Music for Oppo-Citrus

I have spent probably about a day of the last 2 & 1/2 weeks playing around with Pure Data and its iOS counterpart, libpd. After some digging and asking around, I think this is the best way to synthesize music on the iPhone. (By that, I mean generate music “from nothing”, rather than just play mp3s and stuff like that.) I now feel I know enough to be dangerous, but also have reached the point — inevitable in every learning endeavor — where I’ve realized and feel a bit overwhelmed by how very much there is yet to learn. Pure Data (and it’s closed-source predecessor Max) is one of those programs that is so open-ended that you could probably spend your entire life working in it. It’s not so much the program that is overwhelming though. It’s the realization that ultimately what I’m doing is making music. Even if I want to cheat in every possible way, it still comes down to composition. I am composing music. Pure Data is just like any other musical instrument (although possibly the most complex one I have ever encountered), and I’m just not sure whether my compositions are worthy of inclusion in a game.

So I’m going to look for a musician for Oppo-Citrus. One who can work for peanuts, or better yet, virtual peanuts, because that’s what I can afford to give them. Ideally, I’m looking to turn a grid of numbers into a looping sound mosaic. But more importantly, a mosaic that doesn’t completely suck.

I actually came here to write a post about having registered my LLC officially with the state. The name of my new company is Abstract Puzzle, and I’m sure you’ll read more about it in the near future. It’s already got it’s own facebook page, and if you’re reading this, and you haven’t already, it’s be super great if you could go over there and like it.

But then I started listening to my old friend John Keston’s music on SoundCloud, and felt inspired to write about my libpd “research”. Music is incredibly inspirational, and I’ve been reprimanded in iTunes reviews (well, maybe only one) for not including some in ActionChess. My reasoning was always that it’s also incredibly subjective, and one person’s mozart is another person’s … well, mozart. Anyway, music can be as abrasive as it is immersive. I really like the idea of creating a truly unique and interesting sound experience though, and I think if done correctly, that might be worth the extra effort.

Announcing Oppo-Citrus

You already saw the logo in my last post, but here it is again for posterity. Cool, huh?

I realized I was procrastinating this post, partly because I don’t know what to write here. I mean, this should be a teaser, so I don’t want to give away all the details, but I also want to be honest about giving an insight into the work I’m doing, both technically, and from a game design perspective.

There was another reason for not writing, a personal one that I normally wouldn’t go into here, but since I said I was going to have this post done a couple of days ago, I figure I should at least mention the real reason it’s later. The short of it is that I haven’t gotten anything done the last couple of days because my 2-year old daughter has been sick. The doctor thinks it might be whooping-cough, which despite having the silliest sounding name of any child’s illness, is actually fairly serious, and can lead to death in very small children. (Fortunately, she’s beyond that age, but it hasn’t been easy, and the most frustrating symptom is coughing until she vomits or gets very short of breath.) Anyway, it’s been a rough first week as an indie. I keep reminding myself that this is at least part of why I wanted to do this. I have the freedom to drop everything now and take care of her as needed. Yes, I might be delaying a product launch by a couple of days, and maybe I won’t make as much money in that time or whatever, but those are tradeoffs I get to make now.

Moving on… Lets start with the basic premise.

game_screenHere’s the current mockup of the game screen for Oppo-Citrus. The first idea I had for this is still intact: you drag a bar of colored squares into the column above, trying to position it such that you make a shape with four (or more) of the same color. You get points for every unique tetris shape. Right now, you get 1 point for the first one, 2 for the second, 3 for the third, etc. I thought about making additional shapes a multiplier, but since it’s fairly random right now, it seemed like that might be too rewarding. There is skill to it, don’t get me wrong, but a lot depends on getting the right combinations of colors.

The red shape and faded red squares around it are because this screenshot is mid-animation of removing the shapes made from placement of that top row from the gameboard.

As you can see, this first level is just two colors (lemons and limes), and as you might imagine, it’s actually fairly easy to make shapes. The real question is whether you can make enough shapes before filling up the board to progress onto the next level. That half-filled yellow bar below the row at the bottom is the level progress indicator. As you make shapes, it fills up, and eventually you get a screen that asks whether you would like to continue on to the next level or keep playing this one for points. I’ll leave what happens on subsequent levels up for a future post or posts, but in addition to the obvious (adding more colors), I have lots of ideas for powerups and additional game mechanics that actually change the game pretty radically while sticking with the original premise.

Indie .plan

I did it. I quit my job to make games.

It’s been a long-time dream of mine. Now I just have to make it work. Here’s my basic strategy: I’m going to make games about 50% of the time (probably more this first month or two), and do some freelance the other 50% of the time to make ends meet. I’m hoping the games I release will eventually make up for the difference, and (ideally) eventually become enough income that I can stop working freelance.

I’m going to prefer freelance projects that are games. With any luck, I’ll be making board-game conversion apps for most or all of that time. If you have a board game you want to turn into an iOS app, please do get in contact with me. (You can send email to any address at

It’s a great time to be an iOS developer, so I’m not terribly worried about what happens when/if I can’t make enough money with my games.

So what am I doing day-to-day? I haven’t exactly been secretive about my latest game project, but I have yet to write about it here on my blog. It’s scary for me to do this, because my game isn’t all that complex, (and we all know how rampant cloning is these days), but that’s about to change in a big way. I’m planning on writing a blog post at least once a week about my progress, with the first one to come either tomorrow or later this week. In the mean time, a brief description: The game is called Oppo-Citrus (say it out-loud), and it’s one interpretation of the opposite of Tetris. (One that I haven’t seen before.) It’ll also have a fruit theme, which practically guarantees success, right?!? The artist who created the logo you see will be doing all the art for the game, and I’ve been really happy and excited about what he’s come up with so far.

Astute readers will note that I’ve created a new blog category for this post. I’m anticipating there will be other posts down the road about the business and how I’m doing. I’m actually torn about whether I should register an LLC for my freelance work or just “wing it”. Consensus seems to be that I should do the LLC. I’m going to try and get some advice from people who probably know a lot more about this kind of thing than I do, and if that’s you, feel free to chime in via comments or email or wherever. Thanks for reading!