Monthly Archives: April 2012

Portal 2, Hoard, Sequence, and Shatter

I’ve been playing a handful of Steam games lately.
Portal 2
gem and I began working on the co-op chambers last week. By the time she had finished the single-player game, my computer die, leaving us unable to play co-op. We just not got back around to trying it. I’m really enjoying it. Like all the other mechanics in the series, there’s that initial figuring-it-out phase, and then things just start clicking. I also like that sometimes I don’t even know what’s happening; I’m just doing what gem tells me and finding myself who-knows-where.
Hoard is a fun game I reviewed for Game Boyz but never beat. There’s no story mode or anything like it. Rather, there’s a large number of independent maps. The game looks sort of like an RTS, but you control only a single dragon and are tasked with burning towns, kidnapping princesses, and increasing your gold hoard. While there’s a lot of replayability, I did manage to complete every map.
This seems fun so far. It’s a little corny and lacks some polish in the graphics and voice-acting, but it’s still enjoyable. It’s sort of an RPG or dungeon crawler in which combat is done through keyboard or controller DDR. It’s a neat concept, but it’s grindy. I’m going to keep playing it for now, but I doubt I’ll finish it.
OMG EXTREME BREAKOUT!!1!one! At least, that’s what it seems like. It’s fun but not groundbreaking.

Draw Something

Draw Something for iOS and Android | iPhone/iPod, Reviews, iPhone

I can’t stop playing Draw Something. It’s far too addicting. Created by omgpop, which was later purchased by Zynga, Draw Something tasks you with drawing things for others to guess and guessing what others draw. You can have multiple games going at the same time, allowing you to maximize your drawing fun. At the start of each turn, you watch your partner guess your last drawing. Then you guess his or her drawing. Finally, you draw something for your partner again!

Wayzgoose and Golfing

I had another fun and eventful weekend. On Saturday I went to Wayzgoose at UCI with gem, Collin, and Edward. Mostly I ate a ton – horchata, spam musubi, horchata, a chicken quesadilla, horchata, a schawarma, horchata, and a bacon-wrapped hot dog. And horchata. Seriously, I drank a lot of horchata.
We didn’t really spend much time at the medieval part this year. When we went over there, everyone was sitting around tired rather than fighting. Oh well. Collin went to buy an icecream sandwich from a little tent with one simple sign when he noticed it was being sold by the American Marketing Association. He pointed out that they should have better marketing. I have to agree with that. We spent three hours or so there, and the skin on my neck was mildly upset about this for the next couple days.
On Sunday I went golfing at Casta del Sol. Joseph cancelled, so it was just Pete, Jim, and me. While I was still terrible, I was doing much better than the first time I golfed. Too bad I still miss the ball a lot (and can’t get the ball to go far). The league is going to be quite embarrassing next month!
Speaking of next month, I’ll be going to the Lithium Network Conference in San Francisco next week. It should be fun!

Chuck Sommerville Interview

Chuck’s Challenge 3D Interview | Blog | Game Boyz
Chuck Sommerville, creator of Chip’s Challenge and Chuck’s Challenge, answers some of my questions about him and his games. There’s currently a Kickstarter for Chuck’s Challenge 3D, the PC and Mac port of the iOS game. Normally I only link to my articles on Game-Boyz, but I’m going to cross-post it here. However, check Game Boyz for some of my other writing or for game coverage from the rest of our staff.
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Do you know Chuck Sommerville, my favorite game developer? Perhaps you’ve heard of his game, Chip’s Challenge, or his new game, Chuck’s Challenge?
Chip’s Challenge is a puzzle game originally created for the Atari Lynx by Chuck and later ported to Windows. Most people who know it played it on the PC. Fast-forward to the era of iOS games in 2010 to find that Chuck has created a game called Chuck’s Challenge in the same spirit as Chip’s Challenge. Like Chip’s Challenge, it’s a fantastic puzzle game. Now there’s a Kickstarter to raise money to create a 3D version of Chuck’s Challenge and to port it to PC and Mac.
In Chuck’s Challenge, like Chip’s Challenge, levels are tile-based. Your task is simple – get to the goal. To unlock the goal you’ll have to collect certain items, including power-ups that allow you to travel across various obstacles such as water and fire. New to Chuck’s Challenge from Chip’s is the ability to “rewind” and undo your mistakes; this is a huge feature! The game includes a level editor as well so you can share your creativity.
For a $5 pledge to his Kickstarter campaign, you’ll get the game for free when Chuck’s Challenge 3D releases. For $25, you’ll get a digital copy of the soundtrack as well. For $50, you’ll get all that and the chance to beta test! Looking for something physical? Pledge $100 and you’ll even receive a hardback copy of the Chuck’s Challenge v1 book autographed by Chuck Sommerville. (I pledged $100.) Of course, you can pledge more as well.
Chip’s Challenge was a major part of my childhood. It was one of the earliest games I played and has always been one of my favorites. I loved my Atari Lynx, and I played with my father, grandfather, and uncle. In fact, I still have the box with game on display by my TV.
Chuck’s received a lot of questions from fans since starting the Kickstarter project. To answer some of them, he’s created the following video. (If the video fails to load, try refreshing.)

