Sunday, November 01, 2009

New Facebook Game Revealed - Hospital Town

Finally I can talk about our brand new Facebook game.

It's called Hospital Town, and it's a fun game that lets you run a hospital with your family and friends as doctors and patients.

You get build out your hospital adding new specialist rooms (like a an X-Ray room or Plastic Surgery) and customize it to express who you are. You fill your room with beds and treat patients to earn money. You can also visit your friend's hospitals and help out with medical procedures, raid their supplies or do other cool stuff.

We've done a "soft launch", which means we've just let our friends and family know about it. This gives us a chance to get some honest feedback and stress test the game on a daily basis.

But the word-of-mouth nature of Facebook means that we've already grown the small number of players to over 240 people in a few short days.

One of the things I love about Facebook is that we can react to things very quickly. Already we've improved loading times and lag and we're about to update with a new version that has lots of little tweaks and extra tutorials. It's so cool to be able to quickly evolve the game based on player feedback into the game that they want.

Check out Hosital Town here:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lazy Update

Since Twitter entered my life I've been blogging way less while twittering at least once a day. So, as a sort of half blog, below is a compilation of my more interesting tweets and re-tweets.

Oh, and you can hear me on the Australian Gamer podcast here.

RT @MargaretWallace: Social Gaming, Beyond the Clones -

RT @TheVoxelAgents: More Train Conductor imagery: game icon plus desktop and iPhone wallpapers

RT @morganjaffit: Mac Build of My Mechanical Romance (our 48 hour game comp entry) at

Brainiversity 2 is now playable in Japanese. ใ„ใ„ใงใ™!

RT @deantak: PopCap Games raises $22.5 million to fund expansion into social games.

"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." - Charles Mingus

LucasArts Reunion video (from 2008) -

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sony and Nintendo, Apple is eating your lunch

The new iPods were announced today and along with the new video enabled Nano, the iPod Touch has been given some extra grunt and a price drop. This means you can buy an 8GB iPod Touch for $268 in Australia and $199 in the US.

In Australia a PSP will set you back $279 and a DSi will cost you around $288. DS games range from $40 to $60, and PSP games, well good luck finding them :-)

And how much are iPhone games? Most of my 30 odd games I own on iPhone cost around $1.19. The most expensive game I bought was Monkey Island for $9.99 - cheaper than the PC version offered on Steam (which I believe is a very cheap version!). Compared to DS and PSP the cost is phenomenally cheaper.

And the the quality is incredible. I'm extremely happy with the games I play on my iPhone which include Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manner, Cluck It!, Monkey Island, Sneezies, Wild West and The Deep pinball, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Mr. Driller, Peggle, Dungeon Defense and iDig It - just to name a few.

So, what does the new price point for iPod Touch mean? Well, as a parent I know what I'll be buying my kids for their portable gaming console.

An iPod Touch with a $30 iTunes gift card.

This gives them anywhere between 10 and 25 games and still works out cheaper than a DSi or PSP with a game. Plus it plays music and has loads of free games for when they spend all their credit :-)

I figure that if I, as a parent, am thinking this then there must be a whole lot of other parents with the same thought. If I was Sony or Nintendo I'd be a little worried right now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Adventure Web

Adventure Web

Back in the early to mid 90's I was heavily involved in making adventure games.

Despite only releasing Flight of the Amazon Queen for Amiga and PC, I had worked on a number of prototypes and near completed games including Stereo Jack (a brightly colored and humorous cyber-punk adventure that we called "cyber-clunk"), Gruesome Castle (a kids adventure game in full 3D that was almost completed but we had to move on to other projects when our publisher pulled out) and Monsters of Airie Deep (a sort of 3D adventure RPG)... and the list goes on.

But one idea I recently found stashed away on my hard drive caught my attention. This was Adventure Web. Conceived in 1995, the concept was a user created universe of small adventure worlds that connect together much like web pages do, with items and puzzles spanning the web in an ever expanding open ended game. The game was based on the Amazon Queen JASPAR engine, but modified for the web.

It was a nice idea, but like some things I do, it was a little too ambitious and a little ahead of the curve. Anyway, I've uploaded the document for you to peruse.

Click here to download and read Adventure Web in PDF format

I wrote the doc almost 15 years ago and it's an interesting insight into what I was thinking back then. It's also a fascinating reflection on how things have progressed as the internet has evolved - read the How Is Money Generated? section for a good example.

Ultimately I never developed the project and moved on to other things, like founding Krome Studios and creating TY the Tasmanian Tiger... but since then it's great to see that Facebook has made the creation of similar persistent game worlds a piece of cake.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Flight of the Amazon new interface video

The new improved interface for Amazon Queen is getting great reviews. John Davison of What They Play had this to say:
We've tried out the new system and it works very well. So much so, that returning to the drag-based interface of Monkey Island now seems remarkably sluggish.

So rather than trying to explain how the cool the new interface works on the iPhone you should watch this video instead:

Click here to get Flight of the Amazon Queen now.

In related news, iPhSoft, the publishers of Amazon Queen have just released Simon the Sorcerer, another classic point and click adventure game from the nineties - and it also sports the brand new touch interface.

And it doesn't end there, Charles Cecil is bringing Beneath a Steel Sky to iPhone soon - sporting some design tweaks as well as a new intro by Dave (Watchmen) Gibbons. You can read more about that game here.

It's shaping up to be a great year for adventure game fans - all thanks to the iPhone.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Flight of the Amazon Queen iPhone update

Flight of the Amazon Queen on the iPhone has just been updated to include an all new totally awesome control system.

