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Ludum Dare 23: T in Y World (24 Apr 2012 at 23:37)
T in Y World
T in Y World - Play that thing!


Sup guys. I made this game in 48 hours for Ludum Dare #23, whose theme was "Tiny World". It is an experimental homage to an old game called ZZT, with some twists like that everyone can edit the game world, making it a Moderately Multiplayer On-Line Rule Playing Game. Other features:

Very expensive simulated color-ASCII graphics
Content & technology double-whammy
False dichotomy
Four new music tracks, including shamelessly self-referential theme song
You can turn off the annoying music
Spoiler 1
Thrilling Computer Science based gameplay
Integrated level editor
Spoiler 2
Boss battle!!


You can play it or get the soundtrack, or both!
Categories:  mp3  hacks  video games (16 comments — 6 months ago)   [ comment ]
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Some Ludum Dare #22 reviews (31 Dec 2011 at 21:16)
Hello everybody. I had hoped to make a game for Ludum Dare this time around, as it is one of my favorite quarterly events. Unfortunately I had to head home to CT early because of my dad's health (more on that later), which has also led to a lot of idle time in which to get really good at iPhone games and play some of the Ludum Dare entries. I've got a lot more to go (a preposterous 891 entries this time), but some favorites so far to discharge my obligation for December 2012:

The Word Alone is a very clever word game. It's pretty easy once you figure out how to do it, but it's quite fun to figure out how to do it. Word games are pretty unusual for Ludum Dare!
The Last Geek should have been called "Super Vegetable Boy"—it's basically an homage to Super Meat Boy with a twist. Really quite complete, probably the most content in the competition.
Nyan Nyan Stack is a cute platform puzzler with charming CGA graphics and dialogue. It's pretty hard but the puzzles are good and it's not too long.
Final Trip Soccer has lovely graphics and plays smooth as laxative. Has a great surprise. Can't believe all this was done in 48 hours!
Urine Trouble is pretty juvenile, but I did laugh a lot at its absurdity while playing.
/follow has some of the best graphics I've seen in a Ludum Dare entry, and is a pretty fun and easy little clicky adventure. I'm happy this one was a three-person 72-hour jam entry so I don't need to feel too inadequate.


I love playing these, especially sleeper hits, so please hook me up if you have found any other gold. And happy 2012!
Category:  video games (4 comments — almost 4 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Escape Cod - Ludum Dare #21 (26 Aug 2011 at 08:49)
Last weekend I did another installment of the 48-hour solo video game programming competition Ludum Dare. They announce the theme on Friday night and then we draw and sing and program all weekend to try to put together a game. This time the theme was Escape, which was a weird theme for me because I've been working on a game just called Escape for like 13 years. The game I made last weekend is called Escape Cod and it's kinda like recursive fish pinball:

Escape Cod

The game's best understood by playing. The basic idea came from Ryan. Thanks Ryan. Initially there was going to be more pinball stuff to do inside the fish, but I knew that the transitions and animations were going to be tricky, so I did most of that first. By the time it got to mid-sunday, I was burned out on implementing physics and I had come to actually like playing the game in its current form, so I just kept doing polish. As usual, when the weekend ended I felt kind of down on the finished product (because of all the things I knew were wrong or wished I could do), but after seeing a few people play and the feedback on the entry, I'm pretty happy with it now. Escape Cod for yourself.

Do you recognize the Cape Cod scene illustrated? I had this canonical image in my mind that I thought was from a postcard or t-shirt that we had around the house growing up. I wanted to get it right so I searched around for image. Turns out I was imagining the bag of potato chips! The title screen is a tribute.

I recorded screenshots from my computer every 15 seconds as well as webcam shots of me touching my face a lot. It's stalkertastic.

I've now entered this a few times. Only Disco? Very! placed in the top 20 overall, but I have done well in the audio category several times. Priority Cats was #2, for example. Since all I care about is winning (winky-wink) I spent a bunch of time on the music for this game too, which you can get in a separate soundtrack.zip. Or make it like an interactive music video by listening while playing the game.
Categories:  t7es  mp3  drawings  tom 7 music  video games  escape (8 comments — almost 4 years ago)   [ comment ]
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My 48-hour videogame: Priority Cats in ''It's dangerous to go alone. Take sis!'' (03 May 2011 at 00:45)
I made a new video game this weekend for the 48-hour game programming contest Ludum Dare! For the contest they announce the theme at 10pm on Friday, and you have until Sunday night to crank something out as quickly as you can. You're allowed to supplement your hacking and drawing and musicing skills with beer and whiskey and coffee, which I did. Not a lot of sleep though. My game:

