My new original philosophical game for the Atari 2600!
January 27, 2021
Play online at alienbill.com/2600/sisyphus
The gods have decreed: You, Sisyphus, must roll the the monumental rock to the top of the mountain.
When you fail, the rock is awarded a point.
Dinner Party Faux Pas-- the fruit of my weekend's gamejame labor, along with that of my team. ( GGJ site for a bit more info)
September Blender of Love
February 22, 2014
click to play
Has a tuba version of the original theme song and everything! At first I did a version with the walls of the "Poorlords" variation, but I think I prefer the simplicity with the original, though with Pterodactyl of the 2600 version replaced with an annoying crow.
it's funny how stress builds in layers, and in the end I snap at dumb stuff-- probably there's that baseline of new
job in the back of my head, not getting as much done on my comic as I hoped... it means that ridiculously awful Nintendo Wii U UI and friends accidentally ordering off the menu is irritation amplified beyond what is reasonable.
For tonight's Klik of the Month Klub I collaborated with Leonard Richardson to make an online version of his surrealist card game Crazy the Scorpion. The idea is taking turns building up a grid of headline bits and trivial concepts, reading and interpreting the horizontal and vertical results as exciting news headlines after every turn. You can read a longer description of the original game at his site crummy.com.
January 19, 2013
July 21, 2012
Drag with the mouse to create select boxes of ships, then click to send them where you want them. "S" adds more ships, "R" resets the game, sort of.
You can play the Processing.js/HTML5 rendition or original Java version.
Best sentence that would have made no sense 10 years ago: "Galaxy Nexus: Android Ice Cream Sandwich Guinea Pig" (via reddit)
I've said this before but I'll say it again: Why do bad things happen to good people? To even out the good things that happen to bad people.
June 16, 2012
April 23, 2012
Love thy neighbour as yourself, but choose your neighbourhood.
I want this to be the perfect date. I haven't had a real date since I was 13 years old.
So Anna Anthropy has written a book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. As you might guess from the subtitle ("How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form") the book is a rallying cry for the idea that everyone should make games.
April 19, 2012
I liked the book a lot, but there was a point of emphasis that didn't resonate for me, and I decided to try to put my response into game form. Actually, I was inspired to write not one, not two, but THREE games! I present the "Pr3vent Trilogy: DESPERADO DORIS, PEACEMAKER, and NERD NEEDS IDEA, BADLY". You can play any one you want, and I hope you pay attention to its message, whichever one you choose:
In her book Anthropy writes about the game: Calamity Annie (which is terrific btw, and you should go download and play it immediately)
There's a videogame about a dyke who convinces her girlfriend to stop drinking. Mainstream gamer culture by and large does not know about this game. I know about this game because I made it.The thing is I was lucky enough to be a playtester for this game (though admittedly never hunkered down to get good enough at it to see the plot conclude) but if someone asked me what it was "about", I would have said it was about gunfighting (the primary "play mechanic" is a very clever translation of the good 'ol Western gunduel into mouse-and-screen form, where you have to keep your mouse-driven crosshairs holstered 'til it's time to draw.) The story was a nice touch, but at the time I considered it mere "flavor text", the stuff that often adds layers of meaning to a game, but could be taken away or radically modified without changing the game's core.
In the book though Anthropy emphasizes the story-telling aspect of game-making and she has lead by example (her very personal dys4ia- another game you should play online right now, and this one you don't even have to download, just play online) but as a gamemaker, I just want to say: it's ok if the story is an afterthought, and it's valid when the purpose of making a game is to explore gameplay rather than to model to an external theme. My impression from reading the book, especially the lovely and poetic section What to Make a Game About? which begins
Your dog, your cat, your child, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your friends, your imaginary friends, your summer vacation, your winter in the mountains, your childhood home, your current home, your future home, your first job, your worst job, the job you wish you had.and continues for 10 more paragraphs and well over 100 more suggestions, is that she considers this central to the gamemaking mandate, and I'd just like to remind folks: it's ok if your game isn't "about" much of anything at all. (Personally, this is why I think videogames are interesting-- you can tell stories in many media, but only with videogames can you make real time, viscerally pleasing interactions.)
So, that off my chest, I want to ramble about one more thing: this book talks a lot about how gamemaking is a possibility for nearly everyone, and that you can make many fine games and tell many crucial stories as a lone auteur, or with the help of a few friends-- and I know the author's disdain for most big-budget "AAA" titles. But still, I have to grapple with the limitations of the tools the amateur has... there are certain kinds of game experience that are still far removed from what an individual can make on their own. In particular, there is a certain thrill and meaning present in games that strive for "living breathing worlds", ones that can put a player in a world close enough to our own that the empowerment ("I can fly!", for example) and differences (the permission to have a casual disregard for life and limb and property, for example) have greater resonance. These games have something you can feel in your gut in a way you won't with a retro, 2D, or otherwise iconically presented game.
