Sunday, December 14, 2014

Frog Adventure

New game! Give it a play over hereIt's a short platformer that I've worked on and off on for the past few months. There're a lot of little touches and neat mechanics in it that I'm proud of, and it feels like a natural evolution of the ideas in Ants: A Love Story and Operation K.A.T.B.

I feel like I'm getting better at making these short, design-focused games. It's like I'm engaging with all of the design stuff anna anthropy writes about, and I frequently found myself comparing Frog Adventure to her smaller, more mechanic-y games while making it. The design textbook she wrote with Naomi Clark influenced me a lot, and I'm thinking more about what I want to accomplish with my games as tiny little works of art.

Frog Adventure was also heavily influenced by Rhete's first game, The Adventures of MikeMan 2. I think that game is worth a play, as well as his fantastic later work like Super Xalaxer and Hunters: Relic of the Stars.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Operation K.A.T.B.

Me and my friend Polly teamed up to do a game for Ruin Jam! It's a sorta-DOS-y 2D platformer about exploring a planet to find your lost crew, with a satirical edge befitting the Jam's theme. We spent about two weeks on it, and I think it turned out really well!

I did most of the code work since I have a lot of experience with that sort of thing, but the main idea, the structure, the art, and a lot of the level designs were all Polly's. I had an absolute blast working on it, and I hope to do more co-op projects in the future, with Polly and with other artists.

You can play it for free over on my games page or at Give it a look! (Also maybe take a look at the other Ruin Jam games!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

ANTS: A Love Story

I made a new game for the Ludum Dare 30 three day jam, and this time I actually finished it on time! It's a really cute, small-scale block pushing game with a deliberately tiny verb-set and pleasantly lax difficulty. It shouldn't take too long to play through (maybe five or ten minutes), although there is a "high score" of sorts that can be improved with more efficient play. 

Give it a look over on its Ludum Dare page, and I hope you like it!

Friday, August 22, 2014


There's a huge upswell of positivity on Twitter right now in #welovegamedevs, so I'm gonna take some time to name some of the developers (and a few of the critics) whose work and presence I'm especially thankful for. 

Before we start, note that this list is not exhaustive! There are many, many more amazing people fighting back against all of the horrible toxic evil bullshit in this culture and creating beautiful experiences. The best thing we can do is express these sorts of sentiments all the time. So maybe next time you find a cool game on or GameJolt and really enjoy it, take some time to send a nice note to the person who made it. It really does make a difference!

So! Thanks to anna anthropy, for changing the way I appreciate video games with Rise of the Videogame ZinestersZZT, and A Game Design Vocabulary. (The last one was co-written by Naomi Clark, so thanks to her too.) Your games have made me smile, better understand my kinks, and be a better human being. Thanks for pointing me at a ton of amazing games with your criticism, and thanks for maintaining Annarchive and preserving this medium’s history.

Thanks to merritt kopas, for literally every single game you've ever made, because I love all of them. Thanks for Forest Ambassador, my favorite games curation page on the web. Seeing me and my fiancée’s game there was a tremendous honor.

Thanks to Jesse Venbrux, for helping me realize that individual human beings could make video games. He was the first auteur I paid attention too, and after playing Karoshi 2.0 when I was 14 I went out of my way to find everything he’d ever released. It made me more sensitive to the way people can use games to express their own unique voice. I have a feeling a lot of people figured this out with Seiklus, so thanks to Clysm too.

Thanks to Stephen Lavelle for crafting literally hundreds of perplexing, profound experiences.

Thanks to Mark Overmars for developing Game Maker, the software I’ve used to make games since I was twelve years old. It really is a great program, and I’m content to use it it for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to Liz Ryerson, for making great art. Everything you touch -- music, games, blog posts, let's play videos, glitch art -- is imbued with tremendous compassion and honesty.

Thanks to Amy Dentata for your fearless and transgressive game design. Thanks for having a nice chat with me on Twitter about how many indie games end with the protagonist jumping to their death. Thanks for Rock Bottom, the ultimate indie game about the protagonist jumping to their death.

Thanks to Aevee Bee for your amazing criticism. ZEAL is so damned incredible and important, and I’m honored to have been a part of it. Thanks to Arden for making Kindness Coins, and thanks in advance for Date or Die. And thanks to both of you for being so cool and fun to talk to on our panel for IndiE3. I feel like we could’ve chatted for ten times as long and not run out of interesting things to talk about.

