May 26 2011


The revision to the controls for BattleWire:TaOS seems to be well recieved:


Apr 18 2011

BattleWire:TaOS now available on BlackBerry App Store

Edit 5/22/11: I’ve submitted a new version of the game to the AppWorld, which should fix the control issues.

BattleWire:TaOS is a version of BattleWire16K for the BlackBerry Playbook. It adds a new enemy, and uses on screen controls. If you have a Playbook, the game is free (as in free beer, not as in free software) so give it a shot! And since I don’t have a Playbook, you might let me know if the controls work ok? I wasn’t able to test pressing two buttons at once in the simulator…

Edit 4/21/11: The developer of Twystem, a puzzle game for the Playbook, happens to have an actual device and was kind enough to test my game. Apparently the controls do work, but multitouch does not (so the player can not move the tank, and move the turret, and fire his gun all at the same time). I have a pretty clear lead on how to correct this, so expect an update in the next week or so. And if you have a Playbook game that needs testing, you might send him an email.

Here’s a screenie from development:

If you want to play the original game, click here, or here to read the dev blog. I’ll write a better post later, after I figure out how to link to the game on the app store, and when I have more time. The approval caught me off guard this morning, and I have other things that need to get done today.


Mar 12 2011

Comparing Fish Keeping Games

Tadgh Kelly over at Simple Lifeforms, recently wrote an article suggesting that games should not be judged as simulations. Specifically, he argues that details which go unnoticed by the player are wasted effort possibly being negative effort if it impacts game engine performance. On the other side of this, what happens when the player anticipates detail that’s not present?

And on that thought, it’s time to look at three ‘fish farming’ games, Fish Farm Unlimited (iOS, raiX UG, 2010), Fish Tycoon (iOS, Last Day of Work, 2009), and FishCo (Win/Mac, Fugazo, 2008).

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Mar 08 2011

Call me Turok.

(This and the look at fish games which is still just a collection of notes, and then I’ll get back to development stuff. I happened to pick this game up a couple weeks ago while the full version was free…)

It makes me a heretic of sorts, but I live in Alaska and don’t hunt.  Still, it’s clearly an activity which demands skill and knowledge, from which many people derive great enjoyment, obtain benefits such as meat and physical exercise, encourages wilderness conservation, etc.

Enjoyable activities which require skill and knowledge ought to translate well into good games. Tatem Games, the developers of Carnivore: Dinosaur Hunter (CDH from here on) appear to get this:

“Q: I want to stab dinos with knife and see a lot of blood!

A: Carnivores series are strategic hunting games, not regular shooters. We are not going to include more violent scenes, letting you drive pleasure from exploration and tactics that you use to hunt rather than from seeing poor creatures dying.”
(Carnivore: Dinosaur Hunter FAQ, copy paste)

CDH as a hunting simulation and as a game, gets a lot of things right, and at least one thing wrong. Let’s take a look at it.

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Feb 26 2011

“fish!” on

Previously I had mentioned I didn’t know how to take screenshots with my iPod. Now I do! :) If you hold down the on-off button, and briefly press the button with the square on it, the screen will flash. This saves the screen-shot to your camera roll.*

iTunes however, will not sync those screenshots to your computer (or at least my computer). In fact, it won’t even acknowledge they exist except to note that .1GB (or whatever) of the iPod’s memory is now being taken up by photos. So the next step in the workflow is to go to a local bar+grill to abuse their free wireless by emailing them to myself. A wireless router is now on my hardware priority list, at about the same level as a MIDI controller.

Here’s some first examples**:


















“Woot!” indeed. These are from a game called “fish!”, which bills itself as a virtual aquarium. And if you need a virtual aquarium with evil robot fish and exploding mines, this may be what you’re looking for. The game does have a reasonable fluid physics model- as you move the device around the water sloshes and loose objects get carried about by the water’s movement. However, the game feels like someone was experimenting with accelerometer controls and physics modeling rather than writing a game. I probably got my $.99 worth of entertainment out of it just from it’s sheer weirdness, but I wouldn’t recommend the game to anyone.

