Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 1.5: Childhood Games #GDWW

Each week, I’ll go through an exercise from Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Third Edition. Fullerton suggests treating the book less like a piece of text and more like a tool to guide you through the game design process, which is why the book is filled with so many exercises.

In the four previous exercises, I pretended to be a tester for the indie hit FTL and documented everything I experienced and did in the game, I critically analyzed a game that was “dead on arrival”, I listed and described areas of my life that could be games, and I kept a game journal.

This week, the exercise is to list 10 games you played as a child and briefly describe what made each game compelling.

Your childhood memories might provide inspiration for new game designs today. Children imagine and create games all the time.

Game lines

Freeze Tag

Tag is a very common game for children to play, but my favorite variation was freeze tag.

In regular tag, the player who is “It” tries to touch another player, transferring “It” to that player. Sometimes the “no tag-backs” rule was applied, giving the original “It” immunity until the next player is tagged. The game never ended, as there was always a new “It” and people to chase.

In freeze tag, however, the goal is for “It” to freeze all of the other players. A tagged player was frozen and had to stand in place until unfrozen by another player, usually just by touching the frozen player’s hand.

While regular tag is “every man for himself”, freeze tag encouraged everyone who wasn’t “It” to work together. The more unfrozen players running around, the less likely “It” will win. Of course, the more frozen players around, the easier it is for a player to unfreeze them. “It” had a lot of work to do, but I enjoyed the tactics that freezing and unfreezing players allowed for.

Pirate Ship

In a box of Cap’n Crunch, I once found a map.

A treasure map.

I brought it to school, and during recess, I recall holding the map out in front of me while a train of children followed behind, all of us teetering and rolling as if on a ship in search of wealth beyond our wildest dreams.

I don’t remember much to the game. We made it up as we went. We pointed out hazards on the horizon, and we searched for land. We pretended to dig on islands based on where X was on the map.

At one point we excitedly found gold. When we presented our amazing find to the teacher, she looked unamused and said flatly, “That’s not gold. That’s broken glass.”

Well, she was no fun.

Red Light Green Light

Apparently this game is called “Statues” in some places, but the idea is that one person stands across the room or field. When he or she turns around and yells “Green light!”, everyone else tries to move all the way to the other side. Every so often, the one person turns back and yells, “Red light!” and everyone must stop moving. Anyone caught moving during this time is out. Play continues until either someone makes it across or everyone is out.

I liked how it simultaneously encouraged caution and haste. If you sprinted, it’s harder to stop moving when “Red light!” is called out. If you inched forward, you’d likely never get to the other side before the other players.

And if you were “It” and calling out the light colors, it’s hard not to call red immediately after green when the nearest player is mere feet away from you. The game gets very intense, very quickly.


Kickball is like baseball, only you get a giant rubber ball. Pitching it was like bowling, and batting was like soccer.

You didn’t need to be able to throw a small baseball well or swing a bat with accuracy. It was easy for almost everyone to play.

Plus, we had the added rule that allowed you to throw the ball at someone to tag them out, so we also incorporated dodgeball into it. Of course, missing the player meant that the ball needed to be collected and thrown, allowing the runner to advance to another base more easily, so there were some exciting plays involving good dodges.


Speaking of dodgeball, I never understood why this game had such a bad rap in popular culture. I loved it.

We played a number of variations during gym class. One was similar to freeze tag in that players who were hit by the ball would have to sit down, and in order to reenter play, the player designated as “Doctor” would need to come out from the safe area known as the “Hospital” and bring the sitting player back.

However, no one can heal the doctor, who can be hit by the ball as any other player once out of the hospital area. Losing the doctor was a huge blow to the team, and it wasn’t unheard of for players to sacrifice themselves to protect such a critical resource.

Another variation had a different resource to protect: a tennis ball sitting on top of a cone. Normal dodgeball rules applied, but if your team’s tennis ball fell off the cone, your team automatically lost. Sometimes during an intense game it wouldn’t be noticed that a ball was rolled slowly towards your cone. You had to keep your eyes open.

What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?

This game was very similar to Red Light, Green Light. One person was the Fox at the front of the room, and the rest of the players were the Hens, or something like that. The hens would ask, “Mr. Fox, Mr. Fox, what time is it?” and the fox would respond with an hour, such as, “It’s 5 o’clock” or “It’s 3 o’clock.”

The hens would then take that many steps towards the fox. If it was 3 o’clock, you could take 3 steps forward.

The goal was…you know what? I don’t think we ever found out. Looking online, the goal was to cross past the fox’s location, but no self-respecting fox ever let that happen.

Because one of the responses was “It’s midnight!” and at that time, the fox could chase the hens back to their starting area. If someone is caught, then that person becomes the fox.

We had a variation we would play occasionally in which the fox converted hens to his/her side. That is, if a hen was caught, now you had two foxes to contend with at midnight, and the goal of the foxes was to convert all of the hens to foxes.