The previous version's controls emulated the mouse of the original game, but the new system is completely optimized for iPhone. Now you simply touch anywhere on screen to perform an action, making game play so much faster and intuitive. The older controls are still available as an option if you prefer them.

Congratulations are in order to Liron at iPhSoft and his team for coming up with a really elegant solution. Now I just need LucasArts to update the controls for Monkey Island on iPhone because Amazon Queen makes it hard to go back to the old interface...

Well, what are you waiting for? Go download Flight of the Amazon Queen for iPhone now.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Casual Connect, Seattle and Handheld Gaming

I just returned from Casual Connect in Seattle. The flight over from Australia was a bit on the long side (24 hours from start to finish!) but the flight back was good (I slept most of the way).

The trip was a great success - we met with everyone we wanted to, and were introduced to a lot of other interesting people.

I spent all my time in meetings so I didn't get a chance to catch many of the panels or talks, but the great team behind Casual Connect will have podcasts of many of the talks up on their site before too long.

One thing I noticed on this trip was a large number of iPod Touch/iPhone users at airports. They were everywhere, and weren't just using their devices as music players or phones, but as game devices. In fact, I saw more people playing games on their iPhones than I did on PSP's or DS's. Actually, I only saw one PSP the whole trip.

Of course this is all anecdotal, and probably has a lot to do with the flight route I took (LA to San Fran to Seattle). I imagine this is a route a lot of tech savvy people travel and are more likely to be sporting iPhones.

But it got me thinking, is the iPhone/iPod Touch on track to be the portable gaming platform of choice?

I actually packed my DS Lite with GTA: China Town Wars - keen to play more of the game. But what happened? The iPhone was in easy reach, I had a bunch of fun little games to play, so I ended up playing it whenever I got a chance. Plus, Virgin flights have USB slots on all their seats, so you never have to worry about your iPhone running out of battery power.

So, while Marko and Duncan played their iPhones and the gentlemen across the aisle played his, I was engrossed in I Dig It, Dungeon Defense, Peggle, the awesome Wild West Pinball (which is now FREE!) and Monkey Island. And my poor DS sat, untouched, in my carry on bag.

So, for me, I have to say that the iPhone is now my portable gaming platform choice.

One day I will switch on my DS and finish GTA: China Town Wars... but for now I have a secret to discover on Monkey Island, courtesy of my iPhone.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Screen Play Interview

I did an interview with Jason Hill for his Screen Play column in The Age.

Jason is a big supporter of the Aussie games industry and it was cool to be featured in his column. We talk about Flight of the Amazon Queen, the iPhone, social/casual games and Facebook as a gaming platform.

Click here to read the interview.

I love that Jason included a link to Screen Play's original 1995 review of Amazon Queen. Hope you don't mind Jason, but I've reprinted it here.
Flight of the Amazon Queen
Review (c) Jason Hill

This CD adventure was produced in Australia and shows our lads can make software that's every bit as good as the world's best. Flight of the Amazon Queen is a large, involving and entertaining quest.

You play pilot Joe King (pun definitely intended) who's a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Indiana Jones. The game is set in South America during the 40s, and Joe and his friends are trapped in the Amazon after his plane gets struck by lightning.

The game's humor is often groan-inducing but makes for a lot of fun. In one of the earliest puzzles Joe has to dress as a woman in order to escape some dim-witted guards, and his attire includes a hilarious pair of plastic breasts. Throughout the game there's also plenty of amusing jokes about Star Wars and strange rashes.

A strength of the game is its length. There are over 100 locations and 40 characters. If you knew every solution to every puzzle it would still take 11 hours to play through.

The game uses a good, forgiving interface and the puzzles are logical and not terribly difficult.

The graphics look a little dated compared to recent gems such as Full Throttle, but the backdrops are detailed and flow together extremely well. There's also plenty of good cut-away scenes where the plot is revealed.

The CD contains full speech. The acting is suitably hammy and there's a guest appearance by Penelope Keith.

Flight of the Amazon Queen has a very similar feel to the Monkey Island games, and while it seems a little dated compared to some of the latest cinematic adventures, it's extremely enjoyable and one of the best adventures around.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Some Interesting Links

There's so much stuff on the net that I appreciate it when someone compiles a whole lot of interesting links for me to look over at my leisure. So I figured I do the same.

My list of links are mostly concerned with social and casual games - because, well, that's the future of gaming. I hope you find this useful reading.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Creative Screenwriting Podcast

The 3 Blokes office is located by the sea at sunny Wynnum in Brisbane, Australia. It's just a short walk down to the waterside for some delicious fish and chips.

So, what has this to do with the Creative Screenwriting podcast? Well, the fish and chips may be close to work, but it takes me around an hour to drive in to the office - which gives me the perfect opportunity to listen to a lot of interesting podcasts.

While driving I catch up on what's happening in the core gaming world with Listen Up (formerly 1 Up Yours), and what's going on in the casual console world with What They Play - but the one podcast that I really enjoy listening to is the Creative Screenwriting podcast.

The format is simple, Jeff Goldsmith, editor of Creative Screenwriting magazine airs a movie and has a Q&A session with the screenwriters afterwards. He asks the writers about their breaking in stories, gets them to discuss how the project came about, asks them about their creative process and gets them to talk about how they handle writer's block and discuss which scenes they had the most trouble with.

