Tag Archives: gaming

A Dev Blog for Iridescent Crown

New Trailers

Iridescent Crown 1.2 is now out, and here are some trailers for it. 🙂 You can play the game for free in your browser, and you can buy the Windows version.

This is the new official trailer, which runs through World 1.


Some gameplay footage with a projectile weapon.


Showcasing a few different weapons.


Finding a rare weapon, and the implications thereof.


Dev Blog for Iridescent Crown

I didn’t chronologue this like I normally do, so this is in no particular order. Most of this final work was done between March 11th and 14th.



Firstly, I made a new logo for my games (and websites in general). It’s inspired by the SEGA logo, as well as the Inuyasha logo. The color purple is a nice mix of royal and feminine. Seeing my first name in katakana is pretty awesome too. Creating a new logo was a small detail, but also a big deal in its own way. I love the sound I picked to go with it – reminds me of starting up the PSX or PS2.



Adding the controls before you begin the game got the most positive feedback from my friends. It’s good to know it’s not too confusing to the eyes.

If you get a strong weapon early enough in the game, nothing beyond that is a challenge. So I made them much more rare in the early levels. The difficulty curve is much smoother now. You’ll have to fight many more enemies to find a weapon worth keeping now, which makes them more valuable.

The large enemies were invincible to close-range attacks, and required projectiles to kill. I realized this was annoying and removed their invulnerability.



I also added a separate room for the shopkeeper. A door allows you to “leave” the room if you don’t like the random weapon you buy, which quickly resets the room. I added several NPCs in this room that give you additional tips to playing the game. I added more lines to the tutorial as well (about the map and radar).



I added a legend to the map on the pause screen, which tells you what the marks mean. Makes it a lot easier to read!



One other big change came at the very end, when I added damage points that visibly appear when you hit or get hit. This really helps with the “feel” of the fighting system.

There was also a glitch you could get by pausing on the game over screen, which I fixed after a friend reminded me about it. 🙂

I experimented with changing the graphics a bit, but when that didn’t work I decided to leave things as they are. I also intended to add a bit more “story” to the game, but in the end this didn’t seem necessary.


New Trajectories

I’m still pretty disappointed GMS2 isn’t bringing more tools to the table that I don’t already have. It kills some of the plans I had for extending my current projects – namely adding more features to the music generators.

I was really hoping they would add support for MIDI files (or any music files, really), so I could export the music my games generate. One huge problem is GM is terrible with tempo – even delta_timing isn’t always reliable. I removed the drums from Seraphim Automata to avoid lag issues with running the sequel in HTML5. It sucks because I really like the drum generation system. It may be worth recycling into another desktop game.

One of Iridescent Crown‘s biggest limitations was the 640×480 resolution, which was necessary for HTML5 but awful for the Windows version. It fits the pixel art style, but it’s difficult to appreciate the random level design when the window is so small.

It’s not like I ever had to shrink the window though. The window was small from the start, because 640×480 games were more common when I started this (in 2010). So the game is a bit of a relic in its own way, and begs for a sequel.

I think I’m done with the music generation, sadly. Unless I integrate it into one of the platformers. And I don’t know when I’ll have another platformer underway. If Iridescent Crown gets more feedback, I might feel more confident about the sequel. Either way, I think I’m done with HTML5 versions of my games. It was a nice experiment.

I will probably keep watching how this year unfolds for video games, while I go back to working on music and short stories.


Why I Don’t Play New Games

So the new Zelda game is out, as well as Nier: Automata and a ton of other great games. It looks like 2017 is already shaping up to be the best year for gaming since 2004.

I’m not really riding the hype train so much as watching through other’s eyes though, thanks to platforms like twitch and youtube. I have next to no interest in playing these new games, or getting or whatever, when I can just watch other people play the games for me. I don’t really care about the new Switch either (unless I can get my own game on it, of course).

New games aren’t innovative enough to be worth spending my money on. They just seem like higher quality versions of stuff I was playing in the 2000s.

I don’t care about perfect graphics. I care about deep mechanics that allow for more experimentation, and therefore more replayability. The AAA industry, because of its massive time and budget constraints, simply isn’t built for experimentation.

Nowadays you get your standard “open world” game with 30+ hours of side quests. NPC interactions are still very shallow. Too many games are content to crib Minecraft’s crafting system, rather than implement their own unique ideas. Too few have tried to innovate the “gameplay-cutscene-gameplay” problem.

