Saturday, 26 April 2008

Daedalus Done

So, that is that. Finished, I think. A nice little experiment to distract me while I played with a follow-the-mouse mechanic. A joy to play with, really, as the grammar and vocabulary of the game were already in existence.

Were I to imagine a 1990s box blurb:

Daedalus & Son is a platform game where soaring flight replaces stilted jumping, and keyboard bashing is replaced with graceful mouse movement. Control Icarus as he enters the Labyrinth of the Minotaur and try to keep his feathers from frying and his wax from melting as he is assaulted by unique enemies and caught in the traps and puzzles devised by his genius father.

- A new look at a familiar genre, where the platform is your enemy and not your friend.

- Enemies and hazards unique to the game, including the Medusa and the Roc.

- Autosave/Load.

- Hero or Mortal Difficulty, and ranking on completion.

- Novel and satisfying mouse flight control.

- 20+ Levels.

- Lean design -- no padding, no filler.

Development (including all the rough and ready pixel art) took 6 days of fiddling, in between teaching, writing, childcare, marking, and validating a new degree at a different university. Just as well they have plug sockets on trains so that I can make games on long journeys now rather than play them.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Closer, by inches

Wow, all working bar a few sprites and depth issues.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Getting There -- If a little ugly

But perhaps not busy enough, yet.

Really playable now.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Triptych Alpha

Waiting for students to turn up I have got my latest little game into what I’ll call Alpha. The screenshot is of one game. Or of three games. Anyway, I have been wanting to make a triptych game for a while, and this is the first version I have which has all three simultaneous games working and (to some extent) interacting. The one on the left is a crate stacking game which I have also let out into the wild as solitary game (it should be all zipped up in the BoxNet widget to the right as Stack5). The one on the right is a very very very nostalgic lane swapping driving game. And that is something like Pong over the top. There is a gentle roll out, but the player eventually plays all three at the same time.

I might go into some detail about why I am interested in this some other time (I have a theoretical understanding about game space and play that this reflects), and I might go on and on about gamers and multitasking , which is something those younger than me keep telling me they are adept at.

Strange process, though. I knew I had to get some simple games together so that this would work. And in the process I cloned a few. I have a clone of Tower Bloxx that works (which I replaced with Stack5 after I realised just how uncomfortable I am cloning things) and a sort of clone of Desktop Tower Defence with a lot of variation that should be in the second iteration of Triptych. Screen of Tower Bloxx clone below.

Term is now in full swing, so I don’t know when it’ll be done enough to release, but yay, it works. Oh, and I know it isn’t a proper triptych.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Why I need to learn Italian

I like getting books through the post, although nothing beats a bookshop, and yesterday delivered three copies of Schermi Interattivi (edited by Matteo Bittanti). Lovely. My essay is ‘Replicando Blade Runner, tra giochi di superficie e spazi profundi’, firmly about the fantastic Westwood game rather than the film. There is an accompanying website that should be interesting if you speak Italian. My essay was originally ‘Replicating the Blade Runner’ in The Blade Runner Experience- The Legacy of A Science Fiction Classic (edited by Will Brooker). Also lovely. Thanks to Matteo’s generosity as an editor (and a string of translators who must curse my prose more than most) I now have quite a list of publications in Italian. Some, such as this essay and (2004) “Amministrare il reale: per una letura di SimCity” [“Administering the Real: Reading SimCity”] in SimCity: Mappando le città virtuali [SimCity: Mapping the Virtual City], ed. and trans. Matteo Bittanti, Milan: Unicopli, 2004,156-73 are republications of English originals, while others are only available (unless people ask me directly) in Italian: (2005) “La Critica Videoludica Funziona?“ Ripetizione, iterazione ed estetiche del videogioco” [Is Game Criticism Working?: Iteration, Repetition and Aesthetics”], in Gli Strumenti del Videogiocare: Logiche, Estetiche e (V)ideologie [Understanding Videogames: Logics, Aesthetics and (V)ideologies, ed. and trans. Matteo Bittanti, Milan: Costa Nolan, (2005) “La Storia é un’assurdità: Civilization come esempio di barbarie storiografica?” [“History is Bunk: Historiographic Barbarism in Civilization”] in Civilization: Storie Virtuali, Fantasie Reali [Civilization: Virtual Stories, Real Fantasies], ed. Matteo Bittanti, trans. Valentina Paggiarin, Milan: Costa Nolan, 65-81, and (2005) “Presagi di Doom III: Tra le Viscere delle Prime Schermete” [“Portents of Doom III: Reading the Entrails of the Early Screenshots”] in Doom: Giocare in Prima Persona [Doom: The First Person Reader], ed. Sue Morris and Matteo Bittanti, trans. Paolo Ruffino, Milan: Costa Nolan, 95-105. The essay in Gli Strumenti del Videogiocare is probably my best piece of games writing. And I really like the Doom essay as well. The core ideas were reworked for an article in Games & Culture ((2006) “What Are We Really Looking At?: The Future-Orientation of Videogame Play” Games and Culture: A Journal of Interactive Media, 1.2, 127-140) but it is a real shame it isn’t in English anywhere. Actually, it is a real shame that any of the books and book series that Matteo has so industriously put together haven’t been picked up by an English language publisher. As someone pointed out in a discussion of the paucity of current games writing kicked off by Greg Costikyan at, Italian is the language to speak if you want substantial (academic) games criticism.