Gravity Simulator A-Go!

Posted in: Gravity Simulator | March 31, 2014 | No Comments

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably played around with my original Gravity Simulator, posted way back in 2011.  And you’ve probably heard me talk about the upcoming update to the simulator — with tons more bells-and-whistles.



It’s here.

I present: the *New* Gravity Simulator


Lets' DO This!

Lets’ DO This!


The simulation has a bunch more power (3000 planets is handled with ease), a bunch more options (change planet colors, track objects, tweak the calculation precision), and a bunch more gravity (citation needed).

There’s a free online version, just like before, that you can play here.  And if you really like gravity, you can always download the Full Version, which lets you play in full-screen mode, runs a lot faster, and will have even more features than the online version.  (Available on PC/Mac/Linux)  And, if that isn’t enough, you’ll be supporting me in developing this simulation.

Both are in alpha still, which means they’re constantly being changed and improved.  (In fact, as of this blog post, an update has already come out… Version 0.26.02).  So if you find a bug, or see room for improvement, swing by the forums to let us know about it.  Your suggestion might just make it into Version 0.26.03!


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Bond Breaker!

Posted in: Bond Breaker | March 10, 2014 | 1 Comment

I’ve been working on a brand new game over here, and up to this point I’ve been pretty hush-hush about it.  (Mainly because there have been so many other things to talk about!)  But get ready for: Bond Breaker.

Neat factoid: this is a game that I’m making for a physics research group out at UC Irvine. They’re called CaSTL (Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit), and their research is on manipulating and breaking individual molecular bonds.  Basically, they use lasers and scanning tunneling microscopes to blast apart molecules.

So boring!  How could that possibly be a game?

Oh, wait, it’s the perfect material for a game.


Aaah!  So much perspective!

Aaah! So much perspective!


You are a proton navigating a world of puzzles and spikes.  In order to get to the goal, though, you’ll need to use some atomic and molecular physics.  You’ll pick up electrons from the tunneling microscope.  You’ll bond with other protons to form H2.  You can even zap in some laser light to excite some electrons.

As always, the physics in the game aims to accurately represent the real stuff.  (Note: yes, that means that protons are really blue, with white outlines)


Which way, which way...

Which way, which way…


The game is still very much a work-in-progress, though I have posted the current (alpha?) version online already.  If you’d like to check it out and give some early feedback, swing by the forums to join the discussion.



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Posted in: General News | February 26, 2014 | No Comments

A brief detour from science, here…

Last month, I took part in the Global Game Jam, a challenge where you have a single weekend (48 hrs) to make a game.  Game Jams are a great way to practice game-making – because time constraints and sleep deprivation work wonders!

At my particular site, there were about 80 people who came together, splitting up into 4-5 person teams.  The theme?  “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”  Pretty abstract.  I was pulling for ‘particle physics.’  Oh, well.

I had the chance to work with an amazing team, none of whom had met before the weekend.  There were 5 of us, and everyone brought some special skills to the team.  We had Jennifer Lay doing art; Nick Bergen making the music; John Wolff as designer; and Vinny DaSilva and I doing programming.  (See the credits page in the game for a rad picture of us.)  We had a lot of laughs, and pulled together a surprisingly good game.  (Most game jam games are pretty rough, but ours has a beginning, middle, and an end, and very few bugs.  Rad!)

Our game?  14b.

What happened in there?!

What happened in there?!

The game is a mystery, where you are the detective.  Someone’s been murdered, and it’s up to you to figure out who did it.  You have some folders of evidence you can look at, witness reports of the scene, and clues that you can ask each of the witnesses about.  Each witness sees the scene in a different way, focusing on different details, and bringing their own perspective.  And you need them all to figure out the caper.

We’ve posted the game online, so you can go check it out.  Who do *you* think committed the crime?  Why?


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Gravity Simulator 2.0

Posted in: Gravity Simulator | February 19, 2014 | No Comments

I’ve been hard at work over here on the Gravity Simulator 2.0.  But wait — you say — I’ve played with the original.  What’s so special about the new version?


More Colors!



Change the color of the planets.  Change the color of the trails!


Less lag!

