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Weekly Rundown

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus, General News, Wednesday Update | June 13, 2013 | No Comments


Forum Developments

For those of you who haven’t been following along (and why not?), the forum is doing swell.  After it was unveiled last week, it has been a hotbed of science game chat.  So come by, introduce yourself, play some neat, new Agent Higgs levels, and read a discussion about the evolution simulator.

 

Shocktopus Updates

As always a big thanks to my playtesters.  Their help with the (many) versions of Shocktopus have been invaluable.  This week, I’ve been using the latest round of feedback to fix up the game.  So I’m taking out levels that are only ‘fine’, leaving in ‘awesome’ levels, and trying to improve ‘good’ levels.

The level design is a huge part of what’s left in the game — but certainly not the only part.  I’m in the process of getting music, adding (good) instructions, putting in flammable scenery, and introducing the plot.  Oh, and as for the plot, this image should pretty well set up our conflict:

 

Yeti Smash

Hey, man, Shocktopus spent hours building that thing!

 

What is that new thing we see in Shocktopus’s hands?  Ah, his trusty Electric Guitar, of course.  I mean, what other instrument could he play?  Though, when he plays, I’d back up if I were you.  Remember what I mentioned earlier about ‘flammable scenery’?

 

Struck a Chord

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Especially if you’re a coconut.”

 

That’s right, when the Shocktopus charges himself, there are some side effects.  Not that *he* cares.  As the old saying goes: ‘you can’t exact revenge upon the Magnetic Yeti without burning a few trees.’

-Andy

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A Forum for Us

Posted in: General News, Wednesday Update | June 5, 2013 | No Comments


Some neat news this week from TestTubeGames — we’ve got a brand new forum!

Last week I’d mentioned that this might well be in-the-works.  It turns out it is extremely easy to add forums to a website nowadays.  Frankly, how could I *not* add it?  And just like that, with just a few clicks, the forum is now a reality.

 

Aww, Velocity Raptor is lonely

Whoa, it looks like a *real* forum!

 

The forum is setup to have individual sections for each of the games — for feedback, tips, questions on that particular game.  Come share that neat Gravity level you made, challenge others to solve your level in Agent Higgs, or find out more about the nuts and bolts of Velocity Raptor’s relativity simulation.

There’s also a section of the forum to discuss *other* science games (non TTG, that is).  I’m always interested in finding new, neat science games.  So post your favorites.

Finally, of course, there’s a General Chat forum for everything else.  Say ‘hello,’ chat about some random science topic, or give feedback that doesn’t fit elsewhere (“The TestTube should definitely point left instead of right…”)

It’s only been up for a couple days, but we’ve already got plenty of discussions going.  For instance, ARP noticed something very neat about the stability of orbits… and also made a very challenging and complex level in Agent Higgs.  There’s a growing list of science games that we enjoy, so take a look there, too!

The forums are definitely in a beta mode — at least in the not-sure-what-they’ll-look-like-in-a-month way.  So come on by, join in the discussions on science and games, and together we’ll see where this goes.

-Andy

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This week, it’s about *you*

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus, General News, Gravity Simulator, Wednesday Update | May 30, 2013 | 4 Comments


For this week-in-review, it turns out I’ve got more questions than answers.  Questions for you, in fact, the player/reader/steward of science.

 

Forums

I’m thinking of adding some forums to the site.  The hope is, a forum would provide a nice place for science/game discussion.  It’d be a spot to chat about:

  • The science in these games. Got a question about the relativity in Velocity Raptor, or about the math in the Gravity Simulator?  Ask away!
  • The games themselves.  Say you’ve made a picture in the Gravity Simulator, or created a level in Agent Higgs.  Perhaps you’re stuck on a level and want some help.  Maybe you have a feature you’re dying to see in a game.  Bring it to the forum!
  • Science Games in general.  There are a bunch of other neat science-y games out there in the world/internet.  You’ve probably come across some that we need to check out.  Share and share alike, I say.

Those are *my* thoughts, but I’d be interested to hear from you.  What would you want out of a forum?  Would you have any use for it?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Shockto-V3

The newest version of ~~The Electric Shocktopus~~! is ready.  Let’s call it the ‘pre-alpha version 3.’  I’ve already got some helpful playtesters are giving it a trial run, which I’m so thankful for.  If you’re interested in helping out, too, send me an email.  When it comes to playtesters, the more feedback I get about the game, the merrier.

