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 ~ board games ~ talks and presentations

Video games I have worked on

  • Thrive for iOS and Android (2021) – This is a digital version of the board game I had published by Adam’s Apple Games. I worked on it slowly for a couple of years and tried hard to launch it simultaneously for iOS and Android.
  • Joggernauts, for Space Mace Games (2018) – Worked on this cooperative autorunner / puzzle platformer. Released 2018-10-11 on Steam and Nintendo Switch! Here’s the launch trailer.
  • HTC Vive Superbowl projects with Visual (2017-2018) – Two short (2-minute) experiences shown to the public as part of the festivities when the superbowl was in MN in Feb. 2018. These were client projects, one for Be the Match, the other for Midwest Dairy. I presented these projects at MinneDemo 29 on July 12, 2018.
  • Donuts in Space (2017) – A simple 3D action game made for the Donutron. You play as a donut rolling around on a giant donut floating in space, collecting mini-donuts. Includes two-player split-screen head-to-head multiplayer. Awesome soundtrack by Troy Strand.
  • Various NIH Grant-funded games for Moai Technologies (2016-2018) – These include Memory Matters, a touchscreen game to help with memory loss, as well as an Apple TV game played on an exercise bicycle with cadence sensor integration.
  • Hiway VR Hockey (2016 & 2017) – 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 a fairly full-featured board game conversion.
  • 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 original concept and I did all the coding, with graphics and additional game design by August Brown, and music/SFX by Tori Kamal. (All the SFX were made with real fruit!) Sadly, the game needs some major work to bring it back to life for all the new screen resolutions and iOS versions, so it was removed from the app store sometime in 2016.
  • 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 original idea, and one that I still think hasn’t reached its full potential. (Yet!)
  • Go-Tetris! (2007) – This was my first video 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. I’ve since worked on versions for both native iOS and Unity. The idea will hopefully see a wider release… someday.

Board games I have designed

  • Martin’s BGG designer profile
  • Blither (2021) – A two-player abstract strategy game I originally designed for a competition. I also made a Blither mod for tabletop simulator.
  • Thrive/Eigenstate (2018/2020) – An abstract strategy game where the movement of your pieces is augmented at the end of every turn. This game was picked up for publication by Adam’s Apple Games, and had a successful Kickstarter launch in early 2019.
  • 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