Thanks to Christine Love for one of the best Twitter feeds out there. It’s actually appalling that I haven’t played any of your games yet, and I intend to rectify that before too long.

Thanks to Nina Freeman for making cute, human works of art. How do you do It and Ladylike are especially wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what else you make in the future.

Thanks to Daniel Remar, mostly for Hero Core. God I fucking love Hero Core.

Thanks to Loren Schmidt for making one of my favorite platformers ever, Star Guard. Thanks for all of your other work too!

Thanks to Eva Problems for making Sabbat, which is literally a masterpiece and all of you should buy it right now. Her Symphony of the Night fan story for ZEAL is transcendent.

Thanks to Nicklas Nygren for the dozens and dozens of wonderful Knytt Stories I’ve played over the years. He made a tool that gave people a voice, and that’s the most valuable thing in the world.

Thanks to Andi McClure for making so many weird and beautiful experiences. 

Thanks to Michael Brough for being the best game designer in the world.

Thanks to Leon Arnott for your work on Twine, because Twine is so damned important and everyone involved in its upkeep is giving so much to the medium. (Also thanks for making Tiny Sorceress, one of the funniest games I've ever played.)

Thanks to Paul Hack for letting me know what it feels like to have my game covered by the press. I literally ran around in circles in my front yard shouting in celebration when I saw Quarantine on the front page of, so rest assured it was very meaningful to me.

Thanks to TheCatamites for making ten million billion cool, weird games. I still remember how humbled and honored I felt seeing Quarantine on a list of recommended freeware games alongside Lake of Roaches.

Thanks to EJRTairne for all of the fantastic chats on Twitter, for writing some truly wonderful criticism over the years, for making Builder, and for pointing me at some really great games!

Thanks to RhetePolly, and Frezno for being my friends.

Thanks to Jake CloverHubolAaron SteedIan Snyder, and Noyb.

Thanks to Shigeru Miyamoto, Reiko Kodama, Keiji Inafune, Yuji Horii, Yasumi Matsuno, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Nobuya Nakazato, Yoshinori Kitase, Daisuke Amaya, KIKIYAMA, and Gunpei Yokoi.

Thanks to my fiancée Anna Aulino, love of my life and game designer extraordinaire.

Thanks to all of the game developers, and all of the players and critics who support them. Thanks to everyone working to make this medium worthwhile, even when every facet of this toxic industry is designed to reject them.

Thanks to all of the people carving out a space in this wasteland and making it their own.

And, obviously, thanks to Zoe Quinn.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

General Update! (IndiE3 Panel, IGDA Article, Let's Play Videos)

Here's an update on some of the stuff I've been up to as of late!

I'm getting married! That's pretty fantastic!

Secondly, Dance Party, the game I made with my bride-to-be, got featured on Forest Ambassador, one of my favorite game curation sites (updated by one of my favorite game designers, merritt kopas.)

Third! I participated in the Effective Drama in Video Games Panel for IndiE3 with Aevee Bee and Arden. It went exceedingly well, and I'm very happy to have gotten the chance to talk about video games with some really smart people! Later on I got the chance to write up a summary of the panel for the IGDA newsletter, which you can read here

And lastly, I took part in a Let's Play competition for the Sliders 'n Socks web forum. I wound up recording four Let's Plays that I'm really proud of:
  • All five of Matt Aldrige's La La Land games, a collection of surreal fever-dream fables.
  • Amy Dentata's apocalyptic and uncomfortably mundane A Night in the Woods.
  • Rhete's arcade opus Super Xalaxer.
  • And my favorite game (and video) of the bunch, Liz Ryerson's immaculate, agonizing Problem Attic. (Content note: this one goes to some pretty dark places, since the game deals in part with sexual assault and I try to engage with it frankly.)

As for the competition, I got second-to-last place, and I'm not at all bitter about it thanks for asking. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

IndiE3 Week and anna anthropy's emotica

It's Monday (sort of) which means it's officially IndiE3 week! This new event, seemingly brought into existence by sheer force of will by TronMaximum, promises to highlight over a hundred interesting new indie games and host over thirty panels by a variety of distinguished game designers and critics. Check out the full schedule! I've even got a panel in the works myself for Wednesday night at 9PM, cohosted by Aevee Bee and General Ironicus. Be there or be square!

