Developer Milestones


Summary

This page serves as a log for projects I’ve worked on throughout my life. It’s to account how I got where I am, and more importantly serves as a point of assessment for things I need to change. As my catalog of projects grows, it is becoming difficult to remember everything that I worked on. This should serve nicely as a quick point-of-reference for these projects.

Projects Attempted: 38+
Projects Finished: 23
Finished Percentage: < ~60%

Milestones

???? – <Random RPGs>

Engine: RPG Maker 95
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Status: Unfinished (est. 2000/2001)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A

Apparently I worked on several RPGs very soon after getting my first computer. I don’t recall many of them – in fact, my brother recalled playing one in-which you battled each of the elements, and as you defeated them they would join you on your team. I only recall very small projects which use the provided sprites, tilesets, and characters – but not specifics about them.

I also recall that I barely knew how to use my computer. I had to have my dad install RPG Maker 95 because I didn’t know how to – apparently I knew how to use the internet, however. Prior to this, most of my games were pen-and-paper or board games. I assume the year 2000/2001 because this is around when I got my first computer.

Fact: I actually forgot that I wanted to make games even before I had a computer, until I wrote this passage. I wrote on my “What do you want to be when you grow up?” sheet that I wanted to work at Nintendo when I was a kid. According to my parents, I was always trying to make or create something – even when I didn’t have the resources to do it correctly.

???? – Bubble Bobble RPG

Engine: RPG Maker 95
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Status: Unfinished (est. 2000/2001)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A

One of my earliest games that I remember really trying for was an RPG starring the characters Bub and Bob from Bubble Bobble. I was quite obsessed with the games when I was younger, as many of my friends and family can attest. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything from this time period due to a hard-drive failure on my Windows 95 machine.

I can say that I recall certain moments making the game. Using my crappy microphone to record rain for an outdoor scene (basically I put it out my window during a nice rain), drawing movie clips frame-by-frame in MS Paint, creating custom character sprites and battle images. Talking into the mic for voice-overs. I remember thinking “the cool pay-off in Final Fantasy 7 was seeing all those neat movie clips, so gotta add some of those”!

Fact: Before I started making games, I went through and played as many random Taito games as I could find. They have a lot of cute games, and their characters are great – highly recommended!

???? – Hit the Bob-ombs!

Engine: GameMaker
Genre: Clicker
Status: Finished (est. 2001)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A

A basic clicker game with several 2-frame bob-omb characters drawn in MS Paint bouncing around the screen. One of which would be pink (or red, I don’t remember), and you had to click on that bob-omb and avoid the others. The initial position and movement of the bob-ombs was predictable and not influenced randomly, so if you knew where to look you could immediately beat every level.

This game was the first game made using GameMaker, so there is some actual logic here (where RPG Maker games are kind of like art projects with dynamic triggers). The game was fairly short, 3 levels – but I recall just feeling like I did all I needed to and learned what I wanted, so I moved on quickly.

I believe this was based on the “Hit the Ball” tutorial that used to exist on Mark Overmars’ GameMaker website. Either it was a tutorial or a sample project, I don’t recall. I do recall submitting it to a game showcase online, but the page has since been removed so I doubt I can find it again.

Fact: I originally misspelled the title as “Hit the Bom-bombs!” I just thought that was how you spelled “Bob-ombs”, I guess. I really wish I had this game, because it’s the first GameMaker game I ever made.

???? – Pac-Bub

Engine: GameMaker
Genre: Arcade Action (Pac-Man clone)
Status: Finished (est. 2001)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

As always, around this age I had to do something Bubble Bobble related. This is basically following a tutorial on how to make a Pac-Man style game, instead I used the characters from Bubble Bobble as the main characters, and the monsters from the Cave of Monsters for the “ghosts”. It wasn’t much worth mentioning, but I decided to keep it in my list because I remember making it.

I remember the character being very circular – kind of like Pac-Man. However, it was green and had some of the features of a Bubblen character (white stomach, short tail, spikes, etc). I don’t exactly recall if I did anything special for the enemies, I think that the things you collected were bubbles, and the “power-up” was one of the lightning bottles from the original game.

???? – Bubble Bobble Breakout

Engine: GameMaker
Genre: Puzzle (Arkanoid-style)
Status: Finished (est. 2001)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A

Okay, I don’t really remember this game so well. I just know that it existed, was completed, and have a small amount of notes on it. My notes say “Simple computer drawings of Bublen from Bubble Bobble going through an Arkanoid-style “Cave of Monsters” to save Boblen. Very long game.” I imagine this was a re-skin of the sample brick breaker type game, as that’s what many of my games were at the start of using GameMaker.

Again, this was based on an existing “brick-breaker” tutorial/sample that was provided with GameMaker.

Fact: For those curious, in some games the main characters are called “Bubby” (Bub) and “Bobby” (Bob). I think I was going with the Bubble Symphony spellings, which have four characters: Bubblen, Bobblen, Kululun, and Cororon. I recall really liking Bubble Symphony a lot.

Fact: When I was much, much younger – I remember checking the music section of stores for the Bubble Symphony OST. I was always hopeful that it’d just be there, and always assumed it was sold out when it wasn’t. Eventually I wised-up and stopped checking. Many years later I deemed it very important to find a copy on eBay (which I still have to this day).

???? – Cow Sniper

Engine: GameMaker
Genre: Clicker
Status: Unfinished (est. 2001)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A

Cow Sniper was a game made with my friend Joe, who at the time really liked cows. I don’t really recall how or why he really liked cows, I just remember that he did. The idea was that the green cows were cows suffering from “mad cow disease” and you had to shoot them and protect the normal, healthy cows. This would timeline it around 2003, but I feel like we made this before Space Defense Colony, and that was made in 2002.

