Robot vs. Monsters – Dev Diary 1

So I’ve been talking for a little while now with Ash about creating a game, and talking with him about what he would do for making his own. The first many many ideas were basically the same game as him iPhone or Wii favorites, but usually with Lego or Star Wars tossed into the mix. (Angry Birds Star Wars, Lego Star Wars Wii Sports and so on) I encouraged him to come up with his own, new idea that hadn’t been done before, and the idea we settled on would be our own little masterpiece together – Robot vs. Monsters.

His basic idea was that you are a robot tasked to protect a city and the people in it from attacking monsters. He wanted 4 levels, and of course a big boss to fight at the end. The goal of each level would be to save all the humans on the level, and to defeat the monsters using your robot’s weapons.

A feature list we collaborated on:
– 4 Action Packed Levels (each with a different environment!)
– Epic boss battle!!
– Save tiny humans!!
– Use exotic robot weaponry! (Swords! Blasters! More!)
– Sound Effects!!
– Side scrolling, 2D, platforming adventure!!!
– Fun for the whole family!!!

Fairly simple right? Except for the fact that I haven’t programmed anything seriously since college over 10 years ago. Forgotten how to ride that bicycle, and what better time than now to learn all over again.

I decided to make it a Flash based game, so it would be easy to share with friends and family. A good part of the reasoning was as well that there would be plenty of documentation, tutorials and help out there on the web for me to use to help build this game.

I chose to use a Flash library called flixel which has been so far an extremely easy to use framework to get my little game started. There is also an incredible wealth of tutorials out there to work with.

I started with their EZPlatformer Tutorial as a base to get the general idea of how to build a platformer, and since then have been busy tinkering with it adding little bits and pieces to learn more.

I’ve added:
– Sound effects (coin pickup and jumping)
– A player “sprite” (my artwork is terrible I know!)
– Created a tile based level in an editor (DAME)
– Created my own coins to add to the level
– Managed to get it all, somewhat working, with a scrolling level!

Yes some of the level is broken below (inaccessible areas due to the little guy not being able to jump high enough), but it’s a start! Enjoy tinkering with the first little example of what we’re doing:

Click the window to play. Arrows to move. Space to jump!

The next update should include the following:
– New Robot character
– New, less generic map that’s bigger
– Humans to collect instead of coins

I figure those are easy enough goals to work towards, and creating small goals will make this all that much closer to completion.

Responsibilities for this project:
Ash – Lead Designer, Concept Art, Level Concepts, Game Director
Brian – Code monkey, Artist, Level Builder

I’m letting Ash guide the game as much as possible so that he feels like it’s his game, and in the meantime I’ll enjoy building a game and learning something new. Enjoy!

The Pac-Man Dossier

Love the old art!
Love the old art!

The Pac-Man Dossier is the source for an incredible wealth of technical information on Pac-Man. It covers the history of the game, technical details of how the movement of the ghosts are determined, and why certain areas can be exploited and a ton more. Really worth a quick check through, or a more though reading if you have a chance.

I love these in depth looks at games, and finding out the nuts and bolts of what makes them tick.

(Found on Offworld)

Game Journalisim Symposium Part Two

Shawn Elliott: Symposium Part Two: Review Policy, Practice and Ethics.

In part two of this excellent conversation between a great collection of some of the more thoughtful minds reviewing and covering videogames for a living (Part 1 is here on review scores) covers some great new ground. It’s very text heavy, but here are a few of my thoughts on their discussions:

– It starts off with a question of “Should a game reviewer by knowledgeable about the genre of game he/she is reviewing?” My take? Yes and no. For me it depends on the genre. For one like say role playing games, I know the genre well and know the standards by which most games are judged, so I would like in a review that I’d read about the game the reviewer to be at a similar level. Tell me about the game, what sets it apart from others in the crowded marketplace, and if it’s innovations (if any) along with it’s gameplay and story make it worth playing. In this case I value someone with a background in the genre, and their knowledge.