 

Gravity Simulator

With Shocktopus back out of my hands for the next week or so, I’m working on the Gravity Simulator again.  There will be two big changes to the preexisting game.  For starters, it won’t just be a flash game anymore, it will be playable on a bunch of devices — online, android, iOS, the whole gambit.  Also, there are going to be a lot more features.  You’ll be able to, say, change the colors of objects.  Or add them easily along evenly-spaced grid lines.  Or modify the celestial bodies mid-flight.  All the things I’ve heard people say that ‘they’d love to see’ in the simulator.  Is there something you’d like to see in the new update?  What is the current simulator missing?  Again, leave it in the comments, or send along an email.

-Andy

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New Mailing List

Posted in: General News | May 6, 2013 | No Comments


Mailing List!?!

Yes.  Do you who want to keep up to date about all things TestTubeGames?   All the blog posts, game updates, new releases will come right to you, in the comfort of your own interwebs.  Get weekly updates delivered to your inbox, *or* if you’d rather, you can sign up to just get an occasional email for big events.  Game releases, major updates, big announcements, that kind of thing.

Signing up is easy — just plug in your email here.

 

Subscribe to the Newsletter

 

Of course, if email isn’t your thing, you can still just check the blog here, or follow me on Twitter, of peruse the Facebook page.  Yes, there are many options.

 

-Andy

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Life after the SciVis

Posted in: Agent Higgs, General News, Wednesday Update | February 10, 2013 | No Comments


It has been a fun week over here at TestTubeGames headquarters, and a big welcome to everyone who is visiting the site for the first time. In the last update, I mentioned that my first game, Velocity Raptor, won a NSF competition for science visualization. Well, the news popped up in a few fun places, which I thought I’d share.

 

SciVis News

The news about the competition jumped around to a bunch of websites. For a small sampling, check out: Wired.com, Guardian.co.uk, NBC news

On top of that, Velocity Raptor was featured in a recent episode of SciShow.  Check out the video below.  The description of my game is wonderful…

 

 

Higgs Returns

Throughout the past week – in addition to watching that SciShow episode ad nauseum, I was working on the next flash installment of Agent Higgs.  When the iPhone game came out, I released some of the levels online in Agent Higgs: Chapter 1.  And I’d always meant to find time to release Chapter 2.  And the time is very soon.

Agent Higgs: Chapter 2 will deal with all three types of neutrinos.  The puzzles involve matter, antimatter, and even neutrino oscillation — as well as a fair bit of spatial reasoning.  I’ve also added in a Level Editor.  Which means you can try to make levels even better than mine.  Or just spell your name.

 

Higgs Level Editor

Well, part of my name…

 

You’ll be able to play through your new creations and share them with friends.  I’m excited to see what creativity gets unleashed.  Stay tuned for this release, it will be coming soon.

 

-Andy

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SciVis Winner!

Posted in: General News, Velocity Raptor | January 31, 2013 | No Comments


Big news over here! The results of the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge are in. (Say that five times fast!) And…

 

Shiny Trophy

Rawr.

 

Velocity Raptor is a winner! It got an Honorable Mention, which places it tied at the top of the Games category. You haven’t played it yet? Click below to solve that!

 

Play Velocity Raptor

…or play later. Your choice.

 

This is particularly big news for me as a solo, unaffiliated-with-an-institution developer. To put it in perspective, the first place winner last year was Fold.it, which you may have heard of. Most importantly, though, my trophy shelf looks a lot less depressing / more awesome.

You can read more in the journal Science, or online here. I think there’ll even be a video, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

But you’ll also find a slew of other interesting items there. The contest ranged from images to videos to games. And frankly, since this has just been released, I’m excited to take a closer look at the other winners, myself.

-Andy

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The News that’s Fit to Print

Posted in: Evolution Simulation, General News, Wednesday Update | January 30, 2013 | No Comments


I’m back with another installment of the weekly update.  What’s that you say, it has been two weeks?  Sure, in *your* reference frame.  So aside from running around a lot (near c), I’ve been:

Some General Updating

I gave a quick, minor facelift to several projects.  You might notice the website is a bit shinier (oh, you didn’t?  Curses!)  Well, maybe you notice the improved graphics in Agent Higgs: Chapter 1 (the flash game)?  No?  How about the further polish I’ve added to Velocity Raptor?  (Side note, which punctuation will I use more, parenthesis or question marks?)  In any case, a bunch of small changes.  It’s nice to clean up the projects every now and then.  No ulterior reason for doing that now.  Nope.

They can Walk!

I’ve worked a bit on the evolution simulator, mainly focusing on a side-part of it.  The sim is generally about evolving stick-and-motor organisms to run faster and better.  However, it grew out of a long ago thought I had about whether a stick figure could ‘learn’ to ‘walk’.  That turns out to be a lot harder.  I wasn’t having much luck with simple human-shaped stick-and-motor creatures.  It was tough enough to convince them to try to walk (I guess an evolutionarily advanced way for us to move is to flop around on the ground.  Try it.  It must be very energy-efficient.)  Once I turned the floor into lava, though, they avoided dunking their heads in it, but they still had trouble loco-moting.  And that’s of course for a whole bunch of reasons — namely the simplicity of the simulation and the small populations I was dealing with.  So I shelved it for a while.

