January 08, 2012

Needy Bankers (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/needy-bankers/

Created for: TIGJam UK5 (15th – 17th July)
Development time: 1 week
Theme: Bailout
Status: Needs lots of levels
Play online

The other game that came out of TIGJam UK5 was a collaboration with Ashley Gwinnell. It’s a puzzle game tribute to Greedy Bankers.

I think it’s interesting enough that I should polish it up and release it. Hopefully that will happen at some point in 2012!

There’s a level editor built-in to the game if you want to make levels:
E: Enter edit mode/test level
SPACE: open tile-picker
C: Clear screen
Right-click -> Copy: Save level to clipboard
Right-click -> Paste: Load level from clipboard

As an example, here’s a level from Dom Camus: eNqtUoEJwDAIixO3/n/xGCiEkhbZFggUYzC2BX5HNIlN3UkvjGQIzcW59CtpCy/PLu9JhMj84EgGZfPNTirz7J17ILxGu7yZW5oReV8T/YPupfu27HXK+OUftXADsRcB8g==

(I used to have a few more contributed levels but I’ve misplaced them all unfortunately.)

January 07, 2012

Inside a Starfield Sky (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/starfield/

Created for: TIGJam UK5 (15th – 17th July)
Development time: 5-6 hours
Theme: Stars
Status: Done, but could be improved
Play online (with a friend)

A collaboration with Phillip Webster at TIGJam UK5.

It’s a strategic two-player competitive game, with a similar feel to a certain family of boardgames. You’re trying to connect your two sides of the screen while your opponent is simultaneously trying to connect his.

I’m pretty sure it was Ruari O’Sullivan who came up with the rule that a star with (n) connections can capture a star with (n-1) connections. This made the game much more interesting, but unfortunately there’s nothing in the game which explains that this rule exists.

There’s also another rule that the two endpoints of your opponent’s last go cannot be captured, which was added after playtesting. This feels very arbitrary to me, I don’t like it much. But I’m sure there was a good reason for adding it.

I suspect the rules can be simplified/improved. More playtesting needed!

Apologies to Jason Rohrer for the name.

Legend of Parasite (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/parasite/

Created for: Ludum Dare 20 (30th April – 1st May)
Development time: 48 hours + several weeks working on extra enemies
Theme: It’s Dangerous to go Alone! Take this!
Status: Early days
Play online

Taking part in Ludum Dare from Cambridge again, I came up with this idea on the train on the way there.

I had a couple of concerns with the idea: first that it wouldn’t be fun and second that it would require way too much art. Managed to be convinced that I should give it a shot though, and Dock suggested an amazing art restriction to try out.

The restriction: all characters use just black, white and one other colour. I also used Arne’s 16 colour palette. I think the result is the best-looking game I’ve ever made (admittedly, not saying much).

For the Ludum Dare deadline I only managed to get two enemies implemented, which was a bit disappointing and not really enough to prove the idea. I started working on an improved version and got a bit carried away drawing new sprites, never getting around to making any new puzzles for them. Here they are:

I was also in contact with a musician, but progress on my part has been too slow for it to be worth him starting anything.

The plan is to work on this some more, on and off over the next few months. I don’t expect to have anything finished by then, but I would like more idea about how big a project this will end up being.

January 05, 2012

Time–Dilation Birthday Buddies (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/birthday2/

Created for: Hennell’s birthday
Development time: 6-8 hours maybe?
Status: Done
Play online (with a friend)

The second in the annual series of terrible games as birthday presents for my friend Hennell.

This one has online multiplayer! That must make it good, right?

The premise of the game is that you and a friend are having a race: to the future! Whoever is the oldest at the end of the game wins.

I intended to enter this as a second entry into the TIGSource Versus Competition, but I finished it too late. Which means I also finished it too late for Hennell’s birthday…

Surprisingly, the game actually provided moments of entertainment. They involved learning about xdotool and making automated clicking tools to battle Hennell’s automated clicking tools.