Initially the times called out allowed hens to walk nine, 10, or 11 steps, but once hens got closer to the fox, the game inched along with single steps, and everyone anticipated midnight to come at any moment.

Wall Ball

While I’m sure there were official rules to wall ball somewhere, I remember taking a small rubber ball and hitting it down into the ground towards a wall. When the ball bounced back from the wall, it was someone else’s turn to hit it. It had to bounce on the ground once before hitting the wall, and if you let it bounce before you hit it back or if your hit results in anything other than one bounce before it hits the wall, you were out. I recall getting punished by getting pelted with the ball, but I don’t remember how it was determined who did the pelting.

The rhythm of the game needed to remain unbroken: bounce, rebound, hit, repeat. You could hear it when someone messed up.

This game was a bit fuzzy in terms of who exactly was responsible for hitting the ball if you had more than two players. There were a number of times in which fingers were pointed and the debates about who was closest raged.

But the game was fast-paced, and every so often someone would make a hit that required players to scramble and dive to avoid going out.


My sister and cousins would play this made-up game of ours. In my parents’ basement in the evenings, there weren’t many windows, so if you turned off the lights, it could be very, very dark. So we basically played a game of hide-and-seek which started by turning off the lights.

Not only did people have to find a place to hide in the dark, but once the seeker finished counting, he or she had to navigate around all manner of things being stored in the basement, such as exercise equipment or laundry baskets, and try to find the other players.

What was amazing about this game was that it gave you a much larger useful play area in the same space. Why? You could hide in a place that would otherwise be incredibly obvious if the the lights were on and the seeker could see. Standing flat against the wall or even in the middle of the room were surprisingly effective.

My favorite hiding spot? Jumping up and grabbing onto the metal I-beam that crossed the ceiling, then pulling my legs up to it. So long as I didn’t breathe too loudly from the strain of hanging up there and the seeker didn’t raise his or her hands up when walking past, I couldn’t be found.

At least until the lights turned on and everyone saw me. Then the I-beam was checked regularly.

Kings vs Queens

I don’t know if this game had a different name anywhere else in the world, but we played it in gym class in elementary school.

Everyone sat on the floor in rows, which created corridors for the players to walk down. One boy and one girl each would get a bean bag to place on their heads, and they would stand at opposite corners. The gym teacher would periodically call out, “King chases Queen!” or “Queen chases King!”, and then it was like tag in which It was whoever was doing the chasing.

The trick was that if the bean bag fell off your head, you lost, and you couldn’t use your hands to keep it on. As a result, it wasn’t an incredibly fast-paced game, and as bean bags started to slip, kings and queens started walking with their heads tilted at bizarre angles.

Sometimes the gym teacher would switch who was doing the chasing right before someone was about to be caught. I noticed it seemed to happen more often whenever a girl was about to lose, or maybe I’m remembering it wrong. When a king was closing the gap, and then suddenly had to reverse course to run away from the queen, you can feel the energy in the room as everyone started cheering or jeering.

My favorite variation got the rest of the class involved. Everyone would sit in a grid with their arms out to their sides. Not only would the kings and queens change roles as chaser and chasee, but the grid would periodically switch corridors so that instead of only being able to walk through rows, you had to walk through columns instead. If queen was chasing king, and the king was safely in the next row, and the signal was given to switch from rows to columns, the king might find he is suddenly much closer to danger.

Between worrying about role changes, chasing and evading, and balancing bean bags, it was probably the most intricate game we played as children.

Heads Up Seven Up

In this game, seven players would be at the front of the classroom. Everyone else would put their heads down on their desks with a hand outstretched and a thumb sticking in the air. The seven standing players would each pick one sitting participant, pushing down the thumb to indicate that the choice has been made, and return to the front. Then “Heads up, seven up!” would be called out, and the people who had their thumbs pressed would stand. Each would then attempt to guess which of the players picked him or her. If you guessed wrong, you sat back down. If you guessed correctly, you replaced him or her at the front.

I think this was one of the first games that had us thinking about social dynamics. Was it the person you never talk to? Was it a girl or a boy? Did your best friend pick you? Did your best friend purposefully NOT pick you because you would expect that he did? Or, knowing you know that he knows that you know, he picked you?

Ostensibly, you had a one in seven chance of being right, but depending on who was up there, you had a sense that you being chosen wasn’t random, that there was some calculation involved, and so if you could reverse engineer the decision-making process, perhaps you easily identify the person who chose you and beat the odds.

Exercise Complete

Searching online, I learned that some of the games we played were unique variants, or at least not documented anywhere that I could easily find. I guess it shows how creative children can be, which is obvious to anyone who was ever given a child a giant box.

If you participated in exercise 1.5 on your own, please comment below to let me know, and if you wrote your own blog post or discuss it online, make sure to use the hashtag #GDWW.

Next week, I’m moving on to Chapter 2 and will attempt to describe two games in detail as if you haven’t heard of them before.

