Project Moon .. but better

As you may have noticed, project moon has been ticking along for some time. From time to time I’ve even posted a screen shot or two relating to it; each one looking quite different to the last. Much as it may not be obvious, the fundamental design idea behind it has always been the same, only the presentation has changed. So here to accompany some nice new screen shots I’ll give you a few reasons for all this change instead of giving away any actual juicy details about any of the game itself, because that’s the sort of thing indie developers do. In short there are two main reasons why I’ve changed from 3d down to 2d; time and Fez. As a professional game developer (and now a farther too) I have a very limited amount of free time to spend on my own code projects. That sparse development time is usually used to achieve two things: make progress on one of my two personal game projects (iO and Moon) or investigating the sort of subjects and problems many programmer are easily distracted by, (graphics, compression, audio processing, etc.). For a very long time I laboured under the illusion that …

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Tortuga Puzzles – Part 3

I guess the trite phase about third time being lucky may be appropriate here For the Tortuga event in 2009 I wanted to make sure the puzzle was accessible and fun. I wanted as many people as possible to have a go but it be difficult enough to make the real puzzle enthusiasts still enjoy it. I opted for a hunt for buried treasure (of sorts). The puzzle was given out early as usual but only two weeks before the event. It came in two parts. A reference map of the Caribbean and a letter. The map was painted on a large board so it could be available for people too peruse on the day (It was also little clearer in the flesh too which helped) This is probably one of my favourite Tortuga puzzles. It had a excellent balance of fun and challenge. Plus, having lots of pirates looking at the map in the middle of a tavern table, tracing out ideas while trying not to give away what they’re doing or thinking made for some great moments.

Tortuga Puzzles – Part 2

More pirate themed puzzles. this time the puzzle from Tortuga 2008 This time the aim of the puzzle was to extract the order of 7 words that formed the instructions for the next part of the puzzle. Those seven words have now been lost, but this part of the puzzle still works just fine The puzzle from the previous years had been given out a month before the event, to get people excited and give them a bit of time to mull over various possible answers. In previous years, the puzzle had often fallen in a few days or weeks. So I made this one a little bit harder. turns out I may have made it a little too hard. It was solved, but not by many  

Tortuga Puzzles – Part 1

Who doesn’t love pirates? I imagine the number has dropped a little since they now seem to be everywhere. I liked them before they were cool *put on hipster glasses* For many years I provided the games and puzzles (and a lot of nonsense) for a pirate themed gathering amongst 40-50 of my friends. I recently rediscovered the lost image files for most of the puzzles that featured in each one and thought it would be fun to share them with the wider world (not that my website readership is all that wide). First off is thise one from 2007. The aim was to work out the numeric combinations of three tumbler locks that were all attached to a single chest. This is a reasonably tricky puzzle. Sadly I fell a bit flat when one of the (far too cheap) locks seized up on the day and the hinges of the chest had to be removed for the treasure to finally be won I still have the chest; and it still has a broken lock attached to it.  

Hippy Monsters

To replace the drab colours that I originally did for HippyLizard I created these  Download Desktop Version as with many of my personal projects, the rest of the work on the site coding itself is ‘onging’

Old Isometric Game Tiles

Sometime is good to realize that a project idea is so intractable and unwieldy that it’s best to just stop before you even really get started. Luckily this was the case with an internet based isometric game I nearly started It was to be a sort of turn based, fantasy, strategy game. Whether or not it’s game play would have worked was heavily reliant on whether I could find the best (and most fun) way of implementing the magic system which was to work very much more like chemistry, and less like dice Well, it was just too massive a piece of work, so it was dropped. All I have now is a odd tile based board game (a little bit like dominoes) and this image I made of some example world land tiles.


As ever, updating my website ends up at the bottom of my to-do list for months on end. Well, I’ve got a pile or stuff sorted and ready to be uploaded, so expect light flurries of random artwork and other nonsense over the next few days and weeks. The long term forecast is still of significant dry patches, but we’ll see I guess. It helps that I know that at least a few people actually look at this rubbish. Here’s a sneak peek

iO Character Concepts

Even if I pick up my ‘iO’ project again, these character concepts will probably never be used. So, rather than let them be forgotten I thought I’d upload them on here. Some are obviously better than others and I do have favourites (depending on the day). It’s been pointed out a few times that they’ve got a little bit of a pokemon feel to them. It wasn’t intentional but I wanted fun accessible characters which all look colourful and different. With those criteria pokemon pretty much draw themselves

Moon Progress

It would be easy to think that work on my current personal project ‘Moon’ has ground to a halt. I can tell you for sure that isn’t the case. Though to the casual observer a few hours a month probably looks very much like halted. A great deal of my time has been spent making bits of engine code that do specific but ultimately non-game things like generate voxel based collision meshes so the character doesn’t float about in space, load file from the internet so I can support updates or just a renderer that doesn’t crash at random times so I don’t get angry emails from players. Well, finally after a very productive weekend I now have actual visual results to show for my efforts. These are simply tests of the first parts of the level and block editor so don’t expect Moon to actually look like this. Though I do quite like the stark grey against dark dusty purple. The basic bits of a level editor. Blocks from any of the constructed sets can be placed in the world and saved. Nothing very fancy here yet and so much more work to do. This is a pretty much …

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Complexity and project Moon

Unless you’ve actually ever made a computer game you may not be aware of how complex the process really is. This isn’t a boast with which I intend to inflate my ego, or some excuse for the time such endevours take. It’s just a stamement of fact about the way things are. Computer games are not alone in the set of all activities that are challenging, nor are they sole occupant of the set of things that when done well appear to the end user (or target audience) as usable and approachable. However, they also occupy the set of things who’s creation feels like it should be simpler than it really is. Who’s creation is filled with little things that on the surface seem simple but turn out to be filled with layers of complexity. I think in that, they may well be alone. As an excercise next time you play a computer game, consider what complexity might hide behind simply making your character move, jump or attack as you’d expect when you press a button (obviously assuming you’ve chosen game that has a character in it). You may be suprised, and unless you’ve ever written the code for it, …

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iO – A little history

I’ve mentioned it from time to time, but as yet I’ve not really gone into any real detail about the development of my iO project. In this post I hope to remedy that a little starting with some history. Some years ago (around 2004/2005) I created a somewhat complex game concept which for lack of a better name I called ‘spod’. It was a robot construction game in which you were tasked to create a team of automated battle robots and pit them against teams created by other people (or and AI opponent). Without doubt it was far (far far) to ambitious, and as such it was never completed. The screenshot below shows the main robot editing area. Looking back at it now It’s clearly a disaster of poor interface design. If you knew what things did and how stuff worked then you could create some really interesting robots but in terms of usability it was a very long way off the mark. Any new player would probably spend a while poking a things feeling generally lost and then just quit. That or just quit in horror at the sight of all those buttons. So I stopped. Instead I decided …

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Things lost in the aether

As the title suggests, I have just spent quite a long time writing a long and interesting post about all sorts of exciting things. Sadly I took so long to write this epic my session timed out and I lost the whole lot when I submitted it. This is mainly as a result of some error in my website code. I’ll put the job of fixing it on my list of things to do once I finish my time machine. So in an attempt to present at least a little of the lost content and avoid the chance of losing it all again, what follows is a simple summary in the style of an FAQ. Why so long since the last update? Shortly after the last update, the site was subjected to quite a significant breach of security (through a hole in the comment entry page) several files were added to my server and my address was used as a platform for a phishing attack on a major bank in America. Don’t worry though; Anybody visiting the site as normal would never have been in any danger from the malign content (you wouldn’t even have been aware of it). It’s …

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