January 04, 2012

Tetris Fight Club (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/tetris-fight-club/

Created for: MiniLD #24 and TIGSource Versus Competition
Development time: 2 weeks
Theme: Tetris is now a game!
Status: Done
Play online

The name says it all really.

This was initially started for MiniLD #24, which had the best set of themes ever. I then finished it off for the TIGSource Versus Competition, where it placed joint 10th (out of 81 entries).

Paul Forey made some excellent music for it at very short notice, combining the Tetris and Mortal Kombat themes in a catchy way.

During the voting period the game got shoutouts on ByteJacker and Rock Paper Shotgun (who described it as “peculiarly conflicted”, whatever that means).

Later in the year, I spent a weekend in London making it work on The Beast (London’s indie arcade machine), where it works really nicely.

I should really clean up and release the full-screen version, I think it works a lot better with a wider arena. Poke me if you want that to happen.

Beautiful Bullet Bounce (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/bullet-bounce/

Created for: TIGJam UK4 collaboration jam (6th February)
Development time: 4-5 hours
Status: Very early prototype
Play online

For the random collaboration jam at TIGJam UK4, I got paired up with William David Hunt. We decided to make this game about reflecting enemy’s bullets back at them.

The good: when it works, I think it’s quite satisfying.
The bad: it’s incredibly awkward to control. I think single-player with mouse controls is least bad in this respect, but it’s far from perfect.

Bungee Bungee Bungee (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/bungee/

Created for: TIGJam UK4 (4th-7th February)
Development time: 2 days
Status: Very early prototype
Play online

I spent most of TIGJam UK4 working on this. It’s a fairly promising prototype I think, but not sure if it’ll be developed any further.

My main problem with the game is working out what the failure conditions should be. The obvious answer is to have spikes that kill you if you touch them, but the screen scrolls too quickly for that to work: you’d just fall straight into them without enough warning. At the moment there’s a damage counter that is increased proportional to your speed when you touch a ledge and which decreases over time, but it’s not super-intuitive.

Dock suggested the game be called The Amazing Umbilical Brothers and be about baby magicians connected by an umbilical cord. If this game ever goes any further, that’s probably what it’ll be.

Hall of Contradictions: part of So Many Rooms (2011 game roundup)

Writing about web page http://somanyrooms.com/index.php?page=home&roomID=4d52e65e-b2ac-440d-a0af-188c45591f59

Created for: So Many Rooms (29th-30th January)
Development time: 48 hours
Status: Done
Play online

The idea of So Many Rooms was that a bunch of game developers would each make a room of a game, and then at the end all the rooms would be bundled together as part of a single game. Each room would end up with completely different gameplay, but feature the same character.

It’s a great concept, so I really wanted to make something for it. I teamed up with Sam Gynn: he made the graphics and I came up with the logic puzzle. The audio was taken from FreeSound.

The puzzle itself is probably too hard for most people, but I’ve made my peace with that. I figure if nothing else it makes for an interesting break from the other rooms.

January 21, 2011

AS3 Flash dev in Linux

It is possible to create Flash applications from Linux using only free tools. It’s also easy!

Downloading the Flex SDK

The Flex SDK contains the compiler you’ll be using. Flex is also the name of Adobe’s Flash-based UI library but you do not need to use any Flex components to use the Flex compiler.

You can find it easily by searching for “flex sdk”. At the time of writing the most recent version can be found here: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flex/flex-sdk-download.html.

Older versions can currently be found here: http://sourceforge.net/adobe/flexsdk/wiki/Downloads/. You want to get the “Adobe Flex SDK” rather than the “Open Source Flex SDK” because the Adobe one comes with the debug flashplayer program you’ll be wanting to use for testing.

Using the command-line compiler mxmlc

MXML is an XML schema for laying out UI components, but you don’t need to (and don’t want to) create any mxml files to use the compiler mxmlc.

