurally generated platformer with lock and key obstacles. It has a number of things going for it – excellent production values, very well designed levels, and a clever character switching mechanic where one character rotates the level 90 degrees and flies around. In fact, it has the feel the of a game that’s maybe one or two gameplay twists away from being absolutely brilliant, but as it stands, I didn’t really feel like there was enough to the central mechanic. Most of the game basically involves switching to Corn to fly ahead and clear out the enemies for Fay, who picks up the keys and opens doors so that Corn can continue to fly ahead and clear out the enemies and so on until you get to the top. The creators recommend playing this as two players cooperatively, which I didn’t do – chances are that dynamic works a lot better than the single player mode.

The Adventures of Charles Dumbbell – Snake

A beautiful game that’s really well designed and has some excellent ideas; unfortunately it’s rather incomplete, so there’s not a lot to say about it yet. I really hope the author continues to work on it.

The Germinator – Superflat

Without a doubt one of the prettiest games in the contest! It features some beautiful cel shaded 3D graphics and an interesting gameplay mechanic that involves changing colours to do damage, but I found it really difficult and didn’t get very far. With a bit of practice I might have done better, but unfortunately, this was one of the games I had problems running, so I was only able to play it for a brief period on a friend’s computer. ๐Ÿ™

Transport – goldbrick

I really loved the atmosphere of this one, the music and graphics are great, and there’s some very cool little details in it – like that it’s somewhat inexplicably multiplayer, though the only multiplayer element is that you “emote” towards other players wandering around in the game (though unfortunately I never saw any other players when I was playing). The gameplay seems to involve wandering around a big procedurally generated screen by screen level looking for a puzzle, and once you’ve solved that you move onto the next level. I didn’t really get very far, though, as the puzzles didn’t make a lot of sense to me – the first one involved stepping on a series of switches in a particular order to make them rotate, which mostly seemed to come down to trial and error. I think I finally got it by dumb luck, but then I came across a very similar puzzle in the second level and unfortunately couldn’t work it out at all.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Check out the rest here!


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: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dafalcon/5204413187/in/photostream/


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 ๐Ÿ˜€ 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” ๐Ÿ˜ฎ . 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 ๐Ÿ˜€

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!