It's really fascinating to listen to and you learn so much about the Hollywood process as well as the writing process. I have a newfound respect for screenwriters since listening to the podcasts and am amazed at how much some of them really shape the movies they are involved with.

What's really interesting is that after I devoured the podcasts covering the typical films that I love (ie, dumb action and sc-fi) I began listening to one's about films I have previously had no interest in watching - and still found the interviews enthralling. In fact, it's inspired me to rent out these movies and watch them.

Listening to these podcasts makes me want for a similar podcast covering video game developers. I originally thought the appeal of Creative Screenwriting podcast was the "Hollywood" side of them - hearing about writers dealing with Spielberg, or hanging out with Tom Cruise. But I found the podcasts covering movies in which I had no idea who the writer, director or actors were, were just as entertaining. So I guess there's no reason this format couldn't work with game developers.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite Creative Screenwriting podcasts. Go download them now and give them a listen to!

  • Star Trek Q&A - Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith interviews co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
  • Comic-Con with Stan Lee - Jeff interviews legendary comic creator-writer-editor Stan Lee, Iron Man co-writer Mark Fergus and The Incredible Hulk screenwriter Zak Penn at 2008's Comic-Con.
  • Slumdog Millionaire Q&A - Jeff interviews screenwriter Simon Beaufoy about Slumdog Millionaire.
  • Valkyrie Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writer Christopher McQuarrie about Valkyrie.
  • Watchmen Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writers David Hayter and Alex Tse about Watchmen.
  • Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Q&A - Jeff interviews writer-director Zach Helm about Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.
  • The Dark Knight Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writer Jonathan Nolan about The Dark Knight.
  • Charlie Wilson's War Q&A - Jeff interviews screenwriter Aaron Sorkin about Charlie Wilson's War.
  • Superbad Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writer/actor Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg about Superbad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brainiversity 2 Wrapping Up

I'm busy wrapping up development of the new Brainiversity game which is cleverly titled "Brainiversity 2".

The first Brainiversity game was released almost 2 years ago and is still selling well. I developed the game in my spare time for over a year while working at a console game development company. My day job was always top priority and sometimes I never touched a line of Brainiversity code for weeks on end. But whenever I got a spare moment I would do some coding, be it half an hour at night or a whole weekend afternoon.

A lot has changed since then... I'm now working full time in the casual/social games space and loving it! Making the sequel has been fun, and I've enjoyed working with a team of really smart people.

One of the potentially challenging aspects of making the sequel was the decision to develop the Facebook app at the same time as the retail version. To do this we made the call to switch to a complete Flash development environment. The previous version was developed using the PopCap Framework. One upside of using Flash was that I could finally unshackle myself from Windows and work on a Mac.

Doing FB simultaneously also meant learning lots of skills that have potential beyond just making a brain training game. As a team we've had to grasp PHP, SQL, JavaScript, the whole complicated Facebook environment and of course Flash and ActionScript 3.0.

We've also gained a deep understanding of the dynamics of social game development as well as how to use microtransactions. And we're still learning new stuff everyday!

And now, as the retail version gets closer to launch, we'll begin honing our skills on marketing our new game.

Now, if you enjoy reading my blog, check out this list of other great game development blogs: Top 50 Best Game Design Blogs. I was chuffed to find mine at number 4 :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Agent Duski is go!

It's always great to see people you know and respect do something cool.

Today, Matt Clark and his team at Voxel Agents released their first iPhone game, Agent Duski: Dolphin Hero.

Matt and his team emerged from SIF90, the guys who won the 48 Hour Game Making Competition two years in a row with their awesome Sticky Geckoes and Melonauts game.

I was also lucky to have worked with Matt at Pandemic Studios in Brisbane on an awesome Wii game. The team behind that ill-fated game was the best game dev team I had ever had the honor of working with* - everyone was producing amazing stuff.

Unfortunately EA decided to close the Brisbane office... well, actually, for Matt that was probably a fortunate thing as he is now making cool iPhone games and is in charge of his own destiny.

Well, enough of me tripping down memory lane... go download the game now and support an indie developer.

* Until now of course :-)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

iPhone/iPod Touch Amazon Queen Review

This is my favorite quote from the Amazon Queen review at AppVee:
The game has now officially been ported to the iPhone and iPod Touch and is every bit as awesome as the original as far as gameplay goes.

And I love the user reviews - the majority are 5/5 stars!

This AMAZING game will give you days of fun, laughs, smart riddles and great adventure. - Anatt

This game is Amazing and the new interface of the new version (1.2) is just GREAT for the iPhone ! - TheNiceGuy2

This is a pure, quality puzzle-based story and NOT easy for those people who are looking for a casual iPhone game. It's challenging and super fun. - GoodGirlGamer

At long last, someone has brought a classic SCUMM based adventure game to the iphone. This is a great game and well worth the money. - KanedaZero

The great thing about the iPhone is that it's easy to update your game. The team are working on improving the interface yet again so this will be the ultimate point and click adventure on the iPhone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New Facebook Brainiversity Update is Live!

Woo hoo, it's up!

As mentioned before, the update includes the awesome new Trophy system that rewards you for doing all sorts of cool stuff - you can even view your friends and other Facebook users achievements from the Scoreboard.

We also have a tutorial system that explains the important parts of the game for first time users. If you think we've left anything out, or something doesn't make sense, please let us know (and you might even earn an Order of Edison trophy).

And of course we have a brand new game, "Odd One Out", plus a whole bunch of little tweaks here and there.

I have to say a big thanks to those people who helped with suggestions for this update. You'll find an Order of Edison Trophy waiting for you when you start playing :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Brainiversity Facebook Update Imminent!