The executable is in the Flex download in flex/bin/mxmlc. The minimal usecase looks like this:

mxmlc Main.as

Which creates a file Main.swf. A minimal Main.as might look like this:

    import flash.display.*;

    [SWF(width = "640", height = "480")]
    public class Main extends Sprite
        public function Main ()
            graphics.drawCircle(320, 240, 100);

Generally you will want some give mxmlc some extra parameters though. I generally use these:

mxmlc -optimize=true -output $OUTPUT -static-link-runtime-shared-libraries=true --target-player=10.0.0 -compiler.debug=true Main.as

I’ve heard this doesn’t do a great job of optimising, but no reason not to include it really.

-output $OUTPUT
Specifies the filename of the SWF to be generated.

Starting with Flex 4 I get warnings if I don’t include this parameter, and in some projects the application didn’t run at all without it.

Target Flash Player 10 rather than the default Flash Player 9. Depending on the libraries you are using you can omit this.

Generates debug information so you can get line numbers from stack traces. You probably want to disable this when compiling your final release.

You might also want to be aware of:

Flex 4 has an incredibly annoying backwards incompatibility with Flex 3 where embedded fonts will silently fail and no text is rendered. This is one solution to that problem, the other is to add the parameter embedAsCFF="false" to all font embeds in your code.

-frames.frame arbitraryframename ClassName
This is used when you have a preloader. I won’t go into the details of using a preloader here, but when I compile with a preloader I use mxmlc [normal parameters] Preloader.as -frames.frame mainframe Main which compiles Preloader.as and Main.as separately.

Testing your SWF from the command line

The Adobe Flex SDK (but not the open source Flex SDK) comes with a debug version of the Flash Player that will show error messages.

It is located in flex/runtimes/player/10/lnx/flashplayer.tar.gz

Note that there should be two versions included: 10.0 and 10.1. I have not been able to get the 10.1 player to output trace statements so I use the 10.0 player for debugging.

After you’ve extracted it, you can test your application from the command line by running

flashplayer Main.swf

Improving build times

You might notice that compiling using mxmlc takes a very long time. This is because it has a lengthy startup time and doesn’t keep anything in memory for future compilations.

There is another tool in the Flex package to help solve this problem called fcsh (the Flex compiler shell). Running fcsh will give you a shell, and typing mxmlc commands into that shell will cache some results for improved speed.

Unfortunately this is a horrible way to work: you don’t want to use a specific shell for compiling, you just want a standalone command that can be run from bash, or from a makefile, or from wherever.

To solve this problem I wrote fcsh-wrap. You use it as a drop-in replacement for mxmlc and it will use black magic to speed up your compile times.

There are also similar scripts available for emacs which I have not used, and hopefully any AS3-supporting IDE will have fcsh support built-in.

Update: if for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to use fcsh or fcsh-wrap, setting -incremental=true will give you some of the same performance benefits, although it will still be slightly slower.


Speaking of which, what AS3-supporting IDEs are there for Linux?

Obviously you don’t need an IDE because I’ve been talking about the command-line compilation toolchain. You can use any text editor you like: personally I use Sublime Text, obviously the vi/emacs fans will choose to use vi and emacs.

For Sublime Text, you want to install the ActionScript 3 package through this package manager.

For gedit, you can get AS3 syntax-highlighting support from here.

In terms of actual IDEs, there seem to be two choices. They both have a pricetag attached, but I believe they are both free for students or for development of open source projects.

IntelliJ IDEA is a Java-focused IDE, but the Ultimate edition comes with AS3 support. Comes recommended by Daniel Cassidy.
FDT is a Flash-focused IDE. Looks worth checking out but I have no personal experience of it.
FlashBuilder is Adobe’s product. It is essentially an Eclipse plugin. Correction: FlashBuilder is no longer available for Linux

Useful AS3 libraries

This isn’t Linux-specific of course, but I think it’s relevant and useful to mention these here.

I was going to go into detail about why these are useful, but for the purposes of saving time I will just give you a list:

Game frameworks:
FlashPunk (Use this one! Also use my branch, it generally has a few more bugfixes and features than the official version.)