I was trying to think of where the worlds of what an amateur can do and full, rich worlds overlap. The mod-ing community comes to mind: people who rip into the binary guts of, say, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and make it more their own. If I try to envision a more general purpose "gameworld construction kit", something with the open-ness of ZZT but a world more like our own, it ends up looking a bit like "Second Life" which as far as I can tell is the most dedicated attempt to make Cyberspace and VR as presented in 80s and 90s cyberpunk a reality. I've never gotten into that realm, though I appreciate how it has been open to people creating in it, and sometimes even being financially rewarded for their creative efforts. (Though in practice I think the appeal is more for people who really dig creating an alternate persona for themselves than for 3D-physics junkies like me.)
Anyway, go get this book, and then go make some games!
Life is an illusion, but an illusion we must take seriously.
March 2, 2012
action figure fighter - source - built with processing
March 1, 2012
hit or missile - source - built with processing
I reused the tracking routine from Heatseeker (An old C=64 Gazette game) and made this. I've been told it plays a bit like an old game by Cactus.
February 29, 2012
dinobeeboxer - source - built with processing
Or maybe just the first.
It made it into this (slightly NSFW) video Small Compilation of Pirate Kart V Games.
Also, one of my fellow Jammers Darius ported it (sans sound, and running kinda slow) to Processing.js -- see it on jsfiddle here.
Probably my second favorite creation this go round... if I do a sequel, the bees will probably be stinging you, not just trying to get past.
I love how this is a bit of a "lost day" on the retrospect feature of my site, that 3/4 of the time, you skip right past 2/29 if you're going forward from 2/28, and miss the 3 or so entries there.
Am I a hack engineer if I think simplicity trumps flexibility? A hack UI guy if I say tables make better grid layouts than floating divs?
click to play...
February 28, 2012
robotish - source - built with processing
It really matched my vision for it, which is a little unusual for these things... except I think I had something a bit more linear feeling in mind. But it got the idea of having to daringly dart out and drop the mines, where the offensive maneuver carries an element of risk. But in terms of nicely increasing difficulty, sense of satisfaction, and details like having the screen background mirror the game play a bit, it is more fully baked than usual, by my standards.
I gotta admit most of the scratchware games I make never reach the balance point of "time spent making it" vs "time people spend playing it"
Which is kind of ok. 2/3 or more of the point of it is the game is me making things.
You can lead a horse to water but actually you probably can't, unless you grew up on a farm or something.
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/02/alt-text-science-books-kids/ I laughed.
February 27, 2012
shave face race - source - built with processing
This game was kind of just a warm up, but it got me showing I could make music and sound fx (provided by Renzo, same guy who was on my team for the GGJ, he was really good....)
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Teller-Reveals-His-Secrets.html - Teller (of Penn and...) tells all, sort of, but only in a meta-magic kind of way. Great read.
April 16, 2011
dbz - original java version
built with processing
My entry for Klik of the Month #46. Didn't quite come together as a fun game, but I kind of like the weird "ravenous mouth" of the dragon.
Ah, taxes are done. $112 to the feds, $144 to our fair commonwealth, $114 to TurboTax.
March 20, 2011
thehose - source - built with processing
February 19, 2011
snakedrive - source - built with processing
My entry for Klik of the Month Klub #44. I was inspired by that "snake" game cellphones sometimes had, but I wanted a curvier, less blocky motion for it. Once I got going, I remembered this one C=64 game that had the snakes eating moving mice, which I thought might be more fun than static apples.
Moderately pleased with the results. Might try a 2-player sequel.
January 30, 2011
sredavni - source - built with processing
My 2011 Global Game Jam game. I had a great team.
Thanks MIT/Gambit labs!
August 22, 2010
discapede - source - built with processing
http://kisrael.com/java/ - just updated my java page, mostly KotMK. Man that's a lot!
July 17, 2010
pcir3d2 - source - built with processing
UPDATE: this is actually Pretty Colour Invader Rally 3D *2*... changes are: invaders now stay upright, move a little differently, have outlines, and the (remodeled) chase cursor moves X+Y when you just move the mouse, and X+Z when you hold the mouse button down as well. You can see the original here -- would be interested if anyone (besides Amber who I consulted with on this) cares enough to say which they prefer.
Inception: Eternal Sunshine meets Oceans Eleven with a touch of the first Matrix... not bad!
Mysticism consists in the mistake of an accidental and individual symbol for an universal one.
Nuts are in effect edible wood.
June 20, 2010
pnok - source - built with processing
Amber and I caught the last week of the Jim Henson exhibit at the National Heritage Museum - this was one of my favorite doodles there...
May 26, 2010
sabotage - source - built with processing
The PC version also had "gravity bullets" that were pulled down by gravity to help clear out landed troops, but I thought that might look a bit odd.
A shared Google calendar, synched with iPhones/iPod Touches, has proven to be a bit of a relationship saver, or at least helper.
One way Starbucks beats Dunkin Donuts: w/ iced drinks, the lid straw hole is 3 cuts, not a 2-cut cross; easier to insert and preserve straw.
The post-facto insert of "under God" wasn't just bad secularism and bad pluralism, it was bad poetry that breaks the rhythm of the Pledge.
