Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Monster Truck Power Fantasy v1.1

I updated "Monster Truck Power Fantasy" to version 1.1. It is now downloadable from Gamejolt and Itch.

I fixed some bugs, adjusted the spawning patterns and scoring to be fairer to the player, and made some slight graphical and technical improvements.

Here's the complete change list. Cheers!

-Tire damage dealt is now based on the percentage of tire integrity remaining.
-The minimum tire integrity is now 1.
-Tires deflate and wheels start sparking at a tire integrity of 34.
-The tire integrity bar now flashes red when tires deflate.
-New building textures added
-Score at end is now outlined in black.
-Rooftop fences no longer spawn in proximity of tire spikes.
-The spawn rate of sharp objects increases during last 30 seconds.
-The truck now shakes when hitting things.

Bug Fixes:
-Removed developer feature where truck height could be adjusted with the arrow keys (oops)
-The speed of game is now unaffected by frame rate.
-The truck now continues traveling in the correct direction after game ends.
-The game no longer immediately ends if you begin a run within a second of opening the game.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Monster Truck Power Fantasy

Here's a new game for ya kiddos: "Monster Truck Power Fantasy." I made it for the 2017 Sekret Santa game jam at Glorious Trainwrecks. My gift recipient asked for a game with a giant monster truck that destroys an entire city, among other things.

So, I made a game about a monster truck. I could describe it further by genre, but why should I? It's a video game about a goddamn monster truck.

I've always been enamored with the idea of music games in the style of James Earl Cox's You Don't Know the Half of It: Fins of the Father. So, I decided to write a song for the game with conventional structure and lyrics, as opposed to an instrumental loop. Imagine Jon Spencer, Sleater-Kinney, Shakey Graves, and the frontman from Arcade Fire getting together and making a baby. A song baby. This is that song.

I was given a month to work on the game, but due to the work on "The Giant Robot Blues," hospitalization, and holiday cheer, I've only had a week to make the game. Three of those days were dedicated to the music. This didn't leave much time for game design.

I'm pretty happy with the results, given the short development period, but a post-jam version with bug fixes is in the works.

You can download the game for Windows from Glorious Trainwrecks for the time being. Release on other platforms is impending. Thanks for playing!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Giant Robot Blues

I am releasing a piece of interactive fiction. It is called "The Giant Robot Blues." You can play it here.

It's a comedic sci-fi tale about a test pilot trapped inside of a giant robot suit that is about to explode. It is also about other things: 70's rock and roll, mass media, secrets, hallucinations, mistakes, laughter, futility, and regret. 

Twine's inception, and the interactive fiction renaissance that followed, have dismantled a lot of my preconceptions about interactive art and how interactive systems can be compelling outside of overcoming challenges, completing objectives, or winning "games." One of the few elements that IF - a medium of text and hyperlinks - shares with conventional videogames is choice. By removing the mechanic of player choice from the tropes of games, and evoking the tropes of literature, I think that IF causes developers and players to re-imagine what kind of experiences digital interactive art can provide.

I've also long admired interactive fictions' accessibility. Contemporary IF can be played on nearly any device with internet access, by nearly anyone who can read, regardless of previous experience with games. This is my first mobile game! The more I make games, the more I am interested in their development into a broadly accessible and artistically diverse medium. So, naturally, I've long been interested in finding inspiration to write a piece of IF with Twine myself. While I previously made a tiny game in an hour with a professor, it was time for me to undergo a serious project. 

The chance came during Artscape last when, when Steven Thomas and I decided to create games for the winners of a high score contest we held during the festival. The winner of the Bloodjak high score contest asked for a text-based comedy about a person trapped inside of a mech, among other criteria.  I was pretty excited about the prompt.

I wanted to be able to evoke the tension that comes with the play of a conventional game, but I didn't want to bring along the skill ceiling that typically accompanies it. I don't want to spoil the experience, but I think was able to achieve this with the systems I put in place.