A new update to Facebook Brainiversity will be launching within the next 48 hours.

We've added some exciting new features to the game including a Trophy system that lets you show off all the cool stuff you've achieved, a new game called "Odd One Out" and a whole bunch of little tweaks here and there.

Odd One Out game

Odd One Out is a fun game that can be quite challenging. Deceptively simple, you have to pick which item doesn't have a matching partner - and like all good Brainiversity games it gets progressively harder as you play.

I'm especially excited about the Trophy system - you can see what Trophies other people have earned from the Scoreboard - and we have a special trophy for the players who have been helping us with valuable feedback: the Order of Edison.

I'll update as soon as the new version goes live. In the meantime, head over to Facebook and start playing!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gaming History

Here are some interesting "making of" stories for two classic games, "Fool's Errand" and "Elite". I love reading about the history of games and hope to find and post more of these links:

"How Legendary Puzzle Game Fool’s Errand Came to Be"

"The Making Of: Elite" from Edge.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Amazon Queen update out now!

A new update for my classic point and click adventure game, Flight of the Amazon Queen is available now on iTunes.

Click here to get it now!

Joe King in trouble!

This update includes:
  • New improved controls. Now you can move the cursor to an object and tap on the command bar to do an action.
  • Default action now works with long tap.
  • Automatic game saving when you press the Home button or receive a call. When you re-enter the game it asks if you'd like to continue where you left off.
  • Improved Help and Game instructions.

Big thanks to Liron and the team at iPhSoft for making this awesome version available on the iPhone/iPod Touch!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Game & Watch

ThenGamer has a great article on the history of Game & Watch. You can read it here.

Game & Watch was, along with my encounter with the adventure game Colossal Cave, one of my earliest introductions to computer games.

I remember when my good friend Anand returned from an overseas school holiday with the Popeye Game & Watch. I was blown away by the incredible graphics, the small size and the addictive gameplay.

Popeye Game & Watch

Thankfully Game & Watch arrived not long after in Australia, and I got Parachute for Christmas. I played that game religiously every day until I clocked it (reached 1,000 points so the score reset to 0).

Parachute Game & Watch

Of course it wasn't just a game - it was also a watch - and it wasn't uncommon to see Game & Watch's propped up on desks throughout my school until we were told by teachers not to play with them in class.

I have extremely fond memories of these systems and still have the original Parachute game and box in my possession to this day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One week, two launches

Last week I was very lucky to see two games launched in one week!

First up was the iPhone version of my classic point and click adventure game, Flight of the Amazon Queen which you can download from the App Store here.

Flight of the Amazon Queen

It looks absolutely amazing on the iPhone and playing it brings back a lot of memories of days gone by. The game was a lot of fun to work on, despite there only being 3 of us to make the entire thing back in the early nineties. I remember feeling bad that it took almost two years to make, but in hindsight I'm amazed it didn't take five!!!

Liron and the team at iPhSoft have done an awesome job bringing it to the iPhone. Let's hope it inspires other publishers to port their point and click adventures over as well (you listening LucasArts?)

And of course the other launch was Brainiversity. I've said a lot about this lately, so here's a nice screen shot in case you haven't read my blog for a while :-)

Brainiversity - Perfect Match game

Seriously, the game is fun to play, and the addition of the ability to challenge anyone is cool. We've been updating it almost daily based on great feedback from players - and will be rolling out new games and updates on a regular basis.

We've also got another game coming out soon - but you should follow the 3 Blokes twitter feed to find out more about that :-)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Brainiversity Facebook Relaunch

It's done! The updated Brainiversity has finally re-launched on Facebook and you can check it out here.

This update features:
  • a complete overhaul of the graphics
  • a brand new interface
  • ability to challenge friends who haven't installed the game yet
  • ability to challenge any other players
  • brand new game, "Running Total"
  • an enhanced Scoreboard
  • and lots of other little tweaks, too numerous to mention
We've also set up a twitter feed so you can keep track of the latest Brainiversity updates and any other 3 Blokes Studios news. Follow it here:

3 Blokes on Twitter

And the re-launch is just the start, we're got a whole host of new features and brand new Brainiversity mini-games in the pipe that we will be launching regularly.

Enjoy! Follow me on Twitter

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Car Jack Streets

I've been playing GTA: Chinatown Wars on my DS for the last week and have been really enjoying it. It's the perfect game to play for a few minutes here and there. In fact, it seems like the perfect game to play on your iPhone...

Well, touchArcade has a review of a GTA-like game for the iPhone called Car Jack Streets. It was developed by Tag Games which includes some folk who worked on the original top-down GTA series back when the developers were known as DMA Design!

Because I'm in the middle of GTA on the DS I haven't bought the game yet - but the screen shots and video look neat - and it only costs $4.99 (that's $5.99 for us Aussies) which is cheaper than a pizza.

It's amazing, but the iPhone really is changing the way games are being made, distributed and priced. Indie gamers are finding their voice and a market.

I'll be grabbing a copy once I finish GTA. In the meantime, if you've got it and played it, let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Preparing For Launch!

The revamped Facebook version of Brainiversity will be launching later this week.

The current version never had an "official" launch - it just appeared on Facebook and acquired the many players through word of mouth. It was a great experience in getting up to speed with Facebook development and we've applied a lot of what we've learnt to the new version.

So over the last 6 weeks we've been busy revamping the game to make it look sexier with a bunch of cool new features. We've also made the game feel like a complete package rather than a bunch of separate Flash games - bringing it more in line with the upcoming "Brainiversity 2" download version.

