So I finally got with the program and figured out how to load up watch faces and 3rd party software onto my pebble today. (It turns out you just need to open relevant files in Safari, and they are already associated with the Pebble app, which then syncs them to the device for you.)
Anyway, this of course meant that I could try out Pebblis, a version of Tetris created for the Pebble by Robert Hesse. As widely reported, Pebblis is nothing more than a Tetris clone you can play on your wristwatch, but if you’re not looking for anything fancy, it’ll definitely scratch that tetromino itch.
I haven’t yet mentioned on this blog that I got into Google’s Glass Explorer program. In case you’re not familiar, google is giving 8,000 people the chance to get their hands on Google Glass early (you still have to pay for it). They held a big contest on twitter and Google+ to pick who gets it, and I got in with this tweet: “#ifihadglass I would use OpenCV to find grid patterns in what you are seeing. Then allow you to play Tetris on them, of course.”
Unfortunately, now that the Glass API has been released, it doesn’t sound like AR tetris is really possible, at least with this 1st-gen device. (In fact, the AR capabilities will be quite limited, and that rather disappointing aspect of the hardware has not gotten much press, at least that I’ve seen.) I’m still excited to get my eyes on mine, and I’ll be exploring what games appear for it over at Games with Glass, a site I’ve started with my former co-worker Breon. Not much up over there yet, but then again, there’s really not much yet to report on either. I’ll be writing more about all this soon, for sure.
This year’s GDC is already a blurry whirlwind memory of game design talks and discussion, hodgepodge game postmortems and analysis sessions, and a smear of industry faces and handshakes. GDC is a lot of things to a lot of people, and there is definitely far more happening in that week than any one person can realistically experience, but for me the main point was to soak up as much as possible in five days, mostly in regards to game postmortems, game design theory, and hearing about what’s happening on the “fringes” of game development. And with that goal in mind, it did not disappoint.
This year, at the suggestion of Eli over at TouchArcade, I had some 2″ app icon stickers printed for some of my apps, and aside from the initial premise of trading and collecting, I found the stickers to be a really excellent conversation starter and way to just launch immediately into who I am and what I do when meeting other people at GDC. I’ll admit to being one of those people who meets you and immediately scans your badge (see the previous post for my GDC badge), looking to see if I recognize your name or your company. It’s a great way to find some common ground for discussion, but I found with the stickers in my pocket, it was far easier to start a conversation, and I rarely had to resort to the “so what do you do?” mantra.
Here are the stickers I had printed:
And here are all the ones I collected:
You can see on the right there is a long smear of them. That’s because Dave Castelnuovo, creator of Pocket God, was a sponsor of the Touch Arcade party, and he walked around with a box of stickers, handing out rubber-banded stacks of 50 at a time. Here’s the full set from him:
So in total, I think that makes my sticker haul exactly 100 rounded-rect stickers, including the 50 pocket god ones. There were also a handful of differently shaped ones (only the Letter by Letter one is pictured, but I also got a cool triangular Galcon 2 sticker from Phil Hassey, and probably a dozen other ones too). Last year most of my GDC swag was t-shirts, and I got a few of those this year too, but the stickers were far more valuable, at least in terms of process of acquisition.
Last but not least, many thanks to Sticker Mule, who provided all these high-quality stickers at such a great discount!!!
I did a talk yesterday at Mobile March about Mobile Board Game Conversions. I basically just ran through three example applications, Carcassonne (BGG, App Store), Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (BGG, App Store), and For The Win (BGG, App Store), showing them off while paying attention to features and aspects of the applications that highlight decisions the developers had to make while making these conversions. I didn’t end up following the slides as much as I’d done in my run-throughs (things never go how you plan), but here the slides are for posterity anyway:
ActionChess 1.7 has been submitted to the app store. It’s a very minor release, and here are the notes:
* fixed leaderboard submission for Highest Level Reached
* new app icon courtesy of John Grider (http://brokencrow.com/)
* updated default graphics and one or two other minor changes
I hope you like the new icon, I really dig it!
Last year I spent a fairly significant amount of time going through all the games created for the Global Game Jam in the Board Game category. I then got about five of those games into a “playable” state by printing their components or whathaveyou. (The standout from last year was easily Saprobiont, which I have probably played at least a dozen times.) I wrote the whole thing up in a lengthy blog post before I’d had a chance to play any of them.
