Month: October 2013

Planitia Update 50: What’s With All The Magic Sparkles?!



The blue blocks are supposed to be water droplets (and they do at least look like a fountain when the game is running). They look awful because they’re being textured with the blue roof texture but it works!

Plus, I’m really liking the circle of colored stars around the cursor that denotes the range of your spells. The current spell selected is Lightning Bolt, which has a small range but as you choose different spells the circle gets larger or smaller.

Oh, and bonus points to anyone who can name what movie the title of this post is referencing.

Galactic. Civilizations. III.

I have been waiting a long time to be able to say those three words. Here there be launch trailers!

Don’t be fooled, it’s still a 4X game. But it looks like Jesse Brindle’s combat engine is going to get even more of a workout than it did in GalCiv II.

Oh, and because I worked at Stardock…I know where those aggressive, invading humans are from 🙂

Bundle-In-A-Box results and IT’S BEHIND YOU!

Well, the Bundle-In-A-Box is over and I was really surprised at the nice emails I got and exposure the bundle provided. Many thanks to Kyttaro Games for inviting me to be part of the bundle! And again, thanks to my long-suffering beta testers, whose efforts will not go to waste.

On another topic. did you guys know that I like reading about the history of video game development? What? You did, because I never stop talking about it?

Well then, I guess this won’t come as a surprise to you.

Once upon a time, there was a game for the venerable ZX Spectrum called R-Type. Based directly on the arcade game of the same name by Irem, R-Type is widely considered one of the best ZX Spectrum games ever made. Not only is it fun and incredibly faithful to the original arcade version, it used a clever system to prevent the color clash that plagued color ZX Spectrum games at the time. You’ll rarely find a “Top Spectrum Games List” without it.

And now, twenty-five years on, the developer has written an e-book about the game’s development. It’s Behind You, by Bob Pape, details the trials and tribulations of being a young, naive and brilliant programmer in the mid-80’s. Watch! As he makes every rookie mistake in the book during his first few years as a programmer! Wonder! As he lives like a homeless person during the game’s development! Gaze in awe! As he details the tricks he used to make the Spectrum do things it frankly shouldn’t have been capable of!

It’s Behind You is available for free in various e-book formats from Bob’s website. I highly recommend it.

Just So You Know I’m Not Talking Through My Hat…

…Here’s a screenshot of Planitia running on Ubuntu Linux.


Ginger Apple Cobbler

A couple months back, I was invited to participate in a potluck dinner here at work. I provided two dishes, a duck concoction that was okay, but not great, and an apple cobbler.

The apple cobbler was the big hit, so I thought I’d provide the recipe.

The base recipe is here; it’s a simple-to-make drop-dough cobbler. But when I made it for the first time, the apple/ginger pairing just spoke to me. I thought it was far more delicious than apples and cinnamon, so I modified the recipe.

Ginger Apple Cobbler

This recipe will make one 9×9 or 8×11 baking dish worth of cobbler.


6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg


2 tablespoons butter, soft
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground ginger
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the baking dish.

Mix the apples, sugar, brown sugar, AP flour, vanilla extract, ginger, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. You can mix them directly in the baking dish. The resulting mixture should taste sweet, tart and gingery.

When making the topping, you can use a hand mixer or your food processor if it has a dough blade. Put one egg in the bowl and beat it well. Add the butter, sugar, flour, salt and ginger and beat until smooth.

Taste the topping. It should be delicious and you should be tempted to just eat it right out of the bowl. If not, you did something wrong.

Spoon up some topping and dollop it on top of the filling. You want to get the dollops as even as you can, though it doesn’t have to be perfect. The topping will spread as it bakes. It will also absorb moisture from the filling, which is why you don’t have to put a lot of liquid in it.

Bake for about thirty minutes. When the topping is light brown and firm, remove it from the oven. Let it cool thoroughly before serving or you will burn your tongue off.

Enjoy with vanilla ice cream.

I tripled this recipe for the potluck and served it in one of those big catering pans. Like I said, it was a huge hit.

Money, Dear Boy

I’m seriously thinking about doing a Kickstarter (or something similar) for Planitia.

One of the best things I ever did when working on Inaria was to put the game up on 8-Bit Funding.

I’d provide a link to 8-Bit Funding but it’s gone now. Sad face.

Even though I only got about $500 in funding, knowing that people had paid me money in advance for the game was an incredible motivator and I don’t think Inaria would have ever been commercially available without it.

(The fact that it’s not really commercially successful is all on me, of course.)

I think I need something similar for Planitia.


A successful Kickstarter needs at least one of the following things:

* Name Recognition: Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo, Keiji Inafune

* An incredible gameplay video (even if the gameplay is mockup): Planetary Annihilation, Star Command, Hyper Light Drifter

* “Spritual Successor” Recognition: Star Citizen, Satellite Reign, Godus

Having a video that’s funny or includes some biting satire on traditional game publishing helps too.

And I don’t really have any of that. (Neither did the Conquest 2 Kickstarter, unfortunately.)

I could have tried to get some “spiritual successor” recognition going (though I wouldn’t have been able to mention either of the games I’m successing) before Godus came out.

But I’m still trying to think of a way to get it done, and I might have an answer in that I actually have a working version of the game right now. If I could put together a clever trailer and couple that with a good demo and scream about the Kickstarter at the top of my lungs every second of every day (basically following Dan “Buy Gibbage!” Marshall‘s formula) then I might be able to make it succeed. People will be able to say, “Hey, the game is there. It works. He just wants to buff it up before it goes on sale, so I’m not as worried about being taken for a ride.”