Sound effects:

Misc. utility functions:

Statistic logging:

Embedding your Flash application in a webpage

Again not Linux-specific but someone mentioned that this would be useful information to include.

I tried to embed the cross-browser SWF embed code into this post but it screwed up. Have a look at the SWFObject documentation (the “static publishing” section): you only really need step 1. Doing steps 2 & 3 as well will let you detect whether the user has the right version of Flash installed.

Note that the SWF is embedded twice (for different browsers) so if you change its filename or its size, you need to change that in two places.

And that’s it!

I think that’s everything that you’ll find useful. I’ve been making Flash games in Linux for over a year and a half now and I’m really happy with the tools available. Hopefully you will be too!

If anything here is unclear or you’re having trouble getting it set up, leave a comment below or send me a message on Twitter.

January 03, 2011

2010 Game Roundup

Writing about web page http://www.draknek.org/games/

Grid of game thumbnails

2010 has been a really great year for me. I’ve met a ton of new and exciting people, made a bunch of games that I’ve enjoyed working on, and I feel I’ve vastly improved as a game designer over the course of the year.

I wanted to round up a list of each of the games I’ve worked on this year and talk a little about each one. Took me a little longer to do than I anticipated but here we are:



Created for: Ludum Dare 16 and GAMMA4 (December 2009 to January 2010)
Development time: 1.5 months
Theme: Exploration/One button
Status: Incomplete and not representative of what I want it to be
Play online

I had the idea for this game way back in 2009 when I was thinking of themes for one-week challenges and thought about a one-button challenge. Then the GAMMA4 theme was announced and I decided to prototype it in 48 hours for Ludum Dare 16 (exploration). The idea as it was originally was that when you press the button down you do one action (jump) and when you release the button you do another action (flip).

What I submitted to Ludum Dare was not a good game for a number of reasons (among other things, I’m pretty sure only one other person in the world ever completed it) but I was sure the idea had potential so I kept working on it for GAMMA4.

Playtesting in real life showed me that my game was even less playable than I thought it was: possibly it is my most inaccessible game ever and that’s quite an accomplishment. I found it necessary to change the control scheme from press=jump and release=flip so that instead every time you press the button it jumps or flips alternately.

That was very disappointing (it was the original idea after all!) but that control scheme was no longer the central part of the project in my mind: the Ludum Dare prototype had given me a better idea of what kind of puzzles the game could involve, which wouldn’t be affected by the new control scheme. Unfortunately, further concessions to accessibility meant making other changes to the level design. In hindsight I feel these changes took me away from my vision for the game.

The biggest problem (though not the only one) stopping me working on the game at the moment is that I feel it should be about exploration (something more obvious in the LD version than in the most recent one). I don’t know how to create a world that players will want to explore though: it’s just not something I have any experience of. So it’s become this big daunting project in my head that scares me when I think about it.

Currently I don’t think I can do the game justice but I will make it eventually. You probably won’t see it in 2011 though.

Terrible Bear


Created for: TIGJam UK2 (16th-17th January)
Development time: 1 day
Theme: Bear tears
Status: Hibernating :(

A collaboration between George Buckenham (v21), myself, BorisTheBrave and Jim Riley to create a depressed Bear who uses Twitter. If you send him positive messages he would become happier and if you send him negative messages he would become sadder.

He’s currently hibernating so won’t respond to you, but some day I think I will need to wake up Terrible Bear. He is just too terrible to remain in hibernation forever.



Created for: TIGJam UK2 (18th January)
Development time: 4 hours
Theme: Reflection
Status: Needs levels
Play online

TIGJam UK2 was the first physical game jam I’d ever been to (apart from the Warwick Game Design 48 hour competitions) and I had a really great time there. The concept of a three hour game was strange and concerning to me, but I gave it a shot. My first attempt, BubbleSun, was not a success but I think Doppelganger was much better.

The idea I had for the “reflection” theme was two player characters on opposite sides of the screen which move in opposite directions. The aim is to get each of them to the other’s spawn point, but they will get in each other’s way.