But, I made some good progress past that, this week.  I made the humans slightly more advanced to start with – building in some basic coordination.  Move both legs at the same time.  Move with some rhythm.  That kind of thing.  And so far the results are promising.  But hey, a tiny, grainy gif is worth a thousand words:

 

Darwin's Walkers

Click the image to see a gif of this trial run

 

Higgs Returns?

Well, kind of.  It’s been a while since I released the suggestively titled flash game, Agent Higgs: Chapter 1.  So I’ve been pulling together the follow up.  It is based on the next section of levels in the iOS game, about the neutrinos.  So if you’ve been pining for more Higgs, and you don’t have apple devices, get ready!  More physics puzzles will be heading your way soon!

It’s Electric

And to round out this wildly scattered weekly update, I’ve also been working quite a bit on that electromagnetism game I showed off last time.  The basic pieces are starting to come together, with some fun levels – and the ever abundant physics curiosities (wait, you shouldn’t be able to fly through a wall like that…!).  The graphics are a big improvement from last time.  I mean, you can see the determination in the main character’s eyes:

 

Electromagnetism Game

The blue is a magnetic field protruding from your screen. The red is crushed dreams.

(You have to look very close to see the emotion.)  So that’s that for this week.  Stay tuned over the next couple days, I have a nice Friday Fun coming up!

 

-Andy

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Wednesday Update #1

Posted in: General News, Wednesday Update | November 28, 2012 | 2 Comments


To keep you all up to date, and to keep me honest, I thought I’d try posting weekly news.

The website roll-out went well, and I haven’t gotten any reports of problems.  (That’s a good thing, right?  That means they don’t exist, right?  Right?)

And after finishing that up I turned back to work on my long-awaited project: the quantum mechanics game.  I’d been batting around ideas for this one for a while now, testing things out, building prototypes and the like.  But as I hunkered back down to work on it, I realized that I didn’t quite like the direction it was heading.  It just wasn’t coming together, making something that was (a) educational, (b) accurate, and (c) fun.  I was and am very excited to make a quantum game, but I’ve decided to put it on the back burner for a while.  It needs to percolate a bit more.

In the meantime, I’m turning to a few projects I’ve had on the back burner.  For those of you following along at home, you may remember that I’d been working on an evolution simulation.  I’m looking forward to polishing that and getting it out the door. Generation after generation of curiously locomoting creatures!

As for a game, I’ve turned to working on one that I’ve been mulling about for a while.  It revolves around a simulation of electric and magnetic forces (more along the lines of my gravity simulator than, say, the more qualitative Agent Higgs).  I’ve started making some levels for it – and I’m liking the direction it’s going.

Some day, though, quantum mechanics game… some day.

-Andy

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Major Website Overhaul

Posted in: General News, Gravity Simulator | November 20, 2012 | 2 Comments


As you may notice (if you’ve been here before), there are a bunch of changes to this website. Not the least of which is the new existence of a ‘blog.’

No longer will my musings and updates be listed haphazardly on the front page. Pshaw! Instead they will be here, with an amazing organizing scheme holding them in place. (Thanks to WordPress!) You can browse my posts by category, by month, or even by search for words and phrases! And let’s face it, who hasn’t wanted to do that?

Also in the new blog, we’ve now got a comment system. So let’s say you are reading this post, and you’d like to remark that this blog is snappy. Well, friend, just head on down to the comments section and post it for the world to see!

Of course, there are a bunch more changes to the site than just the blog. Not much remains from the old site, in fact – except for the games, of course. There is a new gallery for the gravity game, for instance, which you can find here. You’ll find social-media links all throughout the site now, making it easier for you to share things with your friends. And by all means, do!

Finally, you can’t miss all the visual changes to TestTubeGames.  A big thanks to my wife (who has a great artistic eye) for helping me edit the site appropriately.

Caveat: I tried to test the website in different browsers, but if you seem to be having a problem (broken links, or strange distorted layouts) let me know so I can try to fix it.

 

-Andy

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Voting Extended!

Posted in: General News, Velocity Raptor | November 9, 2012 | No Comments


Voting is now open until the 12th. So if you haven’t had a chance yet, follow this link to vote for Velocity Raptor: VR 2012!

And if you vote, we may just get another sneak peek at TestTubeGames’ next science game!

-Andy

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