But take something like a more action/adventure game. I love these games as well, but I’m not as well versed in the genre. I’d like a review that isn’t about how it compares to other games (“the controls are similar to [i]Action Man 2[/i]”) and other references I may not get. Tell me what’s good and bad about the game, and why you’d recommend it or not, and I’ll go from there. I want the reviewer to be knowledgeable about the genre they are covering but their review to be written for the masses and not the genre fanboys.

– I guess what the above is really saying is that reviews really depend on the audience that is reading them. I like some of 1UP’s RPG coverage, because they are not afraid to get into the nitty gritty of the genre, but I tend to avoid their reviews about other genre’s because I am not part of the target audience for those reviews. Some sites and publications know their audience well and write to it.

– There was a brief mention of writers developing a following. I’m in agreement that if I have read a given writer enough and know how his/her tastes line up with mine, I can better judge how well a game they review will line up with my own likes and dislikes.

– I loved the idea towards the end of feature type “fresh take reviews” of people who aren’t into a type of game or don’t have the baggage of previous games in a series. I’d read one, and I’d get an educated look as to if I’d really want to jump into a game.

– One of the best bits for me was at the end. The idea put forth by Harry Allen. Gamers change. Especially with the coming of children. My genre and types of games I like didn’t dramatically change, but I find myself going for simpler games, quieter games, and games that are shorter. I still love to game, and I know I’ll play with my son, but my habits have changed, and I don’t foresee them going back for now.

The Pat Lawlor Interview On GameSetWatch

Here’s a short interview with the guy who designed a number of my favorite pinball machines, like Addams Family and Fun House. A worthy read about he design philosophy of pinball, and the current state (or lack thereof) of the pinball market.

GameSetWatch – GameSetInterview: ‘Rudy’s Father Speaks – The Pat Lawlor Interview’.

Every designer has differing goals for the “feel” of the game. Usually these goals are a result of the kinds of games the designers like personally.

Things to consider are, in no particular order:

1) Middle shots are easier for beginners.
2) How to mix stop and go shots with nice return flow shots.
3) How fast is the overall game? Very fast games are very difficult for beginners.
4) When a shot is missed, what happens to the ball? Is it a bad, clunky thing? Does the ball come back in my face?
5) Are these shots just “there,? or do they represent something from the theme?

King’s Quest II – Day 1

So the story this time around is that Graham has been the prosperous ruler of Daventry for a year, but he’s getting lonely. He knows it’s time to find a wife, and create an heir for his kingdom, so it doesn’t end up like it was before he took over for the last guy. He holds tryouts, but none of the women/girls in his kingdom are good enough for him, and so he talks to his magic mirror. The mirror shows him the beautiful Princess Valanice, from the kingdom of Kolyma, imprisoned by the evil witch, blah blah blah. Graham tosses on his adventuring cap, instead of the crown and shows up on the beach ready to find her and make her his. How romantic.
KQ2 Start Point

Getting a tan on the beach is always a good place to start, soI took a stroll down the beach. A lot of nice new touches this time around. The little waves crash up against the rocks, to add a nice sense of immersion. As usual, wandering down the beach nets me a nice bracelet that looks expensive, and a sweet trident. Who’s the king of the sea now?!
The Trident on the Beach
Continue reading “King’s Quest II – Day 1”

Blogging Quest – King’s Quest II Day 0

So I think I’ve realized why I haven?t continued with the end of King’s Quest 1 after all this time. I just didn’t want to go back and take on the same stuff over again. I will someday, but for now, I’m moving on with Blogging Quest. Welcome to King’s Quest II – Romancing the Throne. This time it’s for love.
KQ2 Title Screen

Released in 1985, it was Sierra’s second game to take advantage of their new AGI system they created for King’s Quest I. It grew the size of the game by 15% over the original, with 92 different rooms to walk to now, and a theoretically easier puzzle system, that left you a little less room to get lost. We’ll see about that.