Here’s a version of the game with 1000 planets on screen at the same time.  All pulling on each other. (Don’t see it? Watch it on YouTube)


More Power!


One reason for the speedier performance?  The game is running in Unity instead of Flash.  And Unity zooms.  There will even be downloadable versions of the game for PC/Mac/Linux that will run even faster.


More Options!


Track planets.  Collide planets!  Vaporize planets with the Death Star!  (Eh, not-so-much with that last one)


Where on earth could I go to *play* with this new simulator, you ask?  Well, it is still in development, *but* I have posted it online so everyone can play around with it.  Right now!  If you find bugs or have feedback, you can email me or pop by the forums to let us know.


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Shocktopus Done!*

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus | February 13, 2014 | 1 Comment

After a long time…

A lot of work…

And countless dead Shocktopuses…

The game is finally completed.





Last week I finished up the game ‘enough’ to be ready to show off to sponsors.  Now, I’ll be the first to say that a game is never really done.  (I worked on Velocity Raptor tons after it was released, and still need to add Quark levels to Agent Higgs.)  So I’ll still be putting time into Shocktopus.  But: for now, it is ready.

And it feels GREAT!

The next step?  Try to find a sponsor for the game.  Kind of like a publisher who’ll pay to have their name slapped across the side of my game.  So until I find one of those, I won’t have any release date.  And it could take a few weeks, or a couple months to get a sponsor — so you’ll all have to sit a bit tight as that comes together.

Can’t stand the wait?  Go watch the trailer a few more times.  Or check out one of the other projects I’m working on.  With this project out of the way, there are a lot of cool things I’m working on (three new games at the moment, I believe?)  So stay tuned, I’ll write about those upcoming projects soon.


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Home Stretch

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus, Wednesday Update | January 31, 2014 | No Comments

Shocktopus is (nearly) there.  I just uploaded version 0.95, which I’m hoping is just about the last pre-release version of the game.  (And I don’t have much wiggle room, either, because once we pass 1, it is live!)

In fact, you can go check out the updated page for The Electric Shocktopus – with a new trailer and new screenshots.


This game has it *all*

This game has it *all*


Pretty pictures…

But what are the big changes to the game lately?  Well, the size of the game had ballooned up to around 9 MB, and I trimmed it back down to 7 MB.  Or roughly the size of a couple high quality photos.

Below 7MB! ZOMG!

Okay, it might not sound too exciting.  As you come closer to the end of any large project like this, you start working on smaller and smaller improvements.  Fixing bugs that pop up rarely, tweaking the icon just a little bit, or shrinking the file size of the game as small as possible.  Nothing huge and flashy.  Important, yes.  Necessary, yes.  And certainly time consuming.

But not exactly headline material.

Which is why, this past week, I’ve had a lot of fun adding Easter Eggs to the game.

Whoa, Easter Eggs!

Not literally Easter Eggs (well, maybe) — this just means little hidden secrets in the game.  I’ve never really taken the time to do this before in any games, but The Electric Shocktopus deserves the best.  So I got to take a break from working on little details in the game, and make something *big*.  Now, I can’t talk much about them, obviously, but let’s just say there’s a familiar face in the game.

Okay, buddy, fine, but when’s it coming out?

Great question!  And one that I’ll have a better idea of soon.  Since, with the game nearly done, it’s time to hunt for sponsors.  So I’m dusting off my cold-call-email skills, and seeing who will be it’s sponsor.  Only time will tell …and then I’ll tell all of you.  You’ll all be the first to know (after ‘time’).  I will say, I’ve already heard back from an interested party at M. Yeti enterprises.  The voice mail was just angry grunts though.  And then he emailed me a picture of Shocktopus with x’s over the eyes.  He seems reputable.


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Stellar Shocktopus Soundtrack!

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus, Wednesday Update | January 23, 2014 | 3 Comments

“Shocktopus Soundtrack sounds simply sublime,” says Steve… simultaneously seeking ‘s’ synonyms so such silly sentences shan’t stop.  Science!

Well, that was weird.

In all my haste to finish up The Electric Shocktopus (and update the Gravity Simulator… and research molecular bonds for a future game…), I’ve been neglecting the blog! For that, I apologize. So let’s get back into the swing of things with a fun update.