Priority Cats: It's dangerous to go alone. Take sis!
Play Priority Cats in the browser


The theme this time was "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!" which is pretty ridiculous. I suspect vote fraud. The line comes from the old Nintendo game The Legend Of Zelda, where at the very beginning of the game a man in a cave gives you a sword and says that. Like as if giving an 11 year old a sword is a recipe for safety! Here at Tom 7 Radar we are big proponents of sword safety (not really. Some people in the computer science department circa 2003ish logout party have some stories about me and swords. But seriously who keeps an actual real sword in their closet at a party?). And there is a fairly famous internet "meme" (that means "picture" in internet language) that is a picture of someone holding a cute cat with that caption. So my game is about a brother and sister cat who go on an adventure outside the house for the very first time. Go ahead and play it (after turning on your speakers) if only for the cat animations and theme song. The controls are pretty intuitive but realistically frustrating! The ending is not too hard to find. If you collect everything then there is a small additional reward.

Also: I recorded 4 brand-new songs, which are available in the soundtrack zip file. And then I made this timelapse video of me programming and drawing and drinking coffee, which has pictures of my screen and also of me touching my beard a lot, via brand-new webcam. I'm goin' all out here, guys.
Categories:  t7es  video games  tom 7 music  drawings  contests (14 comments — almost 10 months ago)   [ comment ]
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My 48-hour videogame 'Disco? Very!' for Ludum Dare #19 (20 Dec 2010 at 01:58)
This weekend I made another game all by myself, for the 48 hour game programming contest Ludum Dare:

Disco noob fails to impress disco veteran
Disco? Very!
The way this works is they pick a theme on Friday night at 9pm, and then everybody makes a game for the weekend based on that theme. That theme this time, chosen by lowest common denominator vote, was discovery. Since I can't resist the 'misheard it' gag (deployed last time with islandsis lands?), my game this time is called Disco? Very!. You can play it right now in almost any web browser, because it's made in Flash. This is a dance platformer (I also like to invent a new genre) with moderately charming VGA-style graphics, lots of dance animations, a boss battle, and three new T7ES songs as its soundtrack. Plus this time there's actually something to do, and you can win the game, and it almost seems like it's on purpose! So best is to just play. I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out, and I was efficient throughout the weekend, though it is also sad all the stuff that got left on the cutting-room floor. For example the original intention was that when you die it plays the sound of a vinyl record scratching and the screen says: Disc over? Y! and when you win, it shows you pictured on a dancing magazine, and it's like Dis cover? Y!, etc.

I recorded a video of my screen throughout the weekend (only stopping it when I was leaving the house or sleeping), so you can see my nausea-inducing window-switching habits. It's kind of funny to see the graphics being drawn, at least. Its soundtrack is truncated versions of the game music.
Categories:  drawings  contests  t7es  video games (26 comments — 6 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Ludum Dare 18: You Keep Sliming (28 Aug 2010 at 11:11)
Last weekend was Ludum Dare, a weekend-long video game programming competition. Since I had such a good time last time I knew I wanted to do it again. This competition had a new simultaneous "jam" which was open format (no real rules; does not have to be teams of one) in order to tempt away rulebreakers from the mainline competition. I had done a team game jam before with Head Cat so I was interested in trying again, and so were like 9 other people (mainly computer scientists from CMU) and so Bouncecrab 2 was born:

You can download the OS X version or Windows version. Both should just work if you download and unzip and click to confirm your selection.

I regret to inform you that the intro sequence is not representative of gameplay. Let me tell you about it. One of the ways Ludum Dare protects against head-start rulebreakers is to announce the theme of the contest just as the clock starts. The theme is determined by voting, so you can see some of the options, and we were talking through them all at dinner and excited about ideas for some of them, but not for the one it ended up being, which was "Enemies as Weapons". So we applied the deliberately misheard it strategy also deployed for the theme islands in my previous ludum dare Is Lands? and made our game with the theme Anemonies as Weapons.