My experience coming to this one is going to be a lot less than the first. I played the heck out of the first one, but my experience with KQII has all come from my play through of it on a Mac in black and white. Thank you Grandma. I know I’ve completed the quest for love and a wife once long, long ago, but my memories really only recall the fact that there is a trident on a beach, a basket of goodies in a mailbox, the batmobile, and I get to dress up like a vampire! This one could take a bit longer with its play through, as I will be making up my own solution on the fly. Sounds great!

Take a look here for the box art.
Here’s the original manual.
Here’s the Wikipedia acticle on it.
Finally Game Tap has a great retrospective by Joe Rybicki

Puzzle Quest Solutions and Lyle Maps

Cleaning up a few things, I was taking a look at what links bring people to Cinder Inc. from time to time. Two of the biggest are people looking for solutions to capturing Puzzle Quest monsters. The other is a map for Lyle In Cube Sector, a great platform game. So without further delay.

Puzzle Quest Capture Solutions via GameFAQ’s.

The Lyle in Cube Sector Map, click for a larger version. Via Speed Demos Archive Forums by LLCoodDave

King’s Quest 1 – Day 2

Yes, it’s been a while, but we’ll not talk about that. Let’s jump into King’s Quest 1 Day 2!
Troll BridgeWhen I last played I had found a ton of little treasures and items lying about, but none of the fabled three magic ones that were causing Daventry to go to ruin. In my quest for them I ended up finding a bridge to somewhere, with a troll guarding it. Figuring that I’d need something or someone to help me with it, since the game wouldn’t let me throw a dagger I had in my inventory at it, I went off looking again.

Troll BridgeI ran back into the goat in the pens, which reminded me of the carrot I had in my inventory. Giving it to him? He just eats it and lets you go on your merry way. Not much help. Showing him the carrot lead to him following me where I went. Go goat. I took him back to the bridge with me, after which he made short work of the ugly troll and I was free to cross in peace to the other side. Impressively this seems to be one of the more clear puzzles so far in this game. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Troll Bridge

Here’s the gnome. He wanted me to guess his name and I only have three guesses. I know as a kid when I first played the game I figured it out, or I cheated, or had a friend tell me, but for the life of me I have no clue what his name could really be. Zelda, Rumplestilskin, Dolly or Joe, none of them worked. Not that it mattered much. He dropped a golden key and that’s good enough for me, because it worked on the door I ended my last play with.

Troll Bridge

Unfortunately it also meant stairs. A little side rant here. Sierra must have loved to put stairs in their games because it was pure evil to force you walk up them; with how your little person walked it was very easy to just fall off the stairs to your death repeatedly. I still have bad memories of the winding staircases in Kings Quest 4 and the many falls, deaths and restores it required. Luckily, I think I’ve improved and only managed to fall to my death twice (once on the way up and once on the way down).

Troll Bridge

This giant is what greets me in at the top of the stairs in a nice little patch of forest in the clouds. Must suck to be cut off from everyone, carrying around a nice chest of gold, and of course whenever someone comes to visit you get so excited, run over to greet them and stomp them to death. Or at least that’s the way I figured it. Still I needed that chest and he wasn’t going to give it to me.

Troll Bridge

So after finding a sling and combining it with my sweet little handful of pebbles, I went biblical on him and found myself standing over the now dead giant and in the possession of one of the legendary treasures of Daventry! One third of my way to being king! Back down the stairs and out to the “real” world again since the clouds ended up being empty of anything else to do. Poor giant.


I found the well again, and pulling from old memories I knew I needed to do something with it but couldn’t remember. Cutting the rope? Sure I got a bucket but then I couldn’t climb down the well and I’d fall to my death. Getting in the bucket and going for a ride? Perfect. I cruised on down, got out, cut the rope and took the bucket with me. After all, if I’m sacking Daventry for the crown, I might as well go all the way.