I can’t explain it, but this year’s batch of games didn’t have nearly as many that I want to play. I went through the entire list of 124 games tagged as Board Games, and of those, took notes on 57 of them. (Probably half of them were little more than a name, and half again after that little more than a name and a snapshot someone took of their prototype.) Of those 57, after some investigation, I only found 36 that appear to be “playable” in English. That is definitely more than last year’s 19, but I spent less time this year, and may have disqualified more of them if I’d taken the time to really dig in.
Of the 36, last night I had the chance to play 3 of them, and one of them was mine.
- HeartBurn (my creation) – Two plays of my app/card game hybrid last night. There was lots of giggling, and reactions were positive, but there was no rush to play it again after either game. (Games lasted probably around 2 minutes each.) My new feeling for this game (which was actually echoed in both of the other GGJ games I played last night) was that it’s missing something essential to make it feel more like a “real” game. More (any) meaningful decisions, maybe?
- Brando – Played a round of this dice game. I was initially intrigued by it, and enjoyed picking out which dice to pit against my opponent, but the game ended up feeling insubstantial. If you like rolling dice to see who wins, this may be more up your alley. My original notes: “Dice game, requires math, looks interesting.”
- Divide – My notes: “Quite interesting set of rules for a game played with a standard deck of cards, but the suits and numbers don’t matter, only the colors of the card, red or black.” Played a few rounds of this, and my impression was that — again — it’s lacking something to have real appeal. The idea is interesting, and there were a few surprises durring our play. The game can be played by either relying entirely on luck, (the goal is to guess the distribution of red and black cards in your opponent’s hand), or with some careful and calculated deduction.
Here are my notes on the other 34 games that appear to be “playable”:
- <3 U – Party game where you actually text each other cryptic messages and your team-mate(s) attempt to decypher your text.
- ACK! The Subtle Art of Geriatric Assassination – Munchkin-inspired card game of player assassination.
- Barrilete Galáctico – roll & move
- Beat To Death – 2-player tile and card game where each player controls a monster’s body, and that body directly attacks the opponent’s body.
- Birthday Suit – “a cooperative edutainment party game that mixes biology, light humour and innuendo”
- Caloria – Health/fitness theme on a worker placement game
- Common Causes – Roll & move with political theme. Winning and losing are subjective in this game.
- Destroy All Men – Draw and play card game. You are a woman who, through the drawing of random cards, gets to either “destroy” or “submit to” a man. Poor design, kinda fun theme. Playable.
- Escape from Vampire – Card-based game where you are running away from a vampire.
- Fantabulous Fluffy – Another dice fighting game
- Fat Food Contest – card game where you try to eat the most
- Flow to the Heart (Fluss zum Herz) – Complex game based on Parchisi. Extensive rules, and lots of “bits” are needed, as well as a deck of cards.
- Heart of the Ship – Be the first human to escape your cryostasis and find the escape pod. Sounds pretty interesting. Art is not bad.
- Heart Rate Speed Date – No-turn (everyone plays at once) matching game for two players. Nice art, silly theme (speed dating), but looks cool.
- Heartbeat of a Fickle God – Cards, dice used to reprsent the gods’ various emotions (or perhaps minion emotions, not sure). Hidden goals, and open trading. Looks like all phases are simultaneous play. Rules could use work, but it looks like this is probably playable.
- Heartfelt – Fairly complex rules for a standard-52-card-deck game inspired by Race For The Galaxy and Citadels.
- Igor, Jumpstart The Heart! – Draw a card and play it to either build your monster or destroy someone else’s monster. When your monster is complete, roll a die to see if you won. For kids.
- Life of Jo(e) – Dice/card game with a single track gameboard. Players roll a die every turn to determine their actions for the turn. Players are moving live and death tokens on the track (as well as other tokens), and when live meets death, the player who has that section is the winner.
- Lovespoons the Card Game – Card game about building lovespoons. Looks fairly interesting, but the art is uninspired.
- Mad Geneticists – Card & dice attack game.
- Mad Hospital – co-op(?) game where the goal is to keep a hospital running. Cards are not in english
- Malpractice – co-op game defending a body from disease
- Milk Finder – Roll & move touching on social/political implications of formula milk
- Night Hunt – Vampire hunting game
- Pathogenicocytomitosis – Dice and card game. Decent looking art. Would be expensive to print.
- Pizza War – Pizza themed roll and move, on a grid, with chess-like capturing
- Pump The Muscle! – Roll & Move with one interesting optional rule about pumping a balloon to simulate pumping a heart.
- Racing Heart – Elaborate rules. action point system. cards, large gameboard with spaces representing parts of the body. Innerspace-like theme.
- Relation$#! – Deckbuilding card game with relationship theme
- Rest – Dice game. Betting and rolling.