I recruited Lifesnoozer to make some graphics while I rapidly hacked apart the Robo-Jimmy codebase. Lifesnoozer also made most of the levels.

I’m sure that there is an interesting puzzle platformer here, so I will eventually go back and create more levels for it (and probably rewrite it in FlashPunk).

Flippy gets lost


Created for: Global Game Jam (30th-31st January)
Development time: ~40 hours
Theme: Deception
Status: Discarded
Play online

A couple of weeks later I took part in the Global Game Jam from Bristol. I teamed up with Mirek Salmon and Enno Slocinda (who for some reason decided he needed to use a pseudonym and wouldn’t tell us his real name) to create another platformer game using the Robo-Jimmy codebase (we also stole some of the levels from Doppelganger).

The idea this time was also based on reflection: on one side of the screen you would be able to see the player character normally, but on the other side of the screen the player would be invisible and you would only be able to see your reflected image on the other side of the level.

At the time I wasn’t very happy with this game idea which impacted on my enthusiasm. Playing it again now, I think I was being a bit too negative although this implementation of it is still very poor.

Happy Birthday Hennell


Created for: Hennell’s birthday and Klik & Play Pirate Kart 2 (28th February)
Development time: 3 hours
Status: Complete
Play online

I accomplished everything I wanted to with this game. My only regret is that it doesn’t tell you that there are 23 levels so I suspect most people didn’t see the punchline.

The awesome music is what makes it work for me. I found it by searching for “birthday” on 8BitCollective and there was the perfect audio track just waiting for me.

For most of the year, this was my most-played game due to Hennell linking it on Reddit. Awesomely, one redditor actually wrote a script to click on the candles for him to try to get past level 23.

Roly-Poly Samurai


Created for: PyWeek #10 (28th March to 4th April)
Development time: 1 week
Theme: Wibbly-wobbly
Status: Very unpolished

I teamed up with my brother Phil and Ali from Warwick Game Design to make a game for PyWeek but none of us ended up having really any time for it. End result: nothing worth playing.

The idea was to make something which is half balance-game and half platformer, with the player trying to get higher and higher while trying not to fall off any of the tilting platforms.

108 seconds of loneliness


Created for: Ludum Dare 17 (25th April)
Development time: 10 hours
Theme: Islands
Status: Needs levels and narrative
Play online

I procrastinated all of Saturday trying to think of a game idea I wanted to make for the theme “islands”. Finally on Sunday I just gave up and decided to make something like Sokoban with water currents inspired by Rescue Rover.

I was wanting to try my hand at narrative but due to the late start never got the opportunity. I was also wanting to make allusions to Lost, so the player was going to have to press the button in every level in 108 seconds. That never got added but the title stuck.

Graphically, I chose to restrict myself to 8×8 tiles/entities with two colours per object. I’m actually still pretty happy with the result when it’s not animated (with the exception of the player sprite) although other people certainly disagree with me here.

I made three trivial levels followed by a ridiculously hard level followed by an actually impossible level. Another successful difficulty curve then. I might revisit this game sometime if I have a craving to create lots of puzzle levels: I found Sokoban fairly rewarding to create levels for.

This was the first time I tried FlashPunk, and afterwards I started using FlashPunk for pretty much everything. Eight months on and no regrets.

Getout: Forever


Created for: Klik of the Month #35 (15th May)
Development time: 3 hours followed by a week or so of graphical/audio polish
Status: Complete but could be improved
Play online

A Breakout clone with a twist. I am fairly happy with how this turned out but I do wish there was something more to it after the twist comes.



Created for: TIGJam UK3 (6th June)
Development time: 4 hours
Theme: 20+ inputs at once
Status: Complete but audioless
Play online (two players only)

The number of three hour jams at TIGJam UK3 was a bit insane, I started something like eight games over three days. Not all of them worked out, but those that did I’m happy with.

This is a two-player duelling game, there is no point playing it unless there are two of you.