That wasn’t quite enough for me, so I asked him some additional questions. He took the time to answer, and I’m very thankful to him for that. Care to read the interview?
PA: Have you ever ran into a fan that recognized you (or your name) in person?
CS: No, that’s never happened. Once I was having my computer repaired, and we were talking about programming. I told him I wrote Chip’s Challenge, and he didn’t believe me. I had him Google my name, and he said he had to eat crow. That was funny.
PA: Were there any games that inspired you to get into game development?
CS: Only early arcade games like Pong. There really weren’t any games when I started. I wrote my very first games before you could even buy a computer, on a college mainframe they used to let me use. I always loved making games. When the first Apple II computer came to the market, my parents bought me one. It had serial number 364. My first games were released on cassette tape by a company called SDL. I was still in high school. My first major published game was Snake Byte, when I was a student at Georgia Tech.
PA: As a child, my family had three Lynx consoles. I played a handful of games with my father, grandfather, and uncle. Chip’s Challenge was by far my favorite. Are there any games of which you have fond memories playing with loved ones?
CS: My dad and I used to play a game on the 3DO called “Return Fire”. [It] was a great PVP tank game. We could only play it when he visited, because I had moved away from West Virginia where I grew up, so I could live in California and be part of the game industry.
PA: Do you have any favorite levels from Chip’s Challenge or Chuck’s Challenge? Personally, I enjoyed Nuts and Bolts because it was an early level that incorporated a lot of different ideas. When I returned to replay the game years later, I found that I could solve the room filled with ice just with muscle memory!
CS: My favorite level from Chip’s Challenge, because of its simplicity is South Pole. It seems frustrating at first, until you “Get it”. It was designed by a friend of mine named Scott Nelson. It was the only level he designed for me.
PA: How was the development of Chuck’s Challenge different from the development of Chip’s Challenge?
CS: The development was extremely different.
On Chip’s Challenge, I was the only programmer, but I had a team of about 10 level designers and 10 testers to speed me through the process. All those engineers and testers had just finished the rest of the initial Lynx games set, and were available to help finish my game. After finishing the game code, my job consisted mostly of bug fixes, and being an editor, selecting and arranging the levels into a sequence I liked.
On Chuck’s Challenge, since I didn’t have the experience developing for the iPhone & Unity, we have a very talented development team to do all the heavy lifting. My job is to oversee the design to make sure the game has the same flavor as Chip’s. It

God Bless America

Over the weekend I watched Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America, a black comedy and satire of modern America. After a series of negative events, including discovering he’s dying, Frank, played by Joel Murray, decides to take his own life. However, he sees a spoiled brat who’s upset that she received the wrong car as a gift on a TV show about sweet sixteens and decides to take her life instead. He eventually teams with a young girl named Roxy, played by Tara Lynne Barr, and they proceed to battle meanness and rudeness in the United States by killing people that Frank believes deserves to die.
Despite some unbelievable parts, especially at the end of the moving, it’s a very funny reflection on our society. And as a perk, after you watch it, you can point out people in everyday life and say “God Bless America” as a way of noting to your companion that Frank wouldn’t stand for that person.
God Bless America premiered at a film festival last year and is currently available to be streamed. It’s currently available from Google Play for $9.99 and will be in theaters May 11.

Parasailing, Golf, and Dinners

This past weekend was an eventful one. Friday night we went to Yardhouse at Spectrum for Duncan and Elizabeth’s Spring Break celebration. Yes, we celebrated something that I haven’t had in a while by going to a busy restaurant at an incredibly busy mall on the worst possible night. But it was fun anyways! And the food was good of course. There were a couple people I hadn’t met before, so that was fun as well.

Saturday we went to Balboa to go parasailing! It was a ton of fun! Things started off a little troublesome. Besides the fact that it was very cloudy, we misinterpreted our Living Social coupon. We thought it was for two people, but it was only for one. In addition to owing extra money, there wasn’t room for me due to regulations. Luckily, they let me on the boat by utilizing a nice loophole and considering me a lifeguard in training. Yay? Watching them unfold the parasail wing was scarier than watching the other group go up, which was scarier than going up myself. It would have thought it would have been the other way around. I guess when I’m doing it, I’m more concerned with doing things properly and enjoying it! Leaning back and looking up to see parasail wing while in the air was very disorienting though. It was incredibly fun, and I’d love to do it again.
Afterwards we walked around the waterfront and had some lunch. We found a tasty pizza shop and got a gyro and slice of pizza. Then we headed to a dessert store called Sweet Tooth (that wasn’t related to the Twisted Metal character at all!) where I had a delicious chocolate covered banana. Watching Arrested Development again gave me a craving for a Bluth Banana, I suppose.
Sunday I went golfing with my stepdad, boss, and coworker. You can see my stepdad in the photo. It was my first time, and I was terrible like I suspected, but it was still a lot of fun. I was pretty relieved that it was fun actually. After all, I did already put a bunch of money into this and agree to play in Toshiba’s league. My arms got sunburned, but Pete had it the worse; he felt something hit his leg only to soon after realize that what he felt was in his leg. He was in pain and had trouble walking, but he finished anyways. Hopefully it isn’t anything major, but I can’t imagine how that would be possible.
Korean BBQ
Monday night we went to a new Korean BBQ place we hadn’t tried with Collin. It was expensive, but we had another coupon. There were a bunch of delicious things I’d had previously as well as some new things. “Beef marrow gut” (cow intestines) was new to me. It tasted pretty good, but it felt terrible.
My weekends aren’t normally this exciting, but I wouldn’t complain if more of them were! Okay, honestly, I would complain. But I’d enjoy it in the end.