- Shaman Showdown – Another two-player battle game. This time the players are shamen, and attack each other by sacaraficing animals to cast spells
- The Capture – Roll & move
- The King’s Heart – Card and dice game. You are an assassin. Play attack cards and roll dice to attack various parts of the king’s heart.
- Malpracticeco – Claims to be a cross between Cards against Humanity and Munchkin. Instructions say the rules are intentionally vague. No art on the cards.
Today I uploaded a new version of the abstract puzzle logo to abstractpuzzle.com.
Here’s a compare and contrast:
I actually added the white cut-out lines around the text a few iterations back, but just hadn’t updated the website with that new look. But what’s gotten me really excited is the clarity and smoothness of the background puzzle/chessboard. In case it’s not abundantly clear, here’s a corner, zoomed in:
This is all thanks to my brother John. He came over a few nights ago, and we got to talking about my logo, and he’d actually done a new version of it for me! I’ve talked a bit before about the logo (and name) on this blog, and said then that I wasn’t happy with the quality. I think I must have mentioned that to John at some point also. Anyway, he sent me this new cleaned up version, and for that I’m extremely grateful. Thanks John!
For posterity, and because I think it’s fun, here are two the other versions of the logo that I did, the splash screen for Oppo-Citrus, and ActionChess 1.5.
I had the opportunity to present at the local iDev Meetup last month, and am only just now getting around to posting the slide deck for the talk, which I called creatively, Customizing iOS UI: Fonts, Controls, and Color. You should be able to view the slides below.
The source code for the talk is also available, and on most of the slides, you’ll see some text along the lines of demo-1, demo-2, etc. Those are the git tags that I used to fast forward my code to the relevant part of the talk. (Thought that needed explaining.)
Here is my submission for this year’s global game jam: Heart Burn. Much like last year’s Global Game Jam, I wasn’t in attendance for all that much of the weekend after Friday night. But while I was there on Friday night, I made up a quick 25 card deck using colored post-it notes and a calligraphy pen. There were five colors and five “symbols”. You can see them in this image.
Already August, (who I collaborated with for the first time on last year’s game jam game Eat Thyself), has come up with some better looking artwork, and he and I are planning on working together to polish up the app’s look and feel, and possibly publish it to the app store.
The concept and rules are quite simple: An iPhone app (code created during the game jam is up on bitbucket) will tell the players both whose turn it is to play, and what cards they can play. The game uses the “No cheating (please)” diversifier, which means that you’re basically on your honor not to cheat and play when it isn’t your turn or not to play the wrong cards. And it needs that diversifier, because, at least as it plays right now, the game is far too fast-paced to pay attention to anyone else’s cards!
About halfway through the weekend, I decided I should make the game playable without the custom cards, so I spent most of my time on Sunday making it work with a standard Euchre deck. If we release the app, it’ll have a setting to play it either way.
I have been pretty quiet on here about what I’ve been up to lately. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been reluctant to announce my next project. I think part of it is that it’s a very simple game, and it’s that age-old fear that someone else is going to make it before you do. Sure, there may be some valid precedent for that, but it’s a silly thing to get hung up about.
So anyway, my next project is an iOS version of Ketchup, a very simple (deceptively simple) abstract board game created by Nick Bentley. Ketchup is already playable in a few different places on the web (more about that later), but I think at least a couple of the planned features will give folks who already play it somewhere else a reason to pick it up for their phones or iPads. Those reasons are a very strong AI (in development by Tysen Streib, who worked on For The Win with me), and asynchronous multiplayer via GameCenter. The AI is already TOO good, (a problem we also had on For The Win) and one of the challenges we have yet to tackle is how best to make it interesting to play against at all levels of difficulty. Ideally, I want to have some kind of automatic scaling of difficulty so that it attempts to play at or just above your level, always giving you a challenge, but not making it impossible for you to win. I’m not yet sure the best way to do this, so there is probably a lot of work left in that department.
Another area that is still pretty undeveloped is the user interface. The game is totally playable right now (and as of last week, asynchronously as well), but the interface needs a lot of love. These two items combined mean there is probably another few weeks worth of work left on the game’s development. (As with my previous personal projects, I’m balancing this with freelance work too.)
Recently, someone posted on reddit about another web-based version of Ketchup they’d created. (The other playable versions are on Mindsports and igGameCenter.) Part of my motivation for writing this post is because there was a mention of interest on Reddit in a mobile version, and I wanted to reply to that. (So if you’re coming from Reddit, hello!)