The background and cows were totally just ripped from RPG Maker, judging by the quality of the sprites probably RPG Maker 2k. Any other sprites were quite obviously made in paint – except for the “Xing” sign. I think that was made in some really old version of PaintShop Pro (I can tell because some crummy shading is on the sign).

Fact: I think Joe also really liked this image of a cow on a pogo-stick. So here is this, because I found it. It is a rather cute image, isn’t it? This is another game I really wish I had a copy of, and am quite bummed that I don’t…

2002 – Space Defense Colony

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Shoot-em-Up
Status: Finished (LKG: 04/21/2002)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: T2² Games

This game had very simple one or two frame sprites (except those damn bullet shells), and was a simple shoot-em-up style game. I remember recording a scanner to represent the movement across the rail for the main ship. The game had 4 levels and a boss, the first 3 levels were on a rail connected to a space colony (though you couldn’t tell from the picture) and after you beat that level, you transform and separate from the colony to go to a standard sh’mup section of the game.

I remember creating bullet shells that get scattered around space for each bullet fired. They clink and bounce off each other, and now that I’m older I think “why do lasers have bullet shells” and “how dangerous, we are just okay releasing all that trash into space”? More frustratingly, each time a bullet shell collided with another they would bounce and make a “clink” sound – I realize now that this is particularly annoying (but as a kid I thought it was pretty cool).

This is also the time where I made my first “Developer Alias” – which was me basically pretending to be a company that is making games. I forget why I went with T2² Games, probably because it just looked mathy and sciency. I feel like I released a few games under this alias, but I can only really find this one.

Fact: I shared this with my friend Kyle when I was little, and he told me that he really liked it. I remember being very proud/happy with my achievements with that little bit of encouragement. Thanks Kyle!

???? – Armageddon Arkanoid

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Puzzle (Arkanoid-style)
Status: Unfinished (est. 2002/2003)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

A simple Arkanoid-style game with very basic particle systems and power ups. Followed some conventions of other Arkanoid games and tried to make things relatively hectic and fun. I don’t remember how many levels there were, I just recall losing this game to a hard-drive failure (much like how I lost most of my older games and projects).

There was definitely some inspiration from Matrix on the way I wanted to head with characters, I remember that. I had a small cast and they all were kind of leather, trench coat-wearing, all-black-clothes-and-hair kind of crap that was popular in the early 2000s. The characters were all computer processes, or some garbage like that.

Fact: The characters were animated by drawing each frame on a full piece of paper, scanning them in on high-contrast black-and-white, then cleaning the lines in MS Paint, and finally colouring them in and connecting the frames in PaintShop Pro.

???? – Supersonic

Engine: GameMaker
Genre: Shoot-em-Up
Status: Unfinished (est. 2002/2003)
Preservation: Unavailable
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T2² Games)

After feeling relatively successful with Cow Sniper and Space Defense Colony, I wanted to work with Joe again on another game. I forget what got us started on this, but we eventually began work on a vertical shoot-em-up which was a little more in-line with the ending segment of Space Defense Colony. We did not get very far with this game (only having an initial demo), and as far as I’m aware this was scrapped pretty quickly.

Fact: I believe around this time, I really started to get into Ragnarok Online, so I think I lost a lot of time due to that game. I played a lot of Ragnarok Online, and after a few years I would occasionally go back and start new characters.

???? – Space Defense Colony URA

Engine: GameMaker
Genre: Shoot-em-Up
Status: Unfinished (est. 2003 – from changelogs)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

I’m pretty mad about this one.

Mostly I’m mad because I grabbed a copy of this game before I formatted my old computer – but the folder I grabbed was empty. I only had what I considered to be a “Battle Demo”, but still I would’ve liked to have had that.

Anyways, for this game I added a little helper turret, and worked on the story more because even back then I hated what I made in Space Defense Colony. I decided to try to make the story have more agency, and that the people wouldn’t be attacked for no discernible reason.

The idea was that the colony was in-place to mine for a very useful resource called URA (I forget what it stands for, but recall that it’s an acronym for some longer, scientific-sounding thing). Part of the trouble was that mining was dangerous because the aliens coveted the materials, and you were disturbing them.

Fact: I remember being pretty pleased with the crummy space background you see there. I think I made that just swirling around some blend tool in PaintShop Pro or something like that.

Fact: The helper turret was controlled by the mouse, which enabled asymmetric 2-player gameplay. I think I added this being inspired by Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil which had a helper 2-player system as well.

Hard Fact: They should make more Klonoa games (Wahoo!).

2003 – Mountain Climbers

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Top-Down Action
Status: Finished (LKG: 08/21/2003)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: T-Games/Code Red

This is kind of cute; when I was in my mid-teens, I worked with my younger brother to make a game. I asked him what he wanted to make and what he wanted it to look like and then I made the logic stuff happened. He drew things in MS Paint, and then I imported the assets and used them as-is. I forget why I did this, did my brother want to make a game? I don’t remember – but I’m glad I did it because it’s a cute little piece to look back on.

The basic premise is that you are these little circle-blob characters, you run around and place bombs. The bombs explode and you try to blow-up as many enemies as possible. I remember making a small midi track for the main theme and writing the logic, my brother did some voice recordings and drew all the character sprites and animation.

Fact: I asked my brother for a developer alias so that he could attach his name to the game. He chose Code Red, which I’m unsure where the origin of this name comes from.

???? – Invader Zim RPG

Engine: RPG Maker
Genre: Role-Playing Game
Status: Unfinished (est. 2002/2003)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

Yeah, I remember very little about this. I know I made all the sprites myself – unsure on the background. The big deal here was that I was competent enough to set time-triggers to swap the sprite-sheets for the on-screen characters. This allowed for (very inefficient) blinking and breathing of characters on-screen. I remember thinking “why don’t characters in these games ever blink or breathe?” So I guess that’s why I did that.