(Photo: Game Lines by Boris Anthony | CC-BY-2.0)

Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 1.5: Childhood Games #GDWW is a post from: GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development

Posted in game design, Game Design Workshop Wednesdays | Comments Off

Galcon 2 – beta32 – ZeroLag & Customization

Hey, got another beta ready today! Backers can get it for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. iOS build will be sent out via TestFlight shortly.

beta32 has some 50 bug fixes and improvements. Here are the highlights:

- Major optimization to the ZeroLag code, fixing the “jerky ships” on iOS and Android.

- Several UI changes: right-click sends on down (desktop), an extra finger tap in space cancels all commands (mobile). Made right-click in empty space have no effect (desktop). Improved single fleet selection.

- Major improvements to the ZeroLag code, fixing inaccurate initial fleet sizes on short attacks, also removal of wait on server confirmation for planet ownership changes (makes initial neutral attacks instantaneous.)

- Added an application system whereby people can apply to join a clan. Clan chiefs can reject or invite those players.

- Customized game wins count towards your XP in sectors. 4 player symmetrical maps are mirrored now. In-lobby indication of map size now shown with an icon.

iOS users – once a year Apple lets me reset my beta testers list. I’m completely resetting the list, so even if you have been getting betas, you need to sign up again. Please go to the forums for the details.


P.S. I’m not sure when I’m going to be online over the next day or so, but I’ll definitely be around sometimes! As always, stop by the forums and leave some feedback!

Posted in galcon2 | Tagged | Comments Off

unpretty-princess: manhatinglesbian: revolution-of-the-self: n…





Please watch the video.

I’m getting scared as fuck to be alive right now.


Don’t let it disappear. Not now, not ever.

Comments Off

Dev Diary: A look at Visual Studio 2013, Unity, and UnityVS


I’m a bitter old man

When you’ve been making stuff as long as I have you get comfortable with your tools.

I am a greased ninja with Visual Studio 2005, VisualAssist, and C++.

I’m a snail drenched in chunky peanut butter working with anything else.

But yesterday I gave Visual Studio 2013 + Unity a shot and it actually wasn’t half bad, so here are my tips if that’s something you’re interested in.  Beats MonoDevelop by a mile as far as I can tell.

My tips for people upgrading from old VS versions:

  • First I downloaded Visual Studio 2013.   I guess it’s “Ultimate” and free for 90 days?  Fine.  After that we’ll see, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to cough up $13,299 for Ultimate!
  • Set keys to the included VS 2005 layout.  Changed it so F7 will compile all.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Enabled Options->Environment->Tabs and Windows->Floating tab wells always stay on top of the main window.  Without this I found VS 2013 totally unusable.
  • Turned off the silly all upper case menu fonts
  • Installed Productivity Power Tools 2013 (adds some stuff to make the IDE smarter, sort of like VisualAssist?)
  • Oh God, what are these vertical lines connecting every matching brace?!  Disabled that, FAST.
  • Stopped it from showing “References”
  • Turned off its funky new scroll bars, but ended up turning them on again, gotta see how that feels, they do have some interesting data
  • Installed UnityVS (MS did something very smart, they bought it and made it free)
  • Imported the “Visual Studio 2013 Tools.unitypackage” into a simple Unity project (this file gets installed by UnityVS  into C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Unity\2013 or something, have to dig for it)
  • Inside Unity I double clicked a source code file and viola, it did load the project in VS 2013!  It wouldn’t start the Unity project when I hit F5, but it did connect to the process, so after manually starting the game in Unity it did perform debugging fine.  I think Visual Studio has THE BEST debugger around so this should come in handy.  Er, I mean, I’m guessing, since my code never has bugs of course. <awkward silence and then someone coughs in the back>
  • When you hit a breakpoint, the Unity editor side seems to completely freeze until you hit Resume, too bad, seems like it would be useful to tool around in there and look at objects during debugging.
  • Anyway, everything works and doesn’t feel half bad.  So far.  I assume the crashing,  freezing, and constant reboots that also plagued my experience with MonoDevelop/Unity will start soon though.

Anyway, here’s a picture of what debugging looks like.  I think it would be handy to be able to write non-Unity specific C# code and simultaneously have Unity and non-Unity VS projects open using it, maybe C++ as well as I still like that for my server backend code.  (See my Space Taxi Multiplayer test)  (Uhh, ignore that code in the screenshot, it’s uh, an exercise for the reader to figure out how to make that less stupid looking and redundant)



Posted in Development/RTsoft, Tech Tips, unity | Comments Off

My ducks is so awesome

My ducks is so awesome

Comments Off

10 years in games. Sorry for all the ads.

10 years in games. Sorry for all the ads.:


It suddenly occurred to me that it has been more than 10 years since I have been working in the games industry, not counting the years I spent making mods in such games as Marathon and Myth where I met cool people like Max Hoberman and Chris Butcher and even dabbled in early esports as a…

Comments Off

t0rn3ss: kryptaria: treblemirinlens: BLESS MARVEL, they’ve…




BLESS MARVEL, they’ve officially released this in HD

I think most everyone on my dash could use happy dancing Groot today <3

I still need to see this. Damn these deadlines!