March 10, 2010
beetimetrials - source - built with processing
Made for THE 371-IN-1 KLIK & PLAY PIRATE KART II: KLIK HARDER.
http://www.slate.com/id/2246107/ - liked this piece on the big red EXIT vs. the international running man, esp. the Japanese vs. Russian variants.
http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/58280 - sigh, the dot com bubble. Heh, they mention Palm - guess I'm glad I didn't go w/ "invest in what you know + like" idea.
Finally got the hypersensitive "tap to click" disabled on work laptop by installing Dell utils... incidental thumb brushes were turning into rough equivalent of butt dialing.
Happy to see Nomar Garciaparra retiring with the Red Sox if only because "NOMAHH!" is insanely fun to say in a townie accent.
March 5, 2010
spidercon - source - built with processing
Actually I modified it from the Pirate Kart version; originally the control was just like beetimetrials, where you used the dial to control the direction and thrust of the bee. Now, however, the control is relative to the current position of the Bee, which means you can use the mouse as a rough form of aiming. (But you have to watch out and not gain too much speed, lest you go crashing into the spider you're trying to take down.)
Made for THE 371-IN-1 KLIK & PLAY PIRATE KART II: KLIK HARDER.
http://ie6funeral.com/ - IE6, the Netscape 4.7 of our time.
The knack to using a ToDo list w/ due dates is don't sweat pushing forward dates that don't matter- better to push then to drown in "overdues"
Found out that the best way to Google for next-gen iPhone rumors is "iPhone 4G" even though that name is 98% sure to be inaccurate and misleading.
Geek Note: I just realized I dislike XSLT in the same way I developed disdain for Prolog back in college Damn it people, "Matching" is no replacement for "Programming"...
March 4, 2010
rocketdorkicus - source - built with processing
With both versions of Dorkicus, it's interesting how it feels like it would be a very different game if the goal was stated as "shove blocks at your opponents side" vs "bring blocks to your own side". (I didn't have a good idea for the color coding for the former case, so I went with the latter... also it feels like more complex of a goal somehow.)
Made for THE 371-IN-1 KLIK & PLAY PIRATE KART II: KLIK HARDER.
[photo: 2 'Clearblue' tests w/ 'Pregnant']
"Your crazy! Very happy 4 u!!!!
R u having twins????"
http://www.cracked.com/article_18443_6-famous-movie-wisemen-who-were-totally-full-shit.html - Cracked on would be gurus.
@burntbythesun RE: "Admiral Akbar: fish or mollusk? Discuss." - Admiral Ackbar vs Admiral Adama in a knife fight - who wins?
Wow. #ATT 3G service is so crap in Boston the iPhone just knocked itself down to Edge.
Left thumb is starting to ache- violated my usual rule about not reconfiguring keyboards and remapping Caps Lock to Ctrl. Feels pretty good!
http://www.cracked.com/blog/your-3rd-grade-science-textbook-as-written-by-gary-busey - the URL pretty much says it all.
March 3, 2010
beetimetrials - source - built with processing
I wonder if it's possible to beat ten seconds? The best I can do is 11-12.
Made for THE 371-IN-1 KLIK & PLAY PIRATE KART II: KLIK HARDER.
South Station was all iPod Touch, then plus some Palm, now all Palm- go lil' guy! Weird to see hand sized devices shown bigger than a person...
http://www.thebigmoney.com/slideshow/faces-behind-famous-hands - heh, hand models. Megan Fox has REALLY ugly thumbs, never would have guessed but a few seconds of Googling shows it.
http://metrics.admob.com/2009/06/ipod-touch-users-younger-than-iphone-users/ - A. those are the worst pie charts I've seen - someone really needs to read their Tufte. B. 46% of iPod Touch users are 13-17, but only 6% for iPhones. My guess is the Touch is a "first computer" - interesting if the iPad furthers that.
Don't usually bother with Google's frontpage unless I need "Language Tools"- I guess they're trying to split the difference of the traditional "just a logo and a search box" with their new features by making everything else on the page slowly fade in.
So for a while I've been using "softly, softly" to help me spot notepad++'s poorly-defined icon on the taskbar. Googled and realized the full phrase is "softly softly catchee monkey" which is probably not the most enlighted thing. Ah well.
March 2, 2010
moobak - source - built with processing
Made for THE 371-IN-1 KLIK & PLAY PIRATE KART II: KLIK HARDER.
One small argument in favor of Intelligent Design: at least toenails grow a lot slower than fingernails, eh?
Everyone check under your seats! You all get gum!
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/02/ff_google_algorithm/ - on Google's algorithm. Damn, that's some smart stuff.
Deep-rooted abandonment issues leave most orphans highly susceptible to shame-based psychology (for a complete list of opportune moments to obliterate the esteem of test subjects, please consulting Training Video #89-D, 'You'd Perform This Test Better if You Had Parents')
Objective assumptions in English-"it'd be The Cake Is 'A Lie'", vs 'The Truth'. We can have "truisms", but kinda assume there's one "Truth".
http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/01/petition-to-make-hel.html - I support making "hella-" the official prefix for 10^27
Heh - David "Pitfall!" Crane's "2600 Magic" iPhone tutorial gets Atari playfield graphics a bit wrong- it oversimplifies the bit order! (see http://alienbill.com/2600/cookbook/playfield.html ) I guess it's "teacher's license" so as to not confuse things, but it's good to feel smarter than David Crane if only for a moment.
