July 27th, 2008

I just played EarthBound recently. There’s a fairly large cult following surrounding the game, but I’m left wondering why they’re so rabid. It’s a great under-appreciated game, don’t get me wrong, but it’s ultimately a footnote in the history of RPGs. It’s got an interesting story, and at times is very clever, but everything in the game is just an excuse to go wander around dungeons and explore towns. I guess you could say that about most RPGs though, particularly Japanese ones, but the whole game didn’t seem particularly concerned with the story.

In the end though, all it really does is remind me of Robotrek, which I’d say is an equally under-appreciated weird little game. They’re so similar in fact, I’d think they had the same creator if I didn’t know better. Robotrek is less refined, has more experimental way of doing battles (which isn’t always a good thing), but in particular, it has a much better story which makes it ultimately more endearing to me. It’s one of those games that has an extensive enough history you’d have to play it twice just to pick up all the hints they were giving you from the beginning.

Neither of these games really holds up today, they’re lightweight, somewhat childish, aging games. In the end games like Chrono Trigger will last forever, EarthBound and Robotrek are footnotes.

Cave Story

July 13th, 2008

I know this game has been out for, well, ages in Internet years, but I only just recently got around to playing it. I’ve been bored during my off time in San Francisco (I’m interning at YouTube, remember?) and this a breath of fresh air.

Cave Story

It seemed like a decent amateur game at first, but as the game goes on you realize this guy didn’t waste the five years it took to make the game (level design, art, music, everything) in his free time. The level design is heavily influenced by classic Metroid games, but takes some cues (particularly story-wise) from Japanese RPGs. It’s freeware, it’s fun, and I’ve started playing it for the second time. I recommend it to everyone who likes old-school games.

Mega Man 9

July 11th, 2008

It looks so much like an NES game I suspect its actually running on an emulator. A brand new Mega Man game running on an emulator. Life is good.

Dino Run

May 5th, 2008

I love the guys at pixeljam, they’re what’s right with the Flash game world.

They have a new game, and it even has multiplayer. Dino Run. Nothing quite like it I assure you, its well made but simple, and fits very well into the ADD world of Flash games. I’ve been a beta tester for the game and its pretty fun.

Starfield Stackers Demo

March 22nd, 2008

A while back Andrew Dickman and I tried making games together as an artist/programmer duo.

This is easily the best thing I think we came up with because it’s the most fun to look at and play in its incomplete state. I wrote some decent AI for the game, which I’ve never actually beaten on the hardest difficulty. The gameplay is basically identical to Puyo Puyo, otherwise known as Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and Kirby’s Avalanche.

Use the arrow keys to move, and the spacebar to “spin” the blobs. Chain together 4+ blobs of the same color to clear them and any nearby black blobs. You send more black blobs to your enemy the bigger the chain, and way more than that if you pull off combos.

This game is so incomplete you can’t switch between modes in the game, so you’ll have to pick the type of game you want to play from here.

Yoshi's Island Flash Demo

February 29th, 2008

When it comes to 2D platformers, there is no better than Yoshi’s Island. It’s innovative, loaded with levels, and just plain fun to play. When I was younger, I went so far as to get 100’s on every level, including the bonus levels.

I was experimenting with tile engines in Flash and I figured it would be very hard, but possible to pull off Yoshi’s Island in Flash. These days, that’s almost easy, but this demo was on the far edge of what Flash 6 was capable of on my old computer. It was reasonable in brief horizontal levels, but slowed way down when in levels involving both axes. I decided to drop it, but I have a special place in my heart for this project, since this is probably the best chunk of code I ever wrote for Flash 6. Ah well. I still gained a lot of experience from it.

Here’s the demo Use the arrow keys to move and Z to jump. Press Z again in mid-air to get Yoshi to float.

You’ll need to view this post in a browser with Javascript and Flash 6 in order to see it.

Part 3 of Minerva: Metastasis, the last part in greatest mod ever, has just been released. If you don’t own Half-Life 2, buy it purely to play this mod. If you have Half-Life 2, then you should be playing it, because it’s free. The best part is that this update brings two new chapters to the game, rather than the usual single. The culmination of two and a half years of work is complete and it shows.