OK but still: We started with some code (BTW this game is written in Standard ML) that I had developed to prototype a long-time secret project, which in its current state is just a boring jump around a nearly empty room video game. The first night we had lots of ideas, like how you'd be doing space-inversion rock pushing puzzle solving, where each time you'd find an anemone it would unlock some power, until the dramatic boss fight, etc. The story is something like you're a hyper snail, and you have to rescue all of the anemones from the Evil Dr. Bouncecrab (an inescapable in-joke from William's Ludum Dare 17 entry). One of the minor details was that we needed to adapt the physics of my test game to snail physics, which was mainly that we needed the snail to be able to slime up walls. Long story short: Getting the snail to slime up walls actually took the entire weekend, and even on Monday night it wasn't working yet, and David just decided to replace the very delicate and carefully thought out but non-working physics with new hilariously unexpected physics but that allowed you to slime up the walls and get stuck flying upside-down sometimes, but actually get around our universe, which had been half-heartedly built without the benefit of being able to move around in it, because of the sliming, and with only like 25 total graphical tiles since I had been distracted from making graphics like I promised I would. So you have here an oddly unbalanced game, with like 15 minutes of lovely newly composed music by the music team, a pretty nice intro sequence where it seems like this game is gonna be pretty polished huh?, a pretty fancy level editor, some bits of the universe that are lovingly detailed and others that are literally I just drew a big beer glass and wrote "beer" on it, which you get stuck in and there's no way out except resetting and you don't know why, which probably had to do with the drinking we were doing at some parts of this, plus custom written ray-traced lighting:

custom ray-traced lightmap


And the game itself, which was charmingly put together in the last few hours by those still with us, can best be described as "exploit physics bugs to find the anemones" or "you keep resetting". I added a last minute timer for speedrun mode. At its best gameplay looks something like:

snail in some kind of light beams standing next to an anemone


Despite the wide gap between dreams and reality, consensus is that the game came out magnificent and we can't wait to make Bouncecrab 3: World of Bouncecraft! [Bouncecrab 2 OSXBouncecrab 2 Windows]

In other news, I have a long-outstanding game post I really should get to, since I keep making in-jokes about it on my blog but not actually sharing with you. For shame. But next up is another music post...
Categories:  video games  contests  drawings (5 comments — almost 7 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Ludum Dare 17: You Keep Flying (25 Apr 2010 at 23:06)
Ludum Dare is a 48-hour solo game programming competition on the internet. This is my first time doing it; I participated with a bunch of friends all hanging out at my house and stayin' up late. The theme for this competition, announced at the start of the contest, was islands:



Here is my game that I made, called "Is Lands?" (submission) which is about landing a plane. You can play by just visiting that page, because it's Flash. (The game is very short.) I didn't plan well for this one, in that I spent too much time struggling with physics, its interaction with scrolling, and refusing to use existing libraries for it. (Despite all the work you can still see a bunch of silly stuff happening when you put your plane in a solid object.) I should not have spent so much time investing in a quick way of generating content without actually then investing significant time in content creation. There are only two levels and neither one even uses physics significantly. But, highlights: I think the atmosphere is pretty good, from the title screen to the parallax to the soundtrack to death chords which are tuned to the soundtrack. The off-screen arrow was a deft (though not new) solution to an annoyance where Flash wouldn't let me create movieclips large enough to actually surround the enormous playing field. Most of the things that I like about the game came about without any real work, which is usually the way it goes. Of course I've got no chance in the contest, but it was worth the weekend and I'd do it again for sure. (Unfortunately put myself a little out of shape for next week's Pittsburgh Marathon!)

Other people in my party: William made bouncecrab (submission), Lea made Pirate-Go-Round (submission), and David made Geology (submission). Those are all downloads and I can't guarantee anything. William and David were using my SDLML library and were having release problems as they tried to submit (though I tried to warn them hours in advance to start doing hourly submits). But I think they had fun and I think they'd be in for next time, too.

I'm kind of on a Flash game kick recently, since I made another game for SIGBOVIK. I haven't posted it here yet—it's much better than this one and I have been polishing up some corners before I post the final version on Tom 7 Radar. (But if you do some light digging it's not hard to find.)
Categories:  video games  drawings  contests (15 comments — almost 6 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Updated: Escape 200912250 (15 Jan 2010 at 22:00)
Escape is a block-pushing puzzle game I've been working on (in various forms) for over ten years now. Over Christmas break I quietly built a new version, the first in a few years. It wraps together a bunch of minor changes that I had made since the last release and switches some of the development tools, which means it's easier for me to now make new releases. Nobody cares about that kinda stuff, but I did also finally draw and add animations for teleporting (both the player and Dalek):

Escape guy teleport animation


The game upgrades itself, or you can download a fresh install if you don't have it and want to try. I got one report that someone had trouble upgrading, so you might want to save a copy of your game files before doing it (on Windows, just make a copy of the game's installation directory, on Mac, just make a copy of the Escape application icon, which is just the game folder). It works smoothly for me. If anyone has trouble, please post here with as much information as you can, so that we can fix it. Sorry, no linux binary for the new release, for now.

Despite no releases for a while, there's been a steady stream of activity in the Escape community. There are almost 3,000 levels built by dozens of different people, many with clever speedruns or creative subversive solutions. Some are just fantastic. Thanks everyone for their contributions!
Categories:  video games  escape (475 comments — 7 months ago)   [ comment ]
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Tom 7 Entertainment System Hero (show and demo reel) (16 Apr 2009 at 20:14)
Hey, okay. Finally I have the videos ready to reveal secret project 7H, which is called Tom 7 Entertainment System Hero.

