Posted by on Jan 31, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

This weekend, I participated in the Global Game Jam at the SCAD Atlanta / Georgia Tech site. We were tasked with making a game that included the themes of “deception” and “rain, plains, or Spain.” 48 hours later, we made SUPÉR MATADOR 3. Click the image to go to the GGJ site and play! I was responsible for game design and audio. My team won first place! The contest also had “achievements” we could get by sticking to certain constraints. We were rewarded for having no text, using less than 16 colors, and being playable in a browser. Check it out and let me know what you...

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What I Played: 2009 Edition

Posted by on Jan 13, 2010 in Blog, Feature, Now Playing | 1 comment

For all the time I spent working, I still managed to play a lot of games in 2009. I’m late on the decons, but in the meantime I’ve put together a list of (almost) every game I played this year with a couple thoughts on things that stuck out to me about each of them. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney – Capcom, Nintendo DS I was hesitant about the series ditching Phoenix, but in the end, I still got to yell “OBJECTION” at my handheld and that makes everything in the world OK. The updated investigation phase mechanics weren’t all that compelling even though they made good use of the DS. Maybe I was burnt out from the previous three games, but this one couldn’t keep my attention long enough to make it past the third case. Finished: NO Auditorium – EA, iPhone I played it first on PC, so buying the iPhone version was a no-brainer for me. It’s a great mobile game. The puzzles lend themselves well to the touchscreen, and levels can played in two or three minutes while waiting for a bus. I found the gameplay to be addicting enough that I finished it before I had the opportunity to play while waiting for a bus, opting to play it over Thanksgiving when I should have been socializing with family. EA offers more levels, but you have to feed the microtransaction monster to get to them. Finished: YES Batman: Arkham Asylum – Rocksteady, PS3 As most of the mainstream reviews have already noted, this one was a pleasant surprise. It’s one of the best stealth action games out there, even if the AI is fairly predictable. The combat system was intuitive and fun despite being so repetitive. None of the mechanics would have meant  anything if Rocksteady hadn’t done such an amazing job with the game’s presentation. It truly makes the player feel like Batman, and even the collect-a-thon elements (Riddler trophies) were rewarding with Bioshock-esque tape recordings and backstory that went far beyond the genre’s usual offering. It’s a licensed game, but it’s also fun and innovative. What a concept! Finished: YES Boom Blox Bash Party – EA, Wii I’m clearly not biased at all when I say that every Wii owner should drop everything and buy this game right now. It’s a great puzzle game, and even now that I’m home without any obligation to play it daily, I occasionally find myself breaking it out to play around in the level editor or see what other users have created online. Finished: YES Borderlands – Gearbox Software, PC I was never much of a Diablo fan, but I loved the mission system in Borderlands. You can take on multiple missions at once and work on them in whatever order you choose, even stopping mid-mission to complete objectives from other ones. It’s one of the few open-world games that truly feels free. It’s also remarkably huge. I mostly played it alone, but my bad experience with multiplayer (on public servers) seems to have been one of the few bad ones. I’m looking forward to giving it a try with some friends. Still playing it now.  Finished: NO Brutal Legend – Double Fine, Xbox 360 I thought this would be one of the year’s best releases, and...

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Only at U(sic)GA Rejects

Posted by on Dec 1, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Rivalry week is past, and UGA played the better game and won. Hats off to them. We turned “Only at Tech” into “Only at U(sic)GA” as a way to poke fun at our rival prior to the game. We had hundreds of hilarious stories submitted by Tech students,  but some folks from UGA also used the site to express their displeasure. Here are some of the funnier hate posts that we rejected: Girls. Only at UGA We don’t have such a severe Napoleon complex that we have to make fake websites, and newspapers, making fun of a superior University that hardly considers us a rival. Only at….wait….thats everywhere except Georgia Tech. Get a life, geeks. “I noticed there was a ‘cows’ category now. That must be referring to all the Tech girls that visit Athens…only at UGA.” Everyone who reads this website is a loser who was too scared to go have a social life in Athens. Sorry you’re all retarded. Only at tech By the way, UGA is too hard for rednecks to get into. A for effort though. Only at tech. NERDS  NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS NERDS Only a truly lame and retarded school would make a stupid website about their rivals. L2becreative. Only at tech. And finally… this website makes tech look retarded. ever realize people at uga don’t care about our ‘rivalry’? sorry you don’t think poultry science and agriculture is important to our country, because it is. Only at tech. I hope everyone had fun with the site! Good luck getting through dead...

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Only at Tech hits the Technique

Posted by on Nov 19, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

The Technique, Georgia Tech’s student newspaper, has an article on Only at Tech in the Focus section this week. Check it out! There are a few typos (and some misquotes – I promise my grammar isn’t that bad) but it’s full of praise for the website and the way it has been embraced by the Georgia Tech community. We’re rolling out some major updates to the site on Saturday – can’t say what just yet, but hopefully it will give Tech students yet another reason to...