This was absolutely unfinished, I was starting to feel a little taxed mentally because sites were cropping up to let people share their RPG Maker games, and I realized so many people were way better than me. This is probably the first time that I quit making a game because of how bad I felt I was at it. I was also starting to be affected by adolescence – so that didn’t help much.

Fact: I was a huge fan of Invader Zim when it released – so much so, that I ended up looking up (and becoming a fan of) Jhonen Vasquez’s other work. Looking forward to the Invader Zim movie that is being made, hopefully it will give the series a good ending (not that it demanded an ending, but it’d be nice to have).

2003 – Cow Sniper (Remake)

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Clicker
Status: Unfinished (LKG: 07/20/2003)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: T-Games

I claim in my notes that this game isn’t completed, but that isn’t totally true. The game is completed to the point that it is an entire remake of Cow Sniper, but I believe there were plans for different types of weapons and different kinds of cows even at this early stage. Mostly, I just felt I knew more and could make the game a little better than I had made it before.

This kind of started a little trend where I would occasionally remake Cow Sniper after years of learning new things. I’m actually kind of glad I did that, because it’s a nice indicator of progress. The traditional Cow Sniper level is a green, grassy field with a wooden fence (??) along the side.

Fact: I loved making Cow Sniper, because it was so darn simple, and such a silly concept. I think I shared this one online on a forum I frequented, and was super happy to see people play it and post their scores.

???? – Freely-Released Amateur Game Emulator (FRAG Emulator)

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Emulator
Status: Unfinished (est. 2003)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

I started thinking to myself that GameMaker is weird – the executables are so large (spoiler, they weren’t very large) and the content is so small, there must be a way to distribute one executable and then pass around the game files separately, similar to how ROMs worked. I started making games similar to existing arcade games and attempting to emulate the game files in FRAG.

The idea was simple, the execution was messy, and the intention was to be able to use the executable to network-share game projects and put them up on a virtual “shop” (I guess shop wasn’t the right word, the games were meant to be free). Let’s also take a moment to appreciate that even in 2003, I was coming up with stupid developer acronyms that I’m sure I just felt so clever about at the time.

Unsurprisingly, this idea was short-lived, and the process of creating the ROMs was very manual and hacky. I never got around to attempting the “shop” part, but the reason I believe it felt possible is I used network programming to make a chat client for my friends (which was way hacky and we dropped because using AIM was just easier). This project went the way of a hard-drive crash, which took most of my games/work from that time. :(

I do have some notes on this from the time, here are my claims:

Very efficient, decreased file sizes sometimes by 80%. Allowed games to be created with only folders, notepads and different image files. (Plus sound files if you have sound or whatever.) I wish, I really wish I still had this, but I don’t. I lost it in the crash. I am remaking it though and it’ll be done in a good five-six months.

Fact: 80% is generous – I think a game with more assets would see a smaller decrease in size. The reason I believe this is because the only thing not being packaged with each game is the engine. So really, this measurement is based on a few simple test cases.

2003 – Space Invaders

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Arcade/Action
Status: Finished (LKG: 10/10/2003)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: T-Games

This was a test game made to work in FRAG emulator. I figured Space Invaders was a simple-enough game to make. I did have this working through FRAG, but luckily I also kept a basic executable copy of the game around to play without the emulator.

Nothing much to talk about here, I added some extended sprite-swapping functionality. For example, you could cycle through 5 different backgrounds, and go between colour-mode and sprite-mode (where you either just coloured the basic invader shapes, or you gave them full sprite sheets). This actually came out very well, I remember being quite proud even though it was just a clone game.

2004 – The Machine Screensaver

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Screensaver
Status: Finished (LKG: 06/20/2004)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

For a while I stepped away from games and started making a web-comic along with a friend of mine. We had separate web-comics, but we occasionally posted together on other forums and things. My web-comic was called “The Machine” which shortened to “TM” which was word-play for “Trademark” which kind of eluded to the theme of the web-comic; capitalism.

The web-comic was supposed to be about these characters that were brand-name, store-bought, and packaged for sale. A set of them escape the factory they were made in, and attempt to live normally amongst people. It was more of a comedy with occasional dark themes, or that’s what I was going for. It ended up turning into a slice-of-life because that was just easier than any overarching story.

Fact: The web comic was inspired by the Pink Floyd song “Welcome To The Machine“, which gave me creepy vibes when I listened to it. The song is still great to this day, though I rarely listen to classic rock any more.

Note: It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the screen saver involves several really small versions of the main characters moving across the screen and laying bombs. Eventually they both carry out a big bomb and blow up the whole screen. Another effect is that fireballs will fall from the sky and burn the ground. In a very rare event, if the fireball hits one of the characters, they catch fire and run around igniting more of the desktop.


2004 – Jump Man

Engine: GameMaker 5
Genre: Emulator
Status: Unfinished (LKG: 09/29/2004)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: T-Games

In my notes, I have this dated in 2002, but I don’t believe that is correct. You can find (in the upper-left corner of the level) some text that says “This is put here to prove that Trent Reed made this.” – the reason for that is we had general computer usage classes in early high school, and I recall sharing this game with a friend and him not believing that I made it.

Perhaps I worked on it in 2002, and had that experience/interaction in 2004, it’s hard to say for sure. But I thought that I worked on the game around the same time I had the interaction specified. Hard to say.

This game was a 2D version of an exploration-based Mario game, so you have a large level to explore and find red coins in, defeat enemies, etc. I had a lot of fun making it, though it was only a single level. Like with many projects when I was younger, I just got bored and grossly overscoped the thing.

2005 – WWII – A Trivia Game

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Quiz Game
Status: Finished (LKG: 05/09/2005)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

This was made for extra-credit for one of my history classes. I recall never really being too into history when I was younger, which is sad because now that I’m older I realize how cool it is. Well, to be honest I’m not sure if this was for extra credit or if we had a free-form assignment that we could do in any way.

