Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


A thing – Day 0.9


The player takes on the role of the U.S. president, formulating and executing a war against ISIL. This is where the player finds their agency, and the entirety of feedback comes in response to these actions. In other words, this is an important part of the game. I’m going to start with this core, and build the rest of the game around this.


I want to present the player a wide and accurate breadth of tactical and strategic options. In the context of this game, tactics will refer to the what and strategy the why.

The why is extremely important in this game, as we wish to give feedback contextual not only on the player’s action, but also their intention.


Let’s start by defining some of the actions we’d like to allow the player. We’re lucky and lazy enough that our game attempts to mimic reality, so let’s steal from it.

Continue reading ‘A thing – Day 0.9’


A thing – day 0


I struggle with the problematic nature of writing a ‘game’ about troubles in the Middle East where the player takes on the role of the US president. Irregardless, here we go.


I despise the absolute clarity and understanding contemporary games afford the player. Every single metric is exposed, even modern shooters break immersion with the use of XP popups occurring in real time as the player acts. I want a nuanced experience where consequences occur, and occur unexpectedly. It’s ‘poor game design’ if the player cannot see a clear path from their actions to consequence, and generally any feedback loops should be as ‘tight’ as possible — fuck it.


The timeline to create this game is limited, and thus is the scope. I want to explore the dichotomy between action, and the perception of that action.


I’m making a game, rapidly, about the US strategy in Iraq and Syria vis-a-vis ISIL.


As stated above I wish to explore action and the perception of that action. This is core to our understanding of the ‘war’ against ISIL. We are isolated from and never exposed to ‘outcome’ – we champion action; bombing, troops on the ground, no-fly zones. We have precious little insight (or interest) into what the outcome of these actions is. Whether it’s the fault of the media, and their self imposed mandate to excite and arouse (rather than inform), a conspiratorial understanding of theirs with the powers that be, or they’re simply responding to lack of interest in discussion and coverage on longer term strategy, the reality is that we don’t have insight into what happens on the ground. In a less cynical tone, I could say that the words of a President or Prime Minister — who is elected, responsible towards, and geographically and culturally closer to us  — are simply more real, immediate, meaningful and understandable.


The game revolves around a simple dichotomistic cycle. You, as the President of the United States, selects a course of action, and then receives feedback in the form of media from various outlets reporting on that action. Rinse. Repeat. Continue reading ‘A thing – day 0’


Rollback: Hydra

Okay! Time to write a post so I can consider this wrapped up and move on to the next thing.

It’s been closer to a month than it has a week, but my recent game making efforts have borne fruit.

I present you Rollback: Hydra, or: a Proof-of-Concept and Exercise in Polish.

I spent the initial 10 days working on core mechanics, with the plan to release at that point. Arriving at day ten, I had a couple of solid mechanics and a few more half implemented ones.

The decision was made to take what I had completed, spend a little time polish it up, and release that. When working on side projects it isn’t often that I’m afforded the chance to polishing something (generally you have to create said something first), so I was looking forward to the combined challenge of attempting to go ‘pencils down’ on feature implementation, working within the small set of mechanics I had adequately completed, while also stretching those infrequently exercised polishing muscles.

Continue reading ‘Rollback: Hydra’


Rollback – Day 6

It’s been a few days. I last updated after having developed a simple city generator, designed to create a place for the enemy faction to propagate.

With the city in place, I have spent the last four days and 1600 lines of code working on developing systems for the faction. I find writing AI to be a difficult task. I have no trouble thinking logically about the interactions I want to occur, but the complexity always blows out, and with complexity comes bugs.

That said, I am relieved to say that the heavy lifting is done and my enemy AI is all but complete.

I have attached a work in progress build below. I suggest skimming the following post as it will frame your understanding of what is happening.

The goal from day one has been to allow a faction to grow organically within the city rather than be hand created.

In real life I am sure the complexities of operating an underground resistance movement are staggering. This creates a challenge, as I must distill this complexity into simple components – while retaining behaviour that is representative of reality. I have taken some liberties.

Continue reading ‘Rollback – Day 6’


Rollback – Day 1

Phew, I’m winding down day one on Rollback and already I’ve learned a valuable lesson – do not scope out and commit to creating a game while drunk.

Regardless, my vision of the game is a lot clearer today and I am happy with the progress made.

Rollback is one part detective work – the player must identify enemy infrastructure – and one part warfare – the player then must crush this infrastructure, that they have hopefully been observent enough to locate. This creates a unique design challenge in that the enemy needs a place to hide.

If I could point to any one thing that has driven me to work on this particular project, I would have to say that it is one small piece of news that came out of the recent Israel offensive on Gaza – that of the airstrike on a Hamas media centre, situated in an apartment building that also housed prominent foreign news outlets.

Despite the very real risk of high profile casualties, a human being made the call to strike that infrastructure. I want to position my player in that situation.

