Hello! I’m Martin Grider. Chesstris.com is my game development blog and sometimes web development playground. The name is a mashup of Chess and Tetris, a game idea that eventually turned into my first iPhone game, ActionChess.
More information about me can be found all over the web (including on my resume at martingrider.name). I have been developing games and VR experiences in Unity since 2015, but before that I worked primarily on iPhone applications (my first one was ActionChess released for iOS 2 in early 2009). The first 10 or so years of my career was programming server-side web development. Since then I’ve written games in Objective-C, and C++, Unity, and also dabbled in a bunch of other environments, including Processing, OpenFrameworks, Unreal, SFML, PuzzleScript, and at least one project using OpenGL ES calls directly. I’m passionate about mobile game development and game design for video games and board games. I’m also a member of the IGDA, and help organize our local Twin Cities chapter. In 2014, I presented at GDC in San Francisco on Usability Lessons from Mobile Board Game Conversion.
For most of my games, I take inspiration from action puzzle games (like Tetris), and board games (especially abstract strategy and “euro” games). I imagine there is a tangible link between abstract strategy and action puzzles, both in simplicity of design and concept, as well as how these styles of game focus the player’s thoughts into a repetition of their specific logic. This similarity directly influenced the name of my game studio Abstract Puzzle.
Video games I have worked on
- Hiway VR Hockey (2016) – A hockey goalie game for the HTC Vive. This was shown in the lobby of actual hockey games at the booth of MN Wild sponsor Hiway Credit Union. The owner and goalie of the MN Wild played it on a FOX Sports TV spot.
- Soil Nutrient Game (2016) – A large (48″) touchscreen game about soil nutrients for the Nebraska State Fair.
- Slide Quest (2014) – Universal iOS game inspired by Threes! It re-imagines the swipe mechanics that game popularized combined with an RPG character and theme. The artwork for is from the Oryx 16-bit fantasy sprite pack.
- Catchup (2014) – Universal iOS version of this 2-player abstract strategy game designed by Nick Bentley. I worked with Tysen Streib again on the AI, and music/SFX were created by Tori Kamal. This started out as an excuse to write the asynchronous multiplayer code (it uses Game Center), but ended up as a bit of a showpiece.
- RE@L Match Numbers & Counting (2013) – iPad game for toddler age kids. I helped design this game, and was the sole iOS developer. The game was developed by Side House Productions, and published with RE@L. Two other apps, RE@L Match Words & Counting and RE@L Match Numbers & Words were developed/published simultaneously.
- Root Down (2013) – An abstract strategy Board Game for two players playable on the iPad. This is my original game design and I did all the development.
- For The Win (2012) – An iPhone board game conversion I worked on for Tasty Minstrel Games. I did all the iOS development.
- Oppo-Citrus (2012) – My take on the opposite of Tetris. This was my concept and I did all the development sans graphics and music/SFX.
- Tic Tac Math (2010) – I developed the original version of this app, as well as the second (Universal) release for IPMG while working at Clockwork. Update: In 2015 I updated all the TicTacMath games in the app store, as well as created a new “Trilogy” app that includes Basic Math, Fractions, and Algebra question types, as well as added statistics.
- ActionChess (2009) – This was my first iOS app, as well as the inspiration for this domain name. It was my idea, and I still think that idea hasn’t reached its full potential.
- Go-Tetris! (2007) – This was my first game, written in ActionScript 2.0. It was also my first (and last) flash app of any kind. It’s my original idea, and I did all the graphics as well as development.
Board games I have designed
- Martin’s BGG designer profile
- Entanglement (2015) – A two-player abstract strategy game with very simple mechanics playable in 5 to 10 minutes.
- Xit (2014) – A two-player abstract based on the Tixel family of board games originally devised by Martijn Althuizen.
- Mystique Pillars (2014) – A simple card game for 2-6 players using the Mystique Deck, a card game system with 60 cards. This game was one of 13 games published in the “12+1 games for the Mystique Deck” book.
- Root Down (2013) – An abstract strategy game designed to use pieces that “activate” other pieces. I created a quick-and-dirty app to facilitate playing this (see above).
- 4X Dice (2013) – A self-published / web-published dice game.
- Eat Thyself (2012) – A simple abstract strategy game created for the 2012 Global Game Jam. (BGG)
- Spice (2011) – An abstract game using the Shibumi game system. Spice is based on another game called Ketchup. Spice was selected as one of the best 30 games for the Shibumi system, and included in a book on the subject.
- SIX D SIX (2011) – This is actually a game “system”. I challenged myself to design a bunch of games (ended up with six) that use dice but do not feel random in their outcomes. (BGG)
Talks & Presentations
- Using Unity for iOS Development (2017) – I presented this talk at the MN Cocoaheads user group at their February meeting. I then gave a shorter (45-minute) version of this talk at Minnebar 12 (March 2017) titled Using Unity for iOS/mobile/VR Development.
- PSVR Launch Impressions (2016) – I talked for 15 or 20 minutes about the PSVR launch and my impressions of the hardware at IGDA’s VR & HCI meeting after the PSVR launched.
- A (Brief) Guide to Playing Games at GDC (2016) – I presented this ~15 minute talk at an IGDA Twin Cities meeting shortly after GDC 2016.
- iOS Game Development in UIKit – I presented this at Minnesota Developer Conference September 30, 2015.
- Realm of the Mobile Database (2015) – I presented this talk about Realm at Mobile March.
- An Introduction to Generic Game Model (2014) – This talk for the local Cocoaheads went into depth about the functionality and history of my open source library of iOS game classes, GenericGameModel.
- Usability Lessons from Mobile Board Game Conversion (2014) – This was a 25 minute talk I gave at GDC 2014. You can watch it on the GDC Vault.
- Case Studies in Mobile Board Game Conversion (2013) – A presentation I gave a couple of times, first a run-through at MNMobileGames, and then “for real” at Mobile March 2013.
- Customizing iOS UI: Fonts Controls and Color (2013) – 60 minute presentation I gave at my local iOS dev meetup.
- Action Puzzle Games (2012) – a brief (20 min) historical look and design deconstruction, as well as broad overview of iOS games
- Mobile Game Design (2012) – a brief (20 min) dive into game design and how it applies to mobile
- Global Game Jam Recap (2012) – postmortem of my GGJ board game, as well as an overview of other “successful” GGJ board games
- iPhone Games Programming (2011) – an overview of frameworks and techniques for iOS mobile game development
- Action Chess Postmortem (2009) – presented twice, once for the local IGDA, once for MinneDemo
- Go-Tetris Postmortem (2008) – presented for the local (Twin Cities) IGDA chapter
- Flickr Photo Gallery (2006) – presented on using PHPFlickr to make a photo gallery at the very first MinneBar