What makes Metastasis so special is it’s level design. Anybody who’s played more than one first person shooter should notice that the level design is unique, but it’s really one of the best achievements in level design everybody won’t notice. In video games, everything is there for a purpose. You see a switch? At some point you will probably flip it. A locked door? It’s there for you to unlock. Game designers think about ways to slow you down in getting from point A to point B, and the environment reflects that. Why would they put in something that has no purpose?

This is not to say Metastasis is devoid of these things, it’s just better about it. The levels are designed before enemies are placed, putting you in a real building, rather than some levels connected together. You can see other parts of the level when you look down through glass floors. It may seem like a meaningless difference, but when games are trying to pull you in more and more it’s surprising how well Adam Foster does it with such subtle changes. Valve did it with Half-Life 2 by having interesting characters, storylines and spiffy things like battles off in the distance that you don’t fight. Foster does it with a slightly different look at level design and intermittent messages from the player’s anonymous master – Minerva. I’d argue that, from a level design perspective, Foster does as good a job as Valve if not better.

As Foster’s interesting manner of blogging will show you he’s a little… different. He’s genuinely intelligent and strange guy and this is reflected in his work. His numerous semi-fanatical “acolytes” imitate him too. It’s also worth mentioning that he made a mod for the original Half-Life called Someplace Else, which is also very interesting and features the eponymous Minerva as well.

Metroid Week Gets More Filler

August 29th, 2007

During Metroid Week at Joystiq-spinoff Wii Fanboy my (very) old game, Megaman vs Metroid, got shown off. That’s pretty darn cool. Thing is, he goes on to dis the controls. The controls are a near-perfect copy of Megaman’s controls, I can’t even begin to wonder what the complaint is. If it’s the locations of the keys you can even change it from the options menu. One guy in the comments thinks the hitboxes are too big, but he’s absolutely right and has a sharp eye too. It’s easily the biggest flaw of the game, I used the sprites themselves as the hitboxes. Oh to be young and foolish again. Then there’s the guy who thinks there’s a bug that doesn’t let you recover health. Those blue flashing things are not health pickups boy-o.

I’m a little miffed I didn’t actually get linked to in this – they linked to a site I submitted it to – but I’d put up with it if even the guy linking to it seemed to like the game. I should be happy I suppose. Meh. Megaman vs Metroid is my baby, sure the code is pretty bad at some points, but I poured everything I had into that. I guess I don’t like hearing people talk bad about it.

More Doom

August 27th, 2007

Update: Visit the home of Doomed Online here.

So I’ve decided to open-source the Doom port I’ve been working on. It’s really a far larger task then I think I have time for and I’m pretty sure that I’ll have to turn to the actual Doom’s source code at some point. Things like the enemy AI are a complete mystery to me, although the rest I’ve been able to get away with so far. I’m not quite finished doing it myself yet, but once I clean up the code some more I’ll release it for public consumption. Not sure what license to put it under though, the GPL would probably be fine.

This leads to my main problem. What should I name the project? Anybody have a good idea? I’m trying to think of something interesting.

Anyway, I’ve got a new demo ready. It’s set in a different level (E1M5). There’s sprites now although most of them are dummy enemies. I figured out the lighting – at least I think I did – so everything is much more bleak and Doom-like. There’s animated flats, walls, and sprites now, as well as some lighting effects. There’s wall collisions, head-bobbing, texture mapping is much better, no more mysterious walls, sound has been fixed (press the spacebar), and the engine is actually significantly faster too.

Use the arrow keys to move. You can pass through doors and other non-impassable walls. Like before, it’s 1.7MB and there’s no preloader. The game is “after the break”, as they say.

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Hands-Free Mario

August 22nd, 2007

These videos are amazing. These too. They are custom levels made for Super Mario World that run entirely on their own, making expert use of the physics and mechanics inherent to the game. Truly, these people are gods among men. Embedded below are two of my favorites.