This may be my favorite mid-credits scene yet.

Comments Off

Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 1.4: Game Journal #GDWW

Each week, I’ll go through an exercise from Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Third Edition. Fullerton suggests treating the book less like a piece of text and more like a tool to guide you through the game design process, which is why the book is filled with so many exercises.

So far, I pretended to be a tester for the indie hit FTL and documented everything I experienced and did in the game, I critically analyzed a game that was “dead on arrival”, and last week I listed and described areas of my life that could be games. For this week’s exercise, I had some homework to do: keep a game journal.

This exercise comes from a section about becoming a better player. Fullerton argues that, much as an artist learns about drawing by learning about what makes for a good visual composition, a game designer learns about games by learning what makes for good game play.

In keeping a game journal, I’ll have a log of games I have played, as well as a deep analysis of specific experiences and how the mechanics of the game allowed for them.

One challenge I had with this experience is that I found I didn’t have anything to log each day. I don’t play games often enough, it seems, and I’m always surprised to read about indie game developers with day jobs who make time to not only play games but finish them. How are they not struggling with the choice of playing games as opposed to making them?

But I’m not completely isolated from games.

4-Point Pitch

This past weekend I went to visit my wife’s grandmother, who is a really good 4-Point Pitch player. Pitch is a trick-taking card game, and it turns out that there are many variations. I can’t seem to find the specific variation my in-laws play, so I’ll try to describe it here. The game is played with a standard 52-card deck with the 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s removed. There are a few variations depending on how many players you have. We played with four players, which means we split into two teams of a pair of partners. My wife was on my team, and my sister-in-law played on her grandmother’s team.

The goal of a round of pitch is to win your bid. Bids aren’t based on the number of tricks, but on four criteria: High, Low, Jack, and Game. High is when you win the highest card in the trump suit. Low is for playing the lowest, which means you can still get it even if you don’t win it in a trick. Jack is winning the Jack of of the trump suit. Game is for ending the round with more points from the tricks you took, and points are assigned as follows:

  • A: 4
  • K: 3
  • Q: 2
  • J: 1
  • 10: 10

No other cards count towards game.

For a given round, there are up to four points your team can earn; however, since there are six cards in a hand, with four players, it means only 24 cards are dealt, leaving 12 cards no one knows aren’t in play. While there will always be a highest, lowest, and most points taken in a trick, there might not always be a jack in the trump suit dealt. Bidding four is a rare enough occurrence in a six-player version of the game in which all of the cards are dealt, but it almost never happens in the four-player variant.

Typically, a safe bid is made when your hand has enough cards in one suit that guarantee you’ll win. For instance, having the Ace and 2 of hearts, you know you’ll have High and Low, so you might bid two.

If you have the Jack and 10 of spades, however, you might not want to bid. Why? If you throw the Jack out, someone else might have the Ace, King, or Queen of spades and take the trick, and if it isn’t your partner, you’ve just lost a point, and possibly two or three if the other team played the highest and lowest spades. If you play the 10, and your partner can’t win the trick, you’ve just given a huge advantage to your opponents for winning Game this round. It’s probably safer to pass on bidding with these cards.

Most of my wife’s family seems to play fairly conservatively. My wife’s grandmother likes playing with me, however, as I make riskier bids to make the game interesting. I’m told that when her husband was alive that he would make four bids consistently with the most surprising hands.

As I said, there are 12 cards not dealt in a 4-player game. You might want to think about the odds that anyone else has the cards to beat yours, much as I did in one round.

I had three hearts: a Queen, a 9, and an 8. Normally, this is not a strong hand. There are potentially two higher cards than my Queen, and there are potentially two lower cards than my 8. What’s more, there are four cards that can beat my 9 that I don’t have, and if my 8 isn’t Low, they can beat that card, too.

And yet, I bid two. And since no one bid three, I won the bid, which means I get to play the first card, which indicates which suit is trump for this hand.

I played my Queen, and my partner played her Ace, which means we won the trick and have High. Later, I played my 9 to win a trick that was going in favor of our opponents in an off-suit, which allowed me to play my 8. Once again, my partner had the better card in a 2, and we made our bid. In fact, we also won Game as we took enough tricks to have more than enough points.

It was at the end of the round in which it was noticed that I bid two on such a terrible collection of cards. My wife pointed out that we were lucky she had the Ace and 2, although I was quick to point out that if she didn’t have those cards, our opponents did not have anything to beat the cards in my hand so we would have won anyway.

