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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Humble AIR Bundle

This post can be found on the new blog at The Humble AIR Bundle
I'd like to say straight off the bat that this bundle does not exist. It's just an idea I have been playing with in my mind.

Adobe recently announced that they will no longer be releasing updates for AIR for Linux. This saddens me, mainly because the reason I switched from working with .Net to Flash was the "multi-platformness" - the ability to compile once and have your game or application run on any operating system (it has a proper name, but it's still on the tip of my tongue).

A few games in previous Humble Indie Bundles were actually Flash games (even if the players don't notice it); Samorost 2, Machinarium, and Trauma. Even though Flash can't make the most powerful of games, it's fairly obvious that Flash games are at least playable.

AIR increases the functionality of Flash, and adds mobile devices to the available platforms, all with very little additional changes made to your existing game or application.

I'm sure if a small group of Flash game developers teamed up "Humble Bundle style" they could release a bundle with multi-platform, DRM-free AIR games, with proceeds either going towards charities, or perhaps towards the open source developers working on the AIR binaries for Linux. In either case, the bundle would provide positive publicity for AIR.

I don't have the influence or resources to do this, but do you?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Is High Score dead?

This post can be found on the new blog at Is High Score dead?
I have recently played with the thought of the classic high score system being "dead". These viewpoints are from the perspective as a player rather than a developer.

Remember the good old days of playing Pac-Man at the arcade, burning quarter after quarter until you were #1? You could then laugh in the face of the last high score holder, and brag to all the local children and challenge them to beat your score.
(Or maybe not, I was born a few years too late for the glory days of arcade games, so I'm guessing at how the high scores worked back then)

But today, with the rise of flash games, no matter how hard you work at getting to the top, your fantastic score of 189,335 points will place you at position #24,890 in the high score list, with the top scores always being held by cheaters or some Asian kid with an abnormal talent for games and hours of time on his hands.

Perhaps I'm just a pessimist, but if there is no cosmic chance of me even showing up on the top 100, 
what's the point of replaying the game to get a better score?

So, what do you think? Did the widespread availability of the internet and the surprisingly large amount of people on this planet kill the classic high score system? (leave a comment if you disagree, I could be wrong)

Or is the high score system still kept alive by Facebook games where you only see the scores of your friends?

High Score done right!

I recently purchased the game SpaceChem by Zachtronics Industries.
SIDE NOTE: I have long been a fan of that developer's flash games, and I'm happy his newest creation is having so much success. SpaceChem is one of my favorite games, and I would really recommend it if you enjoy puzzle games, and it definitely helps if you have a "programmers mindset". You can grab the demo if you want to try it before purchasing the game.

SpaceChem does an amazing job at including a high score system without "intimidating" the score you worked so hard for.

When you have finished a working design, you see a bar chart of how creation's efficiency compares to the average user. This allows you to see which areas you could realistically improve your score without being blown out of the water by Sum Yung Gui from Beijing.

If you know of any other games with unique and brilliant high score systems, share them in the comments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Keeping POP emails synched?

I'm looking for a specific email client (or perhaps some sort of elaborate system or setup is needed, I worry). To describe it, I'll first explain what I love about my Hotmail email*.

There is a free web interface (at
There is a free desktop email client (Windows Live Mail, which is sadly Windows only) 
The key is that the messages are "synched" between the web interface and the client. So, if you delete messages, move messages to different folders, or even mark messages as read, the changes will be applied in both the web interface as well as the desktop client.

Sadly, the business email account I'm setting up does not use Hotmail. It uses POP for accessing the email (I believe the provider actually uses Google's mail servers rather than their own if that makes any difference).

Is there any way I can have this "synching" behavior with a standard POP email account?

* This post is not sponsored my Microsoft. I just happen to have been using my personal Hotmail email address for soon a decade and haven't gotten around to switching.

It seems that IMAP is just what I'm looking for:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Does "Ponycorns" exploit the mentally ill?

This post can be found on the new blog at Does "Ponycorns" Exploit the Mentally Ill?
Untold Entertainment recently released a new game, "Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure".

Already the game has had some positive media attention, from interviews on both local radio and television, to several internet news sites including Yahoo news and BoingBoing.

After only having been released for soon two weeks (as of today, June 4, 2011) the game has received about 200,000 plays and $2,500 in donations (and more is likely to follow as time progresses).

This game must be awesome!!

Is the game deserving of all this media attention by being awesome and fantastic, with hours of intricate puzzles, stunning graphics, and gripping story lines? No.

Then why so much popularity? The graphics, sound effects (including most of the dialog), and story were all designed by a 5 year old, little girl.

Assume for a second that this game had been released on Newgrounds (which is, from what I hear, the #1 portal for Flash content with not enough quality to be allowed on portals with "higher standards") and Ryan Creighton (the father and lead developer) had proudly announced that he had produced the game all on his own.

Ryan could then sit back and expect a steady stream of classic Newgrounds comments such as "OMGWTF gay", "-9999/10", and "giv me my 2mins of life bak".