Fandoms allow companies to cash in on the same IP over and over. So they aren’t likely to take a risk to appeal to an “experimental” niche. Why do that, when they can just throw Link into another sandbox game and sell that?

Nier: Automata looks great, but I could also just pop in Kingdom Hearts from 2002. We haven’t progressed that far. The same could be said about the new Zelda vs Wind Waker from 2004. Nintendo and Square Enix don’t need to innovate when they can cash in on their established formulas.

I’ve also noticed a lot of my friends complaining more and more about their massive “backlogs” of games they’ve bought but haven’t played. It makes me wonder if this is how the indiepocalypse will actually unfold. You can finally make your dream game with the right tools – but it doesn’t matter because nobody has time for it.


Algorithm for Angel Wings (Seraphim Automata 2)

Algorithm for Angel Wings

(10/9/17 Note: This game was originally titled Algorithm for Angel Wings. It has since been renamed Seraphim Automata 2.)

Play it in your browser here (or download it for Windows).



I decided to make a more user-friendly version of Seraphim Automata, after I finally got it to stop running at 1 frame per second in HTML5. I started this on January 30th, and most of the work was done by the next day.

I went back on February 3rd and added an autoplay feature for the start menu – something I haven’t done since Cosmic Zephyr in 2013. The next day I fixed glitches in the menu, and added a save function for high scores and combos. I also made some new touchscreen buttons in Photoshop. Then I released the game for feedback.

I went back the next day and fixed a few bugs that were pointed out to me. Specifically, you could break the GUI by racking up a massive combo. (I’m still surprised someone got a 44 hit combo on the first day of its release. My own record is 19.)

The very last thing I added was the glove sprite for the mouse, which gives it one little human element.

The touchscreen controls allow this to be played on a mobile device, as well as in a desktop browser. Which is nice. The only reason I haven’t uploaded an Android version is because the export module is currently broken in GMS. I’m hoping this will be fixed in GMS2.

You can select from 12 scales, 12 keys, 10 time signatures, and 13 different instruments. The time signatures are the real key to getting different patterns – it’s automatically set to 12/8 while the scale, key and instrument are randomly chosen. 10/8, 7/8 and 4/4 produce my favorite patterns. 4/4 in particular can create very jovial rhythmic patterns.


Flashbacks, From 2010 to Now

When designing a game (or any project, really), you have to decide early on who you are making this for. Are you making it for yourself or for other people? That decision between “passion project” vs “product” will lead you down two very different roads.

I would say my games were passion projects until about 2010. That includes my two oldest surviving games, A Starspangled Zephyr and Deadman’s Dark Scenery Court. I felt no pressure making my early games since I was mostly doing it for myself.

When my cocaine addict of a father was finally removed from the picture in November 2010, mom and I shifted pretty quickly to survival mode. I found myself selling most of my belongings to keep us from going broke. One major reason I abandoned songwriting is because I had to sell almost all my musical instruments. That miserable era lasted for about 19 months.

By the time we lost our home in March 2012, I had shifted to a more workaholic attitude about game design. I wanted to make a polished product I could sell and hopefully get out of poverty. That never really worked, but it definitely affected how I approached the games I made in that era, Cosmic Zephyr and Eden’s Prison.

One major event was being raided by the police in December 2013. Which happened to be four weeks into development on Eden’s Prison. The fall out from that led to a period of inactivity through 2014 and 2015. Another factor was injuring my right arm in August 2014 – it’s still recovering and I’ve only recently begun feeling “normal” again.

I finally returned to game development after leaving a toxic group of old programmers in early 2016. There is no coincidence that I had the best year of my life after leaving them (2016, that is). The new games – Seraphim Automata, Zephyr 3, Iridescent Crown – still suffer a bit from the “product” mentality, but I’m slowly moving back to making strictly passion projects for myself.

My ongoing experiments with music generation are one indication of this. Now that Algorithm for Angel Wings fleshes out the Seraphim engine into something very easily accessible, I feel comfortable moving on from those experiments.

Zephyr 3 also tries to atone for its previous games by offering the source code for free.