And this is how it goes for me when I play Pitch with my in-laws. I make risky bids, and while sometimes they go badly, often I’m able to pull it off, and yet I still get scolded for it. B-)

I get scolded because of those incredibly rare (My wife: “Hah!”) times when I don’t make my bid. In this same game, I bid three on a Jack, 10, and 7. As I mentioned above, the Jack is at risk here because someone else might have a higher card and win the trick I play it in. I played the 7 first, and luckily, it was Low. However, the rest of the round went badly for our team as it turned out that our opponents had better trump cards. I knew it was a risk, yet I bid anyway because I thought there was a chance I could pull it off since the big unknown was if anyone else had the cards to beat my hand. Sometimes there are no Aces, but to have no Aces, Kings, and Queens in play of a particular suit is a bit more unlikely.

The thing about this game that always intrigued me was that there were multiple ways to earn a point. While High and Jack can be treated similarly in that you win the hand the appropriate cards are played in, and Game requires counting points in the tricks you won in the round, Low is different. You win Low by merely having the lowest trump card in your hand. You don’t need to win the trick you play it in.

Why was it designed in this way?

In my research, I learned that I’ve been thinking about it the wrong way. You always win the hand when you play the high card, but that fact is incidental. The real way to get High is merely playing the highest value trump card, much like getting Low is done by playing the lowest value trump card. There’s symmetry there that I didn’t recognize before.

I’ve seen variations of Pitch in which the way to get High and Low is to win the trick that has those cards played. I haven’t played it that way, but it seems to me that it would change how often Low would be won by the team that played it since it isn’t a guaranteed point anymore. Someone on the other team might take it if they have a higher trump card.

Instead of getting Low based on the luck of the draw, you would need skill as Low is nothing more than yet another card that happens to be in the trump suit. This change has the benefit of making the rules easier to remember for a new player, yet tilts the odds in favor of veteran players.


My wife’s grandmother lives in a small town, with a population of 60. At its peak it had 220 residents in 1910. It has a rich history, including the fact that Bonnie and Clyde came through and robbed a few of the buildings back in the 1930s.

This weekend, there was an annual town reunion, and attendees were able to participate in a slow-pitch baseball game in the park between the soy beans, the corn field, and the railroad tracks. The teams were a mix of grown-ups and children, and there were way more than 9 players on the field at any given time. It was a friendly game with the goal of having fun as opposed to winning (yes, my team lost).

I don’t think I’ve played baseball since Little League, but I picked up a glove and ran out to center field, and as soon as the first ball was hit, I realized that I still remembered what to do.

Knierim Baseball

Even if the ball is going out to left field, I ran in that direction to support the fielder there. If he or she dropped a fly ball, I could immediately pick it up and throw it in, which reduces the time to threaten the runners with getting tagged out. A few seconds can make a huge difference.

Depending on the skill of the batter, the fielders would move in or out. While I get why it makes sense tactically, I always felt bad about doing so. Imagine being the kid batting after the power hitter and seeing all these fielders walking towards you, knowing that they think you can’t hit the ball very well. That’s not great for their confidence.

When the ball did come to me out in center field, I had to throw it towards the infield, but to whom? 2nd base was usually a good bet, as it would prevent the batter from attempting to run there, but what if someone is running for third? And if someone is running home, you better have a good arm to get it there, and I…I do not. So my default was to throw to 2nd base, or to shortstop if the fielder came out to help relay the passes.

But as I said, it was a game for mixed ages, and the rules and winning weren’t everything. I wasn’t the only center fielder, and if a young child got to the ball first, I resisted asking for it despite the fact that I would throw it much faster. This is his or her moment of glory on the field, after all, and whether the child threw the ball or ran it allllll the way to the infield, there was the delight they had for participating that you didn’t want to take away. And the parents and grandparents in attendance got a thrill, too.

I think a favorite moment for many people there was the very small child who ran the bases in a creative way, managing to run from 1st to 2nd to home, despite the existence of a runner standing on third. I’m sure we could have enforced the rules there, but you try telling that kid he didn’t actually score a homerun off of his 8th swing which barely touch the ball.

Speaking of running, when I hit the ball, I remembered the coaching I received as a child: run all out to first base, run through first base, and turn right if you don’t plan to run to second. In baseball, you can run through 1st base and still be considered safe because…well, I never looked into it, but it’s special. If you turn left, however, it means intent to run to second base, and you can be tagged out in that case, but turning right means you are staying at 1st and just need to slow down.

It’s an interesting rule, because running through first means you get to run at full speed all the way to the base. If you had to stay on the base in order to be safe, it would mean needing to slow down somehow, which makes it easier for the fielders to get the ball to first to tag the base and force you out. It also reduces the risk of injury, as being able to run in a consistent manner seems safer than running all out, then trying to stop on a dime.

Exercise Complete

Despite not playing many games, I was able to journal a bit about the few I did play. In one game, I finally had an excuse to look into a rule that interested me for some time, and in another rules were broken in the interest of having fun.

I’ll continue the game play journal as it definitely seems like a good idea for me to practice identifying what mechanics seem to help or hinder the player’s experience.

If you participated in exercise 1.4 on your own, please comment below to let me know, and if you wrote your own blog post or discuss it online, make sure to use the hashtag #GDWW.

