Monthly Archives: June 2009

Examining gestures

News Examining gesturesMotion control is the big buzzword that everyone’s throwing around nowadays, with all the big players throwing their chips onto the table. But what does this all mean other than the inevitable storm of shovelware asking players to look silly in front of their peers?

Well, Ian Bogost takes an abstract look at the potential for motion games by cross-examining a particularly curious boardgame called ‘Train’, often classed as one of those Serious Games that everyone hears about but nobody tries to think too hard about lest their heads explode with the effort.

Give it a read, though. It’s quite an interesting article, whether you follow its curious argument or not.

Game Maker 8.0 Features …

News Game Maker 8.0 Features ...Due to my Internetlessnessity over the past few days, I’ve been worried about the e-mail/RSS leviathan that would be sure to confront me when I finally manage to scrabble back online. Fortunately, I always have a special little tactic of scouring the Game.Dev forums first and foremost when it comes to gathering news. This allows me to very conveniently circumvent my semi-professional obligations and just write stuff about the first thing that comes to my attention.

So, yeah: I’m currently looking at the features list for Game Maker 8.0. Two reasons: firstly, Dev.Mag has something of a borderline fetish for Game Maker, and secondly, it’s loads easier for me to blab about (see laziness principle outlined above).

Have a look if you’re interested. There’s some nice features, including a few overhauls on editors and the like.


RetroRemakes roundup

News RetroRemakes roundupThere’s been a surge of activity over at, and since it’s been so long since we’ve mentioned anything going on there (and because I like to pretend I’m all old and wise and retro and stuff), so here’s a quick roundup of the most promising looking recent submissions and references made over there:

  • First up is a wonderfully remade and restyle version of ye olde Defender, which appears to have preserved the spirit of the original (in both graphical style as well as gameplay), yet revamped it to feel (and look) like a more modern game. Pretty much RetroRemakes in a nutshell, really. Unfortunately, this one’s just a teaser, and nothing’s available to test out yet.

  • In a similar note, more side-scrolling flying, hurty, shooty funs can had with Death From Above, a prettified Sopwith remake with a bit of the creator’s own touches applied. Better or worse? You decide.

  • This blow-for-blow XNA remake of Need For Speed is a curious one, and it’s not yet finished, but it’s something worth mentioning, even if the franchise has… well, let’s just leave it at that. This new remake will let you see where it all started, when it was all just about racing; at least, it will when it’s done. There’s a video to ogle at in the meantime, as well as a playable prototype.

  • Finally, there’s the availability of the demo for this stunning looking Armalyte PC remake, which was a huge hit on Commodore way back in the day. The price tag may be unfortunately high for what is essentially a really old game, but its new coat of paint may just refresh it enough. Check it out.

- Chippit

EDGY unofficial comp running on the TIGForums

News EDGY unofficial comp running on the TIGForumsThe guys over at the TIGForums have recently kicked off a small, satirical competition, and voting is now open. It’s the EDGE, a competition for GAMES! There are 10 final entries, and every single one of them seems as hilarious as their respective names suggest.

Having given one or two of them a look, I found myself particularly enamoured (in a weird, roundabout way, considering the game makes you feel like a real asshole) with EDGE Tycoon. It’s probably a combination of the oft-hilarious game titles, cheesy 80s music and general ridiculous theme. Or that I’m just an asshole by nature and this sorta thing appeals to some weird subconscious sense. Either way, it comes particularly recommended.

Check out the rest of the entries here, then cast your votes!

- Chippit

Desktop Tower Defense Pro

The original version of this game spent some time at the top of Konkregate‘s most popular games list, looking very smugly at all the other games below it who scrabbled for the lower podium positions; it held a similar accolade for even longer under the strategy subcategory. Then the 1.5 update of the game traipsed onto Kongregate and managed to retain and refresh interest in the game, and, in fact, in the flash tower defence genre, for far longer than most people expected, racking up nearly 6 and a halfmillion plays on Kongregate alone, the third highest on the site. This is, of course, the very same site that hosts incredibly well polished games such as Sonny, as well as personal favourites, Fancy Pants Adventures and The Last Stand.

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Seamless textures tutorial

News Seamless textures tutorialHaving read Herman Tulleken’s extensive tutorial on seamless tiles with great gusto and happy-joys, it’s nice to see an article on the Wolfire blog dealing with a similar topic.

Any of you ever tried generating something like terrain or other repetitive surfaces? Two things usually happen: first, the result turns out to be horrendously ugly, and then it turns out to be horrendously difficult to fix up.

Read up, folks! You don’t need to be an artistic whiz to follow the advice of pieces like this.


Gamasutra talks to Yu!

News Gamasutra talks to Yu!Here’s a rather interesting little tidbit that I spotted in Gamasutra between sipping cocktails and admiring the sunset from my personal Mediterranean island.

Derek Yu, a guy who we’ve repeatedly harassed for some good old conversation, has now been nagged by Gamasutra to talk about Spelunky and indie development and cool stuff. It’s a really broad interview too: they talk about everything. No, really, everything. Topics include TIGSource, Yu’s new iPhone release of Diabolika, teamwork, game difficulty and which kitty is the cutest-est of them all.

Basically, a jolly thorough read. Kick back and check it out.


