Knight Moves

KNIGHT MOVES is a game created for Sophie Houlden’s Chess Jam on itch.io.

The game features four difficulty levels and an unlockable endless mode in which you play a knight fighting against an all-pawn computer-controlled army.

A game like this doesn’t exactly need a story, but I took the familiar conflict setting as an opportunity to contextualize the game with my first illustrated cinematics in years. And also the public debut of the dialogue/text engine that has been part of the Game Maker tool kit I developed over six years ago.

Koi Puncher MMXVIII

 

After months of EXTREME, INTENSE development, the sequel to the 2012 Pirate Kart V classic is ready for you and your friends to play! It features more than you ever could have expected you wanted from a game about punching koi.

KOI PUNCHER MMXVIII has all-new maps, eight characters, and support for up to four players, both competitive and non-competitive! Further, it has exciting new challenge game modes. Play for high scores to unlock and discover new secrets!

Additionally, KOI PUNCHER MMXVIII‘s koi have a complex system of genetics, yielding hundreds of possible variations as they spawn new generations. Use your Home Pond to maintain a permanent crop of cultivated koi for breeding and punching.

Features music by nene, Marcelo Fernandez, Oddroom, Joth, pant0don, used under creative commons licenses.

The game is fully playable in both English and Japanese.

Developing with Glorious Trainwrecks

This essay was originally written for the “Glorious Trainwrecks X Babycastles” zine for the Spring 2018 exhibition of the same name at Babycastles in New York.

The “development” in game development emphasizes process. You write a novel. You compose a song. You develop a game. The term conjures up an extensive and lengthy process of experimentation, revision, rearrangement, expansion, and polish. The project folders–tangible and digital–of any number of game makers would attest to this process, full of in-development projects that failed to come together, exceeded manageable scope, or could not sustain the interest of the game’s author or team, none of which will ever see the light of day.

Jeremey “SpindleyQ” Penner’s original introduction to Glorious Trainwrecks states “this site is about nothing, if it is not about getting off your ass and creating.” The site’s (roughly) two-hour Klik of the Month Klub events aren’t game jams. They’re not don’t-sleep, days-long frenzies of activity with teams. They’re non-competitive. They liberate the game maker from the desert of half-thoughts and projects stuck in developmoent limbo by asking them to just have a thought and complete it.

To complete it and release it to a diverse community of interested individuals, no matter the thought’s genre or its execution. The games that others at Glorious Trainwrecks have made have entertained me, inspired me (both inside and outside of my game-making), made me rethink things, and fostered a strong sense of community. And the community’s always growing and evolving. It develops with new participants, new games, and new thoughts. A creative process with lots to show for it.

CYANiDE

    

Set up stages by fixing the positions of balance levers. When you’re ready, touch the ELECTROPOST and convert yourself into an ELECTROBALL so you can safely roll to the GOAL.

Fifteen single-screen stages.

AND IT IS ALL CYAN.

Press X to jump. Press V to restart stage. Press R to return to title screen.

I began work on this game in February 2016, intending it to be just a weekend project, and showed an unfinished version at an Indie Game Play Test Night in Eugene, Oregon at Shoryuken League. I meant to release the game very shortly thereafter, but wanted to explore the elements further with a few more levels. The game was placed on hold as I got increasingly busy with school, teaching, and then went and got married. I dusted the files off in October 2017

Dr. Creepinscare’s Pumpkin Patch Match

  

Beloved spooky character Dr. Creepinscare is here with a special Halloween challenge just for you! Arrange the similarly-carved pumpkins into patterns as they fall to earn points and take on Dr. Creepinscare’s own high score! Get help from his pet kitty cat and disappear skulls for a big bonus!

Make 2×2, 3×2, or 3×3 (with something else in the middle) pumpkin patch shapes. The bigger shapes earn you more points!

This game features a voice performance by Boris, a most excellent cat.

I like to imagine this as a forgotten licensed game for an obscure children’s TV property.

Explobers

 

Explobers pushes your planning, puzzle and platforming skills to the limit for a challenging but rewarding experience. —MMOaholic

Explobers is a unique puzzle platformer that requires you to use multiple player characters to solve difficult challenges by using their powers (and lives) to destroy terrain and build blocks in order to navigate through over eighty tricky stages.

The game begins in the familiar CGA palette of classic PCs. As you progress, new graphic modes become available and you may find some secrets!

Explobers will be featured as a part of the upcoming 2018 Smithsonian American Art Museum Arcade in Washington DC on July 22, 2018.

Explobers has a trailer. It also has an official website.

I worked on this game through most of 2017. It is released as donationware. If you enjoy it, please consider the suggested donation of $4.00 USD by purchasing it on itch.io or GameJolt.

The game is fully playable in Japanese.

Ungrateful Birds

     

Someone has kidnapped the birds and put them in cages in the forest! Please save them! However, these birds WILL NOT BE GRATEFUL.

  • Jump with X!
  • Pick up stones with Z!
  • Throw stones with Z!
  • Throw stones to break cages to set birds free!
  • Dodge the birds’ stones!

Contains NINE BIRD-PACKED LEVELS and THREE DIFFERENT BIRDS. Get close to the cages to find out what kind of bird is inside!

Written about by Joel Couture at IndieGames.com.

Made for Glorious Trainwrecks’s Tenth Anniversary Klik of the Month Klub #104.

Unfinished Game: Zem! for Bang!