A short swim down the well later, I ended up meeting an old friend.

I remember being stuck on this guy for ages as a kid. What to do with him. How could I beat him? I wisely stayed back from him this time around, and feeling bad about killing the giant with a rock I didn’t want to kill another beast here. So throwing my dagger was out, but then I had a nice bucket of water and after throwing it at him he ran away with his tail tucked under him and I found myself in possession of treasure number 2 – the Magic Mirror. As good enough time to stop for the day before trying to find the last of the three.

Time Played: 1:55
Deaths: 6 (wolf, stairsx2, giant, drowning, falling in a well)
Score: 88 of 158

King’s Quest 1 – Day 1

King?s Quest 1
Ahh, King’s Quest. Thanks to DOSBOX and a little bit of help from a front end (DFend) and I’m up and running with a beautiful PC speaker representation of Greensleeves. Thanks Sierra!

King?s Quest 1
So, here’s the first thing you’ll see when you start your game. That’s you, Sir Graham, in his jaunty traveling hat. You’re in the Kingdom of Daventry. Seems like a nice enough, pleasant sort of place. Nice castle, with a moat, and even alligators to help keep the peace. First things first, I wanted to go and see who was in the castle. I’m assuming it’s the King, who’s going to give me a clue as to what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s been long enough since I’ve played this game that I’m going to need all the help I can get.

King?s Quest 1
So crossing the bridge, I end up in the moat, and my first death. Probably one of many dozens that I?ll encounter along the way.

Restarting my game, I navigate across the bridge successfully this time around and I make my way into the castle and talk with the king. It seems Daventry had 3 magic items – a mirror, a shield, and a chest – that helped keep it safe and prosperous. King Edward lost them through shady deals and if I can find them I will be appointed his heir.

King?s Quest 1
Leaving the castle I wander about the countryside. I find a shack, which seems to have the kingdom?s only other human residents so far, and they are dirt poor. Just sitting at the empty table and waving their arms around madly when I talk with them. They are hungry, or so they say.

With a bit more traveling, I run into a ton of great treasure just laying about the kingdom. Graham finds an elf who just gives him a magic ring, a fairy who blesses him for being nice, a dagger, a golden egg, a four leaf clover, a carrot (maybe I should clue the woodcutter into the field of carrots behind the castle…), a bag of diamonds, and my favorite, a never-ending bowl of stew just sitting on the ground in the woods. What’s up with Daventry anyways? Why is this laying about? The king could get back to his prosperity if he just took a walk through his countryside picking up the things that must be garbage in this magical place.

Of course I run into lots of things to kill Graham as well. A witch. A wolf. A wizard. A troll blocks my way on a bridge. Graham also drowned while taking a quick dip in a lake, because I didn’t type swim fast enough. I’ve learned to travel on the edges of the screens just in case something pops up to try and kill me. That and lots and lots of saving.

King?s Quest 1
The graphics are very dated. Sometimes you wonder what you are really looking at. It’s a battle trying to find out exactly what you need to type to actually look, or take anything on a screen. Still it?s impressive when you think this is 20+ years old and state of the art at the time. Take a look at the tree above. I thought they were pine cones at first, but a simple “take nut” rewarded me with a nut. Eating it also yielded me a gold nugget as well. I’m starting to like this place. What else might be lying around once I take over?

King?s Quest 1
I took my magic bowl of stew to the woodcutter as he seemed hungry. If he couldn’t be bothered to pick a few carrots, why not bring the food to him! With some energetic arm waving, he and his wife were hungry no more and Graham was able to take their fiddle in thanks and play them a jig, and I’m also rewarded with more points!

King?s Quest 1
After a bit more exploration of the countryside, I think it’s about time to get down to figuring out how to acquire the 3 magic items. Maybe figuring out how to get into the door in the mountain would be a good first step?

Time played: 1:03 hours
Deaths: 7
Score: 51 of 158 (Sweet, almost 1/3 of the way there!)