Of course it doesn't just end with the relaunch, we'll be rolling out a bunch of new games and features on a regular basis going forward. I think you'll like the new stuff we have in store :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

GTA: Chinatown Wars

I've been playing GTA: Chinatown Wars on my Nintendo DS and having a ball.

First up, let me say that just because this is on a Nintendo platform doesn't mean the series has been toned down. No way.

The F-bomb is dropped within the first few minutes, someone you think is being set up as a lasting character and potential love interest is killed off in a shockingly brutal and senseless manner, and you're quickly put to work buying and selling cocaine and other hard drugs.

It's no worse than the typical HBO crime show, but it does catch you unaware because you're experiencing it on the DS.

And like all GTA games, this one has its tongue firmly in its cheek. From humorous banter between the main character and the people he meets, to the scenarios and products around Liberty City, there is stuff here to make you smile.

It will be interesting to see how the game sells. I have a feeling it will be a constant seller, the must have game for "gamer dads" too busy to play GTA on the PS3 or X360, but hankering to experience the fun these games offer.

That's what it is for me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Music Made Simple

If you're lusting after a Tenori0-on, the cool electronic musical instrument created by Toshio Iwai and Yu Nishibori and sold by Yamaha, then you'll find this a lot of fun...

It's the Tone Matrix, courtesy of Andre Michelle.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then it's best you go and experience it now and let it's magic unfold as you play with it.

To get you started copy the code below and Right-Click Paste it on to the Tone Matrix.


What are you waiting for, click here to go play with it now!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brainiversity 2

Brainiversity 2 is nearing completion and is looking really cool!

As well as a bunch of new features and games we've totally revamped the interface while keeping the classic clean look of the original.

Here's a first glimpse of the main menu screen:

The big emphasis this time around is on social play. Here's the new look leaderboard:

I have the highest point score amongst my friends because I play it all the time to test out new features... so I have an unfair advantage :-)

I'll post some screen shots of the new games as we get closer to launch.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


This is a cool interactive "video clip" for Spanish musician/artist Virginia Maestr.

And to celebrate Easter, here's a seasonally themed video. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Brainiversity Update

Getting closer to launching the new look Brainiversity on Facebook. The updated version features slick new graphics, new games and some other neat stuff. Adobe/Flash's official API couldn't have come at a better time!

One of the interesting things we're doing is using the huge amount of gameplay data from the current Facebook version to tweak the new release. Analyzing the data is something we'll be factoring in as we produce regular Facebook updates.

Hopefully I will be able to post some screen shots soon.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great News For Social Game Developers

Facebook and Adobe have partnered to create Facebook platform libraries for Flash.

Basically this makes it a lot easier for developers to plug the Facebook platform into their Flash games - which takes a lot of the burden from the developer in terms of managing friends lists, avatar/user images, etc. and lets them focus on making great games.

You can find out more here.

Thanks to Dale at Moket for giving me the heads up!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Zeebo

Here's an interesting announcement from GDC - another games console.

The Zeebo - lighter than an Xbox360 power supply!

Called the Zeebo, this new console is the brainchild of Mike Yuen of Qualcomm and Reinaldo Normand of Tectoy. The twist is it's designed for the developing world and as such is very inexpensive (relative to existing consoles). It's also completely wireless - so no cartridges or CD/DVD's are required - everything is downloaded to the box.

Here's a blurb from their website:
Zeebo hardware is based on Qualcomm’s BREW platform and MSM chipset, leveraging high-volume cellphone economics to create the world’s most affordable console. In addition, Zeebo users can buy the top game titles, localized in their language, for a fraction of the traditional retail price. And the Zeebo Console consumes only 1 watt of power--20 to 100 times less than other consoles--saving substantial energy costs (and enabling users to buy 2-3 more titles per year).
Hmmm, not sure how saving money on electricity translates into 2 or 3 more games per year. Either the games are almost nothing to buy or electricity in developing countries is expensive!

Titles include Tekken 2, Sonic Adventure, Crash Bandicoot as well as 5 embedded games including Fifa '09, Brain Challenge, Prey, Quake and Need for Speed.

It will be interesting to see how it fares. With the Wii changing the game and now iPhone turning everything upside down I wouldn't rule out the Zeebo from doing some interesting things.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

iWork '09

After the frustration of using Microsoft Office for Mac I bit the bullet and bought iWork '09.

I had previously downloaded the iWork demo and found it fast and intuitive - but I had a copy of Microsoft Office thrown in with my Mac as part of some promotion - so I persevered with using Office. But this last week was the final straw.

For some reason PC Office files don't load up correctly within Mac Office. These PC files load up okay in iWork though. Editing PowerPoint or Word files with more than a few graphics would grind my system to a halt with Office. They load up and work blisteringly fast with iWork.

I searched the web to find answers, but only found similar complaints with no real solution except some people saying Office worked fine on their Macs.

So, sadly, there goes my last major link to Microsoft... I really tried to keep some MS connection, honest I did. But in the end I was forced to say goodbye.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Princess of Mars

I just finished reading Edgar Rice Burrough's novel "A Princess of Mars". It's based on the adventures of John Carter, an American Civil War veteran and his otherworldly exploits

It was written in 1911 and published in 1912, and despite the age I found it to be a cracking good read. Burroughs wrote this as a pulp novel so don't expect Shakespeare.