I love to juxtapose the Sony "Y2K.01" bug with 'Sony commits to PS3 for next decade" from http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/9699.cfm
March 1, 2010
beebash - source - built with processing
http://cyberneticzoo.com/ - neat old robots. Man I remember being fascinated by that stuff as a kid.
My life makes a little more sense now that I recognize I've kind of been mixing up "Ron Paul" and "RuPaul". Just a bit.
QUIZ! Do you know which years are leap years without looking? Amber was surprised I knew, I was that she didn't. A programmer/Y2K thing?
http://www.newsweek.com/id/106554 - heh - on the one hand it's easy to mock the cyberskepticism, on the other, 15 years is a LONG time...
Commercial videogame development is architecture. Hobby videogame development is making pillowforts from anything in reach.
Let's admit that dialog is emerging as our generation's way to develop and share knowledge.
If I could change one thing--this is going to sound stupid--but if I could go back in time and change one thing, I might try to interest some early preliterate people in not using their thumbs when they count. It could have been the standard, and it would have made a whole lot of things easier in the modern era. On the other hand, we have learned a lot from the struggle with the incompatibility of base-ten with powers of two.
February 28, 2010
dorkicus - source - built with processing
It makes me feel weirdly good that the second Google hit for "atan2" is the Processing.org site.
February 27, 2010
rrr - source - built with processing
Amber caught me multitasking: standing eating pizza, petting the cat, dancing to music, and THINKIN' ABOUT WRITING GAMES! http://www.glorioustrainwrecks.com/node/437
February 21, 2010
blurble - source - built with processing
My entry to Klik of the Month Klub #32 it's a 2 hour game based on something I saw at openprocessing.org - http://www.openprocessing.org/visuals/?visualID=6417.
Not my greatest game, but I like the look and idea of it.
New England has its own mutant form of bowling, "candlepin". Imagine bocci as played by retarded pilgrims and you pretty much have it.
(That's with me as the special needs pilgrim of course. Shoulda gone for the bumpers!)
Yo mama like a hardware store..."
"Overpriced and always closed on Sunday?
"So what should we do tonight? Watch Lost? Read stuff?"
"...watch you scratch yourself?"
"...or watch me scratch myself! Ooh, baby, I got an itch I could scratch ALL night long"
"...Oh yeah... I think it may be some kind of rash, or maybe an infection..."
"...ooh, stop. No really. Stop."
November 20, 2009
joustpong3d - source built with processing
left and right mousebutton flaps for player 1. player 2 can take over the computer at any time by using z and x to flap. first to 10 wins.
Nice sea smell to rain in Boston. But the Walgreens automatic door was not working- confused by heavy rain? I mean people are 72% water...
Things I learned at work today: there is an entire product category of "Bag Flatteners, Vibratory"- just what it says on the tin I suspect!
Last night at "Science + Spirituality" a guy was rockin' a reverse-Hitler 'stache- did he shave it like that or just have a very bare philtrum?
Many authors should not read for their own audiobooks-Augusten Burroughs' over-enunciated drawl is only tolerable with the 2x speed feature.
I kind of like how the opening to "The Andy Griffith Show" had almost nothing to do with the show itself.
http://jordanmechner.com/old-journals/1985/10/october-20-1985/ - heh, anyone who played the original Prince of Persia will dig this video...
Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.Now I don't feel so bad about forgetting so much stuff!
Weird that "hot" can mean "too spicy" or "too warm"- a form of synesthesia/dyslexia? They can both mean "painful to eat" but not in the same way "Cap'N Crunch" can be... I wonder if other languages mix that up.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/phys-ed-why-exercise-makes-you-less-anxious/ - exercise = less anxious, or, I dunno, just used to feeling bad?
July 19, 2009
"If ants had nuclear weapons, they would probably end the world in a week."
--Journey to the Ants, Bert Holldobler & Edward O. Wilson
My entry for Klik of the Month #25 -- I made the screen a bit too big to post in place here. Arrow keys move, z and x fire and jump.
Falls a bit under "failed experiments", especially how some of the blocks are still flying upward, but at least I got around the feel of what I had been aiming for. Inspired by BoingBoing Offworld's coverage of Puit Wars.
The way deleted youtube videos still have a preview still is both a cruel tease and an important marker of what was.
Those weird nighttime thoughts of how weird it is to be. And how someday, to be no longer.
Or, god wiling, to be old; to be living in largely in the past tense. Am I living enough now to feel good about it later?
Future self, I swear on all that's holy I'm doing the best I possibly can.
Or maybe not, but you wouldn't've done much better, you old coot!
June 21, 2009
pretty colour crackdown - source - built with processing
My entry for Klik of the Month Klub #24 - what I said about it there:
i recommend you don't actually play this but instead just watch the invaders flow around the current mouse location
if you want to play just hold the fire button to send in a stream of bullets to kill them.
if you feel guilty about that, and you probably should, press space to send in another 100 invaders.
