August 08, 2014

New blog

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:

Filling in US tax form W–8BEN–E for UK limited companies

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.

July 02, 2012

Call for submissions: party games birthday edition 2012

(Image found on Google Image Search: not an accurate representation of the author)

I turn 25 on Saturday, and what better way to celebrate my impending mortality than by playing childish party games?

I have a collection of party games I’ve played over the years, but always appreciate more! So consider this an open call for you to tell me about your favourites, or just to make something up on the spot and try to convince me “it’s a classic”.

A party game generally fulfills some/all of the following restrictions:
  • played in one room
  • quick to explain, playable in about 5-10 minutes
  • playable with 5 – 15+ players

The above set of guidelines is very flexible however: there are probably games which are perfect despite not having any of those qualities.

So: let’s have some games please? Thanks!

(By the way, if we know each other and you’d like to come along, please do! It’ll be in Coventry on Saturday 7th July: contact me for more details.)

May 09, 2012

By Your Side (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Created for: Ludum Dare 22 (17th – 18th December)
Development time: 48 hours
Theme: Alone
Status: Kinda complete, but could be expanded upon
Play online

I had the vague idea of telling the life story of this guy, through snapshots of his life with no text. The exact details of that changed a lot of the course of the 48 hours though, I didn’t really have a clear idea of the story I wanted to tell.

Spent the first day procrastinating and just getting the basic engine done, then spent all Sunday working out the story/levels.

My main concern is that it’s just too hard: there’s a particularly big difficulty spike just before the twist that I’d like people to get to before ragequitting.

There are three different puzzle mechanics in there, for three different stages of his life. Some of them are kinda interesting I think? One thing a lot of people mentioned as something they liked is how I reused the same level for different puzzles.

Traal (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Resuming the 2011 game roundup after an embarrassingly long hiatus…

Created for: WGD 48 hour competition (18th – 20th November)
Development time: 48 hours + a bit
Theme: Cowardice
Status: Done
Play online

A collaboration with Jonathan Whiting. I came up with the idea of a protagonist who runs away from enemies (potentially into danger) and did 2/3 of the programming, while Jonathan made the graphics and did the level design.

I’m really really happy with this one, probably the best 48 hour thing I’ve ever done.

Got a lot of articles about it which was pretty cool! Highlights: Edge Online and PC Gamer

January 25, 2012

These Robotic Hearts of Mine (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Started for: First FlashPunk community competition (5th December 2010)
Development time: Just under a year
Theme: 96×96 pixels, FlashPunk colours
Status: Released to the world :)
Play online on Newgrounds
Buy for iPhone and iPad
Buy for Android

These Robotic Hearts of Mine is the game I was working on, on and off, for the entirety of 2011. It’s been quite a journey!

By the start of the new year I had the game in a very recognisable form: if you’re interested you can play that version here.

That was early January. After that it was a case of iterating and polishing and tweaking the game rather than making any major changes. I never intended it to take the best part of a year to get to a final release, but I kept taking breaks from the project or distracting myself. In some ways that was for the best though: it still needed a lot of playtesting to get the difficulty to a managable level, and all the time I wasn’t actively working on it I was still showing it to people and getting useful feedback.

Working on the narrative was more frustrating, because of my desire to have every puzzle represent the corresponding story in some way. That meant that changing the narrative meant breaking the difficulty curve, and improving the difficulty curve meant breaking the story. That balancing act took some time to get right, and wasn’t particularly fun.

Being selected for the Eurogamer Indie Games Arcade was a great help in actually getting it finished: it gave me a deadline to aim for. And then it was just a case of releasing it…

For those interested in numbers:

Sales: I released the game on iOS and Android on the 23rd November (approximately 2 months ago). In that time, I’ve sold about 400 copies on iOS and about 100 copies on Android. About 40 of those sales can be attributed to the half-price sale over the new year weekend.

Plays: I released the game on Newgrounds on the 12th December (approximately 1.5 months ago). In that time it’s been played over 170,000 times.

I released some of these figures on Twitter about two weeks ago and they haven’t significantly changed since then: perhaps 1-4 sales per day.

January 08, 2012

Shit Snake 2: Shit Harder (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Created at: GameToilet Jam (22nd – 23rd October)
Development time: 2 days
Inspired by: this comment on Rock Paper Shotgun
Status: 95% done, but some bits I meant to fix up and never got around to
Play online

“Why aren’t you in bed yet?” she asked.
I laughed. “I’m playing shit snake” I told her.
She didn’t laugh. In fact, she started to cry. She asked why I valued shit snake more than our relationship.
I found it odd that she didn’t ask what shit snake was in the first place. “You should ask what shit snake is” I said.
She didn’t laugh. In fact, she ran out and slammed the door, like in some dramatic fashion or something like that.
“Shit.” I said.
The snake was strangely apathetic.
- caddyB

One of my games killed a relationship. It’s not everyone who can say that.

The excellent writing in the comment above was inspirational: I knew that I had to create an interactive fiction game based on the story.

I am not opposed to making more Shit Snake games in the future, provided I can think of an idea which is equally distinct from the first two entries in the series. I also have a few ideas for other Shit Games, including Shit Tetris. These probably won’t get made, but I can’t say that for sure…

Camouflage Snake (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Created for: Klik of the Month 52 (15th October)
Development time: 4 hours (together with Shit Snake)
Status: Done
Play online

Shit Snake’s lesser-known brother.

Shit Snake (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Created for: Klik of the Month 52 (15th October)
Development time: 4 hours (together with Camouflage Snake)
Status: Done
Play online

Everyone seems to love Shit Snake!

The game I was originally making was Camouflage Snake, but the idea for this just popped into my head as I was making it. So I made both.

The audio is from the_muteKi’s set of ridiculously short music loops which he made for the IGF Pirate Kart. It’s amazingly fitting.

I’m idly considering making a HD version, though not sure whether improved graphics would actually take away from the charm. If you’d be interested in making some graphics for that, get in touch.

High point: this comment on Rock Paper Shotgun, which later inspired Shit Snake 2: Shit Harder.

Second place: being mentioned several times in the last minute or two of this BBC indie games podcast, continually bleeped out.

Not the Sharpest Sword in the Box (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page

Created for: Ludum Dare 21 (10th – 21st August)
Development time: 48 hours
Theme: Escape
Status: Wants to be ported to touchscreen devices
Play online

Taking part in Ludum Dare from Cambridge again, I had the idea of making a game about an escapologist for the theme of “escape”. I wasn’t sure it would be interesting enough to spend 48 hours on, so I decided to make it for Klik of the Month #50 instead.

That prototype was promising enough that I decided to polish it up for Ludum Dare (I hadn’t started anything else yet, so I wasn’t throwing anything away).

Jasper Byrne saw this image and suggested that the game should use that graphical style, which does work quite well despite my drawing skills being atrocious.

The audio was thrown together very last-minute, but I’m really happy with the variety of exclamations the guy has.

This would be perfect on touchscreen devices, so I should really get around to that. It’d need a complete rewrite since the code is some of my worst in recent memory.

It would also need some new art. If you want to collaborate and could draw a ragdoll magician in this style, please get in touch with me!

Bonus video: the world high score is an astonishing 41 swords!

New blog location

After a hiatus of several years, I’ve started blogging again at

My website

Looking for more information about Alan Hazelden? Follow me on Twitter or go to my website.

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