tennessee game days 9: game design workshop

We’ve had a fantastic time at Tennessee Game Days IX so far…! Not only have I had a chance to play such excellent games as Sid Sackson’s Acquire, or the new Caverna by Uwe Rosenberg of Agricola fame, but I’m hosting game design workshops and prototype showcases this time around.

Friday evening, I led a group through the basics of game design, and had a blast. We discussed three essential ingredients to games: components, rules, and theme. I gave away a bunch of extra bits I had laying around on my game shelves and let the participants have at it with their ideas. To show how easy it is to start designing your own games, I led an exercise where all the participants put together their first-ever race-to-the-end game, using components and materials I provided specifically for the event.

Finally, we capped off the evening with some playtesting and instant feedback sessions on the new designers’ prototypes, putting the rapid iteration process in full effect while having a lot of fun. Oh, and I also learned a bit about a parasitic fungus that burrows into ant brains and drives them to climb to the tops of flowers…All in all, an excellent experience! I’m hoping everyone had a chance to exercise their brains and see some of their ideas in action. Judging from the thanks I received and feverish activity I witnessed at the table, all signs indicate it was a success!

I will also have an e-book about game design available shortly after the event…stay tuned.

tennessee game days IX - game design workshop

Designers hard at work at the inaugural Game Designer’s Workshop at TGD 9.

tennessee game days IX - game design workshop 2

Here’s the prototype about how ants are taken over by a parasitic fungus…

mead report 3: batch 1

So I promised myself to try out my honey mead on my next birthday. Well, that was the 18th. Two days ago. How did it turn out?

It didn’t. Long story short, it tastes like fruit juice.

mead report 3 - batch 1

The rest of it is going down the drain.

So next time, I try it with the brewer’s yeast thrown in to see if it can kick-start the fermentation process. AND I won’t attempt to brew it during the colder months of the year. I’ll start a new batch in May and drink it in November, I think.

Mole Majority - a game journal experiment

mole majority - sample finished game

I’ve started documenting the process of designing a tabletop game. This one’s called Mole Majority: an area-control game where you manage a group of moles trying to claim as much of a golf course as possible before the entire area becomes filled with rodents. In the game journal will be rules summaries, documentation of changes, and playtesting reports. I hope to gain feedback on this design from the outstanding community found at the Board Game Designer’s Forum.

Click here to learn about Mole Majority.

Bill Nye versus Kenneth Ham Drinking Game

My girlfriend and I recently watched the soon-to-be-infamous (if not already) debate between Kenneth Ham of the Creationist Museum and the Answers In Genesis organization, and Bill Nye “The Science Guy.” My significant other and I gained such enjoyment out of the experience that we resolved that henceforth we would watch the debate every Christmas day and participate in a drinking game, sure to have us rolling on the floor not just with laughter but also with alcoholic stupor.

The main question of the debate was “Is Creation[ism] a valid model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”


  • Bill Nye uses the word “extraordinary” (referring to the claims of Kenneth Ham of proof and substantiations for Young-Earth Creationism found in the Bible and elsewhere)
  • Bill Nye uses the phrase “on the outside” (he’s referring to the science community not allied with Creationist causes)
  • Kenneth Ham uses the word “hijack” (referring to how scientists have appropriated the word “science”…from Creationists)
  • Kenneth Ham uses the word “book” (blatantly obvious referral to the Bible)

These four criteria are all you’ll need to be staggeringly, slobberingly drunk, likely within the first hour.


  • Bill Nye makes an appeal to “voters and taxpayers” (pleading with citizens to keep science legitimate in schools)
  • Bill Nye says the phrase “reasonable man” (referring to himself when considering Ham’s proofs)
  • Chug the rest of your current drink when Kenneth Ham goes on his “origin” diatribe (there’s a segment in particular near the close of the Q&A)
  • Chug the rest of your current drink when Bill Nye mentions the post-grad major conspicuously absent from Kentucky colleges and universities


You’ll likely want to ruminate after chugging, dare you attempt the Platinum level. This is the world we’re living in, folks.

I slept very soundly the night after we watched the debate, secure in my belief (dare I say “faith”) that godlessness is alive and well, and has at least one staunch, blindingly-intelligent, eloquent supporter. Hitchens may be gone, but Nye is performing admirably when attempting to fill those shoes.

new flash game: RATCHET UP

I made a retro arcade shootemup Flash game in about 5 hours for the Klik of the Month Klub #79: RATCHET UP. Play by clicking here.

ratchet up - screenshot

To start the game, press UP or DOWN (cursor keys or joypad) to select Identical Waves (all enemies are the same in each wave) or Random Waves (all enemies are likely different in each wave), then press SHIFT KEY or BUTTON 1.
Use the SHIFT KEY or BUTTON 1 on your joypad to shoot. Hold it down to autofire.
Last as long as possible, and make a high score.

