Leading up to Christmas I’ve been pottering away on a prototype for a programming game. My friend Matt, whose game Hacknet has piqued the interest of educators, has been pushing me to look at educational games. I’m not really interested in these kinds of games but I told him that I’d think on it. After thinking for a while I came up with a small prototype which you can play by following the link below.
In the game you need to write some basic programming code that will reduce all the numbers in a grid to zero. The game limits the number of times you can use loops and if statements. The game will step through your code showing you which lines are being executed and when changes are made to the grid. It should take you about 10 minutes or so to get a feel for the game. Please read the README file before starting.
I haven’t posted here for a little while so I thought I’d do an update especially considering that quite a bit has happened this week.
I’ll start by running through the heading in reverse order. During PAX Australia this year my friend and creator of Hacknet Matt Trobbiani and I were interviewed by Mark Serrels from Kotaku Australia. On Tuesday he posted his article based on that interview. It gives an insight into the human side of game development. I won’t say much more. I think you’ll enjoy it.
On Wednesday we ran another game playtest event at AIE. The weather in Adelaide has been terribly hot lately but even so it was great to see a good group of people turn up with their games.
Today I pushed out my first Twitter bot. If you’ve watched the Pokemon TV series before then you may remember a segment called Who’s That Pokemon? The idea is that a greyed out Pokemon is display before a commercial break and when returning from the break the show reveals the Pokemon. This bot generates images based on the segment each day and reveals the answer before posting the next Pokemon. Follow @WhosThatPokebot to play along.
So that’s what has been happening with me lately. I’m working on a few other things on the side. I’ll be sure to post about when I have something to show.
So a few days ago we launched Expand onto Steam, itch.io and Humble Store. The game is only $6 and soundtrack $4. We have a 20% discount for the launch week. You can view the launch trailer below. If it looks like a game that would interest you then we highly recommend picking it up.
I’ll probably write up a much longer post once things settle down.
In preparation for a release in September 2015 we have opened up a Steam Greenlight page for Expand. If you’d love for the game to be available on Steam then please vote for it. We are really humbled by all the support everyone has shown.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been learning how to use the Unity game engine. I decided that I’d be good practise to make a new game with it. Recently I read the Quarterly Essay called Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott by good old leftie commentator David Marr. It was published back in 2012 before Abbott’s first election against Kevin Rudd. One of the recurring ideas in the book was how the electorate had forgotten many of the awful statements that Abbott had made publicly. I thought I’d make this small game to highlight some of those statements.
Good news. We’re doing another playtesting event AIE Adelaide. This event will be on July 3rd from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. If you’re working on a game, a prototype, art, your pitch or anything else related to games then you should come along and get feedback. We’re also after players who can help test games. All the details you need to know are on the Facebook event page.
Next Monday, that’s the 13th of April, I’ll be on a panel as part of the Online Festival for Freeplay 2015. The panel is called The Interview Game: Chris Johnson and I’ll be interviewed by journalist Katie Williams while I play through several of the games I’ve created. The panel starts at 12pm(Melbourne time) and will be streamed online for anyone to watch. Try and tune in if you can.
Update: Due to personal reasons this project won’t be going forward. Thanks to those that showed interest.
For the Fete at the Freeplay Festival next month I have a stall that I’m calling the Australian Games Mix Tape. The basic idea is that there will be a pirate kart like games launcher with just Australian games. The intention is to show the diversity of games being made in Australia.
I’m glad to say that the next Adelaide Games Playtesting event will be held from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on Wednesday March 18th at the new AIE Adelaide Campus. If you’re working on a game or are interested in providing feedback then I encourage you to come along. Power, basic internet and pens/paper are provided.
With 2014 over I thought I’d put together a blog post talking about several games I worked on over the year. In 2014 I started working on games in a full time capacity while I lived off my limited savings. It’s quite a privilege to have the economic freedom to be able to do this. It’s been an amazing year with travelling over to Japan for the Tokyo Game Show and to Melbourne for PAX Australia being the highlights. I worked on several games and small prototypes throughout the year. Below are the more notable games I worked on.
I should start by talking about Expand which is the game I spent most of my time working on. Our intention was to finish the game in 2014 but it’s looking like it’ll need much more time. Currently we are about 50% content complete with the game and level editor programs being mostly feature complete. We were really fortunate in having our game part of Sense of Wonder Night at the Tokyo Game Show, the Indie Showcase at PAX Australia, Ludicious, Out of Index and the Indie Games Room at AVCon. These events took quite a bit of out of development scheduled but also really motivated us to improve the standard of the game. The second half of the year was really amazing, we travelled to Japan and were totally blown away by the reception of Expand at PAX Australia. If you told me at the start of the year that the game would be considered the best game at PAX Aus by both Kotaku and IGN Australia I would have thought you were crazy.
One for the Donkey
One for the Donkeys is currently not finished. It’s a simple platformer game with a twist, a neat kind of twist that I’m not going to spoil here. Unfortunately I’ve run into some technical problems that aren’t easy to resolve so for the moment this project is on the backburner.
Replay Racer is a game I made at the start of last year with John Oestmann for the Global Game Jam. It’s a racing game in which every time you complete a lap your last replay is added as an obstacle to the race. I did the programming and graphics in this game. I’m particularly proud of the graphics which came out well considering my background. After the jam I added more courses, leaderboards and achievements. It’s a neat little game that I’m quite happy with.
Cave of Atman
The Cave of Atman is a game I made with my twin brother Daniel. The idea was inspired by his experience playing Jeanne d’Arc on the PSP. I was mostly involved in programming and helping him see out his vision for the game. He did a fantastic job on the puzzles and graphics. We also received some really nice comments on Twitter from different designers that we both have a lot of respect for. I’d be nice to take the game further but only if we can continue to build up the mechanics in a natural way.
Hectic Hippo’s was made for the Adelaide Game Jam held in August. I worked on the game with Anton Axisa who I made friends with at the jam. Turned out that he was a pretty awesome pixel artist. He churned out a lot of art during the jam that was never used. I still feel guilty about that. In the game you are racing against four other players to push your orb into the hole. Other players can fire over projectiles onto your side of the map and end your plans.