Anyway, as a way to celebrate this whole enterprise, I want to make a point to celebrate some free indie games I really, really like this week. I'll be posting a new one each day during IndiE3, so be sure to check in if you're looking for some rad games to play.

Entry number one: anna anthropy's emotica. It's framed as a modern play on ZZT (the subject of her new book), with emoji instead of ASCII art. There's no goal; all you're meant to do is walk around and enjoy a lovingly crafted world. There are gnomes, demons, casinos, petting zoos, mushrooms, secret castle torture chambers, art galleries, and all sorts of other delightful sights, all rendered purely in emoji. It looks really nice, and the attention to sound is excellent as well. It's a very happy game, and that's something that's especially pleasant to see during E3's endless coverage of morose manshooters.

This game is also special to me because it's what inspired me to get off my butt and finish the dance game I've been working on and off on with my girlfriend since January. I'm extremely happy with the final result, and in a way I have emotica to thank.

You can give emotica a play right over here. While you're at it, why not pick up her new book? I haven't picked up my copy yet, but if her other work (Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, Star Wench) is any indication, you're in for a wonderful time.

John and Anna are having a DANCE PARTY and it's pretty fun I guess??

The love of my life and I just finished putting together a new game for all of you! It's sort of the best thing I've ever worked on ever? Give it a play!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nintendo Project Resumed - Mega Man 2

I wrote another guest piece! This one's on Mega Man 2, and it's hosted by Nintendo Project Resumed. It's sort of a companion piece to my Fugitive article for ZEAL, and I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

You can read my piece here.

Nintendo Project Resumed is a blog series by my internet buddy Frezno, and it's a followup to Phil Sandifer's The Nintendo Project. Both are devoted to playing and writing up every game for the original NES.

My article is part of a series on the original three Mega Man games. The first was written by Frezno, the second by me, and the third which has yet to be posted is by Phil Sandifer himself! It's really cool to be in the company of such talent, and I hope to work more with Frezno in the future.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I wanna be the very best

Crono Maniac: Hey!
Crono Maniac: Ya got a minute?
Rhete: sure
Crono Maniac: Alright, lemme paint a picture for ya
Crono Maniac: Anna's at the Elite Four
Crono Maniac: She's got a mid 50s Blastoise and a mid 50s Pidgeot
Rhete: hope you have ice moves for lance
Crono Maniac: She has a level 48 Pikachu
Crono Maniac: (No ice moves)
Rhete: GG
Crono Maniac: She has a level 45 Dragonair
Crono Maniac: She has a severely underleveled Growlithe and Marowak that she doesn't expect to get much use out of
Crono Maniac: So she starts fighting Lorelei
Crono Maniac: Her Dewgong
Crono Maniac: Her FIRST pokemon
Crono Maniac: Wipes out FOUR of Anna's pokemon
Rhete: haha
Crono Maniac: So she manages to beat the Dewgong
Crono Maniac: And with some diligent revive use, manages to beat Lorelei
Crono Maniac: But only just barely
Rhete: yeah that sounds right... I would get wiped by the second E4 member in Soul Silver
Crono Maniac: She burned through more than half of her support items to do so
Crono Maniac: So she gets to Bruno
Crono Maniac: After trying to turn around and finding out the door is locked
Rhete: haha
Crono Maniac: Bruno's not too tough
Crono Maniac: Blastoise and Dragonair both know surf, and deal with his rock types
Crono Maniac: Bird Jesus manages the fighting types
Crono Maniac: Still takes a number of hyper potions to make it through alive

Crono Maniac: So now her stock of items is even lower
Crono Maniac: She fights Agatha
Rhete: this doesn't sound like a good plan at all!
Crono Maniac: I'm asking her right now how she beat Agatha: "Errr, I dunno? I used Bite until the PP ran out, then I used Surf"
Crono Maniac: Agatha is obnoxious because she has a ton of status draining moves
Crono Maniac: So she JUST BARELY beats Agatha
Crono Maniac: This is her first run by the way
Rhete: oh trust me, I know these guys well from the hell that was twitch playing it XD
Crono Maniac: Okay good, so you know

