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Category Archives: VA 306

Just finished my portfolio and my new business card design.  Take a gander:

Business Card Mark II

Portfolio 2009


I don’t own the rights to The Matrix, so I can’t sell this.  However, I can put it in my portfolio and show it off to potential employers.  So take a gander and let me know what you think.  Alex, eat your heart out!

The Matrix Role Playing System

The last playtest went quite well.  The characters went against an agent and actually survived.  I let them run away in the end, but if they had stayed to fight they probably would have all died.  Which is good.  It shows that Agents are sufficiently nasty.

The playtest showed that this system is actually surprisingly balanced, interesting, and playable.  I’m REALLY pleased with how this worked out.  The only thing that really needs to change is some AP exchange rates.  And that’s it really.  I think experience points, AP, weapon damage, locations, movement, all that works pretty well at this stage.

All of the players have been begging me to continue using the system and actually set something up for it.  This is very encouraging and it’s probably the most powerful driving reward that I seek in game design: people loving your game and letting you know.

As far as setting something up to do more, I’m not sure what I can do.  I’m swamped with classes, I’m already in charge of 3 different clubs on campus, I’m going to FL for an internship over the summer.  I really WANT to continue using the system, but I’m not sure how much farther I can stretch myself.

I will be posting PDFs of all of the resources in the next post after I do some clean up.  Thanks to Tim, Malec, Jo, Mike, and Tyler for playtesting!

The playtest for the Matrix RPG went *very* well.  It’s reception was quite good, the players weren’t very serious about it, but they said that they really liked the system and the possibilities it presents.  One thing I’ve noticed is it’s decently complex, but that didn’t seem to matter to the players.  The reference material needs to be available for all of the players, and some values and other miscellaneous rules need to be ironed out.  In general though, I think the playtest went very well and I plan to continue playesting on Wednesday.

Also, I plan to pit the players against an Agent.  That’s right, a ridiculously overpowered nearly invincible dauntless death machine.  The recommended level for an Agent encounter?  10: the highest level possible.  The playtester’s  character’s level? 4.  Should be fun :).

Well, poo.  This project has taken a lot more effort than I had originally imagined.  Object rotation took over a week to get working and it’s still not fool proof.  SAT will take even longer, and I don’t have that kind of time.  I’m dropping the Maze project until this summer.

As for VA 306, I will be working on a Matrix TTRPG that has been in need of polish and new playtests for quite some time.  I’m hoping that Dr. Monnens will let me switch considering the ridiculous scope of my previously-chosen project.

I decided to go with the maze game for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  It will consist of a target that will either be circular or cuboid that the player must move to the end point using their fingers to guide it.  Touching a wall or object will set the target back to the last checkpoint.  I haven’t decided whether I want to implement lives or a timer.  I will try both and see which one playetesters enjoy more.  I think lives will be best, but that remains to be seen.  Simple game with some decent potential, here’s what I have for the “boring architecture part”:


  • Don’t need texture loading (that I can think of)
  • Simple style of colored shapes
  • View scrolling when the target gets to the edge of a defined area.
  • Will have to rebuild Radiance to make sure all of this works well.

User Interface

  • Basic Cocoa UI elements, using Radiance I can overlay what I need.
  • Want to experiment with different kinds of menus and UI displays.
  • Need to make sure view scrolling is adjustable.


  • Implementing Separating Axis Theorem which requires rebuilding Continuum.
  • Need to detect edge triggers for things like doors and victory conditions.
  • Unit test the crap out of my revamped vector system and rotation implementation.

Game Logic

  • Target resets to last checkpoint after (5) seconds of not being touched.
  • If the target touches an edge or another object, reset.
  • Timer?  Lives?  TBA
  • Later levels will have the target orbit the touch point.
  • Later levels will have multiple targets.
  • Later levels will have multiple targets with independent end points.