The questions were randomized, but not removed from the list of possible questions after answering – so as a play-session went on, it would take longer and longer to find a question the player hadn’t answered. Obviously I know better now, but back then I was wanting to finish the project so that I could move on with other things.

Fact: Other teachers let me do weird projects instead of school work in some cases. One other instance of making a game involved a numeric/musical Pi game, and a later instance I made a comic book about carbon that I still have no idea how I got away with turning it in.

2005 – Virus

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Shoot-em-Up
Status: Unfinished (LKG: 11/18/2005)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

At this point in time, I was starting to become a pretty competent programmer – and was able to take on more daunting programming challenges that I was not able to handle when I was younger. In particular, one game series that I enjoyed was the Ray Storm series (Ray Force, Ray Storm, Ray Crisis). This series featured a lock-on mechanic which allowed you to hit enemies not on the same collision plane as you.

In this game, I implemented the lock-on mechanic, and was going to make a very similar style game. I only got as far as a proof-of-concept, but I feel I nailed the mechanic pretty well. Lock-on supported multi-pass just like in the Ray Storm series (where you could lock on to the same target multiple times for more damage).

Fact: Though I was still employing the same workflow for making sprites, I was getting much better at making the sprites look high-quality when reduced to their intended size. The game even had a 3D-look to it, as the ship rolled back-and-forth when moving from left-to-right or right-to-left.

2005 – Mountain Climbers DX

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Top-Down Action
Status: Unfinished (LKG: 11/27/2005)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A (est. T-Games)

I forget exactly why I decided to remake Mountain Climbers. I think the original was a good idea, and I guess I wanted to expand on it somehow. Truth be told, I did not get very far in developing this game. You could really barely call it a game – it was just a little tech demo showing the character running around and setting bombs.

Making this game more mysterious, I don’t seem to have any notes on it. I just have the game files, a simple demo, and some screen shots. This appears to be a very short-lived project. The original game’s charm was that I made it with my brother, this one is just kind of a remake no one asked for.

One of the possibilities was I was trying to get a portfolio ready. I recall at the time I had launched my own personal website (which was mostly a dumping ground for me and my friends since there were forums). My web 2.0 skills started to shine around this age, I was greatly inspired by another site I frequented very heavily. I think I have the website somewhere on a hard-drive or something, maybe I’ll post a picture of it.

2005 – Z’Game

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Sh’mup
Status: Finished (LKG: 04/11/2005)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

Z’Game is z’best game in z’ galak-z!

This game has a little bit of a story. I was in a mechanical drawing class, and we had a really awesome teacher (who we called Mr. Z, because his last name began with a Z). He was pretty awesome, but because of how awesome we thought he was, we sometimes took jokes in his class a little too far.

One particular joke involved a staff photograph of our teacher, with an expression that he rather did not like. He was obviously embarrassed by his photo, and – kids being kids – we decided this meant that everything had to involve this photo. I mean, we put this photo everywhere.

Sometime, we would just print a collage of the photo to his classroom’s printer. Other times, we would plaster his face over-top of another photo. Let’s see, there was; the Mona Z’sa, Pimp Z, Z’Beatles – just to name a few. Z’Beatles was my favourite, because it was literally four pictures of his face all looking the same, one was flipped to help with symmetry.

One thing I never really told my classmates is that – one day, Mr. Z pulled me aside and asked me “can you please stop using that photograph?” I think the fun had run it’s course, which was good timing because I think we were about done with the joke at that time. However, I do still feel a little bad about the whole ordeal.

Mr. Z, if you ever read this – just know that your class really loved you, and we didn’t mean any trouble. Out of consideration for you, I will not post a picture of Z’Game.

I will at least describe it – it was basically a shoot-em-up game, and it seemed pretty normal for a few seconds. Then a giant tank rolls in from top-screen, and on the top of it is Mr. Z’s face. Z’Tank would shoot bullets and occasionally cycle between one of several special attacks. Some of which would mess with his face or have him open his mouth or something like that. It was a riot, and what was crazier is that someone uploaded it to the student share and I got to see some kids I didn’t know play it during study hall.

2005 – Z’Man

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Arcade Action (Pac-Man clone)
Status: Finished (LKG: 04/19/2005)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

There was actually a side-game that was paired with Z’Game called Z’Man. This game was a Pac-Man clone, except the ghosts were some of the common students (as I recall: Me, Patrick, Chase, and Brad). You played as Mr. Z, and your goal was to collect all the homework. You would go around the class and collect homework, avoiding the students.

Similar to the last game, I will spare Mr. Z the humiliation. Besides, this game was more for the people who already played it, not for the general public. Again, Mr. Z – your students thought you were cool, that’s why we gave you a hard time!

Fact: I still have this game as well! It’s not as good as Z’Game, it’s more like a footnote.

2005 – Pi – The Game

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Rhythm/Music
Status: Finished (LKG: 12/06/2005)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

The Pi game is another game made for extra credit, this time it was math class. I took a clip from the Pi Song by Hard n’ Phirm and set it up so that you could click the numbers to the beat of the song. Normally, this would be impossible with a mouse; however, our classrooms had these digital screens for projecting stuff from the computer and clicking items on the screen. The idea was to run this on one of the projectors and hit the numbers to the beat, tracking accuracy as the game went on.

I recall there being some audio sync issues with the screens, and not taking this into account. So it was quite hard to play still because the speed in which the numbers appeared lagged behind them going through the hit zone, not to mention that the act of hitting the number was also delayed causing a lot of frustration. I think it was an interesting project, and I had a lot of trouble with sync, so I remember learning from it. I don’t remember what my teacher thought of it, but I do remember that he tried playing it in class (don’t remember how that went).

Fact: This idea came from my love for rhythm games, I was starting to get into DDR and Beatmania IIDX at the time. I was not very good at either, but I enjoyed playing them, and I also lacked the hardware in most cases, having to use a keyboard, made things very difficult.