It feels bittersweet to release Iridescent Crown over 6 years after I started it (just look at the 640×480 resolution if you need proof of how old it is). The mainstream roguelike genre (or ‘roguelite’ if you prefer) completely blew up and died in that timeframe. Now similar games like Terraria and Spelunky are gathering dust, and there aren’t as many fans around looking for another roguelike or exploration based platformer.

The resulting game is both old and young at the same time – with the former compromising the latter. I’m thinking about revisiting it and releasing a “deluxe” version with a bigger window and other features that the HTML5 version couldn’t handle.


Beginning of the End

I’ve boiled my new ideas down to two main projects, plus an extra passion project.

  1. The first idea is of course a horror game. I haven’t made once since 2010, back when I was a very different person. This one will be a 2d platformer, but beyond that I haven’t decided on much. There are multiple concepts and stories I keep bouncing around for this one. I surround myself with horror influences so this idea never really leaves me, it’s just a matter of execution.
  2. The second idea is a sequel to Iridescent Crown, with better graphics and more RPG elements, and hopefully a better name. I would actually argue that in 2017, procedural generation is going out of style for now. Especially after the debacle over No Man’s Sky. So while I want to release a more polished sequel, I’m not sure if it’s really the best time to be working on something like that.
    I could of course scrap the procedural generation and go with … level design. The argument for procedural generation increasing replayability goes out the window when you use it so much that nothing sticks. That’s one problem with Iridescent Crown in its current form. Since all 16 levels are using the same “room”, none of them can be saved and revisited later.
    The other problem is that there is no reason to revisit levels right now. So it needs more collectibles, an EXP system, and perhaps other things.
  3. The last idea is a Sonic fangame, which would be a complete passion project. But it would be a lot more fun to make than my original games, simply because it’s something I always wanted to do. I am looking forward to seeing how Sonic Mania turns out before diving too deep into this one, as I wouldn’t want it to be too similar.

My Favorite Game Postmortems


This game was confusing as hell to me as a child, but I loved its atmosphere.


I think the main takeaways for Myst are:

  • Rand and Robin Miller made a lot of simpler point-and-click games for children before tackling Myst.
  • Dungeons and Dragons was a large inspiration because of the emergent storytelling aspects. Rand actually designed a dungeon which was later used in creating one of Myst’s worlds.
  • The game took its mythic structure from Star Wars, its world-traveling from C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and the island setting was inspired by novels by Jules Verne.
  • Myst was created for non-gamers, so they tried to avoid arbitrary puzzles that most adventure games suffered from in the day. They mostly succeeded, though Robin admits there are still a few bad puzzles in the game.
  • The two brothers approached Myst as a passion project strictly for themselves.
  • How long it took to render each image back in the day. Shots took 2-14 hours to render using a StrataVision 3D.
  • They subverted the one-way communication of the story with one-way devices like TVs and books rather than personal encounters.
  • They initially used diegetic music in their games (music that only occurs naturally in the world). When they finally added traditional soundtrack music to Myst, they were surprised how well it fit.
  • Extensive beta testing helped make the game playable to non-gamers.
  • Myst and their previous games were all made on HyperCard.
  • Myst took two years to complete.


Also, Phil Fish makes a surprising appearance 51 minutes in. Apparently he started out on HyperCard as well.



The original ARPG, and one of my favorite games of all time.


I think the main takeaways for Diablo are:

  • The interesting meeting between Condor Games (Diablo’s developers) and Silicon & Synapse (Warcraft’s developers). The latter became Blizzard Entertainment. The former became Blizzard North.
  • The tiles in Diablo were borrowed directly from X-COM.
  • How they handled drawing the game with only 256 colors.
  • David Brevik had never coded in C before Diablo.
  • All the interesting bug fixes and work-arounds they had to implement because of the technology at the time.
  • There was a small bidding war between 3DO and Blizzard for Condor Games. Condor went with Blizzard despite 3DO offering twice as much money.
  • Most of the HUD (graphical interface) work was done in the last 3 months, with the help of input from beta testers.
  • They crunched really hard on this game for the better half of a year. Brevik says crunch deserves its bad reputation, but is also a “necessary evil” and not entirely a bad thing. From my own personal experience, I can definitely relate.
  • There’s a spell called “Blood Exchange” they removed from the game. It let you swap your HP with a monster’s HP, making the game really easy to beat.
  • Rogue, NetHack, Moria, Angband, Ultima, Wizardry, Doom, Dark Forces, and X-COM were just some of the influences for Diablo.
  • battle.net ran on one computer! It handled the entire multiplayer side of the game.