Next week, I’ll describe 10 compelling aspects of childhood games I remember playing.

Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 1.4: Game Journal #GDWW is a post from: GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development

Posted in game design, Game Design Workshop Wednesdays | Comments Off



Comments Off


Comments Off

Galcon 2 – beta31 – Custom Servers

I’ve got a new build out today. Backers can get it for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. iOS builds will be sent out via TestFlight shortly.

There were over 50 changes this time. Here are a few major updates:

- Added sector customization feature for admins. Including symmetrical maps for free-for-all games.
- Added support for different sized games. In settings you can chose to join “standard” or “phone” sized games.
- Added ability for players to create custom games and be an admin of their own server (no tournament required.)

Check out this custom 200 planet map!

On the minor side of things, I fixed a ton of minor bugs and minor UI tweaks and improvements. Some notable ones are:

- UI changes to prevent accidentally double-tap-select-all from happening.
- Properly pausing the audio when the music is muted which saves 10-20% energy on mobile devices.
- Overhaul of team auto-balancing.
- Post game stats page showing the winners.

Check it out! I’ll be online for a bit if anyone wants to play / chat about Galcon 2.


Posted in galcon2 | Comments Off

New blog by Alan Hazelden

Writing about web page

After a hiatus of several years, I’ve started blogging again. I don’t think anyone was exactly waiting with bated breath, but if you somehow stumbled across this page you probably want to go here instead:

Comments Off

Filling in US tax form W-8BEN-E for UK limited companies by Alan Hazelden

Writing about web page

I don’t use this blog any more, but back in the day it used to have pretty good Google page rankings, so I figure I should link to this article I just wrote about filling in US tax from W-8BEN-E if you’re a UK limited company.

Comments Off

I have no idea why my brain makes these things… But for…

I have no idea why my brain makes these things… But for some reason I was really bothered I hadn’t used a drawing app on my phone… I blame Snapchat

Comments Off

itsmyfreakin: [Aurins] react strongly to caffeine. The already…


[Aurins] react strongly to caffeine. The already hyperactive and chipper Aurin will become a supersonic dynamo, running around full-tilt for what seems like forever after having just one cup of a drink such as coffee.
-Wildstar Wiki

My new headcanon is that chocolate is a favorite snack among aurins, due to it being both delicious and slightly caffeinated.

I also couldn’t decide whether I liked blue or pink hair on this design more, SO I MADE BOTH.

If you’re interested, these are available as stickers or t-shirts at my redbubble store!  Click here for pink and click here for blue.

Chocolate! It makes even more sense now!

Comments Off

Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 1.3: Your Life as a Game #GDWW

Each week, I’ll go through an exercise from Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Third Edition. Fullerton suggests treating the book less like a piece of text and more like a tool to guide you through the game design process, which is why the book is filled with so many exercises.

In the last two weeks, I pretended to be a tester for the indie hit FTL and documented everything I experienced and did in the game, then I critically analyzed a game that was “dead on arrival”. Today’s exercise in the Game Design Workshop Wednesday series asks me to list and describe areas of my life that could be games.

Many creative individuals will give the advice that you need to learn to take inspiration from everywhere to create great works, and the making of games is no exception.

I remember hearing that Shigeru Miyamoto created The Legend of Zelda inspired partly by his childhood exploration of the hills and forests near his home. Will Wright talked about his Montessori-based education as an inspiration for the digital toys he creates. Colossal Cave Adventure was partly based on Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave system.

Fullerton asks you to look for the underlying systems, goals, and obstacles that exist in the world. Inspiration can come from other games, but you’re less likely to design a clone if you look elsewhere.

I thought about a number of areas of my life for this exercise. Some seemed too easy, such as the idea that taking care of my cats is like a virtual pet simulator…only real. I noticed a number of areas seemed to make use of the same resources, namely time and money, so in a way, life itself was a game of resource management and goals, with goal-setting being one of the activities you can participate in, and it became quite meta.

Sierra Road


Like many people, I want to be healthy. For me, it means more than dropping a few pounds and wearing my belt a little tighter, although weight is a very easy metric to track. I do have a goal weight, which is 20 lbs less than I started the year with.

We’re now halfway through 2014, so how am I doing with this goal? I’ve lost about 5 lbs. I haven’t been paying too much attention to this goal, clearly, but what’s the game here? You know, besides Fitocracy.

Let’s look at the components of weight. Obviously you aren’t just weighing your muscles and fat, as your body is made up of blood, water, bones, and other things that you aren’t trying to change when you talk about weight loss. Dehydrating yourself to have the bathroom scale indicate you weigh a few pounds less isn’t healthy or desirable.

The components you want to change are muscle mass and body fat.

Without going into too much detail about the different kinds of fat and how some fat is beneficial, when it comes to weight loss, people generally want to lose fat.

What is fat? It’s stored energy. It provides insulation and protection, and there is research that indicates it helps with a healthy immune system. Still, losing some of it isn’t a problem for most people.