Fact: I found the Pi Song via. You’re the Man Now Dog, which was quite popular in the mid-2000s. Specifically this page: http://pi.ytmnd.com/

2006 – Book of Dreams

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Platformer
Status: Unfinished
Preservation: Available (LKG: 01/14/2006)
Developer Alias: N/A

This is an interesting one for a few reasons.

This was my first attempt at a unique platformer (Mario was not a unique platformer, though it was unique in level design). This also surprisingly is the name of a game I started working on in 2014, but ended up leaving early after development began (see, Book of Dreams). I believe I named the 2014 Book of Dreams, I don’t believe I remembered that this game existed at the time of naming.

Anyways, this game involved a character that was supposed to appear as if he was out of a weird picture book. I wanted thick outlines and cartoony characters – I ended up not being too happy with it, so I scrapped it pretty early in development. There was supposed to be heavy focus on crowds of enemies, specifically there were supposed to be several of those little demon guys on the screen at any given time (many more than what is pictured in the screen shots below).

Fact: I helped with some very early parts of Book of Dreams (2014); mostly around the theme, story, and helping the artists figure out a direction for the initial style of the game. But I left shortly after because I was struggling to become excited for the project, and I just really wanted to learn more technical things. I also struggled to relinquish certain design elements, which made me realize that I would only have hindered the team – so I decided it was better to part ways for the time being. (Hence why the 2014 game does not appear on this list.)

2006 – Super Cow Sniper 2: Ultra Violent Championship Edition

Engine: GameMaker 6
Genre: Clicker
Status: Unfinished (LKG: 07/05/2006)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Gemuoba

Six years later and I’m still trying to make a Cow Sniper game. At this point I basically had admitted to myself that it’s just a thing I do to see how much I’ve learned and grown. It’s kind of cool having several generations of the same game and seeing the visual/logical difference, as well as how I was thinking at the time. I recall that I wanted to focus heavily on the arcade-feel of the game, and I even bought a PC light gun that could work with it. This one had the areas laid out, two bosses coded, and one full level with changing terrain to make the visuals more distinct and interesting.

The other levels were kind of there, as proof-of-concepts, but I never got past coding the first level. I recall feeling much more confident in my coding abilities though, I even made a controls screen (which was basically comprised of a bunch of game objects to make it look like a Windows XP form). The game opens with the traditional Cow Sniper “grassy field” level, and then it gets blasted by a laser and turned into a wasteland. I’m unsure why I thought the cows would live through this, it only eviscerated ever piece of vegetation for miles; but somehow they managed.

Fact: This mode had a short attract mode as well; hence the title, blinking “Insert Coins”, and looming player score. I remember sharing this on some forums which participated in a virtual “E3”-type event for GameMaker users. It was quite fun to see responses over the game.

2009 – Shmup (Student Showcase)

Engine: Allegro
Genre: Shoot-em-Up
Status: Finished (LKG: 05/11/2009)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

This was a game that was made for the student showcase at Stark State College of Technology. It was meant to demonstrate the skills and capabilities of students who were put forth as exemplary students at the college, by recommendation of one of the faculty members. I worked on this game with Alexander Redinger, who did all of the fantastic sprite work for the game. At the time we still weren’t sure how to use version control software, so since I wasn’t too skilled at pixel art I handled programming and Alex handled pixel art. I’m unsure how much else we divvied up to be honest – but I remembered learning Bezier curves around this time which helped make more fluent enemy formations.

We had some pretty decent effects and enemies in here, as well as some power-ups to increase the effectiveness of the player’s weapon. The power-up system was in the form of the coins you collected increasing an experience meter, and every time it filled up your weapon power would increase (both numerically and visually). It increased until it became a laser, which was the most powerful form of the weapon, as far as I recall. I also commissioned my friend Kris Oprisch to make the music for the main gameplay loop.

Fact: This was the first game coded entirely from a software development IDE and not a pre-packaged game engine with a user interface. True that a rudimentary game engine was still used (Allegro), it still stands as a good divide between my hobbiest life, and my professional life. Throughout DigiPen I listed this game on my resume, but now I have more impressive games that supersede this one.

Different Patterns

Boss Battle

Fight Enemies

2009 – Fourtris

Engine: Microsoft XNA
Genre: Puzzle (Tetris clone)
Status: Finished (LKG: 11/29/2009)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

So I started realizing around this point that games were taking me longer and longer to do, it was kind of bumming me out. I started looking into recommendations for how to improve and battle this issue, and I had heard that a good way to practice game development was to just implement something as quickly as humanly possible. Fourtris was not supposed to be well thought-out, it was supposed to just be a Tetris clone with a silly name, and that’s just what it was.

It’s very simple, you start a new game from the title screen, play until you lose (blocks drop progressively faster as level increases), and when you lose a “Game Over” sign appears, and you can press a key to return to the title. I actually finished this so fast I had time to add other features to the game, like a block hold, and a ghost block to show where your piece would fall if you pressed up. I’m not too crazy about the controls any more, they just feel kind of funky – space is rotate, arrow keys move, and shift is hold.

Fact: This actually was good practice. There are a few games that any game developer should be able to make within a few hours, and I’d say tetris is one of them. Many of these games you can do in mere minutes if you have a good base framework.

???? – Aether

Engine: Microsoft XNA
Genre: Platformer
Status: Finished (est. 2009/2010)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: N/A

This was one of the last projects I worked on at Stark State for my associates degree. I worked on this again with Alexander Redinger. It wasn’t as big of a deal as the student showcase, but we had to make something for one of our game development classes. We decided to tackle making a platformer because we didn’t want to make another shoot-em-up. I recall very little about this game, mostly I recall thinking it was “meh” but having to complete it quickly and wanting to be done with school at the time.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of this game sitting around to even get screen shots of. I’ll have to email Alex and see if he knows anything, or see if I can log into my school’s student portal and pull the game out of the submission bin (unless Alex submitted for us, which I don’t remember who submitted the project). We had some big ideas here, we just had a lot of trouble making them come to fruition, I don’t exactly remember why.