I also love the Ms. Pac Man and Marble Madness postmortems, but they’re literally so old (arcade era) that the advice isn’t really applicable to modern game design. They’re more like historic documents now. Which may be the biggest takeaway of all…

Iridescent Crown and Zephyr 3 are officially complete!

Iridescent Crown

Play it here!

I uploaded a new HTML5 version of Iridescent Crown with a few important bug fixes. The soundtrack has been added, and the Windows version is now available to purchase.  🙂

The release has been somewhat marred by ISP problems, but at least I had the game up in time for Christmas (and Diablo’s 20th anniversary!). One of the bugs screwed up the ending sequence, which, along with missing the soundtrack, made me feel less than comfortable sharing the game around. But now everything’s cool.

I’m really glad to have this game out of my way. I started it way back in 2010, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to turn out until recently. A lot of things just happened to come together at the end – like the final boss and ending sequence, which I’d been turning ideas over for years, but ultimately only needed a few hours to throw something together.

Finding the right graphics+sfx resources to fill in certain roles was also essential in speeding up the creation process. I don’t feel too bad about using cc0 enemy sprites in my game, because the alternative would be a game that’s still unfinished.  😛

I’ll follow up with a more complete dev blog when I have some time. Right now I’m working on trailers for the game. Stay tuned.  🙂


Zephyr 3 bug


As I suspected, there was only one line glitching up this game and keeping it from running in HTML5. As soon as I dropped “direction_to_object” and changed it to “point_direction” – essentially the same function with a different approach – the damn thing loaded up fine in HTML5. It even lags less than I expected. You can play it in your browser here.

Game Maker Studio is weird sometimes. Only 173 lines of code in this game, and it took just one to break everything. To contrast, Iridescent Crown’s engine is +6 years old, bloated as fuck yet somehow works fine in HTML5.

The source code is available for anyone who wants to learn how to make this type of game.

Zephyr 3 basically marks the end of the Zephyr series. But not the engine itself – I plan to use it again in the future.  🙂


Planning for Steam Greenlight

I should be getting better internet in mid-February. So for now, I’m going to focus on recording gameplay footage of my projects. Then I will upload the videos and see where to go from there. I’ve recently managed to get OBS working with my computer – though not with the best quality.

Every article about “indie game marketing” stresses the importance of Twitter, but I don’t think Twitter is as helpful as it seems when it comes to getting your game out there. I get a good amount of likes and retweets whenever I post screenshots or links, but honestly they don’t translate to people clicking on my game often. So “marketing my game” usually feels like wasted time that could be better spent on development. It does help to chronologue my development, but that’s about it.

Gamers make ~93% of their purchases on Steam. So… I probably need to get a game on Steam. People don’t buy games often enough on itch.io.

I’m most proud of Seraphim Automata, but it may be too weird / experimental for Steam. I’m also not sure what audience it appeals to in its current state. What “genre” is it, for instance? It lacks a certain long-term replayability that could be solved with more musical variations (read: a sequel). I may revisit it some time later and add more traditional gameplay features.

I’m also proud of Iridescent Crown, but wary because I haven’t gotten much feedback. And it’s definitely not as unique as SA. It’s really hard to strike a balance between innovative and traditional in game design. Any ideas people give me for IC will probably be saved for a sequel as well, since I’m happy with it in its current state.

While I do have more “work” ahead as far as marketing and making trailers, for once I can finally say that I have nothing left to work on in the field of game design. My existing projects are 100% complete. Which means I can let myself take a break.

… I hope.



The World’s Most Hated Game Developer

tl;dr version: I’ve started running into old “friends” in various Discord chats, who are part of a toxic community I cut ties with last year. They’ve long been a source of stress for me, and here I try to explain why.

It mainly concerns an incident where a few people chose to attack me anonymously, causing me to be paranoid of the whole community.


The Medium is the Message

The medium of game design provides an empty space for me to exercise my ideas and bring them to life. Instead of just writing my ideas down as stories, I can give them music to set a mood, visuals to build a world, and mechanics to let you move inside that space. I can give faces to the faceless.

I can also do things that aren’t so easily expressed in words, like distorting the perspective of reality, or exploiting the generative nature of code.