Runaway Paint


Created for: TIGJam UK3 (7th June)
Development time: ~12 hours
Theme: Paint program
Status: Complete
Draw here

The very final jam at TIGJam UK3 had the theme “paint program” and I made one where the brush runs away from your mouse cursor. It’s practically impossible to draw anything, but I am happy enough with the result.

Terrible Tiny Traps


Started at: TIGJam UK3 (5th June)
Continued at: World of Love Jam (27th June)
Submitted to: Reddit Game Jam #3 (14th-15th August)
Development time: 2-3 weeks
Status: Complete
Play online

This is my favourite game of the year, and also the most-played (thanks Reddit!).

It started out as a VMU (48×32 pixels, 1 bit colour) demake of Run/Jump/Flip at TIGJam UK3. Then I realised that a VMU demake of Mindbender would be better (because that would mean four 24×16 screens). I got the pixel-platformer engine working there but didn’t get close to finishing the demake.

Then at the World of Love Jam there was a jam with the theme “traps” and I revisited the codebase and added moving obstacles. I kept getting really weird problems though and didn’t have time to do any level design.

Finally for the Reddit Game Jam (theme: 300×250 resolution) I turned my test level into an actual level. It wasn’t a great level though: it was too open-ended and there was no reward for collecting the arbitrary collectables (and nothing even happened when you collected everything).

So two weeks later I released an update. Now when you reached some checkpoints part of the level would be activated and start moving, opening up access to more sections. This made it less open-ended and helped to focus the player, as well as being a kind of reward for getting further. The difficulty was pretty high but I was finally happy with this version. It didn’t get much feedback though and I forgot all about it for a while.

Fast-forward three months to November and it goes into the Reddit ad rotation. I also submit it as a link at this point. All of a sudden people are playing it, and most surprisingly of all, enjoying it: despite or perhaps because of the steep difficulty curve.

With the new attention I’m motivated to add a small number of extra features including a no-death mode. While playtesting it I get to the final trap and then it kills me brutally. “No one will ever beat this,” I thought. How wrong I was.

I put the game on FlashGameLicense but so far nobody has made any bids. My suspicion is that the combination of super low-res graphics and a very high difficulty curve makes it not particularly sponsor-friendly but I also probably haven’t done as much as I could have to attract their attention.

A collection of comments from Reddit:

“Well, there goes 30 minutes I’ll never get back. I REGRET NOTHING.”
“I hate you. This was only supposed to be a short study break.”
“Oh my God, I hate that game so much! Why can’t I stop playing it?”
“A+++ would strain eyes again”
“Damn it! This just wasted 15mins of my time when I have a paper due in one hour.”
“Pretty good graphics for 2003”
“I hate this thing. It’s pure evil.”
“I gave up”

Nothing beats the feeling of people actually playing/enjoying/hating your game. :)

Super Collide-Em-Up


Created for: Ludum Dare 18 (21st-22nd August)
Development time: 48 hours
Theme: Enemies as Weapons
Status: Needs work
Play online

I travelled up to Cambridge for Ludum Dare 18, to work at CB2 with other people around. That was good for motivation; I had been worried I’d have a repeat of the last Ludum Dare and wouldn’t start anything until the Sunday again.

The concept for this changed several times over the course of the competition, but eventually it became about smashing into asteroids with your invulnerable ship to stop them hitting the Earth (which is flying through hyperspace at ludicrous speed after the planet had to be relocated). You get more arbitrary points for smashing asteroids into each other.

I think the core gameplay is fun but there would be a lot of work to realise its full potential. Still, it’s on my “would be worth revisiting this” list.

Happy Happy Brick Catch


Development time: 2 weeks (15th-31st October)
Theme: Ponglike with a twist
Status: Needs work
Play online

Breakout with physically simulated bricks? Sounds like fun! What if you had to catch them on your paddle and you didn’t want them to fall off?

That is pretty much the thought process that created this game: it just came to me as a complete concept.

Once I had the core gameplay in place I decided to experiment with adding some character to the bricks. Smiling faces and an appropriate background immediately made it 100 times better. Now I am waiting on some appropriately happy music and when that gets here I will hopefully be motivated to start working on this again.