UPDATE: I kind of like the initial "orbit around the individual random starting points" look of when the app first starts, something you couldn't get to once they started tracking where the mouse had been, so now after 30 seconds of not moving the mouse, the invaders return to that pattern.
Actually this used to be "rainbow invader legion genocide" but on the site Six wrote
makes me feel like a riot cop firing into a group of people who are staging a demonstration about how much they love pretty colours.So that's the theme I'm going with, and I changed the bullets from rainbow to monochrome to match.
May 17, 2009
(It almost feels a bit more aquatic than aerial. In fact, coming up with the scheme I realized it's a bit like the old Atari arcade game Toobin'.)
It never hurts to ask. Unless you ask for hurt.
February 22, 2009
heatseeker - built with processing
source: heatseeker chaser explosion player rotater
A 2- (cough) 3- (cough) 4-hour result of GloriousTrainwreck.com's KotMK 20. I had the basic toy working in just over 2 1/2 hours, than this morning I made it into more or less a proper game, thanks to Cossix and Dessgeega digging what I had put there.
I've wanted to make a version of this game for a long time, the original (page 1 page 2) is brutally hard and not much of a game, but still, the joy of its looping mechanic and trying to get missiles to crash into the ground stuck with me all these years.
The Job interview lose/lose/lose: bad feeling about job, maybe wouldn't want to take offer, wouldn't want bad karma of turning it down, don't want to NOT get offer.
@harveyjames I hated "Eyes Wide Shut"'s message of "if someone tells you not be curious and to stay away, STAY AWAY". Kidman is hot, though.
http://forums.selectbutton.net/viewtopic.php?t=19260 - a study determines that "empowerment" is more of a crucial factor than "violence" in violent games. I think this is what half of video games appeal is for me, the other half being "novel interaction".
Academy Awards: Is it a failure that I can't see "Hugh Jackman"'s name without thinking "Huge Ass Man"? Also, Sarah Jessica Parker boobies.
Academy Awards. I love the beautiful women in lovely dresses who act as the celebrity herders.
December 25, 2008
snowno - source - built with processing
Man sometimes I wish this was an LJ 'cause then I'd have a little "mood" icon by every post and today I'd be all like
November 16, 2008
All these annoyances seem to cluster.
Maybe it's statistical? There's this phenomenon I've read about and even witnessed but couldn't Google a reference for (which is of course, par for the course) how if you mix coarse grained particles of two different colors and shake, the result isn't an even blend, but the clusters stay segregated and gathered. If this scales to events in real life, it might explain "good things come in threes" type thinking.
Also, possibly, astrology. While I think the underlying explanation of astrology is hokum, I've been starting to think that somewhere between this kind of statistical clustering and observations on seasonal variations, as well as a kind of coded arbitrariness of randomness like the I Ching and a bit of insight to human personaligy (even if mostly in a Barnum effect kind of sense) there might be the shadow of something "to it".
But I came here to kvetch, not to sophomorically pontificate!
Last night I decide to just go read at the pub before the glorioustrainwrecks KotMK #17 game jam. To be fair, the burger and beer were good, but the book, by an author I've liked, was just not appealing to me at all. ("Lighthousekeeping" by Jeannette Winterson-- this whiny, mushy kind of cross between "just so" stories and magical realism.) And then even though it was only six there was this drunk or at least extremely raucous crowd there. And of course, I get meta-irritated at how they annoyed me; why should I begrudge people having a fun time? But there it was. And this was all after getting stuck on the dino-planet level of "Star Fox: Assault", a goofy sci-fi game I liked a while back and decided to replay, probably at a moderately more difficult level than I had before.
So then it was the game jam, and it started out ok, though I kept getting distracted by hearing the wind push against the plastic in front of the windows. My bedroom/office has these lovely stained glass pieces, but they're drafty--the one with the permanently installed AC has visible daylight in parts--so much so that I think air gets behind the plastic and pushes against it, ripping off the tape. I've given up keeping the plastic nice and taut like it was at first via the magic of hair dryer (doesn't matter so much visually, they're behind some roman shades) and now it's an ongoing thing of maintenance.
So, of course, the game never did come together quite right. It was very promising and kind of interesting but then I just got stuck with either a bug or misunderstanding of the engine I had written previously and was trying to leverage. (In short, the "player/wall" colliding thing was ok, but the same code just wasn't working for the "ghost/wall" collisions, or "ghost/ghost"). Plus, I didn't have time to research the Sine/Cosine routine I thought of working, that would have made it a more pleasant toy.
So rather than push on at the 2 hour time limit, I just post what I had then and think about coming back to it. I go back to self-medicate with the Star Fox game, get through that dino planet level (where I couldn't find the damn target goals, but thought I knew where to look) and then get stuck on a different boss fight, where according the FAQs, there's no strategy besides "shoot him in the face and try not to get too distracted by his attacks"... and most times I would get the boss's health to just a sliver, and then die.