I used library graphics from MMF2 for nearly everything, and definitely for all the enemies and the player ship. I think I only made one explosion graphic, and composed the menu screens. Music is from playonloop.com. I made the sound effects in BFXR.

This is more of an exercise than an engaging game, I confess. I feel like 2014 will be a year that I complete a major project, and finishing small preparatory toys like this is one way to build up to it (or distract myself from a more intimidating project…). My girlfriend and I are pretty fixated on combining our efforts to create a Demon Baby-themed adventure game, but until then RATCHET UP and its ilk will have to suffice.


note to self

I’m not normally a person who appreciates pranks, but the subtext (and the fact that this is simply a promo for a b-horror flick: the types of movies I was weaned on as a baby myself) makes this the best baby ever.

new game: Gnomus Maximus

I’ve created a retro-platform-action-arcade game called Gnomus Maximus. Download it here.

You and your garden gnome buddies have had your tools stolen by a pack of roving dogs, and it’s up to you to reclaim them! Classic platforming action appropriate for all ages, with four game modes:

Classic Mode: complete the game at your own pace, learning the layout as you go
Sunrise Mode: a speed-run that applies a considerable challenge to veterans
Jump Adventure: dexterity and jumping skills within a tight time limit will allow you to reach the top and post your high scores
Giving Gifts: you’ve found all the tools…Now give them back to the proper garden gnomes

screenshot - gnomus maximus

Gnomus Maximus is a stand-alone EXE (packaged in a ZIP file) made for Windows. It’s just a bit over 16MB in size. Linux & Mac users will likely be able to make it work with an emulator.

I jumped into the Klik & Klaus Sekret Santa event over at Glorious Trainwrecks. Participants submit a “wish list” of things they want to have in a game, random drawings are conducted, and participants are assigned a wish list to accommodate. Two weeks later, you submit a game with a nice little “TO” and “FROM” on the description page. Loads of fun.

I actually took one of my old, dormant game ideas and finally finished it. Long story short, I used the Platform Movement Object/PMO in Multimedia Fusion 2 to finish this one. It was my first experience with the Object, and I learned a multitude of new skills with this project.

Testing and support supplied by A.C. Donovan, Old Man Clayton, and DKA. Music from Advertise-Play/Nastyman the Play On Loop website. Most SFX made with bfxr, while a couple level-end SFX were from Warlords and Tempest. Gnome photos were found through public domain/fair use image searches.

Feedback, positive or otherwise? Please send me a message or comment below to let me know what you think.


mead report 2: batch 1

After a month, I tested out my first-ever jug of honey mead. Back then, it was about a month old, and waaaaay too sweet to enjoy fully. So a month later I had a little nip from the same bottle, and I can tell that at least something is happening. It has acquired a tartness that I kind of like, though it is still incredibly sweet: an artifact of the honey used in making it, obviously. Speaking of artifacts, there’s a lot of sediment and fine particulates at the bottom of the jug. Maybe it’s leavings from the yeast? Common sense tells me to avoid consuming it.

this is home-brewed mead, not a urine sample.

The colder months really aren’t the time of the year to be brewing, are they? Seems like my yeast has been sleepy, though the drink is slightly carbonated. An acquaintance suggested I use a yeast starter with mead, as carbons present in the honey prevent effective carbonation/yeast proliferation. Meanwhile, the recipe I used stated that if organic unfiltered honey is used, there should be enough wild yeast and “activators” present in the honey to allow for proper fermentation. The jury’s still out on the yeast starter, but I think brewing over the winter is no longer an option for future batches.

I’m not blind yet, and I’ve not given myself food poisoning. So at least it’s a step up from prison hooch. If this all goes well, maybe I’ll just invest in a still and start making my own with some “proper equipment.”

At this rate, I think it ought to be ready for my birthday in mid-February.We’ll taste again in January to see what’s changed.

Mead Report 1: batch 1

I saw an article about how to make your own mead from honey and water in The New Pioneer magazine, and decided to give it a try. We used filtered water and locally-harvested wild orange blossom honey.

A first taste confirmed that it’s still way too sweet, which means there’s more time needed for the yeast to devour the sugars present from the honey.

We’ll see how it tastes after another month. But I’m surprised that I didn’t break the mead, and we didn’t die or go blind. Pictured below is the mead in its current container: an old sangria bottle with a bit of plastic shopping bag as an airlock. Before I transferred it to this bottle, it was a LOT clearer. But it’s definitely effervescent, which is good.

mead batch 1

New Flash Game: The 13th Hour

I created another Flash game, this one for The TDC Scrolls community project. The theme was THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD.

To play, click here.


screen shot - the 13th hour