Crono Maniac: So she gets to Lance.
Crono Maniac: She tries to use Pikachu on the Gyarados
Crono Maniac: It ALMOST one-shots it, then Gyrados one shots Pikachu
Crono Maniac: and Lance uses a full restore
Crono Maniac: So she's got two worthwhile Pokemon and an underleveled Dragonair
Crono Maniac: On LANCE
Crono Maniac: "How'd you beat Garados?"
Crono Maniac: "Pidgeot. Fly did a lot of damage."
Crono Maniac: Then he pulls out Areodactly
Crono Maniac: She surfs it to death in one shot
Crono Maniac: He pulls out Dragonair
Crono Maniac: He's out of Bite, so the only move Blastoise can use is Surf
Crono Maniac: Which Dragons are strong against
Crono Maniac: So she Rain Dances, then uses surf as much as possible
Crono Maniac: Barely manages to wipe out the two dragonairs
Crono Maniac: With Lance using a bunch of full restores all the while
Crono Maniac: So he pulls out his Level 60 Dragonite
Crono Maniac: Blastoise dies
Crono Maniac: After getting one surf in
Crono Maniac: Then Pidgeot comes in, uses its last fly, then Wing Attack
Crono Maniac: And Dragonite dies
Crono Maniac: Ya with me?
Rhete: yeah
Crono Maniac: Coo
Rhete: dragon is strong against dragon isn't it?
Crono Maniac: Yeah, but Dragonair didn't do much
Crono Maniac: Too low level
Rhete: oh
Rhete: was expecting him to be the hero