Brian Allen Holmes, the composer who made the rad music for the game, has posted the Soundtrack!  So now you can take the rock-meets-beach-meets-epic music on the road!  Go to his site and take a listen.  And if you want, you can buy the soundtrack and download it.  Just think of how much inspiration it’ll add to your jogging playlist.  (Neither Brian nor I are liable if in your haste you fall into spikes, though)


Also comes on cassette tape, if you'd rather.

Also comes on cassette tape, if you’d rather.


I love the titles of the tracks, which include the ol’ standby “There’s Sand in my Tentacles.”  (I’d love to hear Sinatra cover *that* song)

As a special offer, ’cause it’s fun, I’ve got a download code that I can offer up.  The first person to write a comment to this blog post will be the proud owner of the Shocktopus Soundtrack.


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Sound Effects!

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus | December 19, 2013 | No Comments

As the Electric Shocktopus whirrs ever further along — I thought I’d take a moment to point out what I think is one of the coolest parts of the game.  The sound.

Now, previously, I’d posted about the music for the game, done by Brian Allen Holmes.  He did an amazing job making a beach-y, exciting, upbeat soundtrack.  You can read about that here.

What I haven’t posted about yet is the fact that I’ve also got someone helping me with the sound effects.  In the past, I’ve just gone and downloaded royalty-free soundtracks… getting a handful of them, and then calling it a day.  But for the Electric Shocktopus, I was approached by Kevin Notar, a rad sound designer here in the Boston area.  He put together a really neat collection of sounds that make the game really come alive.

Now, it’s hard to describe sounds… so instead let me point you to a little trailer I made for the game.  (Never mind its spartan nature… this isn’t actually so much a trailer as just a feature of some gameplay.)  *BUT* pay particular attention to the music and the sound effects.



Pretty neat stuff.

Also, don’t forget: Shocktopus Shirts are in stock!  Here’s me looking awesome and grainy in my shirt:




That’s right, you too could be so cool.



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Shocktopus Shirts!

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus | December 5, 2013 | No Comments

Just in time for the holidays: The shirts are in!  I’ve been working with Campus Customs to get the shirts printed, and they launched the web store for the shirts today.  Take a peek.  Or buy a bunch.  Whatever.


Look at that shirt!

Looks a bit like this!  But on your body instead of on a computer screen.  Cause that’s how shirts work


Here’s some feedback from some totally real customers:

“I love this band!” - Jim Zudkee

“This is the best shirt that I own!  And the second best pair of pants.” -Frank McFrankerson

“I walk into a room and people fall silent.  I think it’s the shirt” -Man with Over-Sized Hat

“I will CRUSH the Electric Shocktopus” -Magnetic Yeti


Man, I love that band!

It’s like he’s staring into your SOUL


Wow!  Those are some ringing endorsements!  And now, while supplies last, you can get your tentacles on a shirt for just $18.

Get one for yourself.  Get ‘em for friends.  Guaranteed to make you the coolest squid on the block.


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Shockto Animations

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus | December 3, 2013 | No Comments

These past couple weeks, I’ve been learning how to do some (simple) animations.  Up to this point, I’d always just had discrete pictures – like you’re looking at panels of comics, say.  Or I’ve just hand-drawn (erm, computer-drawn) the frames of a run animation.  But for Shocktopus, I’ve wanted to do a bit more.

I found a great program called Spine, which is a fairly universal way to animate characters.  You draw some bones, add some images onto those bones, set the key frames of the animation, and then you can export the animation to a bunch of different platforms.  For me, of course, I mainly care that it plays well with Flash, which it does.

I used Spine to make the animations of the RoboYeti, who I showed off last time.  But I’ve also used it for things like the intro video.  So now it goes something like this:


Yup, the Magnetic Yeti is still a jerk.

Yup, the Magnetic Yeti is still a jerk.


It’s been fun pulling together some animations — and they are surprisingly easy to do (once you get over the learning curve of using new software).  Just plug in the eight frames of a looping walk cycle, and the program does the rest for you.

And with that, the game suddenly feels a whole lot more polished.  Like (gasp) a real game.  Crazy!


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