[ back to Tom 7 Radar ]

prev Viewing posts in category video games...
(view all posts instead)
next
p
e
r
s
o
n
a
l
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 — almost 3 years ago)   [ comment ]
t
7
e
s
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 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
m
o
b
i
l
e
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 11 years ago)   [ comment ]
u
p
d
a
t
e
New! Escape 200704130 (13 Apr 2007 at 12:01)
I made a new version of my puzzle game Escape today which incorporates a lot of changes I've worked on over the last 5 months or so. The OS X version (coming in a few hours) is now a Universal Binary. There's one new tile: the "remote", which I believe will prove to be very powerful. Since the old feedback thread is monstrously long, this post will serve as the new one.
Categories:  video games  escape (478 comments — almost 5 years ago)   [ comment ]
p
e
r
s
o
n
a
l
Happy birthday Escape! (20 Oct 2006 at 20:53)
Ten years ago in August 1996 I released the (final) "1.0" version of my DOS game Escape. As radar regulars know, I've been working on a modernization of the game for several years now. As a sort of late birthday present I posted the DOS version on the Escape page (I think it wasn't available anywhere since the old AOL page is not working). If you like clunky old QuickBasic programs, PC-speaker sound effects, and low-res graphics, it is now enshrined there forever. Take a look at the screenshots:

The title screen let you choose between 5 different characters to play with, like the "knight", the "office guy", the "redhead lady", "pac man" and "hoodie guy". There were about 100 levels made by me, my family and friends, and a few by students in a class I taught at Eli Whitney Museum about programming. In retrospect most of the levels were pretty crummy; I've learned since then that there are a lot of incredibly smart puzzle makers out there.
Categories:  video games  escape (4 comments — 12 years ago)   [ comment ]
p
i
c
t
u
r
e
Pictures from Brian and Sarah's Wedding (01 Nov 2005 at 18:33)
Pictures from Brian and Sarah's Wedding
I uploaded the good pictures from Brian and Sarah's wedding (see this post). You can see them here: Wedding '05

The picture above is from my first screen-printing experiment, kept secret because the object of the experiment was to create these matching 'his' and 'hers' shirts for part of my wedding gift for Brian and Sarah. These are characters from my game Escape, which Brian and Sarah have been known to play. I wanted to make them something personal, you know? As you can see, I am not a very good screen printer, but it was my first time... Thanks to Jason for showing me the ropes and loaning me some ink!

Gigantic photo directories in queue: 1
Categories:  video games  escape  drawings (10 comments)   [ comment ]
u
p
d
a
t
e
UPD: Escape Beta 3 (12 Oct 2005 at 19:33)
By popular request, I have added bombs to Escape. These are pretty cool, but you might as well play the tutorial in order to see how they work. Since I also added a bunch of new features (like bookmarks) and did some graphical cleanup, I'm calling this a "beta 3". There's been a recent slowdown in Escape activity since everyone is going back to school (etc.), so I'm hoping that this will help pick things up.

Also, since the old feedback thread has gotten way too long, I've started this post as the new one.

Enjoy!
Categories:  popular  video games  escape (497 comments — almost 7 years ago)   [ comment ]
u
p
d
a
t
e
UPD: Welcome to the Machine (11 Mar 2005 at 18:09)
I released a new version of Escape, which features three kinds of robots. Robots are like other (cybernetic) players that can help or hurt you as you try to solve the levels. Loads of clever possibilities are open to level composers now, so try it out!
Categories:  video games  escape (1 comment)   [ comment ]
p
i
c
t
u
r
e
Spring Break! (07 Mar 2005 at 21:23)
Spring Break!
Based on this image, I decided not to go to hockey tonight, even though it not raining right this instant. This storm has been encircling us ominously all day, and the hockey instructors have a bad habit of cancelling only after we've taken the trouble to actually drive out there. Let's hope I'm right!

After a small type-theoretic victory last week, I'm back to proving theorems in Twelf. This should be easier now that my "theorems" are not known to be false. I still want to be writing a proposal by the end of the semester, since everyone around me seems to be doing that, or at least graduating.

I am still addicted to hacking on escape. Rather than fixing certain obvious deficiencies (sound, solution sharing, editor cut-and-paste), I have been making large changes to the gameplay by adding in robots of various sorts. I think robots will compound the fun factor polynomially, he said, which, to his delignt, causes cringes in those who hate idea that mathematics and fun could possibly be associated, deliberate and delightful in the same way as doing type theory in a bar.
Categories:  video games  escape (18 comments)   [ comment ]
u
p
d
a
t
e
NEW: Escape Beta 2! (21 Feb 2005 at 13:04)
I'm happy to announce Escape Beta 2, which adds animation to the game. This was several months in the making! There has been a lot of great activity and new levels recently, so things are looking good...

Plans for the next release: Sound effects, and a few new simple tiles.
Categories:  video games  escape (292 comments — almost 2 years ago)   [ comment ]
prev Viewing posts in category video games...
(view all posts instead)
next