Game design is a lot like theater to me. It’s where I can express and explore my most elaborate, ambitious ideas.

And unfortunately, it can also become pretty dramatic behind the scenes.


64digits, Then and Now

Game design was very different in 2005. Practially no one sold their indie games for profit back then, or even considered it. Online marketplaces didn’t exist then as they do now. Most indie devs dreamed of getting their games ported to console.

Cave Story was only one year old then, and steadily becoming a cult classic. That wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been available for free.

I joined the website “64digits” in 2005 when it was just starting out as a community (my userid is 164). The Game Maker community forums lacked decent alternatives, with many sites like GMClans dying after only a few years. 64digits somehow managed to survive this and still exists as of 2017.

The future creator of Hotline Miami, cactus, was even a member. I have a lot of fond memories of 64digits in its early days, as many others do. I could say many great things about 64digits in 2005.

But unfortunately this isn’t about 64digits in 2005 – it’s about 64digits now.

It’s hard to say when 64digits shifted from being a game development community, to being a community of artists and musicians, to being a community of shitposters. I don’t really fault the community itself for that last one, as it seems the entire internet has gone insane these past few years.

Gamedev communities in particular have been suffering more trolling and hostility ever since GamerGate in 2013. The toxicity has been impossible to avoid. I imagine it’s only gotten worse on 64digits since Brexit and the US elections.

I wouldn’t know because I left the site in May 2016, after being cursed out by one of the moderators (a common occurrence).



Anonymous Attacks

This happened back in June 2015. I still haven’t found the words to express how I feel about this, so I’m just gonna let the images speak for themselves first.

Warning: a lot of boring drama.


Long story short, the mods on 64d opened a blog where people could anonymously post feedback regarding the site. And everything was fine until I came along.

My first reply got 50+ comments after one day – mostly anonymous attacks toward me. These were either from people I considered friends, or total strangers. There’s no way to know until someone takes responsibility for their remark(s).


Some highlights:

“Funnily enough, your constant need to complain and attention whore is driving me away from this site more than anything else.

If I wanted to see whining attention whores I’d visit Facebook.” – Anonymous


“Your new friend got the treatment that has always come to newbies who post badly titled, low-content promotional blogs.“ – Anonymous


“One of the things that bothers me most about you hel, is your treatment of your personal situation. We all know what is going on and while it’s certainly understandable you’ve made a few requests to donate some money, right now you keep linking to your blog on every occasion you get and this really makes you look like “that poor guy”. It’s not like I don’t care about how you are doing, but it’s just getting really annoying since it looks like you’re abusing to make people feel sorry for you and either buy your games or to work for you for free. I hope this also gets rid of you considering yourself a successful game developer if your games have only been bought a couple of times. Mentioning your condition on your itch.io isn’t exactly helping your reputation either.“ – Anonymous


“Fuck you, seriously. So the thousands of dollars we donated to you amounts to not caring? I know for a fact that someone here donated so much money to you that they went into debt.

I don’t care about your stuff any more because I’m:

* Tired of you constantly complaining about the same things over and over again for years while doing nothing to fix them, and accusing almost everyone of attacking you or being insensitive when they try to offer you advice.
* Really reluctant to trust you after you casually mentioned that your donation money had gone to pay for pot (which isn’t exclusively for you) and heroin?
* Tired of seeing you complain about harmless fun which everybody else sees as the essence of the site and trying to apply some stupid arbitrary standards like we’re a court or academic conference or something.
* Tired of seeing you throwing hissy fits at people who give you feedback and having the nerve to say that we need more “self-criticism”.
* Tired of seeing you get away with harassing people and causing drama that other people would be instabanned for, and having the nerve to say that the admins are being unfair to you.

I wish you’d stayed gone. You make the atmosphere really uncomfortable here.“ – Anonymous


“Maybe all of the anonymous comments are actually just hel wanting to stir up more drama?“ – Anonymous


And my favorite: “It’s really disheartening to see people so intimidated by another member that they feel they have to express their frustration with them anonymously, and feel they have to express it publicly for something to be done about it.“ – Anonymous


Hell, even Julius Caesar wasn’t attacked by this many friends at once. It’s amazing the amount of vitriol people can spit out from behind the comfort of anonymity.