Fact: This is the game I was least excited to show anyone after making. I recall letting a friend of mine play it, and just wanting him to be done with it. He was excited to play it (I think more for my sake than anything else), but I just was not excited to deliver or share this game with anyone.

2010 – Nap Attack

Engine: Cocos2D
Genre: Clicker
Status: Finished (LKG: 01/1/2011, original release ~2010)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Bonkaboo Studios

Shortly after my associates degree, I got a job working at Bonkaboo Studios, which was a small independent studio trying to break into the iOS AppStore market. I had never used Apple products before, but it seemed like it might be a fun learning experience. The owner, George Milnes II, was kind enough to hire me on even though I had no experience shipping a title. The original idea for Nap Attack was (I believe) the brain-child of George, and he simply wanted us to make it happen.

We (the small developer team hired for this task) had creative feedback and control, I believe we could’ve pushed for whatever we wanted and as long as we could convince George it would get the green light. So we got to add a few features, and create some characters which was pretty fun. I recall making the “Man on Fire” who runs across the front of the screen, and we also added a “Frog Apocalypse” mode where there are tons of 1-hit enemies for frantic screen-mashing fun (this was my favourite mode). I quite liked working with everyone at the studio, and look back on the time fondly.

The way the game played is characters would come on-screen and make noise. The Nap Meter would decrease as this happened, and you would have to push the creatures away so that the main character could keep sleeping. You had to tap (sometimes several times) to shoo away a creature, and for more advanced creatures a “Life Bar” would appear at the bottom showing how many more taps until the creature would go away. Some creatures interacted with one-another; for example, there are dogs and cats, but if both appear the dog will chase the cat and make more noise. If you kept-up the tapping, you could get a combo going which would increase your score even more.

I actually think we had something pretty fun here, but I was inexperienced and had trouble delivering the application without issues. We realized that on the majority-market devices that the memory requirements were simply too high, and ended up crashing. This was an issue because we tested on devices that were one generation newer, which did not experience the issue. I recall feeling very bad about the oversight and driving into work at the middle of the night to fix the problem, but at the time the approval process for iOS applications was not very streamlined, to say the least.

At this point, I had realized that the Associates Degree that I had did not properly prepare me for a job in the industry, and that I needed to go back to school. I enjoyed the work, but I didn’t feel prepared for it. That didn’t stop us from trying a few more games (which, as far as I’m aware, did better and took significantly less time).

Simple How To Play

Crazy Enemies!

Frog Apacolypse

2010 – Pumpkinator

Engine: Cocos2D
Genre: Matching
Status: Finished (LKG: 10/14/2010)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Bonkaboo Studios

Again the idea of George, he wanted something much simpler to put into the market. I forget the exact timeline for Pumpkinator, but I recall that it was extremely, extremely short. This definitely took no more than a month, maybe less – and was more widely enjoyed, and got more downloads. We integrated a 3rd-party advertisement solution and went free-to-play, but we did not get many takers on the ad space, so we relied quite heavily on purchasable in-game content. I do not know how well this monetized, nor do I care, at this point I just wanted to make a game that preformed well and was released smoothly.

Aside from the ad-space not bringing in much revenue, the rest of the project went unbelievably well. I think we spent more time in the approval process than the actual development process. Creating the mini-games was fun and simple, and we knew what hurdles to look out for as far as the framework was concerned. I think getting our bumps on the last project helped tremendously, but the team was starting to break up at this point, and I was already thinking of going back to school to learn more.

The way the game plays is similar to a whack-a-mole style game. There are two main game modes; standard, and matching. Standard mode is your basic whack-a-mole, you have to hit the regular pumpkins while avoiding the poison pumpkins, and you would be able to upload your score to the OpenFeint high score board. Matching mode showed a specific pumpkin carved in a specific way, and you had to only tap those pumpkins. It was quite a nifty game, and simple so anyone could pick it up.

Fact: The pumpkin faces are programmatically generated from a set of eyes/noses/mouths. It was kind of fun to write the logic for this, and pretty simple. From this we were also to make a matching game where you only had to hit a pumpkin with a specific face, instead of just avoiding obvious poison pumpkins.

Match Game

Mini Games

Free Play

2010 – Monster Smash

Engine: Cocos2D
Genre: Matching
Status: Finished (LKG: 02/07/2011, original ~2010)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Bonkaboo

Happy with how well Pumpkinator went, George wanted us to do an asset-flip (a little unsure why). It was simple enough, and there was some new stuff here in terms of mini-games and the like. Not much to say about this, it did not take much time, and the logic was basically already there. I’m unsure if this game helped Bonkaboo Studios, but I hope it did. I recall adding some other mini-games as well, nothing stands out in my mind, though.

I think at this point, monetization had become a major priority. A common trick was to release several similar-but-different apps into the AppStore which might attract slightly different users. I also believe George was a big fan of old-school sci-fi and monster movies, so perhaps this was also a consideration.

2011 – Ultra Cow Sniper: Total Annihilation Edition

Engine: Cocos2D
Genre: Clicker
Status: Unfinished (est. 2011)
Preservation: Lost
Developer Alias: Blank54

After Bonkaboo Studios, but before heading off to DigiPen, I decided to try to make one last game. I figured with my new abilities I could bring Cow Sniper to iOS, it felt like a perfect fit! I worked with my friend, AJ Emerick on this, as well as my friend Alex Schrock for music. The scope of the game was just too large to complete in the time allotted, and I started to think that maybe it wasn’t the best of ideas since I was heading off to college soon, so I decided to can the project.