And now this morning, I have my "yourself!fitness" to do, except I know it's a "workout challenge"-- the program wants me to do as many situps, squats, pushups etc to gauge my progress. But that's a terrible way to judge, you're looking to gauge 2 weeks of progress, and who knows what kind of small cheating-on-pure-form for the sake of numbers might slip in there. Plus, for some reason the program is setup to still expect you to do the normal workout that day and nags you if you don't.
It's all a bit worse because of the general climate of fear and uncertainty. Maybe I should remind myself of the good stuff from yesterday; nice breakfast with my Aunt and Uncle, EB was in town and put a new endpiece on the giant honking ethernet cable that runs from the third floor to my room so it won't slip out of the router, I did a fair job straightening up parts of the apartment...
(And through typing all this I saw there were some games I missed last night at the game jam, but I need to upgrade DirectX to see one of them, and that process isn't working. Because, why the hell not. GAH!)
Applet of the Moment
swank - source - built with processing
DANG IT. the windows are so frickin' drafty I can see the air fill in behind the plastic sheeting in front, hear the tape rip off the sides
Oy, September already? Where do the summers go...
September 1, 2008
Followup of the Moment
So despite some discouraging technical setbacks, Team Cowsome Loneboys of the OLPC Physics Game Jam got a finished product in time for the judging...
The game we presented, "Babel", had 2 phases... building and destroying. Building is taking 60 seconds to build as high a tower as possible, using a nice springy mouse tool to grab and sling blocks into place. Destroying uses the same mouse tool to grab bricks and fling them away, or possibly grabbing the wrecking ball for that purpose.
The game was surprisingly well-received... the educators in particular actually liked its simplified environment and focus a lot. There were only 4 or 5 games made, but we got a silver medal in "level design" (got the mug for that) and a bronze in something else.
Even after the judging, Jon and I kept on toiling to add an element that was part of our original vision: a slingshot! Now instead of racing against a timer, the goal was to use as few shots as possible to clear the platform area...
It's really a bit of a bummer that we didn't think to push on the slingshot ahead before... we probably could have gotten the basic version in, and it really made a much more compelling game, since rather than "use this cool tool to make a building... now use the same tool to destroy it..." there are two nice and distinct "aesthetic kinetic" phases.
It was great collaborating with so many clever people. Also, SJ, the organizer, assures me that the OLPC audience, school kids all over the world, is surprising voracious, and I think the game we made might actually get many more downloads and much more attention than most of the stuff I hack out on my own, so it was nice staying after to do it a bit better. (There are still tremendous ways of cheating, however... like dangling or flinging a brick over the tower area as time is up, and using the slingshot "backwards" to swipe bricks off rather than knock them out cannon-style.
The other games were pretty swell... rollcats was the belle of the ball, though some of the educators weren't as crazy about its simple puzzle mechanic, despite the lovely execution. My favorite among the other teams was "XO Olympics", an almost afterthought of a game where each player controls a kind of hopping triange to try and push volleyballs over to the other players goal... the interesting bit is each goal throws out the next ball (in the color of who scored a point) onto the field, but the old balls are never removed, so the scorekeeping becomes a part of the physics of the game... neat!
geek rant: maybe after ~52 hours of python hacking I'd learn to put "self." in front of everything? Nope! Same w/ forgetting str() for ints
stepping into my dark bedroom after too too many hours of geekery, I longed for a sleepy, admonishing but sympathetic voice: "Hey, you..."
Highlights from other teams at the OLPC Physics Jam:
August 31, 2008
When good physics goes bad...
It's gone really mediocre-ly for my team, the Cowsome Loneboys... there just seems to be much less experience with the toolkits at hand, and we've started from scratch, changing the core platform where building on, twice. We're toiling away on a simplified version of some of our original ideas.
It's amazing how many really sharp people drift in and out of the office, friends of people jamming away I guess... the Israeli Doctorate in anarchy anarchy studies stopping over after giving a talk about OLPC at some conference, this willowy Chinese physics postdoc with the English accent (both of course I immediately develop huge crushes on), one of the cofounders of Logo, the precocious high schooler who namedrops Marvin Minsky like crazy, not even knowing how famous he was at first...
Sometimes I catch myself mixing slang modes... "what's the haps, G?"
August 17, 2008
bumblebee mafia - source - built with processing
My entry for Klik of the Month Klub #14: bumblebee mafia!
(I didn't have time to make it a game in terms of game overs or points or, if I actually want to start making games instead of toys, waves.)
Press any key or the mouse button to raise the water cannon and try to splash the bees into the ground...
I'm happy with how pretty it turned out...
The title came from this exchange on Gamer's Quarter between Harveyjames and aderack...
(The Opa-Opa being the main character of the Fantasty Zone games, and I assume the joke reference is to the idea that Scientists Say Bumblebees Can't Fly But The Bees Don't Know That.)I'd also like to point out that OPA OPA would not be able to fly with those tiny wings.What are you, the bumblebee mafia?
If anyone's keeping track, this represents a new form factor for my games, 480x320 instead of the old 400x400.
Seems like adults ask two years lots of pedagological questions. But the question of if it was annoying seemed a bit too abstract for EBB.
