It’s been a terribly long time without updates or launches, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! Mainly, my time has been occupied by my day job which involves a lot of numbers (financial, statistical, etc.) and some really interesting math. (At some point I may write about how I tackled a difficult work problem that involves collapsing noisy statistical data into flat estimates by using game/simulation approaches.) But the fun stuff continues on the weekends. Here are a few of the things that I (and my 6- and 8-year old design contributors) have been fiddling around with.
Multiplayer Online Art Gallery
This has been an idea since the first Covid-19 lockdowns hit, and I missed the experience of visiting museums and galleries. Online, when you talk about “discovery” it’s all about algorithms and analytics – but in the real world it simply means walking from where you are standing in the direction of something that looks cool and seeing what’s what. Of course with all the talk of the metaverse this year, people are getting excited about Ready Player One-style experiences, and when you mention “digital art” all anyone wants to talk about is NFTs, but I think there is an opportunity for something much simpler. Who knows…
Steampunk Flying Game
As kids my brother and I played a lot of Red Baron (my brother’s favorite move was dropping a bomb straight upwards and then letting it fall onto the poor dogfighter chasing him in circles). Unfortunately, as we grew up, planes got faster and missiles got smarter, so eventually combat flight sims turned into “point the reticle at that dot and then launch your fire-and-forget missile.” So I explored the idea of using a steampunk setting where slow planes wouldn’t be out of place to keep things exciting. I then spent dozens of hours getting the plane’s model, control surfaces, and flight instruments looking, working, and feeling right, and then lost interest. Mainly, the work to fully realize the game will involve a lot of things that are not aligned with my strengths and capacity, so it seems a poor fit.
Space Combat + Gravity Sim
Another game my brother and I played a lot was a paper-and-pencil game we called “Shooting Stars.” (Apparently it is a real thing, too.) I’m toying with the idea of implementing it on the iPad, but adding the dynamic of having asteroids that create gravitational fields, and which can also accurately fracture if shot at or collided with. The math involved in the last points is very interesting and I think I could get it to work, but another iPad-only title isn’t something I am going for at this time.
Movable Maze + Pet Care
This started as an exercise for me to test an art style, and the “proper” way to implement gameplay from the classic game “Beast” with class inheritance, but upon the prodding of my daughters I added “babies” to the player characters and soon enough there was a game mechanic involving finding food for your children (we watch a lot of nature documentaries). They’re still bugging me to continue this game, and I might, if I can think of a few more things to lock in a really fun core game loop.