I can see how John Carter along with Flash Gordon and Dune were obvious influences on Star Wars - from the fanciful names such as Jeds, Padwars and Jeddaks - to the desert setting, different alien races, giant arena battles with hero pitted against an array of alien beasts, etc.

It's fascinating to think that this was first published almost one hundred years ago. In fact Andrew Stanton of Pixar fame is prepping a movie version for release in 2o12 in time for the centenary of the book series.

The book's copyright has lapsed so you can read it for free. I read it using Stanza on my iPhone - a great ebook reader that lets you download the books directly to your personal library. Yes, reading books on the iPhone is actually a pleasure - something I was initially skeptical of. No wonder the Kindle is doing great business.... but that's another story.

You can also grab "A Princess of Mars" online from Project Gutenberg here.

If you're a sci-fi fan with an interest in where the genre began then I recommend having a read.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brainiversity at Local Library

My friend James emailed me this photo:

It's Brainiversity at one of the local libraries here in Brisbane. A quick check online revealed that quite a few of them have copies - and a number of them are checked out!

What's interesting about this is that the retail version of the game is currently only available in North America through Wal Mart, Sam's Club, etc. so the local libraries must have ordered their copies from the US.

That's pretty cool. It's always a buzz to see a physical copy of your game in a store or a library :-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Woz Dancin'

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple. They're responsible for creating the company that brought us the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone.

Woz is a millionaire computer genius.

Woz created the Apple II.

And now Woz has done this - it's easier to watch then for me to explain...

Monday, March 09, 2009


I don't know how I missed this, but Polybius is a cool urban myth about a video game from 1981 that apparently caused players to go insane.

Conspiracy theorists say it was a project by a secret government organization, and men in black would visit the machine in the arcade not to collect the quarters, but to retrieve logged information about the effects on players.

Shortly after its release it disappeared never to be heard from again.

Until now. Here is the mesmerizing game play of the game that may, or may not, be Polybius. Watch at your peril!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Game On Talk

This week I and the other 3 Blokes - Duncan and Marko - did a talk at Game On called "Game Design Under Pressure".

We presented some useful tips on how to make games from the perspective of a small developer, covering agile development and other useful strategies to stay focused and deliver a game on time and budget.

What was cool is that 3 years ago I did the Game On talk by myself and Duncan and Marko of 3 Blokes were in the audience. As a result of the talk they changed their company direction and moved into the casual space.

They soon shipped a game, got more work and the following year they presented the Game On talk covering similar topics from their perspective.

Now I've joined with Duncan and Marko and this year all 3 of us gave the talk. Hopefully we inspired some people to get out there and make some games.

And you know what would be really cool? If some of those people give the Game On talk next year. I would love to sit in the audience and give them a round of applause.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

I've been hard at work on Brainiversity 2.

It's shaping up really well and has some brand new features that weren't in the original. It's playable now and we will have a version to show people very soon.

This weekend I'm taking my daughter to stay overnight with Nanna and visit her cousins. Should be fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

iPhone Games

Okay, I'm not an iPhone developer (yet) - but I am an iPhone user and avid iPhone game player.

I only recently got my iPhone and have a lot of games to catch up on, so I have been downloading a lot of "lite" games. In the iPhone world, a lite version is a free version of an app with limited functionality - kind of like the PC shareware model.

What I find fascinating is the price of the games. They start at US 99c (that's $1.19 Aussie dollars) and go up. A lot of games from big publishers are in the $6.99 to $9.99 region, games like Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D and Super Monkey Ball.

As pricing for games go, these are pretty amazing - and I'm finding the 99c price point an impulse buy for me. I can download a game instantly and play it for less than it costs to buy a can of Coke or a chocolate bar.

However some developers aren't happy with the 99c price point, and there are some interesting articles on app pricing and how it affects sales.

I must admit, with my game player hat on I love the 99c price point - I've bought 3 apps in 2 weeks - Sneezies, Distant Shore and iDracula. But when I put my game dev hat on I wonder how anyone can make money off a 99c game... I guess time will tell.

In the meantime I'll be playing and buying a lot more games for my iPhone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Indie Games on JJJ Radio

Triple J radio's current affairs show HACK did a story on the new opportunities for indie game developers in the current economic climate. I spoke about being an indie and what that entails.

You can listen to the show here.

You should also check out Jussi Laakkonen's awesome presentation on starting a new game business that he did at the recent Casual Connect Europe. You can download his powerpoint and mp3 of his talk from his blog here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Unplanned Indie

I have a number of friends who have unfortunately been made redundant recently - and for some of them this may be the time to try going indie.

Going indie takes some planning, you need to have a structured goal of what you want to achieve. It can be hard to make a plan and stick to it if you're unexpectedly thrust into the situation - so here are some tips for dealing with a sudden foray into indie territory.

1) Have A Clear Goal.
Plan out exactly what you want to do and stick to it. It's up to you, and you alone to make a game and get it onto market. There is no time to chop and change.

2) Don't Waste A Second.
You have limited time to make a game. The faster you get it out the sooner you can make money and hopefully keep being an indie. There's plenty of time to surf the web later. Right now your goal should be to work like your life depends on it - because if you want to be an indie it does.

3) Think Small.
Be realistic with your indie game. Develop a project that can be done by one person or a small team. Don't try and make a sprawling RPG or an FPS to compete with Halo. It's also worth noting that a possible strategy is to clone another successful game (but improve upon it). This gives you a head start by having a game that you can refer to for the basic design. Again, try and build on it and don't just copy it.