Reading the above news story from a game designer’s perspective, we deduce that:

  • Hamas integrates their infrastructure into the existing city, rather than build it from scratch.
  • Hamas does in fact operate communication and media outlets.
  • These outlets are worth striking, despite the very real consequence of civilian loss of life.

Taking that reading, it seems obvious that the place to start is the creation of a civilian city, one which the faction can assemble and obfuscate their material assets within.

Today’s labour has been focused entirely on this endeavour, and below I share with you the results.

Continue reading ‘Rollback – Day 1’


Rollback – Day 0

I’ve stumbled upon a week or so of free time. With that time I plan to develop and release a small game of questionable quality. Reference my previous attempt for an idea of what to expect. The game will be of prototype quality with limited art assets, and I will likely lose focus and disregard the ever important polish.

I’m excited to undertake this challenge again, and I’m interested to see the result – and how that reflects on the progress I have made as a designer, and coder in the last year and a half.

So, the game. This time it has a name. I’m calling it Rollback.

Anyone who has even met me knows two things. That I have a strong interest in strategy games, and an even stronger interest in geopolitics. It will come as no surprise then, that this game will be a strategy game, based loosely around the recent Israel/Gaza conflict.

Before I dive into an explanation of the game, allow me to offer my reading of those recent events.

In the three and a half years since Israel last undertook overt operations in the occupied Gaza territory, Hamas had rebuilt their infrastructure, and developed closer strategic alliances with other external parties, most notably, Iran. With the rebuilding of their tunnel network and these new closer ties, Hamas had been able to smuggle Iranian built Fajr 5 rockets into Gaza. Israel’s response was that of house cleaning – attacking Gaza in order to cripple this infrastructure, and destroy these newly acquired weapon caches, diminishing Hamas’ capabilities for at least another election cycle. Interestingly, international pressure forced Israel from undertaking a ground invasion – guaranteeing that they could not decisively meet these goals.

This is a simple, high level reading of the situation, and one I admit is likely flawed. Regardless it is the one I subscribe to, and one that I feel lends itself to some simple and contained mechanics that I will hopefully be able to tackle to completion within a week or so.
Continue reading ‘Rollback – Day 0’



Forgive the cryptic title, I feel it almost works on many levels. I have just returned from eight days in Fiji and an isolation from technology. Well there was technology; there was wireless internet at the resort, but I wasn’t willing to pay $40 for the WEP key, considering I had only my N95 and PSP to browse with. And I actually began to enjoy my time-out, I quickly lost my need (and want) to be plugged in.

I enjoyed my time abroad and unplugged, but I did succumb to boredom; I get impatient playing the first 15 minutes of Doom 3, eagerly awaiting the pistol – how do you think I feel waiting eight days, or 192 hours without a single firefight or confrontation.

The location was inspired and well designed, we’re talking beyond COD4 levels of polish. Unfortunately I couldn’t thoroughly test the AI. Locals roamed around, much as they do in Fallout 3; you’re never exactly sure where you’ll find someone. Their pathfinding was good, but I’m still not sure if they’d utilise cover or teamwork in a battle.

From the beach of our island we could see a couple of neighbouring islands, one containing a small village. There was a short stone path heading inland of the island that we had to follow to get to our bure, assumably masking a loading screen. The drunk physics were even better than GTAIV’s and many of the sidequests made use of these. 

I’ll stop now with the comparison between real and virtual existence; next time I break the law they’ll probably pin me for living in a fantasy world, no longer able to tell my PS3 controller from a handgun. 

Continue reading ‘Forgetting’

Playing on Playstation 3

Red Dead Revolver - I paid about $1000 for my launch model PS3, so I guess it's time I get some use out of that emotion chip crammed inside. I remember Red Dead Revolver looking rather good when it was released, and despite the low resolution and odd blurring (that I attribute to playing on a HD set) the game holds up well. It looks good despite these graphical limitations because the art direction is so precise and awesome. And it isn't just the art direction, the music, dialogue and set design (for some reason, set seems a more fitting word than level) all work in tandem to recreate an iconic Wild West atmosphere. Red Dead Revolver doesn’t aim to recreate life in the Wild West, it allows our imagination to take over and populates the locale with legendary men and their legendary stories.

Playing on iPhone

edge - Well I never thought I'd consider playing a game on iPhone as actually gaming, but edge has turned me around. The game is built for the iPhone. Sure, it could be ported, but the elegance of what has been created is astounding, it boggles the mind and makes me wonder what amazing gems we'd receive if current gen consoles weren't clones of eachother.

Playing on PC

Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Generals - Zero Hour - It may be a temporary effect as I slowly reintroduce the PC into my gaming diet, but it seems every title I’m excited to play on the platform is either a strategy game, or a cheap indie game. PC gaming isn’t dead, it’s just restricted to titles that require complex input or a pointing device, and games that couldn't be developed or distributed on other platforms. I guess that’s part of the reason the AppStore is so far a success, there were a lot of indie devs stuck on PC for lack of a better alternative.


July 2018
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