Muscle, on the other hand, isn’t something you want to lose. Your muscles are what you use to move, and moving uses energy. If you are trying to lose weight, your movements will result in your fat stores getting used up while you maintain your muscle mass.

Occasionally I’ll run across the fact that about 3,500 calories are stored in a pound of fat. In order to lose it, you need to consume 3,500 calories less than your body needs, or you need to exercise and use up 3,500 calories.

So, if weight loss was a game, the goal is to reduce the amount of fat calories stored in your body.

The rules are that eating less means fat gets used up by your body to make up for the caloric deficit, and exercising more burns up more fat.

So we have a goal, and we have some rules. What’s the challenge?

The challenge is that the rules aren’t that simple. It’s not just a simple matter of “calories in and calories out.”

If you starve yourself, your body responds by storing more fat. Oops.

And if you exercise the wrong way, your body ends up losing not just fat but also your muscles, which makes you less effective at burning calories. Oops again.

Neither option is very healthy in the long run. So you need to eat well, and you need to exercise safely. The former requires you to learn how to make a habit out of cooking healthy and nutritious meals, and the latter requires a time investment.

And both require discipline. If you have a day job like mine, you are probably familiar with the challenge of resisting the free donuts or pizza brought in for meetings. Each day feels like a challenge to remember that as good as the junk food might smell and taste, I don’t want to add the extra empty calories to increase the difficulty of being healthier.

And making time for a walk, let alone weight training or biking, similarly requires a routine that you set and follow, which can be hard if you don’t have a routine already and live in a town which has multiple locations where the sidewalk ends, almost discouraging your efforts.

Other challenges? The weather might impact your motivation to exercise. You might eat to make you feel better if your mood is down. You might drink a lot of juice or soft drinks or beer, all of which contribute plenty of calories to your diet without you realizing it. Healthy foods take more time to prepare and cost more money than chips and pre-packaged, pre-processed food. You might get hurt or sick, making exercise counter-productive.

Ultimately, weight loss shouldn’t be the real goal. Being healthy should be, and it’s not something you can diet your way to temporarily. It requires a lifestyle change.


I love learning new things. The more you know, the more capable you are to handle a situation. Years ago, I learned how to boil water without hurting myself. Today, that knowledge enables me to create a pasta dinner for my lovely wife. It also allows for steamed vegetables, cooked rice, hardboiled eggs, and more. My cooking abilities expanded greatly from making nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and pouring myself a bowl of cereal when I learned how to boil water on the stove.

Being more capable is the goal, but what does it take? Just as Fullerton advises you to practice making games to learn how to be a game designer, any new learning requires the application of the new knowledge in order for you to really know it. It’s why you had homework in school.

Practice requires an investment of time, and it might even require money. Whether you teach yourself from a book or by taking formal classes, it requires time to be set aside for the practice.

Most people dance by figuring it out on their own, and for the most part, it’s passable for the occasional wedding reception or flailing about at a club.

My wife and I took dancing lessons, and it turns out that there is a lot more to dancing than shifting your feet from side to side and turning in some random direction once in awhile. How you hold your partner, how you signal which way to turn using slight pressure of your hands and arms, and how you step all need to be coordinated to dance well.

It took a few weeks of dance lessons, but we increased our stats in Coordination and Dexterity. We’re not world class dancers, but I remember receiving the compliment on our wedding day that our first dance looked very elegant. Success!

Practice also requires discipline and conscious effort. When learning a new skill, you will mess up. Rather than see it as a frustration, see it as part of the learning experience. If you’re learning how to juggle, you’re going to drop a ball. If you’re learning how to draw, your circles will come out misshapen. If you’re learning how to make games, you’re going to add a mechanic that makes playing worse. I’m pretty sure I tripped my wife more than once when we were learning how to dance, but you know what? We still got married and still danced. B-)

After practicing for awhile, the skill becomes part of your repertoire. You no longer need to look up when to add a semicolon to the end of a line of code or how to draw a person’s head so that it is in proportion to his/her body. Whereas learning to a ride a bike meant thinking about the mechanics of riding a bike at first, you now know how to do so without being conscious about balancing yourself anymore.

And the nature of learning a little is that you are now at the point where you can learn a little more. Learning to program a computer leads you to learning how to design software which leads to learning how to architect an entire system of software components.

Incremental improvement in your knowledge and skills opens up possibilities in your life. It’s why education and finishing school is so highly emphasized for troubled youth.

Home Ownership

Last year, my wife and I bought a house. For the first time, we’re living in a building with no one else. Yes, that means playing music as loud as we want, but it also means we’re responsible for all of the maintenance.

One of the goals of having a house is being comfortable living there, which means cleaning regularly and taking care of it. Everything goes to entropy, and you need to make an effort to fight it.

With a house comes a lawn, and growing grass requires mowing. Otherwise, you risk being embarrassed by being “those” neighbors. You can’t control when it rains, but when it does, you need to mow more often. If you don’t want to spend time mowing, you need to pay someone else to do it for you. There’s only so long you can pretend that you’re encouraging the wild grasses of the plains to grow before you need to cut it back. And don’t forget about raking leaves in the fall.