4) Do Everything Cheap or Free.
Save your money for living and maybe for some inexpensive outsourcing. There are plenty of tools that will allow you to make a game for free. You already have a computer (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this) so you shouldn't have to spend any more money on hardware or software.

5) Know Your Market.
Take some time out to research the market - be it casual, iPhone or indie/core gamers. See what's in the top 10, understand why it is selling and learn from this.

6) Network, Network, Network!
Get in touch with other indie developers, start talking with potential publishers and producers at portals. This will give you a headstart when you submit your game.

7) Be Realistic.
When you release your game and if it makes any money, it can take up to 6 months before you see a cent. Have a plan for how you will live while marketing your current game and developing your next game until the money comes in.

8) Don't Rely On Friends.
Unless its for moral support. If you need art, music or any other actual work done for your game then outsource it or do it yourself. You are making this game to change your life - your friends are involved because you asked for some help and they're nice people - but their life probably doesn't depend on getting the game out ASAP. The last thing you need is your game delayed while waiting for some music or art. Use or better still, look on the web for public domain art assets. This may mean designing a game that makes use of existing free assets, but this isn't a bad thing. A bad thing is having stuff out of your control.

10) Get To Market ASAP!
I just wanted to make this point again. This is very important. You can't sell a single copy of your game if it doesn't exist. And the sooner it exists the sooner you can make money to pay the rent. And the more games you have the more money you can earn. It's pretty simple really.

These are by no means a complete list of tips. And of course releasing a game is only one part of the equation - you need to market it - the best game in the world won't sell a single copy unless people know about it. But that's a whole other blog post.

Please let us know if you have any other sage advice!

I've blogged about this before - here some of my previous entries that you might find useful:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What They Play

What They Play is a video game site for parents to help you navigate your way through the huge number of games vying for your kids attention (and your money).

Unfortunately, a lot of games aimed at kids (and mums) don't get reviewed - so a site like this is a godsend. Run by John Davison (ex EGM editor, hard core gamer, and dad) the site has some serious gamer cred behind it.

They also have a podcast which you can subscribe to here.

So if you want know which games are good for getting your kids to read, or would like the facts on Pixie Hollow, then check out What They Play now!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Twitter - all the cool kids are doing it

And to get you started with twitter, here is a list of game industry tweets for you to follow:

Now you can keep up to date with every move of your favorite game developer. It's not stalking when they give consent :-)

Oh, and if you're interested, you can follow me on twitter here:

I'm not the best at regular updates (I tend to forget I have a twitter account), but I'm trying to improve!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Game On - Top 10 Tips on Working in Games

As part of the Game On exhibition at the State Library in Brisbane, the organizers have a series of panels and talks called More Than Games. Today I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel titled "Top 10 Tips for Working in Games".

It was a lively panel hosted by Yug from Australian Gamer with fellow panelists Matt Ford and Gordon Moyes.

The advice given covered networking, creating a good demo, researching the company you're interviewing with beforehand, being honest and the importance of team experience.

We'll be writing up the tips and you'll be able to read them on the Game On site. I'll post a link when they're done.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

iPhone 101

I have to hand it to Apple - they have an excellent developer program for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

Everything you need to develop iPhone apps is free to download from their site. They have excellent documentation, a number of informative videos available from iTunes, as well as a number of project templates and sample code files to get you started developing fast.

I'm having a blast reading and watching the tutorials and just absorbing this whole new dev environment. Much more fun than watching TV! :-)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Jace Hall Show

Jason Hall is probably best known as the founder and CEO of Monolith (No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R.) and general manager of WBIE (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment). Now, with his company HDFILMS, he has an interesting show on Crackle in which he mixes it with video game creators and Hollywood types like the awesome Seth McFarlane (Family Guy).

Luckily for you this is the internet age, so rather than read my description of what it's all about you can just click on the movie below and be watching it within seconds! So go ahead, check it out!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Pixar Story

I got Wall*E on Blu-ray for Christmas and it's an amazing 2 disc set.

It features the short film "Presto" which played before the movie in the cinema, as well as a new short, "Burn-E" which fills in the background to some key moments from the movie.

One of the standout extras is the documentary "The Pixar Story" by Leslie Iwerks. It's full of some great footage and is inspirational to watch. I had to smile when Lasseter talks about how Disney wanted them to make "Toy Story" edgier - I've experienced this a number of times from video game publishers - it's interesting that this seems to be a common problem in creative industries.

Luckily for us Pixar followed their gut instinct and made the movie they wanted to make.

Friday, January 23, 2009


2009 is shaping up to be an exciting year!

The big news is that I have gone indie. I'm no longer working for Pandemic Studios Brisbane office. I had a great opportunity to leave and pursue a passion I've had for a long time and I've taken it. I wish the team at Pando Brisbane best of luck and look forward to seeing the team succeed.

There is some cool new stuff in the works for Brainiversity which I will talk about in the coming weeks... for those on Facebook you can check out some of the new Brainiversity 2 games that have already been built. There are a bunch more Brainiversity activities to come and a few other B2 surprises in store.

More news later!

Monday, January 19, 2009

iMac - The Verdict

Okay, so it's been about a month since I made the switch from Windows to Mac.

So, what do I think? Have there been any regrets?

Well, the short answer is I haven't looked back, even for a second. The Mac environment is so slick, fast and intuitive that I couldn't even think about going back.

I don't want to repeat myself and go on about all the cool features the Mac has (read this post if you want more info) - but I will say that the thing that has impressed me most is that the Mac is less cluttered then Windows.