This is part video game and part performance art piece. The video game is essentially an implementation of Guitar Hero, where the songs are Tom 7 Entertainment System tunes. Some of these are ridiculously intricate and most have weird time signatures, which makes for advanced play. It supports keyboard on Mac, Windows, and linux or real USB guitar controllers (like the XBox 360 ones) on Mac and Windows. That includes accelerometers and whammy bar. The best introduction is to watch the demo reel:



As usual, for best results click through to the HD version, or download the 1080p AVI from that page.

This video has a bunch of clips in it, mostly from the Show at Belvedere's. You'll see a bunch of things. One is that I actually mess up a lot when playing. I'm better than this but two things contributed to my mistakes: (1) I was kinda drunk since the show started like 3.5 hours late and I got free beer for being a "musician" and (2) in the last week before the show I was sprinting to get all the software and hardware working, so I actually didn't practice hardly any of these songs more than the one time it took me to decide to put them in the setlist. Once it's available publicly I will challenge you to high-score battle to prove it. Hardware you ask? I didn't build the guitar or drums of course, but I did build the Laser Suspension Womb, which to be more pithy I sometimes call my "USB laser hat." It's a hardhat with a bunch of very bright LEDs and actual laser diodes embedded in it, powered by 1.5A, worn on the head, and connected to the computer via USB implemented on a custom circuit board with a PIC microcontroller. The in-game music and events ("drums were kidnapped!") trigger the lights and lasers to play along. I have a clever hack so that it doesn't need special drivers on any platform, though that's not helping penetration much because there's only one of them. This was my first real hardware project in my adult life, but now that I know how to do it I hope to do more (especially input devices, i.e., "instruments"). It's much better in 2009 than I recall from sticking paperclips and resistors in the parallel port in 1993.

Rock Band drums are supported too. Unlike the guitar, which has a goal pattern for you to match, these are totally freeform. Commodore 64 samples are played in response to drumhits. I wish the controller supported some kind of velocity sensitivity, because that is kind of important for drum expressiveness, but too bad so sad.

Tom 7 Entertainment System Hero Enterprise Schematic


Techno details: The implementation is almost all in Standard ML using SDL, except for the low-level sound synthesis thread and the interface to the USB laser hat. That stuff's in C. It's easy to mix them. The code has some shortcuts in it for sure and deserves to be cleaned up (lots of them introduced in that last week sprint) but it also has some really nice parts, like the algorithm that matches your input to the score. The matching is ambiguous, so there's an on-line dynamic programming algorithm to be maximally generous to your playing. (I don't think Guitar Hero II had this maximally generous algorithm, which was one of the reasons I started working it out like a year and a half ago, but I do think that GH III and on do it right.) The finger patterns you're supposed to match with the guitar, which I call the "score", is generated automatically from MIDI files. To turn a T7ES MIDI file into a T7ES Hero game file, I have to assign instruments to each of the tracks, and then pick which tracks or track parts are supposed to be played on the guitar. The rest is automatic, save some tuning parameters. "genscore" has a model for how closely a candidate score matches the original MIDI (for example, if consecutive MIDI notes are rising in pitch, then it's better for the fingers to also be rising on the fretboard) and then it solves for the optimal assignment, measure-by-measure. I thought that I would need to modify the score after this to get good quality, but it actually works amazingly well. Some of the stuff it comes up with is super fun, like I would assume was created by a human with a good sense of fun. No. Only cyber-brain.

Here's the last two songs of the regular set in full. In this you see that you can actually play drums and guitar at the same time if you're good enough (I am not). 2 player mode? Maybe soon:



I don't know if I'll ever get the opportunity to perform this again (befriend T7ES Band Page on Facebook for guaranteed notification), but maybe. Either way, I'm looking forward to sharing the software with you guys, which I will do as soon as I finish the auto-update and high score table, so that we can compete with each other and I can release song packs.
Categories:  favorites  drawings  hacks  video  t7es  video games (31 comments — almost 8 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Pittsburgh Game Jam (17 Nov 2007 at 16:38)
Pittsburgh Game Jam
Adam and Jason and I are hard at work on our game for the Pittsburgh Game Jam! Here's a picture (a little staged) of our team in progress just now (I am holding the camera but that is my laptop with the title screen showing). Our game is called Head Cat and I will leave it at that in case we don't get as far as intended. ;)
Categories:  contests  video games (22 comments — almost 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
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