We did have some cool new features in this iteration of Cow Sniper though. For example, the main characters would drive vehicles and shoot from there. We no longer had different-coloured cows, but instead you had to defend against all cow enemies trying to get to the vehicle. Cows could jump-onto and drag-behind the vehicles, enough cows were planned to stop the vehicle and bring the game to an end. The characters planned were fun, too. The main character was simply a continuation of the old Full Metal Jacket inspired cows from Super Cow Sniper 2. However, AJ had sketched up some sidekicks based on Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We named the main characters fun little names too, they were silly and enjoyable. Kau was the main cow, this is the character you played as. Bull was the buff, arms-dealer that could upgrade your weapons and occasionally lend support. Steer was the mechanic who drove and repaired the vehicles, and could provide advice on how to play the game. I recall being pretty bummed because the initial reaction the public had to these characters was negative, but they will always hold a special place in my heart.

Fact: I still really like the concept of this game, quite a lot. And I think we fixed some of the long-standing issues with old Cow Sniper games. It’s a shame this never took off, but I fear that the time for this has come and gone. I still will play with the Cow Sniper concept moving forward, but I don’t know if it’s worth revisiting this game for the time being.

Fact: I got Arin Hanson (Egoraptor) to take our initial concept art and turn it into full-fledged marketable character art. I wanted something to use for flare in menus or in promotional art, and recall really liking the Awesome Series at the time. I was quite happy with the results, and it was neat to see the characters pass through the filter of a few different passes.

2011 – Genesis

Engine: Project FUN
Genre: Top-Down Adventure/Horror
Status: Finished (LKG: 12/16/2011)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Radio Galaxy

This was my first game after starting at DigiPen Institute of Technology. We had to use a provided engine at the time, which was not the best. The engine was called Project FUN, and it’s the same engine/editor that DigiPen used to use in their Project FUN summer courses. The frustrating part about using the engine/editor was how it handled resources. Everything – and I mean everything – was loaded upon startup of the game. As a 32-bit game application, this means your entire game (and all the contents of your game) has to fit within ~3 Gb.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, and we used tilemaps to help with this. However, the tilemap implementation was… sub-par, to say the least. The way it worked was each layer of a tilemap contained a copy of the tilesets and map data, which basically defeated the purpose of having tilesets. We utilized many layers throughout our game before realizing that this was a problem. So we ended up with several copies of tilesets and tilemaps throughout our project. Eventually we had so many copies that the editor would crash when we tried to do anything.

This was immensely frustrating.

We were unable to put the finishing touches on the game because of this issue. We saved ambient track for last, and by that time there was no way to add the ambient track to the project without it crashing. We ended up turning the project in without music. Frustrated by this, I did also provide a batch script that would play the ambient track on loop in VLC (if it’s installed), so that you can at least kind of experience the game with the ambient track. It’s super hacky, but I really wanted it to be in there.

We also had to remove an enemy from the game – a group of bugs which would break when cloned and hit by a physics object. This was because of a problem with the physics engine that would not deep-copy the physics component on a cloned object before start. Another thing that never made it into the game because of this bug is a set of posters featuring other classmate’s games. I was going to litter them around the game for students/friends to find, but we were unable to add even this. :(

Final Battle

Discover Secrets

Dynamic Tile-Based Lighting

Note: Here were the posters I was unable to add to the game due to the bugs in Project FUN. (the team consisted of me, Connor Hollis, and Austin Greene – you can see our posters below!)

2012 – Oneironauts

Engine: RGEngine (custom)
Genre: Beat-Em-Up
Status: Finished (LKG: 07/19/2012)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Radio Galaxy

Oneironauts (Ohh-Knee-Roh-Nauts) was pretty bad ass. The game (while impossible to pronounce) had a really fun premise around it. I believe the idea was originally mentioned by David Knopp as a “pillow fighting game”. And from there it kind of morphed into “dream travelers beat-em-up”. The premise allowed us to create some zany characters, as well as have some fun settings. Originally, the game was supposed to be a side-scrolling beat-em-up, but we didn’t have much time to work on it – so we turned it into an wave-based beat-em-up with a boss at the end.

The game was really supposed to pay homage to old arcade games that I liked, and was based quite heavily on themes of Bubble Bobble, with a subtle theme towards Greek mythology. The main conflict was that Hypnos, the God of Dreams, stole the girlfriends of the two main characters – and it was up to them to save them! We even gave it an arcade overlay, and a lovely loading screen that pretended like it was the RAM/ROM check and tile alignment check from an old arcade game. The arcade theming was heavy.

The entire game was made in C, with a custom engine and utilizing a heavy amount of macros to enable C++-like functionality (we were not allowed to use C++ in the class, but I wanted object orientated programming). We also had a basic triangle renderer which could be fed texture coordinates, and were not allowed to invest any more technology into the graphics capabilities (another hard requirement of the project). This was the first engine for Radio Galaxy, aptly named RGEngine.

Title Screen

Final Battle

First Encounter

2013 – Demon Drum

Engine: RGEngine2 (custom)
Genre: Platformer
Status: Finished (LKG: 05/01/2013)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Radio Galaxy

The original pitch for Demon Drum was “Pikmin, but dead, and with demons”. Paraphrasing, but that’s not too far off from the truth. Basically, we all sat down and came up with game ideas – Demon Drum was one of 3 or 4 different ideas that I had planned to share with the team. The concept evolved from my love for a few things – Yoshi’s Island, ghosts (yeah, just ghosts), and Japanese folklore.

There’s actually a pretty cute story here, I just wish we got to tell it through the game in a better way. The story is that you are a little oni who wakes up finding that all the spirits are having trouble passing along to the afterlife. All you want to do is sleep, but due to the restlessness of the spirits around you, you are unable to go back to your eternal slumber. Eventually, you were to learn that Izanagi was attempting to alter the way death works to bring back his dead sister, Izanami. This story is in direct reference to a saying I had heard when I was studying Japanese, “Shintoism for the wedding, Buddhism for the funeral” – which was in reference to how Shintoism doesn’t have the concept of an afterlife.