Things break. Spackle and paint can fix minor holes in walls. The flushing mechanism in toilets might malfunction and need to be replaced. Cupboard door handles might need their screws tightened.

Once again, I find my tools are time, money, and effort. Weekends used to be for relaxing from a workweek. Now weekends are seen as big blocks of time used to install closet doors or deal with weeds in the yard. Sometimes bigger jobs demand expertise from paid professionals, and sometimes you just need some elbow grease.

And sometimes the bigger challenge is to remember to make time to enjoy the house rather than see it as nothing but a source of unending work. B-)

Wealth Accumulation

There’s a difference between wealth and income. Someone making $40,000/year can become a millionaire over a lifetime, while someone making $200,000/year can live paycheck to paycheck. The difference is in the expenses. As described in The Millionaire Next Door, the wealthy tend to be people who live below their means, who prefer financial independence to living a lavish lifestyle. They get used cars rather than new ones, have household budgets, and clip coupons. They don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. They don’t look like what people think millionaires should look like.

My parents opened a savings account for me when I was very young, and ever since I’ve been a saver. I’ve since read books such as The Richest Man in Babylon that indicate people should save at least 10% of their income, and I’ve found that my parents already gave me the lesson.

Also, don’t put your savings in a so-called “rainy day fund” because one day it will rain. This 10% should go into savings that for the most part you never touch.

With savings account interest rates so low these days, however, your investments should probably be in something with a potentially greater return. Of course, such investments tend to have requirements that you don’t touch the money for a period of time, such as a 5-year Certificate of Deposit, although you shouldn’t touch that money anyway so there’s no problem with the lack of liquidity.

The key is to spend less than you earn, then invest some of your earnings somewhere. Starting earlier rather than later is better because of compound interest. If you invest for 10 years and stop, leaving the investment to sit, and someone else starts investing the day you stopped and continues to invest for 20 years, you’ll have dramatically more in your investment than the other person.

While there are various things that can happen to adversely affect your process, such as a housing bubble burst, a medical crisis, or a lost job, the rules of wealth are simple: over the long term, save some of your earnings, and spend less than you earn.

Winning the wealth accumulation game? That’s a personal question, but not worrying and stressing about money seems like winning to me.

Game Development

I have a day job these days, one in which I don’t do game development.

My game development business ends up being very part-time as a result, which means a lot less time to do the things a business needs to do to be successful: business planning, market research, and of course, product development.

I realized this year that I haven’t been doing much active game development as I’ve been spending most of the little time spent on my business working on exploring the market for educational games. Since I don’t have a lot of time to spend on market research, it is taking me longer than I would like.

But I don’t want to ignore game development, so I started focusing on doing at least 20 minutes a day. If I sit down and work for at least 20 minutes on game development, whether it is designing or programming, I put a little ‘X’ on that day on my wall calendar.

The idea is to keep a chain of these days going for as long as I can without breaking it. If I break it, I start over again and see if I can keep the chain going longer this time.

I learned this game from Bob Nystrom’s article about what it took to write his Game Programming Patterns book, which he learned from an article about Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity.

Sometimes I’m able to dedicate way more than 20 minutes, but I should always be able to make time for at least 20 minutes.

I started in early July and broke the chain after only one day. That’s not a chain, that’s a link.

But the next day I started a new chain that broke after three days. Still not great, but better.

Then I had one chain going for 13 days. Much better.

And now I’m in the middle of a chain going for nine days, and I want to keep it going. Can I get two weeks worth of days? A month’s worth? A year’s worth?

What’s more, even with just 20 minutes of game development, I’m seeing some progress on my toy project on the side, plus I’m able to dedicate time to writing blog posts such as this one and doing market research.

Exercise Complete

These examples might not seem like games on the surface, but they all have rules and constraints, with interconnected relationships between various components. Identifying this structure was good practice for game design, but it also helped me see that game design inspiration might come from anywhere.

If you participated in exercise 1.3 on your own, please comment below to let me know, and if you wrote your own blog post or discuss it online, make sure to use the hashtag #GDWW.

Next week, I’ll report on my daily game journal.

(Photo: Sierra Road | CC-BY-2.0)

Game Design Workshop Wednesday Exercise 1.3: Your Life as a Game #GDWW is a post from: GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development

Posted in game design, Game Design Workshop Wednesdays | Comments Off

wildstaronline: zeppelis submitted: ”she’s not even a…


 submitted: "she’s not even a masochist, she’s just stupid : ) someone please stop lorelei

check out my wildstar blog for more about her!”

Kym Flammable maaaaay do this, air brakes for the win.

Comments Off

awkwardtimezone: Meet the Mordesh.


Meet the Mordesh.

Comments Off

wildstarblog: researcher extraordinaire


researcher extraordinaire

Comments Off


Comments Off