Level Builder

  • Grid system to start, build level with “positive” tiles on negative background.
  • Want to implement this in Lua to allow for greatest flexibility.

So, that’s pretty much the gist of it.  I have a lot of work to do.  Already rebuilt the vector class I was using to be a little more friendly.  Looking into SAT implementations.  I understand the concepts, but I’m unsure about implementation.  This is gonna be a lot of work at a difficult time.  Cross your fingers…

That’s right, the end of the semester is rapidly approaching.  For the last few weeks of class we are supposed to pick a personal project that we want to do and run with it.  I have a few ideas for this one.  I already told Prof. Monnens I was going to do one of these, but I am still deciding.  Here are the possibilities:

  • A maze game for the iPhone
  • Help Tim with Mass Effect TTRPG
  • Realistic space combat game
  • 4x TBS game that I have been working on in the past
  • The Speciation Sim outlined in ‘Life, advanced’ below.

I’m probably going to do either the maze game or help Tim.  Both of these are relatively simple and would fit within the purview of the class.  I may just assign them percentage values and roll a d100 like a good nerd.  I’ll be sure to post what I decide and how I got there.  Peace.

EDIT:  I have opened it up to a poll.  I will be deciding shortly, so get your votes in now!

EDIT: For those not in the know, I’ve been working with a simple game creation program called “Scratch”.  This application was made by some guys at MIT in an attempt to create an easy to learn and use game creation tool.  It can be found at  Enjoy, even though I really didn’t…

Scratch is an interesting little program.  It has a very gentle learning curve, but is also limited by some pretty heafty issues.

  1. Only 1 key press is registered at a time.
  2. Duration between initial key press and key repeat is very long.
  3. Pressing a new key while a key repeat is in effect will cancel the key repeat.
  4. You cannot make the play field any larger than the initial size without scrolling (which is pretty darn small).
  5. You have to create and reuse every object that will be in the game at design time, instead of having the option of creating new instances during runtime.
  6. Sprite scaling degenerates a sprite if you scale it too far down and then back up again.

Scratch does have some advantages though:

  1. It’s supported on many different platforms.
  2. It’s very simple and easy to use.
  3. The rotation mechanics are simple and intuitive, very nice.

It’s pretty obvious that Scratch’s intention was for rapid prototyping.  And if it wasn’t, that is all I would use it for anyway.  It has strong potential as a rapid testing bed for gameplay mechanics.  However, it’s shortcomings prevent it from creating high end games that anyone might want to distribute to non-friends…

That may seem harsh, but it’s the truth.  Bravo to MIT for trying to make a game creation tool with a very simple interface.  For what it’s worth, they did a valiant job.  But Scratch is far from capable and I will keep in mind as a test platform for game mechanics, at best.

On to the game… I did the simple space combat game.  While very basic, it was still quite fun and difficult.  There were some aesthetic changes that need to be made regarding ship models, but other than that, the controls really didn’t seem to be much of an issue and gameplay went relatively smoothly.

This challenge calls for the creation of a two-player digital game using Scratch or similar software.  Fortunately, we are allowed to pull other people onto the project, but I’d like to work with some people I haven’t really worked with yet.  That will be difficult to coordinate considering we don’t have class again this week.

As far as ideas, I’m probably going to go with a simple real-time space combat game, or something similar.  Hopefully have some developments shortly.

We had some issues when it came to “any subject matter not covered in the rules is open to interpretation”, actually resulting in physical violence.  So a new rule has been instated: you cannot steal cards from other players and you cannot take more than one card from the deck at a time and you can only draw cards, trade, or fight on your turn.  Other than these simple changes, I really like the “subterfuge rule” as we’re calling it.  It really highlights the chaotic battlefield that is international (and interpersonal) relations.

Other than these changes, I feel the card game is pretty solid.  There had been some rumblings of multi-front fighting.  However, I believe this would be a development for future changes.  Overall fun, crazy, and powerful game.  I’m quite happy with how it turned out.