The game played out as-if you were traveling around one main mountain, and each stage involved you finding and collecting floating spirits, and utilizing helper spirits to traverse the environment. After collecting enough spirits, you could release them into the beyond at the decrepit level-end shrine, and this would allow you to sleep for another several hundred years. Upon awakening, the mountain would be in a different state, and the shrine that you had fallen asleep at is now lush and vibrant, with plenty of plant regrowth and animals – signifying the spirits you freed being reborn. And you would make your way along another part of the mountain searching for more restless spirits.

As cute as this story is, no part of it ever made it into the final game. You can see little bits of this idea here and there, but nothing nearly as fleshed out as the concept as I had listed it above. I would like very much to revisit this idea, but I think the little oni is so iconic in the game, it would be hard to do without being obvious that it’s a direct reference from this game – which I believe is frowned upon, as DigiPen owns the rights to the character now. I still love the game, because it’s just a friendly, cute, and imaginative little game, with a very simple and effective gameplay loop – and it’s absolutely stress free.

Fact: Originally, there were supposed to be evil demons that would try to eat your helper spirits – you would fend off by flinging the ghosts at them. This is where the Pikmin influence came into play. But we couldn’t come up with a good way to involve the enemies, so we opted-out of that idea. I think for the better.

Demon Drum Title Screen

Traverse the Environment

Several Types of Ghosts

Find a Ghost

2014 – Ping

Engine: RGEngine3 (custom)
Genre: Survival Horror
Status: Finished (LKG: 04/16/2014)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: Radio Galaxy

The original development behind Ping was at the idea of Griffin Dean, another student who decided to come onto the team and work with us for the new game. This would be the first foray into 3D game development, and because we were a small team we needed to find a smart way to do this. The setting of the game was in an entirely dark environment and utilizing an echo-location suit that would allow the user to “ping” the environment and briefly see what was around them. One of the benefits of this is that none of the models in the game had to be textured or properly UV-wrapped.

This saved us a lot of time, and in the end when we were “beautifying” the levels, we were able to just ask for set pieces and get them quickly delivered by our artists. We ran into some troubles in terms of making the gameplay fun while bumbling around a pitch-black space, but in the end I think it’s a pretty decent survival horror game, and it was fun to try something new.

Fact: Because the game was without text/speech, we had to tell little stories through the environment. This was actually kind of fun, we got to take whitebox levels and think “what would this space be in our setting” – and then make that room. We would have barricaded doors and broken pipes that showed that a monster might have been present here once. Sometimes this would cause trouble with people not being sure what they were bumping into, there was almost an expectation that if you pressed a button, it opened a door, and you could just walk on thought.

2015 – KarmaView

Engine: Karma (custom)
Genre: Tech Demo
Status: Finished (LKG: 04/17/2015)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

This is the project I opted to work on instead of finishing Book of Dreams (2014). A quick reminder/synopsis on that – I felt like I was not able to help the team working on Book of Dreams, and was uninterested in the jobs I had to do to be a good team member. So, I left the team very early after we started work on Book of Dreams.

For one semester, I worked on a custom interpreted scripting language (I wanted to know how scripting languages worked). This was a fun project, but it was hard to demonstrate, and hard to be graded on – as many of the other students had something to show, I only had more code to show. I tried to make it easier by making an online interpreter that people could use, but I think it just lacked public interest, which didn’t make me feel good about working on it.

The second semester, I decided to make a 3D renderer (I had never worked on the graphics stack before) and I also made an interpreted scripting language. The scripting language was fun, and I found it very technically interesting, but no one was really impressed because it just performed logic. The graphics pipeline got a lot of love and attention, I believe because it’s so easy to grasp by anyone – “the picture looks pretty”. I gotta say, I had a lot of fun, and learned a lot of things working on these projects my senior year.

Fact: KarmaView is named after a cafe I used to frequent when I lived in Ohio named Karma Cafe. Last time I had visited, I didn’t recognize anyone working there, so maybe I’ll never visit again – but I really love the place and it got me through some tough times where I just wanted to be out-and-about but not really present anywhere. Working on a project, or just wasting time; it just felt nice to be there.

2016 – Maxwell’s Gold

Engine: Unity
Genre: Top-Down Adventure
Status: Finished (LKG: 09/18/2016)
Preservation: Available
Developer Alias: N/A

This game was initially inspired off a concept that was scrapped for Genesis – the idea was a battle bots tower, where at the end of each level you broke a panel through to the floor below. The main gimmick is the same here, but the gameplay involved is not at all based on the original concept (I like the puzzle concept much better anyways). Aside from helping brainstorm, I really stayed out of the design department, and instead wanted a break from programming – I decided to work on pixel art for the time being.

Maxwell’s Gold is one of those games that was just enjoyable – fun to work on, fun to play, and a fun idea entirely. It felt like we nailed something really unique and fun here, and I really enjoyed what we delivered. It was made over the course of one weekend, during a 48-hour game jam for Battle of the Bits, which we won a few different awards for (see the submission here).

One bummer is that we had trouble with the sound engine in HTML, Kori Loomis (in charge of the music) had a drum track that was supposed to kick in when you were being chased. It really felt cool to have that in the game, but we had to remove it in the end because the tracks would easily go out-of-sync in HTML (which was the primary delivery mechanism for the game). Aside from this, and a few other minor things, I really enjoy this cute little game!

Currently In-Progress

Presented without explanation, here are the titles of the projects I am currently working on. I hope to someday move them into the timeline above (whether it’s in a Finished or Unfinished state – though obviously I prefer Finished).

+ RefN (C++ Reflection Engine)
+ OpenSK (Low-Level Multimedia Streams)
+ ToraEngine (Component-Based Game Engine)