In the end, only one person confronted me in private regarding their anonymous comment. He left me with this gem: “I’m fairly sure that at least 50% of your games sold were bought out of sympathy for your situation is this does not make you a successful game developer by any means.” [sic]

No one else ever owned up to anything they said. No one else had the courage to stop hiding behind anonymity.

That event was pretty depressing, since I had been a part of the community for a decade. It didn’t stop me from continuing to create new games of course, but it did destroy the old dream of collaborating on a new game with anyone from 64digits. Now I distrust them all, regardless of whether or not they had been involved. How am I supposed to know who’s innocent?

Even the ones I am still “friends” with are mutual friends with some of the worst harassers on 64digits. They advocate the harassers by staying silent. And since I find that hard to reconcile, I’ve more or less pushed them all away.

I thought I could move on from this event and put it behind me (along with the community). I started using Discord chat in April 2016, and found new communities that support me.

That’s when I finally left 64d. I thought I could finally escape the old community for good.

But as I started joining gamedev chats, I began running into old “friends” from 64d. It’s been happening more lately. It makes my skin crawl every time. Is this person really being nice to me, or are they the one who publicly accused me of being a heroin addict? I’m tired of playing that game with these people.

That’s why am I bringing this up now. I’ve never wanted to bash 64digits publicly because I’m good friends with one of the creators. Seriously, he’s one of the best guys I know. And while I can never be friends with certain members, I’d rather not be enemies either. But their toxicity has been a huge factor in my personal decision to move away from game design.

At this point it’s quicksand to anyone involved, including myself. That’s why I’m still hesitant to write this.

My two oldest surviving games were collaborations with 64digits members (Extravisual and Cesque). My third and fourth games were made for contests there. I may be “free” now, but my early work is forever linked to that community. I will always have mixed feelings about this.

My two oldest games are 64d collaborations.


I still have Crohn’s disease. I don’t talk about it much anymore, but it affects me every day of my life.

We survived being homeless. We survived being raided by the police. I don’t talk about those things much either, but they still affect me every day too.

It’s affected my entire family.

I’m not sure if writing this gained me any closure. But part of me is writing this in case the 64d mods ever decide to delete that blog, erase the event from history, and continue fucking with me.

Maybe this will explain why I’m not enthusiastic about making any more video games. Maybe some people can relate to this.

If you hate me for whatever reason, now you know who to hang out with. Otherwise, avoid 64digits like the plague.



I’ll end on this, part of my response to the one who confronted me privately.

“I link to my WordPress blog because I’m more proud of the writing on there. It was created to deal with the more personal issues that I can’t really post here. I haven’t publicly asked for donations since 2013. I don’t know which months you were inactive, but I’ve been living in the same place since September 2013. Since then my troubles have been less about being homeless, and more about that incident in December 2013 when the police raided us. So I’m dealing with a completely different set of issues than I was 2 years ago.

I only get $700 a month from disability. Which isn’t enough for anyone to live off of. My mom doesn’t have disability, so she only brings in what she can make online from writing. We’ve been lucky to have a semi permanent residence. If I can finally supplement my income by selling games, that would be huge. So for me, I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want my story to be one of overcoming trials, not succumbing to them.



Iridescent Crown is out! Looking for Pixel Artists

Iridescent Crown


You can play it in your browser here. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’m still working on adding updates – namely touchscreen controls. The random generation for levels and weapons is inspired by Diablo.

My internet’s been broken the past few weeks, which is why I haven’t uploaded a version with music. Hopefully that will change soon.  🙂


New Stories

I added two new horror stories! AMETHYST 2.0 “Safe Version” was a strange idea I’ve had for a while. The premise itself read interestingly, but I could never figure out how to approach it from any of the main character’s perspectives. So I ultimately just took the original premise, edited it a bit and presented it as classified information from some secret agency.

I repeated this formula to some extent with AMETHYST 3.0 “Leon’s Story”. It’s a concept that’s been bothering me for a while, regarding how to express it. The connecting theme in the AMETHYST series so far seems to be ouija boards and alternate identities. I know this version doesn’t make a lot of sense and probably reads like a David Lynch script. But I may revisit the idea later.

“Ouroboros” is my shortest story so far, at only 667 words. It was originally the premise for a video game – the text would have been given in bits as you progressed.