Despite being a game made for another person, "The Giant Robot Blues" eventually grew into one of the most personal games I've ever made. Inside jokes, previously unrealized project ideas, and experiences and places from Baltimore city all find their way into this little story. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bloodjak Design Interview

I can't believe I forgot to post this, but last month, Greg Livingston interviewed me about Bloodjak! I talk a bit about procedural difficulty, the game's unusual scoring mechanic, and emotive game design. The discussion gets pretty good, especially after the five minute mark.

It includes game footage from both me and Greg - if you ever wanted to watch me reach 10,000 points and die, here ya go.

It's always wonderful to be given an opportunity to talk about your work. Greg records a ton of great interviews with Baltimore devs and posts many videos on design theory - you can watch them all on his Youtube channel!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Artscape's Over; Games Got Patched

screenshot of the finished Underground Arcade launcher program for festival exhibitions
Thank you all so much for stopping by our humble little table at Artscape! It meant a lot to both me and Stephen to see yinz playing our stuff and duking it out for high scores! We're definitely looking forward to showcasing our work at more festivals in the future. If you're looking for more of Stephen's work, you can find it here.

As promised, the winners of the Bloodjak high score competition will have a game made by me - I already have one winner's wishlist and am starting to pump that game out. If, by any chance, you participated in the competition and did not get an email from me, please let me know.

As I prepared the games for festival exhibition, I noticed that all of my games were running slowly on my laptop hardware. I won't go into the technical explanation (sleep margin! *shakes fist*), but Gewgawlicious, The Morphine Western Revenge, Bloodjak, and Digital Toilet World have all been updated and should be running at peak performance on all hardware now.

Furthermore, after the first day of festival, it became immediately clear that Gewgawlicious, the least playtested of my games, was way too long. I've since shortened the game's length by 45 seconds. I also fixed a minor bug in Digital Toilet World in which the android sprites would blur.

After I finish making the prize game (stay tuned!), I should be able to seriously redirect attention to Monsterpunk.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Underground Arcade at Artscape!

This is old news to those of you who follow me on other social media, but I am pleased to announce that the Baltimore Game Collective (consisting of Let-Off Studios and myself) will be showcasing our games at Artscape in Baltimore this July! Together, we are presenting Underground Arcade, which consists of eight games, half by me, half by Let-Off. Check out the trailer above!

Artscape advertises itself as the largest free arts festival in America, so I am grateful to be able to showcase my work in this setting. If you're in the area, do stop by and say hi!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Digital Toilet World v1.3

The last game I needed to revise in preparation for festival showcasing was Digital Toilet World, which has now been updated to v1.3. Most of the changes are minor - they make the game a bit more user friendly - but the experience is mostly the same, with one exception.

I have rewritten the game so that the dialogue more closely resembles that of the original version. I had grown considerably as a writer over the course of college (which I was in the midst of when I first made the game, and at the end of when I last revised it), and felt justified in making substantial changes.  My first update to the game, v1.1, simply corrected typos, but in v1.2, I rewrote much of the dialogue from scratch.

However, I've since realized that many of those changes went beyond improving the original script, changing the tone and subtext of the game. With this version of the game, I decided to compromise between the original text and my revisions, in an attempt to preserve the game's original spirit.

The decision to make any changes to a finished work always makes me nervous. While I want my games to be the best they can be, especially when I'm about to showcase them at a festival and have more exposure than I've ever had, I also don't want to be George Lucas. I don't want to take a perfectly fine piece of art and blemish it. I felt like I've managed to avoid that until the 1.2 revision of Toilet World. Hopefully, v1.3 adequately reversed those unsavory changes.

I think this will be the final edit I'll make to this game - it's four years old, and while it certainly shows on the surface that it no longer represents my absolute best as a game designer, it really shows under the hood. Making revisions to Bloodjak was easy - the code for Digital Toilet World is an illegible mess by comparison. I still love the game, it still holds up, and I think it represents my narrative and design style better than anything else I've made, but I've come to realize how much I've grown since then.

v1.3 has pause support, by the way

As always, you can play the game on Gamejolt and

Here's the complete change list:
-Pause support added.
-Dialogue rewritten to more closely resemble that of v1.1.
-The player can now move using WASD in case your down arrow key is broken.
Bug Fixes 
-Androids no longer spawn while the player is in conversation.
-Sprites no longer blur.

 I have a big announcement to make soon.