Dessert Planet

Oh boy oh boy oh boy yum yum yum yum

Dessert Planet was created in 48 hours for the 23rd Ludum Dare game competition, with the theme "Tiny World." I’m actually pretty proud of this one; it’s a simple arcade-y item catching game, but it’s set in the round, and has hazards and power-ups and also the world gets smaller and smaller as you go along.

The whole thing, not to sound like a broken record, was written in AS3 using FlashDevelop and FlashPunk, and I personally pooped out the graphics in Paint Shop Pro. The sound effects were made using sfxr, and I did the music in lmms.

The inspiration for this game was Super Mario Galaxy. Yeah, I know: you can’t exactly see it up there on the screen. Originally, the game was meant to be far more Mario Galaxy-y, with platforming in-the-round on a bunch of different little planets, but I ran into a bit of a snag what with being terrible at programming, and I couldn’t get jumping in arbitrary directions to work correctly. Since I was on a strict time limit, the enemies changed from the original plan of giant hopping space spiders into meteors, since those wouldn’t have to leap back up once they hit the ground. To solve the problem of the player’s jumping, I just decided it would be simpler to rotate the entire universe instead of moving the player out of vertical, which is charmingly non-intuitive. It also leads to one of the best game-abstraction lies I’m aware of: the instructions tell you to press left and right to move left and right, but, in fact, the player is the one thing in the game that does not move when you press the arrows. I find this amusing.

The falling stars and whatnot on the title screen I’m especially proud of. It’s a horribly complicated bit of math-ing that I originated earlier when Chevy Ray Johnston proposed on Twitter the exercise of writing a function to handle falling leaves. After bonking my head against it for a while, I created my Falling Leaves code, but I guess he wasn’t too thrilled about it, since he never replied to me. I thought it was pretty good for as awful as I am, though, and so I reworked it a bit and used it for falling stars in Dessert Planet. So now you know!

The title came more or less out of nowhere. I had the whole game coded under the placeholder name "Tiny World," which simply would not do, but I had no better ideas. So I decided to borrow a page out of Fiona Apple’s book and just pretentiously shit words all over the title screen. I randomly made some of them larger than the others to make it more visually appealing, and it just so happened that my big words formed an ideal smaller title. No, that’s true: it came about, including the dee-licious pun, entirely by accident.

The music was, I thought, totally barebones but better than dead silence. To my surprise, I got pretty consistent praise for it — it appears that people were pretty keen on my "how does lmms work who knows press buttons" style of composition. Which is surprisingly gratifying!

If you like this game — and, really, who doesn’t? — you can show your support by buying the official Dessert Planet poster! In all seriousness, I have one of these, and it’s awesome.

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It's not easy being blue

Puppet was a game created — from scratch, mind you — for a two-hour game jam organised by Indie Buskers. The theme I was assigned was "a game that plays the player," and I had two hours to turn that into what you see here.

Which ain’t much of much, I agree, but come on. I think I carried the theme off pretty well, even though my original concept had to be slashed horrendously to get anything accomplished under the time limit. Per usual, the whole thing was done in AS3 using FlashDevelop and FlashPunk, and all the levels are hard-coded by hand into the game. Which almost gave me fits on level four, let me tell you.

I found the theme fun to work with, and I’d actually had a similar idea bouncing around in my head for a while about trying to blur the distinction between player and played. Not that I think this silly little thing is exactly a revelation, but it works well enough in its own way. Takes a couple of minutes to play, and has two different endings.

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Grand Vampire Chase

I call the big one Bitey

Grand Vampire chase was also made for the GDC Pirate Kart, and thus also showed at GDC 2012. It’s a hack of Kart Bomber, actually, with the Karts changed to bats and some other stuff fiddled around too. Your goal is to swat the Grand Vampire — he’s the one with the crown on. Simple, hey?

Yeah, it pretty much is. Unlike Kart Bomber, which is so hard as to be funtionally impossible, Grand Vampire Chase is really really easy. Them’s the breaks!

The game was inspired by a Twitter competition between Jonathan Whiting and Michael Brough, who were both creating games called "Grand Vampire Chase" for the Pirate Kart. In the true spirit of Pirate Kartery, I decided I’d get all up in their challenge and make one myself. And thus this game was born!

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Kart Bomber

Ooo arr Jim lad

Kart Bomber was made for the GDC Pirate Kart, which means that this stupid game actually showed on the floor at GDC 2012. It’s an arcade-style game involving defending innocent French boat-kart racers from horrible pirates by dropping nuclear bombs on them. Oh, and you play as Hitler for some reason. It’s supposed to be that stupid. Don’t worry.

The game was built by me in AS3 using FlashDevelop and FlashPunk, and all the graphics were pooped out by me in Paint Shop Pro, per usual, except for the Hitler faces which came from the internet. The music I got from a creative commons music site, but the sound effects and swearing were all done by me with a microphone, to give it that extra-cheesy feel.

It is technically possible to beat Kart Bomber, but, in practice, I don’t think you’ll ever manage it. Still, knock yourself out!

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Unintended Consequences

Rabbits, booze, and death

Once upon a time, in the magical fairy kingdom of Chicago, there lived a rabbit. His name was Rabbit — George Herman Rabbit. Rabbit played baseball, and was known far and wide as the Greatest Rabbit Ballplayer. He played for the Chicago Hares, and had set many Rabbit League records, and was certain to gain admittance to the fabled Rabbit League Baseball Hall of Fame, even though the writers of the Baseball Writers Association of Animalica were mostly rubbish-headed clodpates who cared more about useless things like bunting and nebulous concepts like "energy" and "hustle" than they did about the fact that George Herman Rabbit once hit a baseball so hard he broke everybody’s bat.

One day, the queen of Chicago, the lovely honey-haired hare Roma Manual, called for Rabbit. "Rabbit," she said to him, "those terrible Grumplins are hoarding all the Magic Carrots. That is not very fair! As the Greatest Rabbit Ballplayer, the duty falls to you to recover the Magic Carrots and give them to people who need them more."

"Of course, your eminence," came Rabbit’s reply, and, shouldering his trusty bat, he headed off into the verdant fields of Chicago to reclaim the Magic Carrots from the greedy Grumplins.

Unintended Consequences was the first game I ever wrote in AS3, developed over the course of a month for the late Super Friendship Club’s inaugural game jam. It’s not much of a game, since it was mainly a learning project; on the surface, it’s a cutesy platformer, but in reality it’s a pretentious arthouse game you’ll absolutely despise. It takes about a minute to play through. The game was made in FlashDevelop using FlashPunk. All the graphics were made by me in Paint Shop Pro 7.04 (2001 represent!), and the music was done by the wife in some sort of MIDI-makin’ wizmo.

I’m pretty proud of some of the things I managed to get done for this game; I successfully made some obnoxiously difficult platformer challenges, and I think my intended goal of portraying the character’s deteriorating mental state as he comes to terms with the effects of his actions is discernible, though it would come across better with better-quality graphics and possibly some appropriate sound effects.

The immediate inspiration for this game was Eversion, which was the source of the idea about a cutsey platformer that becomes darker and darker. Another major inspiration was this Brawl in the Family strip.

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