Crono Maniac: So now she's got 1 full health pidgeot, an almost dead Blastoise and an almost dead Pikachu (I think it got revived at some point)
Crono Maniac: She's about to fight Gary
Crono Maniac: I am completely confused
Crono Maniac: I had to grind for hours on Victory Road to reach this point
Crono Maniac: And here she is with an underleveled party managing it on the first run
Rhete: pokemon master!
Crono Maniac: She has 1 full restore, 1 revive, and 1 max revive
Crono Maniac: That’s it
Crono Maniac: It doesn't look like she has a chance
Crono Maniac: BUT WAIT
Crono Maniac: She has 17 Super Potions tucked away
Crono Maniac: So she revives Dragonair and uses the super potions to heal all of her guys
Rhete: oh man
Crono Maniac: Finds four rare candies
Rhete: ALL IN
Crono Maniac: Uses all of those
Rhete: haha
Rhete: holy crap
Crono Maniac: Finds a bunch of vitamins like carbos and iron
Crono Maniac: To raise EVs
Crono Maniac: Uses all of those
Crono Maniac: Items we've ignored the whole game
Crono Maniac: She uses an elixer and a max ether to get more PP for surf, fly, and bite
Crono Maniac: So she's got four guys at full health and PP for Gary
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot, Dragonair, Blastoise, and Pikachu
Crono Maniac: None over level 60
Crono Maniac: Two under level 50
Crono Maniac: She goes into Gary
Crono Maniac: He uses Pidgeot
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot ALMOST kills Pikachu with Aerial Ace
Crono Maniac: Aereal Ace deals about 45 damage (Pikachu has about 100 HP)
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot gets paralyzed
Crono Maniac: So Anna starts using Super Potions every time it lands an Aerial ace
Crono Maniac: Healing for 50 HP each time
Crono Maniac: Whenever the paralysis stops Pidgeot’s attack, she uses Thunder Bolt
Rhete: good lord
Crono Maniac: It takes three thunder bolts to beat Pidgeot, but he uses a bunch of full restores
Crono Maniac: So its this war of attrition between Pidgeot and Pikachu
Crono Maniac: Level 59 Pidgeot vs. Level 49 Pikachu
Crono Maniac: FINALLY Pikachu wins
Crono Maniac: That's one down
Crono Maniac: Five to go
Crono Maniac: Rhydon's next
Rhete: surfs up!
Crono Maniac: It tears Dragonair apart
Crono Maniac: Anna hoped Surf would be enough
Crono Maniac: He kills dragonair before it even gets a hit in
Crono Maniac: So she switches to Blastoise
Crono Maniac: Surfs up! Two down, four to go
Crono Maniac: Next up is Venusaur
Crono Maniac: It uses Sunny Day and Synthesis
Crono Maniac: a LOT
Crono Maniac: Anna swaps in Pidgeot
Crono Maniac: It uses Fly a bunch
Crono Maniac: but Venusaur keeps HEALING
Crono Maniac: And managing a few hits in in the mean time
Crono Maniac: Anna luckily dodges a few hits, and finally takes it out with Wing Attack
Crono Maniac: Three down, three to go
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot's alive, Pikachu's barely alive, and Blastoise is alive
Crono Maniac: So out comes Alakazam
Crono Maniac: UH OH
Crono Maniac: No psychic types
Crono Maniac: No ghost types
Crono Maniac: Nothing that can actually hurt a psychic pokemon
Crono Maniac: EXCEPT Blastoise's Bite, which is dark type (40 Atk power, which isn't much.)
Crono Maniac: So Blastoise uses Bite a BUNCH
Crono Maniac: But it's not enough, even after using the one Full Restore
Crono Maniac: Blastoise is almost dead
Crono Maniac: We've still got a max revive, and that's it.
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot comes out, barely manages to beat Alakazam
Crono Maniac: It's at about one third health
Crono Maniac: Next is Gyarados
Crono Maniac: She subs in Pikachu and mashes Thunderbolt
Crono Maniac: Gets most of its health down, then Gyarodos kills Pikachu
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot manages to get a lucky wing attack on the first move
Crono Maniac: Beats Gyardos
Crono Maniac: One
Crono Maniac: left
Crono Maniac: Arcanine
Crono Maniac: Ya with me? Here's where it gets really cool
Crono Maniac: So, here's where we're at
Rhete: last guy, arcanine!
Crono Maniac: Arcanine
Rhete: just say dragonair won it with surf
Rhete: :P
Crono Maniac: xD
Crono Maniac: All that's left is a max revive
Crono Maniac: Blastoise is almost dead
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot is almost dead
Crono Maniac: No one else is alive
Crono Maniac: One surf won't one shot a level 60 Arcanine, and it has Extremespeed
Crono Maniac: She switches in Blastoise
Crono Maniac: It dies in one hit before getting a surf off
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot comes in
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot uses the max revive on Blastoise
Crono Maniac: Pidgeot dies
Crono Maniac: So now it's Blastoise versus Arcanine
Crono Maniac: No more items
Crono Maniac: Every single other Pokemon is dead
Crono Maniac: Might want to start playing this:
Crono Maniac: Blastoise hits him with surf
Crono Maniac: Arcanine hits him with Extremespeed
Crono Maniac: Gary uses a full restore
Crono Maniac: Blastoise hits him with surf
Crono Maniac: Arcanine uses Extremespeed
Crono Maniac: Blastoise is almost dead
Crono Maniac: Blastoise uses surf
Crono Maniac: Arcanine faints

Crono Maniac: Congratulations! You are the new Pokemon League Champion!
Rhete: oooh
Rhete: haha
Rhete: man
Crono Maniac: I know!
Crono Maniac: I was completely blown away
Rhete: just don't think about how long it would take to do it had she lost
Rhete: and then had no items
Crono Maniac: YUP
Crono Maniac: Blastoise's health was at 13 at the very end
Crono Maniac: We saved before using the last bit of items before Gary
Crono Maniac: But we still would have lost about 80% of our stock
Crono Maniac: But she fucking did it!
Crono Maniac: I put down the game for six months when I got to the Elite Four xD They're fuckin' tough!
Crono Maniac: She beats them on her first go with an underleveled party
Rhete: haha
Crono Maniac: (AND she never lost a single battle in the whole game)
Crono Maniac: She says she doesn't feel like she steamrolled it either.
Rhete: that is insane
Crono Maniac: There were a number of points where she -almost- lost and didn't
Crono Maniac: It was probably the most dramatic and exciting experience you could possibly have in a Pokemon game xD
Crono Maniac: At least in single player
Crono Maniac: It took over an hour to fight all of them because she was being so meticulous and strategic
Crono Maniac: Oh wow it’s four in the morning xD
Crono Maniac: Time for bed
Rhete: night
Crono Maniac: G’night!