"Ponycorns" exploits the mentally ill

At this point you are probably calling me an insensitive prick and have likely already started to flame me in the comments. But, I am trying to make a point here.

This game takes advantage of at least two "weaknesses" (couldn't find a better word) of human nature.

FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: Funny pictures (must see!)

First, people love babies, young children, and kittens (for various reasons you can likely dig up a lot of research on yourself). Anyone who doesn't believe me apparently doesn't have family members who have learned to use the "forward" button on their emails.

Seb Lee-Delisle's iPhone app, Kitten Conveyorbelt, is another game which takes advantage of this exploit ($1 for a slideshow of cats, seriously?)

Somewhat related, the "8 Beyblades for sale on eBay", despite having several "fake bids", still received a lot more bid amounts than selling the Beyblades on their own would have. Why? People feel sorry for these crying little children and their situation.

(Next time you try selling your car, include a picture of yourself next to it crying and see if it also works with grown-ups)

Good job, sweetie. I'll put this up on the fridge where everyone can see it

Second, humans (at least the empathetical ones) will value items and achievements higher if they were produced when the "creator" was under certain limitations (in the case of Cassie Creighton, limitations in age and game development experience).

Did your mother put your paintings of a giraffe with rockets strapped to it on the refrigerator because your work was comparable to Rembrandt?
And why would anyone otherwise care about "special olympics"?
And what makes Michael Phelps much more famous than all other swimmers?

On a related note, even I can draw better than this elephant! Why don't my YouTube videos get 6.5 million views?

What can we learn from all this?

Other than the obvious point of "Taking advantage of human psychological flaws leads to more attention and in return buckets of easy money", there is a broader point to be made (which is by far no new idea):
Presentation is key

As I still haven't produced even a single game, I feel like some sort of hypocrite (did I use that word correctly or is there a better term?) telling people how to design their games. After all, what do I know?

Luckily, the principle has many more applications. Often when presenting something, you are very limited, such as the title of a blog post, description of a game, or a small introduction in a conversation or speech.

Presenting any creation as "just another of many" will quickly cause the listener to loose interest. What makes your product unique? How does it stand out from the rest? (Note that I do not support lying or over-exaggerating in order to glorify what you are selling! Scumbags...)

Perhaps it will gain more attention if you release it for a good cause, such as donating all income from a game to earthquake/tsunami victims.

Perhaps even take advantage of a few other human psychological flaws, such as curiosity to reel in your listeners (this blog post title got you here, didn't it?)

Does Apple exploit the mentally ill?

I simply cannot end a discussion on exploiting human psychology without bringing up Apple.

As I have said many times before (which someone said before me, but I don't remember the source), Apple sells a religion, not a product. When you buy their iPhone, you buy an experience, and a ticket into the community of awesome people.

In a nutshell "Cigarettes Apple's products make you look cool!"


Is Ryan Creighton exploiting our weaknesses for monetary gain?

It's possible, but I doubt it.

This may be a good place to add that all donations and income from Mochi Ads are going directly to Cassie's college fund (so help her education, and donate! Link is on the game's page)

Does this mean you hate the game?? And little children?!?

Alas, I am neither a Vulcan nor a sociopath, and susceptible to the same flaws of human psychology as everyone else, so yes, I thought it was cute.

The one thing in specific I enjoyed were the small witty bits of dialog. They reminded a bit of the the comments found in Lemony Snicket's books (sample excerpt)

My favorite quotes from the game (spoiler alert)
Your'e a mouse now. How do you like THEM apples?
That's what you get for being evil! AND a lemon!

Did you write this post to stir up conflict and flame wars, or perhaps to ride the wake of Ponycorn's success?

Neither, by writing this post I'm avoiding the PHP work on my plate, and since I'm still getting something done, I can avoid the feelings of guilt that come from procrastinating my real work.

Friday, June 3, 2011

[Experiment] Drop Painter

This post can be found on the new blog at Experiment: Drop Painter
No, it's not painting with drops (though, that seems like a great idea for another project). Instead this experiment drops pieces of a painting down from above which eventually form to assemble a complete picture.


The code is written in AS3 and uses Box2D for the physics and MinimalComps for the components.

At first I wrote the code up as a prototype just to test a concept (and rather than rewrite the code cleanly, I just kept adding onto it so it became one tightly-coupled mess).

Later I entered it into a contest held on the Kirupa Forums, and modified it slightly to fit the contest theme.

The source is available on GitHub in case anyone is curious how it was achieved (and yes, I did cheat. It's not actually dynamic. The movement of all those shapes are "pre-baked" during the "Loading" screen and simply played back afterwards, which is why it is able to take up so little CPU on playback.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Developing for the Playbook: Chapter 3 - The Emulator

This post can be found on the new blog at Developing for the Playbook: Chapter 3 - the Emulator

TODO: Insert chapter 1. (I was too lazy to repeat the steps just to take screenshots of the process. I don't feel like going through that again.)

TODO: Insert chapter 2. (Same reason as for chapter 1)

Chapter 3: The Emulator

Stay tuned for "Chapter 4: The Code Signing!"