News for the ‘Bloggin’’ Category

implicit messages, metaphors, and fishs

Added a new element to the game: jumping fish! They jump up from the bottom of the screen, and they bounce whenever you tap them. Three taps, and they give you POINTS. Mmmhmm.


I’ve been facing a bit of a dilemma lately. It relates to the nature of the player’s interactions. I’m a pretty firm believer in simplicity when it comes to game mechanics. I would much prefer a single idea that is developed thoroughly, rather than several ideas that are halfway implemented. However, if I were to reduce this rappelling game to a single element (jumping), that also effectively reduces the range of interactions to good collisions and bad collisions.

From a development standpoint, that’s not a bad place to be. Video game history is rich with games based around good collisions and bad collisions. Where it becomes problematic is when you’re choosing your metaphors. Because throughout most of game development history, good collisions are represented as collecting resources, and bad collisions are represented as physical harm. With those metaphors, the implicit message about that gaming universe (and, by extension, reality) is that everything around us is either trying to kill us, or it’s there for us to take and possess. And despite the cuteness of your sprites or the bounciness of your music, that message is extremely dark.

In reality, there is a huge range of possible interactions a person can have with the world around them. You can feed animals, grow plants, high-five your neighbor, whatever. It’s not always about survival or hoarding resources. Those are very visceral constructs, and maybe that accounts for their popularity in the medium. But sometimes I wonder if we desensitize the player by constantly throwing them into life-and-death struggles (the same way that film desensitizes viewers by constantly bombarding them with endless gunfights and collapsing buildings).

All that is to say, I think that these simple touch interactions (which aren’t part of the main jumping mechanic) enrich the metaphorical soil of the game. I also think they send an implicit message about the game’s fictional world: some beings want to hurt you, some beings are just there to flop around and wink at you. I like that message, but I worry that I’m weakening the game’s overall effectiveness by focusing on more than one mechanic.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been turning over in my head while I’ve been working on the interactive elements of the game. I have no idea if the fish is there to stay. But for now, I’m enjoying the silliness of trying to keep it in the air.

Posted: May 8th, 2015
Categories: Bloggin', Games
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Howdy! It’s been a couple months since I finished Rebound, and I’m ready to announce my latest project.

For now, I’m calling it “Rappunzel”. It’s a mobile game in which you rappel down the side of an endless mountain. The terrain is randomly generated, and you collect points by jumping over obstacles and shooting things. It makes more sense in motion, but for now, here’s a capture of some sexy-exciting placeholder graphics:


It’s been quite a lot of fun to work on this game! Although I spent about three years on Rebound, not many people played it while it was in development. I’ve been trying a more open-handed approach with Rappunzel, and mobile is perfect for that. Friends can load up a preview on their smartphones and try it out with minimal effort. This allows me an opportunity to actually watch how people play the game and take mental notes on potential improvements. After a couple months, I’ve probably seen more people play this game than I did for the entirety of Rebound’s development.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on. I’ll try to get a GIF or a video posted, so y’all can see it in action.

Posted: March 30th, 2015
Categories: Bloggin', Games
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sidebar redesign

Just a quick update! If you have visited the site in the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed some changes. Namely, I replaced the text in the sidebar widgets with some icons I made.

Also, I recently traded my old Nokia brick phone for something a little more “2009”. So to commemorate a faithful piece of technology, I changed the typeface of all the headers and submenus. You might recognize it, depending on your age.

To remain consistent with my annual rhythm, I mostly goofed around in December. There are a few minor changes I want to make to Rebound, and then I’ll try to finish up a couple trailers. The next release might possibly be the final version (if such a thing exists in this medium).

Posted: January 19th, 2015
Categories: Bloggin'
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Well, it’s been almost a week since the open beta began. I’ve gotten some good feedback on the Scirra forums (mostly compliments on the music).

Today I uploaded a new version of the game. The most important change is that enemies now respawn in the Prairie world. I’m planning to make this a feature in the other worlds, too. I’m sure it changes the difficulty quite a bit, but I’m hoping it also makes the game less tedious overall, since you won’t be running back through an empty level whenever you die.

There were some other minor changes. One is that pressing “v” during normal gameplay will allow you to view the game’s fps and version number.

It’s been good to get some feedback on the forums, and I’m excited to keep improving on this goofy game. If you have any thoughts, feel free to comment on the game’s page, which you can still find here .

Posted: July 26th, 2014
Categories: Bloggin', Games
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Rebound open beta, y’all!

Hey, guys! It’s finally here: the open beta of this goofy game I’ve been working on for two years.

Play it here .

I also uploaded the soundtrack to Bandcamp. You can listen to it here .

If you’ve been following Rebound’s development, thanks for hanging in there with me. There’s plenty more to do, but for now, I just want to bask in the sweet aroma of this milestone.

Mmm. Stonaroma.

Posted: July 19th, 2014
Categories: Bloggin', Games, Music
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well that’s awkward

Hey, there. Yesterday I realized that the “accordion” effect on the blog posts didn’t work in Firefox.

It looks like my WordPress theme uses a version of MooTools that hasn’t been compatible with Firefox for a while now.

Anyway, I found a little code snippet that someone put together, and things should be readable again.

Sorry if it’s been causing you trouble.

Posted: June 21st, 2014
Categories: Bloggin'
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closed beta update

The closed beta is going well.

General consensus: the game is functional, and the Ice World is extremely difficult.

I’ve been making some level design adjustments, based on the feedback. The Ice World has always been a source of stress, and it’s a bit relieving to know where it works and where it doesn’t.

I’ll continue to make adjustments, and the next step will probably be end-of-game dialogue.

Posted: February 23rd, 2014
Categories: Bloggin', Games
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We’re Back! A Developer’s Story

Well, January ended up being an unplanned hiatus. But I’m back working on the game, and things are shaping up nicely.

For the next step, my plan is to have a small closed beta release of Rebound, just to make sure it isn’t fundamentally broken. After that, I’ve entertained ideas of an open beta, maybe on the Scirra forums. No idea on the timeline for either of those releases. But I feel there are only a handful of essential changes to make before the closed beta.

All that is to say, there should be a version of Rebound available to play within [several] [units of time].

Posted: February 8th, 2014
Categories: Bloggin', Games
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