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Only at Tech – The First Day

Posted by on Nov 4, 2009 in Blog | 2 comments

Today’s website launch went better than any of us could have imagined. We launched the site around 12:15 EST. Below are some general stats about the site’s traffic for those who are interested. Assuming 90%+ of our traffic came from Georgia Tech students, it’s somewhat revealing… Hits: 383,691 Page Views: 281,952 Unique Visitors: 8,770 Average Page Views per Visitor: 32.15 Fans on Facebook: 1258 Bandwidth Used: 8.96 GB The page view ratio is extremely high. That means people are getting onto the site and staying to read pages upon pages of content. Great news for us! And some graphs: Site Activity by Hour of Day In typical Tech fashion, the website’s popularity was highest from 11 to midnight. Will with 12AM-1AM slot be even better? It looks like we still haven’t peaked. Top Referring Sites Behold the power of Facebook! We didn’t do any advertising for the site other than mentioning it in front of our CS class. Most Used Browsers Georgia Tech is probably the only place where Google Chrome users outnumber IE 6, 7, and 8 users combined. The “Others” category was dominated by Blackberry and Opera, but there were also a few hacking tools in there from people who tried (unsuccessfully) to hack the site. At one point, someone did run a script that voted for their post every 30 seconds to raise it to the top of the ratings. Most Used Operating Systems Windows Vista narrowly edged out Windows XP for the title of “most used OS.” There were roughly half as many iPhone users as Windows 7 users, and three times as many Mac OS X users as Windows 7 users. To break one Tech stereotype, only 182 people accessed the site from Linux, and 11 poor users were still running Windows...

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New Website – “Only at Tech”

Posted by on Nov 4, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Announcing “Only at Tech,” a website for Georgia Tech students to share their stories of love and hate about their school. I’m the website’s designer. It’s very comparable to websites like FMyLife or Texts from Last Night. Check it out! Update: The site’s launch went better than we could have ever imagined. We’ve had over 200 submissions and over 400 people add us as fans on Facebook in a period of seven hours. Keep spreading the...

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Tearing Down the Goalposts

Posted by on Oct 19, 2009 in Artwork, Blog, Wallpaper | 0 comments

Threw this together with some photos off Flickr. Tech fans should appreciate it… 1680×1050 1440×900...

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Game Deconstruction: FarmVille

Posted by on Oct 8, 2009 in Decon, Feature, Now Playing | 15 comments

“FarmVille? That stupid Facebook game that clutters my news feed all the time with random messages about lost pigs and ugly ducklings? Really?” When I decided I was going to do these deconstructions, Facebook games were the last thing on my mind. This time last month, I had never even played a Facebook game. I thought the very concept of Facebook games was backwards – I have Steam to play games on my computer, after all. Facebook should be strictly for staying in touch with friends. But after hearing that FarmVille has over 11 million active users on a daily basis – even more than World of Warcraft – I figured that there must be something about the game that the average Facebook user finds attractive. And in always trying to expand my knowledge of games, I finally gave in and started playing. FarmVille Developer: Zynga Genre: Simulation Metacritic: N/A Price: Free / Optional Microtransactions Length: Indeterminate Background FarmVille is Zynga’s answer to Farmtown, another popular farm simulator for social networks. Gameplay FarmVille is designed to be played in short segments of five to ten minutes every day. It’s a never-ending cycle of planting crops, waiting for crops to grow in real-time overnight or throughout the day, and then harvesting the crops before they whither. The objective of the game is highly open-ended, but players can progress by gaining experience points and “leveling up.” Each level unlocks a new set of crops for players to plant worth more than the previous ones. The game uses two types of currency: “coins” and “farm cash.” Players earn coins by planting and harvesting crops, but farm cash is much harder to come by. To get more than one farm dollar per day, a player has to spend real money through Zynga’s payment system. In the in-game marketplace, some things can only be bought with coins, some things can only be bought with farm cash, and others can be bought with either. Players can also earn “ribbons” (achievements) that reward them with coins, experience points, and gifts. There are four tiers for each ribbon, each more demanding than the previous. For example, the criteria for one ribbon might be “earn 10,000 coins.” The next tier for that ribbon could be “earn 100,000 coins.” The game keeps track of the player’s progress by offering helpful counters such as “only 2,460 coins to go.” Being on Facebook, FarmVille taps into the social networking bug and lets players send gifts to each other for free and “help” each others’ farms by visiting and clicking a button to scare away crows or rake up leaves that litter the fields. The game tries to make players invite more friends to join at every turn, whether it’s through publishing updates to the Facebook news feed or sending explicit invites through Facebook’s notification system. As players make “neighbors” (or FarmVille friends) with their Facebook friends, they are able to build bigger farms. It’s worth noting that players cannot see anyone on FarmVille who isn’t already one of their Facebook friends, so it does not act as a tool to meet new people like many other online games. Where’s the fun? There is nothing particularly innovative about FarmVille‘s gameplay, but it still manages to attract millions of players. Obviously, then,  there...