*- I got the instructions by Googling, but I can’t now find the page I read them on, else I’d link. Sorry!

**- Screenshots get saved as .png, which is fine, but I’ve resized them and converted to .jpg for layout and web-friendliness considerations.

Feb 23 2011

Flushing Sharks

I don’t run a wireless network in my apartment- my laptop has been all over Alaska, but here in Anchorage it lives in one spot on it’s table, next to my ancient (sans-wireless) 4 port router. In fact, I’ve never had any desire to use my laptop anywhere else in my home.

A couple months ago, I received an iPod touch as a gift. I really like the device- but I think in the first day I disabled its ‘Wi-fi’ and put it in ‘Airplane’ mode so that it would stop asking me if it could connect to the 1-bar of signal, unsecured wireless networks in my neighbors’ apartments.

This was fine up until recently. But:

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Feb 13 2011

Throwing Paper Airplanes

This piece has nothing to do with anything I’m working on. :)

I happened to get an iPod Touch for Christmas, and I seem to be using it more as a hand-held gaming device than as an mp3 player. Of course, I still play flash games as well! I’d like to compare and contrast Paper Glider (iOS, Neonplay,2010) to Flight (Flash, Armor Games/Krin,2010) and Paper Plane (Flash,Amnesia/advergame for Microsoft Flight Simulator X,2006).

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Jan 17 2011

8bitRocket’s 16K Retro-Remake Contest Results Announced

Go read the official announcement here.

I’m really happy with how BattleWire16K did- but to find out for yourself, for now you have to click through. :)

Jan 11 2011

BattleWire16K in Chinese

BattleWire16K was translated to Chinese courtesy MochiMedia/ShandaGames. You can see it here. Note that that’s a link to a Chinese website and other than to note that the orange button below the screenshot launches the game, I don’t really know what any of the text says.

The one issue that came up, is that the recommended font, Microsoft YaHei, is large and embedding it into my .swf turned a game made for a 16kb contest into an 7,823kb monster. (MSYH, being a font designed for use in China contains character information for over 20,000 characters in comparison to an English/Latin font which has a few hundred.)

However, the translation needed only a handful of these. The solution was to embed by unicode range. Of course I didn’t know the character numbers for the Chinese text, and don’t have a utility to readily find unicode character numbers. Fortunatley, there are several web pages which will take arbitrary text and turn them into a series of unicode characters. I used one by Russel Cottrell.

To get the characters which needed to be embedded, I took the text sent back by the translator and copy-pasted it into the block which is labeled ‘Click to insert characters below’, selected Hex and click convert to HTML. This produces in the bottom block output which will look like “知名坦克”

Copy paste that block to a new file in any adequate text editor, and find-replace &#x with U+ and ; with ,

Remove any linebreaks and you now have a list of Unicode characters used in your translation, which you can copy into your embed tag using the unicodeRange= option. Using this process, I was able to reduce the file size from almost 8MB to a more reasonable 76kb.

Jan 01 2011

PuzzleRunners Early Analytics

The sample size is way too small to draw any conclusions, but here’s which characters players selected in Puzzle Runners during the first couple days after release:

Puzzle Runners Character Selection Rates 12/28-12/31

I just thought this was interesting in light of the Mass Effect 2 statistics released last November. Obviously though, the games are not comparable… I actually have in my working notes, ‘randomize character selector order’ but I never implemented it. (I suspect there is a bias toward items appearing early in a list (on the left side), in addition to a bias towards male characters.)

Other items of interest, 30% of players starting a game of PuzzleRunners play for more than 5 minutes (15% more than 10 minutes). 21% play until the puzzle gets completed, 3% use the quit option to return to the menu, the remainder presumably navigate away from the game before it ends. Both the length of play, and the number of players playing to completion are higher than I expected.

(Data collected with the Mochi Analytics API)