Jeeziepetes,laptops are decked out like frickin' indy cars these days...6 stickers on the wrist rest of my new tablet PC, incl. one 3-in-1.
So weirdly interface blind sometimes-sure my new laptop had no pgup/down despite seeing/using their alt modes(were hidden w/ function keys)
EB's 2 year old daughter is so happy when I show up, it's kind of heartening.
July 20, 2008
manspider - source - built with processing
My entry for Klik of the Month Klub #13: manspider! (The theme was beards. So he has a beard!)
Another springy physics-y game, here your goal is to catch the flies you need to supplement your rapidly diminishing health bar. Click on the floating green leaf pods to throw a web strand and try to consume flies for both health and points.
June 24, 2008
pixiesmash - source - built with processing
These are beautiful, ephemeral pixies, flitting about hither and yon on gossamer wings, creatures of virutal light and logic, the very stuff dreams are made of.
You smash them with a rock.
(Macabre shades of Terry Jones' Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book? Also memories of Cleveland kids smashing fireflies and using their guts for glow in the dark sidewalk writing.)
A (roughly) two hour entry for Klik of the Month Klub #12. Also a more successful attempt to copy the visuals of this one "Pixie Swarm" Windows 3.1 screensaver than paintbars (though that ended up cooler and more hypnotic)
Wow, kick butt thunderstorm! I watched the front approach over Cambridge, engulf the MIT dome... felt apocalyptic!
May 18, 2008
basho2 - source - built with processing
(WARNING: has sound, but not 'til you click.) So I managed to turn last month's software toy into an actual game! Use the yoyo to bash the frogs into frog heaven... unfortunately frog hell is the red line behind the cloud so if you miss the frog is fried. It's tough, my high score is like 4...
December 25, 2007
sugardum - source - built with processing
December 9, 2007
So, it's a joke that really only like 3 people should get (folks following both modern Indie gaming and Atari 2600 homebrews) but the author of the original said it was "amazing", so I guess no hard feelings.
In other words, I sent 120-odd Atari cartridges to a good home. I kept out the ones I really loved, and the multiplayer ones, but in a way it was a farewell to pieces of my childhood. But most of the games I can get in emulation, and at this point in my life, I need to separate myself from the Stuff that's taking up rent without paying me back.
Sentence of the Moment
When I look at people that I would like to feel have been a mentor or an inspiring kind of archetype of what I'd love to see my career eventually be mentioned as a footnote for in the same paragraph, it would be, like, Bowie.Language Log has named a prize for "tricky embedding" after him for this linguistic feat of nesting dolls.
December 4, 2007
draggin - source - built with processing
I made a game yesterday, for GloriousTrainwrecks.com's Klik of the Month. It's called
November 18, 2007
(Actually, this morning I made remix version that plays about the same, except the bug is fixed in placed but you can aim anywhere on the screen with the mouse. Plus, to justify the dumb pun "whistle command" it plays a bad ringtone loop of "The Whistle Song".)
Article of the Moment
Fascinating article from National Geographic on Extreme Cases of Memory: AJ, who remembers everything, and EP who remembers nothing.
Though we curse these failures of memory on an almost daily basis, Schacter says, that's only because we don't see their benefits. Each sin is really the flip side of a virtue, "a price we pay for processes and functions that serve us well in many respects." There are good evolutionary reasons why our memories fail us in the specific ways they do. If everything we looked at, smelled, heard, or thought about was immediately filed away in the enormous database that is our long-term memory, we'd be drowning in irrelevant information.I hope that's true. I sometimes try to console myself that my iffy memory is a byproduct of or enabler for the somewhat large amount of tangential thinking and creativity I have to work with.
Interesting that AJ has become a nostalgia fiend; it's not enough for her to remember all the details, she craves visual aids and external memory holders.
October 26, 2007
conway west - source - built with processing
This is a 2 hour game written for Glorious Trainwreck's Klik of the Month #4. (While probably more impressive visually, technically conwayice was a warm up for this game.)
This is probably a clearer introduction for people less familiar with Conway's Game of Life (and yes the title is a cheap pun on a current recording artist.)
Of course, Life doesn't usually have a random element like the ghost to stir things up, but I'm pleased with how he stops the board from falling into its usual simple pattern.
So I've made a few references to the weekend I had last weekend.
September 16, 2007
So there was Klik & Play, a mid-90s game creation tool for Windows. Glorious Trainwrecks is a current site dedicated to a renaissance of the type of games made in this system: an anti-aesthetic of gonzo wackiness, using terrible clipart animations and sometimes fostering oddball gameplay and styles.
The Emergency 100-In-1 Klik And Play Pirate Kart Meltdown, then, was a call to action for a team of 17 intrepid coders to make 100 distinct games over the course of a single weekend. The Independent Gaming Source message board post has more info and hype for the end result.
I didn't find out about the event 'til it was already Saturday morning. At first I thought I'd just throw in a Java game or two, since it said non-Klik-&-Play games were welcome, and my first dabbles with that system hadn't worked out. But as the weekend wore on, I had more ideas I wanted to try out, and then by the time it was Sunday I thought I'd try my hand at Klik & Play proper.