I also added a new angel story called “The Rebirth of Raphael”, which I wrote back in May. I was planning to write more stories in this world and it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’m currently working on AMETHYST 1.0 “Corrupt Version” and a few secret stories, so look forward to those!


Year End Summary

2016 has been a pretty good year for me. I released three games this year. I released my first game that runs in a browser. I released my first game with “infinite replayability”. I finally finished a platformer I started +6 years ago.

I tackled procedural music generation for the first time in Seraphim Automata. I made a small music tool that lets you generate music with Conway’s Game of Life. I released a music tool that lets you explore microtonality in your browser.

I also translated one of my games into 7 languages.


I discovered this earlier this year, on a Chinese website that pirates my game. The fact that my game has been pirated at all still intrigues and amuses me a bit. I always wanted to see that game in kanji, so it’s ironic but fitting.

I’ve done everything I’ve wanted with game design so far, so I feel comfortable taking a long break. I’m looking forward to GMS 2 coming out. I have no concrete plans for any new projects unless I collaborate with a visual artist.

I’m hoping when I return to game development, I’ll be working with a radically different artistic style than these games. It doesn’t have to be an “art game”, but I would like to make something more avant-garde. Or at least more modern.

On the other hand, I’ve fallen pretty far behind with music. I’ve barely written anything since last year. So that will be my main focus for 2017.  🙂


Looking for Pixel Artists

If you want to collaborate on a future project, feel free to contact me. If you’re a pixel artist or a game developer that uses Game Maker Studio, I would love to work with you!






Short Stories and Steam Reviews #4

Short Stories

I wrote my first sci-fi story a few weeks ago, called Eyes That See Across Time. It’s pretty easy and fun to write sci-fi, if you just look at the world’s current problems and then completely blow them out of proportion.

I’ve also been working on a few horror stories like Bury My Body. I’ve noticed I tend to write out several versions of my horror stories until I get the version that I like.

There’s also a series of fantasy stories I’ve been writing, inspired by Christian gnosticism, apocryphal scripture, the Devil, and related subjects. My favorite entry so far is The Birth of Lucifer.  🙂

You can read more stories in my Writing section!


Steam Reviews

This will probably be my last blog about Steam games unless I write one final summary later. I’ve discovered I don’t really care for some of the most well-known indie games like Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami, Don’t Starve, Spelunky, Terraria, VVVVVV, etc. Even popular games I’ve reviewed like LIMBO only hold my attention span for a limited amount of time. It’s mostly been strange, innovative new games like To the Moon and Her Story that have impressed me.

Only a few traditional style video games like Nidhogg have truly stood out. And maybe a few others…


Risk of Rain is a simple looking game with surprisingly deep mechanics. You basically start out in a random place in each level and begin fighting off enemies, which get stronger as time progresses. Getting money to buy upgrades becomes a key factor to survival. It can be a bit disorienting deciding what to spend your money on while fighting off enemies. I occasionally wish the shops were separated into enemy-free sections like most games. But of course that wouldn’t really fit the gameplay, which wants you to make quick decisions.

I love the soaring guitar solos that drive the soundtrack. This game has some of the best music I’ve encountered in an indie title, and reminds me of the early Sonic soundtracks.

With the overly simplistic art style, it’s taken me a while to get into the game. But I’ve discovered it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes I feel the game could use a function to zoom the camera in. The player character appears way too small on screen, as well as the enemies. Sometimes I feel like I need to squint to see the details. It feels like the exact opposite problem that early mobile games had. Mechanically, the game has very broad appeal. I just wish it had better graphics! But I recommend the game nonetheless.


Aquaria is a relaxing side-scroller that takes place underwater. The most interesting feature is the ability to play notes and melodies that affect the surrounding environment. The game has a well-produced story with a voice actor that guides you through the game, speaking for the main protagonist’s perspective. The camera zooms in and out depending on the situation. There’s a neat recipe system that lets you cook with items you find. The game rarely becomes challenging enough to frustrate you.

The gameplay and atmosphere occasionally reminds me of The Little Mermaid areas in Kingdom Hearts, but with better music. My only real criticism is the game doesn’t have much variety. The game also really needs an auto-save feature, as well as a brightness feature. In the end, it’s a nice change of pace from the trend of very difficult side-scroller games.