Around 2003, I was twenty and my friend ADV was developing a ZZT-inspired game creation system called Bang!. I had retired from ZZT a year before with the release of Zem! X, a final entry in a series of Lemmings-inspired games. At the time I was mostly focused on drawings and wasn’t especially interested in continuing game development, and certainly not in learning programming. While Bang!, heavily inspired by ZZT, used a language much like that system’s ZZT-OOP, it was much more powerful and, as you might guess, much more complex. While it retained a tile-based character system like ZZT’s, it allowed an infinite expansion of the character set and multi-colored characters, basically making sprites possible. Having primarily worked with text-mode systems, this was very appealing to me. But learning new programming somehow wasn’t.

In early 2003, ADV agreed to do the programming work on a new project if I’d lead up design on a project and provide the art assets. I still had some game ideas I’d been itching to try. And so I began plans for a game based on Zem! X‘s lemming hunter concept, to be entitled simply Zem!

At the time, I was enamored with the idea of open world games and Pokémon and wanted to add a bit of that grand scope to the project. Rather than the stage-by-stage challenge of Zem! X in which the player had to shoot one lemming, Zem, in order to move onto the next level, this game would find the player (choosing from a dozen or so potential avatars) on a journey to advance through the ranks of the Zem Catching Agency, an organization that returned pet zems to their owners, captured zems in the wild to be sold as pets, and removed nuisance zems. As you can see, “lemmings” had been replaced by “zems,” though clearly their designs were still inspired by the critters in Lemmings. Beyond the standard, blue-clad zems who simply marched ever forward, there would be fire-breathing zems, flying angelic zems, giant cyclops zems, and even goth zems–just for starters.

The game would have free-range areas where the player could hunt down rare or unique zems to raise in ranks or earn money as well as specific mission levels. Zem! was to have a massive world map that the player would need to expend resources to navigate by buying bus and plane tickets. There were to be major hub cities and little towns, belying my infatuation with Zelda 2. Somewhere in there, plans for online multiplayer modes were also sketched out, where players could compete or cooperate via peer-to-peer connections using the characters in their save files. There would be dozens of playable avatars.

It perhaps goes without saying that plans for the game quickly became unruly. In truth, I both had a hard time managing the scale and flow of the game and I’m not sure that I ever had the clearest idea where it was all going except for some vague vision. Eventually, WiL (who was already planning to provide music for the project) took over programming, but even still the game lacked direction on my end, I hit a block, and, as a result, the project was abandoned. Basically, the scope got out of control, my ambition couldn’t match by then-ability as a game director, and it was unsustainable.

ADV eventually discontinued Bang! and began working on his next ZZT-inspired game creawtion system, Plastic, which attracted an even bigger following, if I remember correctly. WiL made some awesome stuff for it. I think I flirted with getting involved with Plastic, but never produced anything.

In the meantime, WiL, Brian Polak, and I made Tetrovny! in Bang! (we were all really into exclamation points in titles in those days, it seems). WiL made a handful of really neat Bang! games, continuing his innovative and boundary-pushing work in ZZT.

A few months ago, I uncovered some of my old notes, old art assets, and some old builds that I could still get running (forgive the sophomoric humor and drug references–we were young). I took a couple videos of the game at different stages.

The first includes the opening cinematic sequence as well as a city environment and the game’s menu.

The second is a demonstration of the game’s weapons and different zem types. I can’t believe I thought that tile-based parallax scrolling underground was going to be at all acceptable.

Below is a lineup of the varieties of zems I’d designed for the game. As I mentioned above, each would have had its own behaviors, and there would have been even more than these:

And finally, I’ve dug up a video captured by YouTube user JaqMs of a build of the game I don’t have in my archives.

I’ve occasionally thought about revisiting this project–or at least the concept–and adapting it to Game Maker. After primary design work was done on Caverns of Khron I actually began a Game Maker version, recycling much of the assets from the Bang! version, but it again suffered from lack of a clear direction, and it stalled out before I got as far as programming the tranquilizers. Meanwhile, the basic ideas explored here and in other games of the Zem! series have heavily inspired my games Penguin Mania XSuper Stone BallShadow Wrangler, and the upcoming Explobers.

NOTE: If you’re looking for Bang! itself, I have the most recent release (1.1c) I had available for download here. It’s an old program now and originally came with an installer, so I can’t guarantee how well these files will work. I know someone wrote some documentation for how to use it, but I can’t find it anywhere. I may try to upload whatever games I can locate on my hard drives that were actually released, though most of what I have is my own and others’ in-progress builds.

Watch Ducks Legacy

 

WHITHER the POINTS you’ve gotten? Have they disappeared into the abyss? NO MORE!

Now your POINTS can last FOREVER!

In this game, YOU will WATCH DUCKS from a PARK BENCH.

WATCH the DUCKS and get POINTS! The game ends when you hit ESC! Get as many POINTS as you can!

The latest entry in the long-running WATCH DUCKS series, WATCH DUCKS LEGACY keeps your points and allows you to keep them on for eternity. New bonuses and secrets abound!

  • First new WATCH DUCKS game in five years!
  • Auto-save feature keeps every point you get!
  • Retains gold and silver duck enhancements from Watch Ducks II!
  • New ducks!
  • New two-color sprites and higher resolution (240×200)!
  • Many secrets!

Press F to toggle fullscreen and press Q to quit!