Mr Cursor’s Chasing Adventure


Created for: Warwick Game Design 48hr competition (28th November)
Development time: 16 hours
Theme: Evil ventriloquist’s dummy
Status: Needs rewriting
Play online

I found the theme “evil ventriloquist’s dummy” really hard to work with. I feel like I let my teammates down a lot on Saturday, I really wasn’t motivated and I was an awful project leader.

On Sunday I finally worked out a game idea that would work (really quite close to the first idea I considered on Saturday but then decided it wouldn’t be fun): you have to herd evil ventriloquist dummies to the de-evilifier but if they touch the evilification walls they will go mad and start to chase you instead.

I really underestimated how much of a user experience problem it would be to use the normal cursor as a game entity: people don’t seem to realise that. So that is a useful lesson. Also using a bitmap image as the level format and pixel-based collisions means that the walls are annoyingly sticky: if I were to revisit this concept I’d need to rewrite it to use vector-based walls.

I had some really positive feedback on this from one person, so perhaps it is worth continuing with.

These Robotic Hearts of Mine


Created for: FlashPunk Game Competition (5th December)
Development time: 4 hours initially followed by 1-2 weeks
Theme: 96×96 resolution, pink and black colour scheme
Status: 90% complete maybe
Play online

I didn’t get around to starting anything for the FlashPunk Game Competition until four hours before it ended, but fortunately I had a good idea in my head of what I wanted to make and I knew it could probably be done in four hours.

The idea was a puzzle game with similarities to a 2D Rubik’s Cube and I was right that it could be quickly implemented. I had time to make seven levels but had no idea how hard they would be. Turns out: very hard.

Since then I’ve worked up to 30 levels and the difficulty curve is slightly better but still pretty steep. The problem is that I’m not entirely sure how to teach the player what they need to learn: I had hoped that throwing more levels at the problem would work but no such luck. By level 6 something like 80% of players have dropped out which isn’t great.

I have experimented with adding narrative to the game, which I am broadly very happy with. It’s something I haven’t done a lot of in the past, but I think it works well here. The ending still needs work though.

As of yet, nobody but me has completed the final level. What I might end up doing is move the harder levels to a set of bonus levels.

Dinosaur Dance-Off


Created for: Ludum Dare 19 (18th-19th December)
Development time: 48 hours
Theme: Discovery
Status: Lots that could/should be added
Play online

I went up to Cambridge again for Ludum Dare 19 and the game I made is entirely the product of the lovely people who were there: without their suggestions and inspiration I would have made something far less interesting.

I wasn’t feeling inspired by the theme on the train up there but eventually I thought of making some kind of paleontology game. My first idea for that would have been incredibly boring and my second idea was a total rip-off of Radical Fishing, but after some encouragement I started working on the original part of it, which was creating a dinosaur skeleton out of falling bones.

That turned out pretty fun although entirely non-gamey, but on the walk back to the house on Saturday evening with Stephen/Terry/Sophie/Jonathan someone suggested the idea of being able to upload your dinosaur and challenge other people. Originally they were fighting but then someone observed they looked more like they were dancing, and so Dinosaur Dance-Off was born.

It is pretty bare-bones (ha ha ha I am hilarious), as per usual for a Ludum Dare entry, so there’s more work required if I want to turn it into an actual game.



Development time: 7 months on and off (mostly off)
Status: 99% complete

And finally, a game I’ve been working on with Sam Gynn since the start of May. It is a port to Flash of one of his old games, so I’m not entirely sure how it’s taken this long.

The idea is that you’re trying to drink all the beer found in each level, but each drink you take will make you more and more drunk. This game I’ve never publically linked to anywhere, you will have to wait just a bit longer to play it.

It includes some lovely music by the talented Philip Cunningham.

2011: ???

2010 was a great year for me and 2011 has the potential to be even better. Time to make that happen then.

New blog location

After a hiatus of several years, I’ve started blogging again at blog.draknek.org.

My website

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

June 2023

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