Month: February 2009

Jewel Loves Bejeweled

She does, she does.

Does she love it because it’s a fine, fun game that has a free web version?


She loves it because it’s got her NAME in the title! “Look, daddy, Be-Jewel-ed!” Or, more recently, “Be-Jewel-ed Twist!”

Name That Game 62!

Strategy/Simulation games tend to take one of two paths when dealing with little people. They either abstract them out completely, like in the SimCity games, or the model them in incredible detail, like the game I’m featuring today!

Name and developer, please! Actually, this game had two different names…bonus points if you can provide both of them. If you win, I’ll trade you three sheep for a brick. Come on, you’re not going to find a better deal than that!

Newco Has a Name-O

If you’ll recall, in the wake of Microsoft shutting Ensemble Studios down the founders of Ensemble formed a new company to invite former Ensemble employees to once they were done working on Halo Wars. At the time that company was just called Newco.

Now it has an official new name: Robot Entertainment. Eh, I’ve heard worse, I’ve heard better.

Nothing is Happening. And it’s Happening Slowly.

Being unemployed just causes time to slow…way…down. You spend your days emailing people you’ve never met before while constantly refreshing your mail client and keeping one ear cocked for a phone ring. It is, frankly, an awful way to live, and I’m hoping not to have to do it any more soon.

And because of this, I just don’t have much to talk about right now. Sure, I could make good on my threat to destroy PSRD in a massive post detailing what I think about various subjects but that seems like a copout…and I’m still a bit reticent about using my newfound power to say whatever the hell I want because in the end, far too many subjects have become far too polarized. People are actually deciding that their friends aren’t their friends any more, not because said friends have stolen from them or harmed them, or forgot to pick them up from the airport, but simply because they have different political views. Politics just aren’t that important. It’s a minefield, and it’s one best avoided (though if you diligently search my previous posts you’ll probably get a good feel for my beliefs).

Oh! I’m going to start giving PTFSD updates again. I’m currently at 316, which if you’ve been keeping track means I’ve lost about 40 pounds so far from my high of 355. I’d very much like to be below 300 for my birthday, but that’s not looking like it’s going to happen. Still, I’m hoping to get down to around 275 by the end of the year – that’s just another 40 pounds, so it should be doable. And of course every pound I lose means my heart can take it that much easier.

As for gaming…well, I’ve even less time for it now than I used to. Typically I just jump into 2Fort and do some sniping. I played the Halo Wars demo and the game looks perfectly serviceable…if a little uninspired.

Actually, right now my kids are going nuts over this little game called The Maw on XBLA. Maw’s a purple…thing with big teeth. He’s cute and menacing at the same time. You play as his friend Frank and your goal is simply to progress to the end of each level (there’s an overall story about a spaceship crashing and alien planets but it’s not that important).

As Maw eats the cute little critters on each level, he gets bigger – and he can actually steal abilities from some creatures. For instance, eating a fire lizard on the first level gives him flame breath. The character designs are great, the puzzles are simple but fun and the violence is played for laughs. All three of my kids enjoyed it, even the one who is allegedly grown up now.

Let’s Play Starflight! 14: Erfworld

In this episode, we visit Earth. The results are extremely underwhelming.

Planitia Update 37: A Writer Writes, A Painter Paints…

…A game programmer programs games, even if he’s not being paid to do it.

If you recall, I promised to put Planitia on the shelf a while back and post it and the source. “So where is it?” you may ask. “Why are you breaking your promises to us yet again?”

Well…because I just can’t let it go. I feel that I’m about halfway through the second 90%…and the game has so much potential that I can’t release it in its current state without wasting all that potential. I feel I have an obligation to potential players to make the software worth starting up.

But I’m not going to hold it back until I think it’s “done”, so here’s a new version!

What’s new in this version:

  • A tutorial! Everybody complains about the speed of the text; half say it’s too fast and the other half say it’s too slow. I’ll be putting in a “Next” prompt, but at least it exists now and should help people understand what the game is about.
  • The Flamestrike god power is now implemented and has an animation.
  • Changed the in-world hit marker. It’s still programmer art, but it’s much nicer programmer art.
  • Fixed the AI so that it can at least improve its own land again (for some reason, the AI got horribly broken when I put in the multiplayer).
  • Optimized my loading code so that the game now loads in about half the time.

What’s left:

  • Finish the AI so that there is actually a single-player aspect to the game.
  • Do some tweaks to the tutorial.
  • Add LOTS more sounds.
  • Add a bunch of UI stuff (for instance, right now, if you accidentally click Multiplayer when you didn’t want it, you have to exit the game).
  • Allow the player to switch to fullscreen.

I’m hoping to have it all done…soon.

So I’ve created a personal blog. “But Anthony!” I hear you cry. “We thought this was your personal blog! It even says so on the About Me page!”

That’s the thing…I’ve sort of used this as a hybrid blog – talking about technical subjects when I wanted and then posting cute stories about my kids. The problem is that the two don’t really go together…and I’m trying to customize this blog to be as much use to budding game developers and potential employers as possible. Thus, the personal stuff goes to, on a blog which I’ve dubbed GameDevDad.

So what stays?

* Obviously all of my hardcore game development articles like Practical Direct3D Programming and Pix will stay here. You won’t find articles like that on

* All of my games will stay here.

* My professional resume and contact info will stay here.

* Name That Game! stays, because often I use it to make a point about game design or game history.

* Writeups on game developers (like the one I did on Jeff Vogel) will stay here.

On the other hand…

* I won’t be mentioning my family or my various health problems here after this post.

* Let’s Play Starflight will be on GameDevDad hereforth.

* Be aware that I’ll be breaking PSRD much more often on GameDevDad than I did here; heck, that’s one of the reasons I’m making the site. If you’re afraid that by reading about my personal beliefs you might discover something about me that causes you not to like me any more, you should probably stay here.

And it’s entirely possible that some articles will get crossposted.

Welcome to my new personal blog!

Well, I’d been thinking about doing this for a while and friends of mine suggested that some of my posts on might be offputting to potential employers.

So welcome to my new personal blog!  Here I’ll be talking about my family, my hobbies, and self-improvement.   And I won’t be as leery about breaking PSRD (on I do not discuss politics, sex, religion or drugs).   And while I didn’t want to turn into an “Anthony recovers from his heart attack” blog, I’ll be talking a lot more about it here.

What you won’t see here are long treatises on game development topics; for that you should still continue to check

So, welcome!  Come in, sit a spell, put  your feet up.  And don’t be surprised if the chilluns jump on you.

Name That Game 61!

After last week’s depressionfest I figured it was a good idea to feature a light, airy, uplifting game.

During a previous job search I applied at the company that made this game – they were just finishing it up.  I was really taken with it; I thought it was colorful and clever.  Unfortunately they didn’t hire me and the game came out and died at retail.  It probably would have done great as a flash-based online casual game, and I wish someone would make one similar (or tell me that one similar exists).

Name and developer, please!  If you win, I’ll show you this really cool Rube Goldberg contraption I made that presses a key on a keyboard every time you drop a seventeen-pound bowling ball down the right hole.