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Game Deconstruction: ‘Splosion Man

Posted by on Sep 4, 2009 in Decon, Feature | 0 comments

Here’s a concept I picked up from my room mates over the summer who interned at Pandemic Studios. Every week, one member of the team would pick a game and give a presentation on its strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot to be learned about design by paying attention to the details that many players may overlook at first glance. As a personal experiment, I’m challenging myself to do one “game decon” every month for the next year. It’s one way I think I can work to make myself a better designer while providing some interesting reading material. I’ll try to not just pick “good” games, but this week I’ll start with one of my recent favorites… ‘Splosion Man Developer: Twisted Pixel Genre: Platformer Metacritic: 85 Price: 800 Microsoft Moon Dollars ($10 USD) Length: 4-10 hours Background ‘Splosion Man was conceived by Twisted Pixel’s lead designer, Sean Riley, as a game about “a guy who splodes in a world only made of glass.” The team started production in the middle of developing The Maw, their first original title. The game puts the player in control of a strange man-creature who “splodes” all the time without explanation. The game is controlled with the joystick and one button (which makes the character explode). The game’s plot is nearly non-existent, but the little story it offers is derived from its setting in the labs of the evil “Big Science” corporation. I’ve always been a sucker for good XBLA games, but ‘Splosion Man might be the best yet. I’ve told a few people that I think it’s the best game since Portal. After finishing up the single player game and getting about halfway through the co-op, I still feel like it’s at least the most satisfying gameplay experience since exploring Aperture Science. Both games take place in laboratories, and both games showcase cake as the ultimate object of desire. Twisted Pixel makes the homage obvious. Gameplay ‘Splosion Man features 50 single player levels, 50 co-op levels, and 3 boss battles. The core goal of the game is to use timing and skill to cross obstacles and reach the safe room at the end of each level. Puzzle elements rely almost exclusively on wall jumping and using exploding barrels for propulsion, but it’s the player’s timing of those elements that adds complexity to the game as it progresses. The puzzle design in ‘Splosion Man is significantly better than any platformer I’ve played in the past decade and every bit as good as the test chambers of Portal. Solutions are creative and often brilliant, yet  usually obvious. I never found myself blaming the game when I failed a level – I always knew exactly what I did wrong, and although it was occasionally frustrating, the sense of accomplishment when I finally had a successful attempt was well worth it. The co-op gameplay in particular is wonderfully fresh. It’s impossible to progress through a level without working with your teammate(s), and there’s no advantage to doing “better” than the other players. For the most part, it’s easy to pick up and play with a friend because of the intuitive one button mechanic, but the complexity of the puzzles begins to rivals those in the single player version towards the end. The boss battles are a nice...

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Fall is Here!

Posted by on Sep 1, 2009 in Blog, School | 0 comments

I haven’t updated the blog since coming back from LA. Quick recap of the past three weeks: Finished an awesome internship that confirmed my slight hunch that game design is something I could be happy doing for a very long time Started my junior year at Georgia Tech Resumed work on the unannounced Indiecisive project Resumed work on a freelance website design project This week is particularly awesome because it’s the start of the college football season! I’ve organized a block for most of my friends and I to get great seats to every home game, and we’ve got a state-of-the-art home theater system ready to go for away games courtesy of a friend who couldn’t fit his 60″ television in his room. It’s also a great TV for gaming, be it rocking out, shooting Nazis, or knocking down towers. I’ve updated the “Games” section with a bit of what I worked on this summer. I made some levels for Boom Blox Bash Party that you can check out over the next few months as EA releases them as free DLC online. I’ll probably make more in the future, but you’ll find those under the username “IndiecisiveLink” as opposed to the official EA release list. Also updated my resume with some information about the other projects I got to be a part of, but I can’t go into much detail about them. I’m excited to see how the team iterates on the work we did this summer, and I’ll be sure to point it out when I finally can! Finally, I updated the Audiball page to highlight some extraordinary praise the game recently received from MTV Multiplayer. Honestly, I don’t think the game is worthy of all that praise. So in response, Ian and I are working on making it worthy! We’ll be releasing a free update to the game later this month over Xbox Live to give it improved graphics, increased accessibility, remastered music, and a few more surprises. I’ll be sure to post an update here when it goes up. Take a sneak peek at the new boxart while you’re on the game’s page. That about covers it…my life is eat, sleep, game with a little bit of class and football in between and I wouldn’t want it any other way. To Hell with...

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