Thank You For Playing

Amateur game design for the technically impaired

Knytt Stories Level Editor

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Knytt SideNifflas is a brilliant level designer. While others have noted the influence he’s drawn from Metroid, the experience for me is far more reminiscent of Riven: the Sequel to Myst. While Within a Deep Forest depended more heavily on skill than anything in the Knytt collection, both offer intricate worlds to explore and learn, which start off unknowably vast and actually seem to shrink as new areas open up. The confusing collections of boundaries and obstacles steadily transform from distractions into landmarks as the player expands the arsenal of abilities and brings each image into perspective.

It’s because of this brilliance that I’m confused about the inclusion of a level editor in the release. The effort is, of course, appreciated, but I’m quite apprehensive. With no abilities available in the editor that do not already appear in the pack-in adventure, The Machine, there is little to do besides alter the audio-visual style and craft a new Knytt world; however, the custom worlds (even the official ones) come across as remixes of the original adventure more than anything else.

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Written by justindopiriak

March 10, 2008 at 8:06 am

Puzzle Scramble

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Puzzle Scrambler

Here’s a quick one…
I have always been a fan of procedurally generated content; Diablo, Nethack, Dwarf Fortress. This idea is simple: to construct a procedurally generated puzzle game which constantly evolves and challenges the player.The puzzles will be simple, generated by predetermined algorithms. Some of the puzzles could be as simple as figuring out the next number in a sequence, to analyzing patterns in shapes. The objective would be to navigate through the maze of puzzles as quickly as possible. Each sequential level will include more puzzles, timers, harder puzzles and more variety.

I am thinking that by having this game text only would add more of a hardcore puzzle feel to it. Graphics would perhaps detract from the game play. Navigating menus through text and typing answers manually would give it sort of a “hacker feel.” Perhaps the story could include something of that connotation.

Puzzle Scramble

If you haven’t noticed this game is semi-inspired by Professor Layton and would be playing in a similar way.

Here are some examples of sequence puzzles that I had in mind.

Written by brunokruse

March 8, 2008 at 2:14 am

Indie Game Archive

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While I was doing my usual reading of the Penny Arcade forums yesterday I stumbled upon this: a large collection of indie games available for download without hassle. While some of them are remakes, there is still a ton of great content. There is no better way to learn a dev environment than remaking your favorite classic anyway!

If anyone knows of any other large databases like this one, please share.

Written by brunokruse

March 4, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Cool Beans

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Alchemy Top RightMy original design concept for this week is more complicated than I expect most of ours to be and, as much as I hate to admit it, would probably be impossible to create without a knowledgeable team.

Alchemy: A single player puzzle/simulation.

The premise of this game is that a reclusive, aging alchemist has decided to take on an apprentice in order to pass on his archaic skills before he dies. At the top of his tower, he begins to train the player, his lucky recruit, when he suddenly passes away. The player is left trapped at the top of the tower with no way to bypass its many security systems. The only tools available are the alchemical supplies at hand and his basic introduction to the art.

The basic introduction given by the alchemist could serve as a tutorial.

Gameplay: Different elements must be combined and drawings created to synthesize new materials with brand new properties. The challenge is in discovering the effects that each element has on the synthesis, as well as the effects of the drawings (runes). The runes are by far the most complicated feature. Players are allowed to draw the runes freehand and different shapes will have different effects on the synthesis. For example, circles will have a certain function, which might be altered by bisecting it with a vertical or horizontal line. Concentric circles might interact in different ways than tangent circles. There will be a complex system beneath the gameplay and the entertainment is in uncovering that system.


Here are a few clarifying examples of what could be:

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Written by justindopiriak

March 4, 2008 at 6:10 am

Posted in Original Game Ideas

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Matt Thorson over at Helix Games Inc. has been developing indie games in Game Maker for quite some time.

Before I even knew Game Maker existed, I stumbled upon his game Jumper. Jumper really showcases what the Game Maker environment can do in terms of solid 2D design. I was surprised to see a game run this smooth and glitch free in Game Maker and I am excited to see what else can be done in the engine.

The game is extremely easy to learn, the only controls you need are the arrow keys. The objective is to complete each level by navigating 2D game designs most famous obstacles, mazes, pitfalls, spikes and of course electricity. Each level also as a blue gem to collect, collecting them all earns you 100%. The blue gems however are for pros only, the earlier ones offer a stiff challenge while some of the later ones are absolutely impossible to get (but are still fun to try for replay value).

Jumper is by no means an easy game. The level design boasts a Contra like difficulty which can occasionally cause you to punch your computer monitor in fury. I am glad we are finally past the days of three lives and game over as Jumper offers you infinite chances to complete each level and hone your skills. The levels are split into groups of five, each having a different theme and music. The extremely challenging levels offer a sense of accomplishment upon completion.

Thorson was nice enough to post the source code of Jumper 2. Even though the game was made in an older version of Game Maker it can still be examined and modded in the newest version. This simple game has a cult following, the Jumper forums are bustling with game ideas, tips and posts begging for sequels. Do yourself a favor and play this game, a simple idea executed very well. I recommend starting with Jumper 2.

Written by brunokruse

March 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Writing effective tutorials for beginners

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This may seem that it is aimed at the complete opposite end of the spectrum: those who are expert enough developers to write their own guides to coding. And it is. I wish I could come up with an exhaustive list of great ways to recognize a good tutorial, but I recently took on a pretty weighty endeavor and the very lack of good resources is what triggered my desire to express myself.


The weighty endeavor I speak of? I decided a couple days ago to try and learn as much of the C++ language as I could from online tutorials. I haven’t given up completely, but it seems that I’ll need a face-to-face tutor to help me put it all together. I’ll allow that coding isn’t easy, and that having a teacher (or friend in my case) is perhaps paramount in being able to learn a language in any effective manner. However, the sort of problems I ran into with online tutorials were so inexcusable and so rampant that I can hardly imagine how the writers could conceive of passing their material off to beginners. Most of these tutorials claimed they would be very useful to those with no coding experience at all. Hogwash.

I did learn a little C++ in the process, and with that I am able to go back and criticize some errors in these guides. And where I became unable to continue, my criticism is simply that. Here is my list of awful mistakes in C++ “beginner” tutorials:

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Written by ericharm

February 29, 2008 at 10:16 pm


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Every week Justin and I each post an original game idea. Today I am going to tell you about Clearcross, a puzzle game that attempts to be as easy as possible to learn but still remain challenging. Clearcross is a puzzle game in its most basic format. Clearing lines of orbs until the game board is gone.



The rules are simple: Click on any of the orbs to remove the corresponding orbs vertically and horizontally (across the board) from the chosen orb. The objective is to clear the board in the fewest number of turns possible. Each board could have a par as suggested by the creator. Be careful and plan ahead, eliminating an incorrect orb may cause gaps in the board causing you to use more moves.


The art direction would be minimal to keep focus on the simplicity of the game. I know music is a vital part of games, but perhaps it would be better to skip the music and add subtle sound effects instead. This would not distract from the game play and still offer tactile responses to clearing orbs.

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Written by brunokruse

February 29, 2008 at 4:04 am