Screw It

If there’s one pet hate that I have concerning games (aside from those obnoxious troglodytes that plague multiplayer servers for just about any title you care to mention) it’s the idea of making things competitive. Now, I know that this statement alone will cause a lot of people to froth at the mouth and go for my jugular (well, not really, but it’s an interesting mental image), but the fact remains that I cannot — or rather, will not — reconcile myself with the sort of people whose sole ambition is to bastardise something that has brought me countless hours of undistilled joy and goof-aroundery by dragging it into that abysmal realm of Serious Business™.

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Things to do when you’re board

News Things to do when youComp 22 is nearing its end, and the “Genre Benders” theme has already attracted quite a few entrants. An astounding number of these are good old “hardware” versions of popular games, which I personally find to be a rather fascinating take on game design. After all, how many developers nowadays actually take the time out to develop a new and interesting board game?

Some efforts, such as this clever interpretation of Worms, are looking quite promising, and it’s just nice to see pretty photos of pretty things being made far away from any computer screen.

While we’re on the topic: I’ve been following Kieron Gillen’s recent series on classic board games. He goes remarkably in-depth on the game design lessons offered by things like chess, backgammon and even his pet hate, Ludo (which I totally despise myself).

I strongly recommend reading at least a few of these articles: he’s got the series summary over here.


Ziggyware XNA article contest

News Ziggyware XNA article contestWe haven’t covered stuff from the GameDev.Net community in a while, so here’s something of interest that caught our eye: according to this news post, there’s a competition over at Ziggyware which requires entrants to construct their own kickass XNA tutorial.

The prizes aren’t too bad either, particularly if you’re lucky enough to earn first place: an Xbox 360, a 4GB Zune, some cool subs and accessories and, of course, all of the prestige associated with winning. The competition has already kicked off, but don’t worry too much: entries are only due at the beginning of September.

The original Ziggyware announcement is sitting pretty over here.


Introversion launches an AI challenge

News Introversion launches an AI challengeJust when we thought that everyone had forgotten about that quaint little world-domination gem that came out of the tiny studio, Introversion surprise us with an AI API release and an attached challenge: Make the best DEFCON bot you can, using whichever method you deem best.

Alternatively, you could embark on the challenge set out by a Game.Dev forum member and make the first bot to make a work of art out of the missile trails. And when you do that, we expect it to land in our mailbox when you’re done, because it can only be the greatest thing ever made for a game.

Read more about the AI API here, and good luck!

- Chippit


Nandrew: Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present to you our second Dev.Mag Collaborative Review Thing™, partially because the first one was so fun and mostly because Rock, Paper, Shotgun have not yet sued us for stealing their idea.

Chippit: … and because the Wolfire guys were nice enough to unexpectedly drop a copy of Lugaru in our inboxes. Lugaru being, of course, the predecessor of Wolfire’s current project, Overgrowth.

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Let’s look at Audacity effects!

This article originally appeared in Dev.Mag Issue 26, released in October 2008

Interested in making your own sound effects for videogames? This month we’ll be looking at Audacity and a few of the common effects that can be used to turn your humble blink-blonks into fantastic kaphwooms.

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Another good read: Lockhart’s Lament

News Another good read: LockhartRight, so this isn’t strictly related to game development, but it’s an interesting PDF document for programmers to have a glance at. And probably most of the less technically-inclined types, too.

A mysterious masked figure swung me a copy of “A Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockhart, a document outlining how the true potential of mathematics as an art and something that is meant to be enjoyed has been watered down – or stamped out entirely, even – by a school system which kills the spontaneity and joy of discovery that it can offer.

I think most computer science classes and game programming courses have the same problem: you can see which of the students have invested time in the discipline beforehand, investigating and exploring the “art” for themselves. This is clear in not only the skill difference and quality of output, but the type of work they do and the attitude that they take towards it.

Anyway. It’s a fairly weighty document, but if you just want to read the opening story you should get a good idea of where Lockhart is coming from.

I should also point out, while I’m at it, that too many new devs out there are terrified of making their own game sounds. Any thoughts?


Game design book available for free download

News Game design book available for free downloadJust a quickie today, about a neat new book I’ve just discovered. It’s really not often I get to read a good development-related book, particularly not one that’s free, so this one is especially notable

“Well played” means a good many things, as the editor of the book is quick to point out, and now we can chalk up one more for the title of this book. Well Played 1.0: Video Games, Value and Meaning is a collection of 22 essays written by various authors examining the game design nuances of 22 different mainstream video games. If you’re looking for a veritable ton of interesting insights and dissections of game design choices in popular games, look no further than here.

You can read it all online here, or download a nicer, formatted .pdf version over at Choose your poison, then sit away for an afternoon to read it all. You shan’t be disappointed.

- Chippit

Mouth and microphone – The viability of home-brewed sound effects

This article originally appeared in Dev.Mag Issue 24, released in August 2008.

One aspect of game creation that constantly seems to stump the average hobbyist developer is the matter of sound creation. Nowadays, experienced players can go onto the Internet, download a few indie games and easily pick up on what one may call “stock effects” – sounds that appear in a whole host of games because developers frequently resort to the same online libraries to get their beloved game noises. Favourites include Famous Bird Chirp and Ubiquitous Cow Moo.

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