For me, the core of the event was the irc chatroom, where folks tapped in for encouragement and enthusiasm, trying each other's new games and asking questions and generally supporting the frenzied coding effort. Watching the total game count crawl upwards was extrememly satisfying.
Yesterday I also joined in the Klik of the Month get-together, the regular 2-hour irc-based creativity fest, and while it was fun it didn't have quite the same sense of huge-goal-based camaraderie that the previous weekend featured.
I've added the 5 processing games to my Java toys page and made a new klik & play page for this stuff, but here is what I came up with- first, the Java:
Nudge the white ball to sidestep the red chasers
Space invaders...in a box! Click to play, arrows move, space fires.
A moral and aesthetic lesson in birth control.
My previous cosmic ark swarm meets Katamari Damacy.
Err...in the adolescent spirit of the event, it's pong. With breasts.
And then, the Klik & Play. Shift starts these games and then jumps or fires, arrows move, and on bug <3 flower you can click on a bananalemon if you get stuck:
ALIEN FIGHTER 2000
bug <3 flower
bug <3 flower was from yesterday. It was inspired by Eudaimon's 100-in-1 entry "Platform Builder" and is more of a "game" but lacks much of the charm, and is also too difficult.
In general, there are two ways of approaching this, with lots of overlap: I tend to try to make games with novel gameplay and ways of interacting with the computer (for me, that's what makes video games a worthy medium). Others just love the joy and anarchy of making weird, ugly, beautiful, gonzo audio/visuals, often with fairly traditional gameplay.
It's all good. And by good, I mean bad, but in entertaining ways, which is good.
September 9, 2007
"blockvaders" // source code // built with Processing
Click in the box to play... arrow keys move, space or ctrl fires. Stop the box invaders from touching down.
This requires a note of explanation... it's a case of me (probably) missing the point of the THE EMERGENCY 100-IN-1 KLIK AND PLAY PIRATE KART MELTDOWN, one of my 1/100ths of an entry for TIGSource B-game Competition. Basically, it's supposed to be a bad game, but most of the other bad games are bad in the awful clipart and play mechanic sense. This one is just bad by being too simple, too artsy, and without enough sound effects. And with the idea that if if you keep playing, the rotation makes sure it gets harder, for no fair reason.
A month or so ago someone from this one band asked if they could use my old Young Astronauts in Love cartoon on a shirt. The musician's comment that he was having trouble making a good cartoony astronaut me realize that I'd been drawing the basic form since high school, and reminded me of one particular time I used it: the victory screen for my Windows game InterGalactic SpaceMan BlastFest:
April 26, 2005
You can download it from my Alien Bill Productions page. It still runs on modern versions of Windows, though you probably need to download the "vbrun300.dll" file linked at the bottom of that page. But I thought I'd share that victory screen as well as the custom sound effects I recorded for the death screams of the little jetpack wearing astronauts:
|scream: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 / victory!|
One of the voices is actually Dylan of Sidebar "Fame" (who was subletting from me in Waltham at the time)...bonus kudos for the first person on the comments section to say which one. Also, the "victory" sfx is clearly not me.
Anyway, I've toyed with the idea of a port of InterGalactic SpaceMan BlastFest to the Atari 2600, but it's still a long way off, if ever.
Java Toy of the Moment
September 18, 2004
cosmicarkswarm - Source code // Built with Processing
"Cosmic Ark Swarm"--I'd been thinking about this little toy for too long...for months a very rough version of the source code was clogging up one of my journal backlog tools, and in a way, this is the kind of "random critters moving around" thing I've wanted to make since...yeesh, at least 1987. This is a big wildlife refuge providing a home for all 7 critter-types (kisrael'd previously) from the Atari 2600 game Cosmic Ark by Imagic. The beasties are skittish about your mouse pointer, and rightfully so...pressing the mouse button turns the pointer into a little sticky tractor beam that lets you pick 'em up as you sweep by.
Video of the Moment
Funny...I ran into Strindberg and Helium on memepool just before Candi remembered it from way back when and mentioned it in her LJ. Very strange stuff...kinda like Poe meets the Care Bears, or something. "Absinthe and Women" is probably the best one: "How sweet life can be when the misery of one's existence is blurred by slight intoxication."
Nostalgia of the Moment
May 31, 2002
Remember Slim Goodbody, Super Hero of Health? If any skinny freak in a suit that made it look like his insides were on his outside could convince me to exercise, it was him. But honestly, it didn't work that well. I don't know why he's been on my mind lately. Just a little bit of childhood gone by...but he is still kicking around!
Link of the Moment
I wish I could fly. In the meanwhile, I play the old Nintendo 64 game Pilot Wings.
...how old were you before you realized "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "The Alphabet Song" have the same damn tune?
May 29, 2002
Middle school, for me: the band was having a special performance for some elementary schoolers, to show off a saxophone the player played "Twinkle Twinkle" and I was floored when all the kids yelled out "Alphabet Song!" when asked to name that tune...
Link of the Moment
The NY Times thinks Athanasius Kircher was pretty cool for a guy from the 1600s.