Valdis Story: Abyssal City probably has the best graphics of any 2d game I’ve seen on Steam. The characters and enemies are all beautifully animated. The levels all have lush and vibrant colors. None of the areas suffer from mismatched color palettes like many indie games. The sword attacks feel very satisfying to use. Boss battles are challenging but not impossible. The magic system gives you a lot of interesting powers, which thankfully aren’t difficult to incorporate into fighting.

The game also has beautiful music. I personally find the story to be tedious and distracting, but you can skip through it. As a whole, the game is truly impressive. I would say this is one of the most polished 2d platformer games available on Steam.


Bleed turned out to be way more difficult than I expected. Gameplay can be very mentally and physically demanding, since you’re having to move, aim and shoot all at once. The checkpoints are the biggest saving grace for the gameplay, since it’s easy to die from a random mistake. The difficulty of the level design is fairly uneven, with some places feeling too easy and others feeling way too hard. The game desperately needs an auto-aim feature.

You can select the difficulty on each level, which is a nice option that keeps you from getting stuck in a particular place. You can also have a second player join in, which is nice and retro. The pixel art graphics are accompanied with pretty standard chiptune music. The levels are nicely drawn but the characters and enemies could be a lot more polished.

Bleed also has one of the cutest main menu screens I’ve ever seen, with the lead character at her desk writing, drinking a smoothie, and other idle animations. This is another game I can only recommend to those who are exceptional at 2D platformers. This game is either a daydream or a nightmare, never in between.


Crypt of the NecroDancer‘s most defining feature is undoubtedly the ability to choose your own soundtrack and watch the game synchronize itself to your music. The game is good at syncing up to anything in 4/4 and usually 3/4. Unfortunately odd meters make it go haywire, which rules out a lot of my favorite songs. The custom music system really needs a shuffle feature, since the songs you choose for early levels and the main menu quickly get old.

The upgrade system is a lot like Rogue Legacy, where you have to play the game many times in order to become strong enough to reach the deeper levels. The now-standard structure of 4 worlds, 16 levels is obviously a nod to Diablo and Spelunky. The dungeons are randomly generated (of course they are). Playing in sync with your favorite music is a novel feature but gets old rather quickly. Sometimes it feels unnatural, and I simply want to play to my own rhythm.

Maybe this game is only for people with dance pads. Or is it made for mobile phones? It’s hard to tell. The graphics are pretty bland and unspectacular. I’ve spent over 7 hours playing the game on Steam and I still can’t recommend it unless it’s on sale.


The graphics in Jotun are phenomenal. The camera zooms out when you encounter a monument or boss, which helps give you a sense of the world’s tremendous scale. Boss encounters can be pretty intimidating when you’re just a tiny dot on the screen. This can sometimes be annoying however, as it’s easy to lose track of where you are.

The voice acting is in Icelandic, which lends a rare, authentic feel to the game’s world. The soundtrack is also very good. It often takes the subtle approach, blending ambient noises with soft splashes of violin and droning echoes. Jovial and mysterious harp melodies are common. The ominous horn sections often remind me of Diablo’s darker moments. The music becomes more exciting and percussive during boss battles, while retaining a very orchestral sound.

The loading times in between areas can be pretty long (about 10 seconds), which is one of the biggest drawbacks of the game. I’ve also had to deal with some seriously frustrating bugs, like dying after beating a particularly difficult boss. The combat is way too slow for my tastes. Your “quick” attack takes about 1 second to execute, while your strong attack takes about 3. I often feel more like I’m fighting against my character’s slow timing, rather than the enemies or bosses.

And as nice as the voice acting is, I sometimes wish there was an option for English vocals. Since I can’t look away and receive the information audibly in my own language, I have to watch the screen before the subtitles fade. It’s a bit awkward when I’m just playing casually. The feeling is not unlike watching a foreign film.

Overall though, the game is pretty neat. If you like RPG games I recommend Jotun, it will definitely leave a strong impression on you.


More Reviews

Steam Reviews #3: Outland, Dust: An Elysian Tail, VVVVVV, Vertical Drop Heroes HD, Waveform, Her Story
Steam Reviews #2: Nidhogg, Super Crate Box, LIMBO, Alpha Runner, The Sun and Moon, The Beginner’s Guide
Steam Reviews #1: INK, Downwell, You Have to Win the Game, Rogue Legacy, Tallowmere, EDGE, To the Moon


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