Spotlight makes finding anything on your computer super easy, and the fact that the hardware and software are designed to work together cuts out so much complexity that Windows needs to have to support every possible sound/video card out there.

So there you have it. No buyers regret, just happiness and joy from having a Mac in my life.

Well, this is officially the last Maclovin' post - so no more gushing. I promise!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The return of Zork

That's right, there's a new Zork game in the works. This time it's an online browser game.

As a big Zork fan I'm looking forward to seeing what Jolt Online Gaming does with the universe. The game is called Legends of Zork which will be playable here.

There's no hard info on when it will be available.

In the meantime, check out Fusion Fall here, another other cool browser game. This one uses Unity and is full 3D.

And if you're into point and click adventures, check out Griswold the Goblin, also another browser game.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mobile Me

Now that I have a Mac I'm going to give MobileMe a go.

It's a service from Apple that puts your contacts, calender and email into "the cloud" letting you synch between multiple computers and your iPhone.

In preparation I'm switching from Microsoft Entourage as my mail and contacts program over to Mail, iCal and Address Book. Luckily these Apple apps have an "Import from Entourage" option built in.

I've never been so organized in my life!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

David Perry Game Design Reference Book

You gotta love Dave Perry. He is a legend in the games biz. And he's tall.

He's the man behind some gaming greats including Earthworm Jim and MDK. And he's done some great stuff for the games industry which I won't list here as you can read about it on wikipedia.

Anyway, he's written a book with Rusel DeMaria on game design which I am looking forward to reading, called David Perry on Game Design.

There's not a great deal of info about the book available, but I'm expecting there should be some gems in there based on Dave's pedigree and game dev history.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Studio Game On

Studio Game On is a cool concept that has game developers making a game "live" over a six week period. The game they have chosen is called B-MOVIE and you can see the game pitch below.

Run in conjunction with the Game On exhibition at the State Library of Queensland, you can watch the developers create a game from scratch - and can even participate through crowd sourcing by submitting ideas at the State Library or via these forums.

So check out the site and have your say today!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Palm Pre

I've had a Palm since 1996 - back when it was a US Robotics Pilot. I loved it and used it every day.

But slowly the Palm platform fell into obscurity and was overtaken by the likes of the iPhone. The concept of a PDA and phone (and music player) all rolled into one is pretty awesome. Plus the iPhone did what no other PDA challenger did - they captured the simplicity and ease of use that the Palm device offered.

But now it seems like Palm are back with their Palm Tre phone. It shamelessly copies a lot of iPhone innovations but it also seems to extend a lot of iPhone functionality and has a few other neat features to boot (removable battery, wireless charging, etc).

Check out Engadgets round up here and Gizmodo's comparison with iPhone and the Google G1 here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Yahtzee keynote at GCAP 08

Game Connect: Asia Pacific (GCAP) is the annual Australian game developers conference, and last year they had the very funny Yahtzee deliver a keynote on what makes a good game.

Check out the video below courtesy of tsumea - the Aussie and NZ games industry web site. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Some Cool Apps

My friend Bernard was over last week and gave me a heads up on some apps that I wasn't aware of. They're pretty cool so I'd like to share them with you!

First up is Live Mesh. This is the brainchild of Ray Ozzie, Bill Gates' replacement at Microsoft. He's a very smart guy and you can find out more about him here in this Wired article.

Live Mesh - is a data synchronization system that allows files and folders to be shared across multiple devices. Click here to sign up. You will need a Micrsoft ID such as your MSN or Hotmail email address. It's handy to transfer files between multiple computers, including your work colleagues or friends PCs. Works on PC and Mac!

Evernote - like Live Mesh, Evernote has a web and PC/Mac client that lets you take notes and synch to your computer. You can access your notes from any PC using the web, make changes or create new ones, then have them synched back to your PC. Pretty cool stuff. Again it supports PC and Mac.

Picasa for Mac - finally, the most awesome photo management software is now available for the Mac. Picasa, Firefox, Thunderbird and a whole lot of other multi-platform software packages is what makes switching from Windows to OSX so easy. Basically all my day to day software stays the same but with the advantage of a fast, sleek, simple to use OS! Get Picasa from here.

And lastly, is a game app called ScummVM. I've talked about this before, but I'll mention it again as it runs on practically everything from Windows to Linux to OSX to the iPhone. It lets you play the classic LucasArts adventures as well my old graphic adventure game Flight of the Amazon Queen. Get it here if you love graphic adventures.

And download Amazon Queen from here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

More Mac Loving

Okay, so I've had the iMac since Christmas eve and have been using it extensively. So, how have I found the switch from Windows to OSX? Amazing!

The Mac has been so easy to use that just today when I used my old Windows PC to grab some files I found it frustrating to try and navigate - and I've used a Windows box for years. Any way, I am well and truly a Mac convert.

I promise this will be my last Mac Loving blog (at least for a while) - so take it out here is a link to an interesting blog chronicling the early days of the Mac. Macintosh Stories

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Flash Dev

It finally clicked. I've got my head around ActionScript 3.0 and have got the first Brainiversity activity running under AS3.0.

Unlearning the weird logic that AS2.0 forced upon you was the hardest part - now that I get it, AS3.0 makes a lot more sense conceptually - it's a proper game dev lanuage now!

I just have 15 more activities to re-write and I'm done :-)

Oh, and a Happy New Year to you all! We had a bunch of friends around and welcomed in the new year singing Abba tunes on PS3 Singstar. Good times.