Category Archives: Games

Itch.io

If you have a Perlenspiel game that you want to share with everyone, http://itch.io/ is a great place to do it. There are only a couple things to prepare a game:

  1. Rename the game.html to index.html
  2. Zip up the project folder
  3. Create a 315×250 cover image for display on Itch
  4. Upload it all

Then you can share it with a link, or a cool widget:

Interview with Black Road’s Ed Crundle

I’m excited this week to bring you an interview with Ed Crundle, a road developer on the Red Bug Lake Overpass in Orlando, Florida. Ed is a genuinely brilliant crafter of roads, and he’s known for his “show, don’t tell” philosophy of street signage design.

Ed Crundle, Famous Road Designer. Photo by Bill Ruhsam
Ed Crundle, Famous Road Designer
Photo by Bill Ruhsam

DiehrStraits: What do you do?

Ed Crundle: I’m a road developer & sign engineer for the independent road studio, Black Road Construction.

DS: When did you get started with driving on roads (and what was the first road that you remember)?

EC: I’ve been driving ever since my parents got me a Cozy Coupe for christmas when I was 4. Been driving ever since. The first road I drove on was the road in front of my house – same as most drivers who grew up in the 80s.

DS: How did you get started with developing roads?

EC: When I was in school, I would always scribble roads and highway interchanges on all of my homework. I think my teachers all knew that I was obsessed with roads, then. I made my first road in my backyard with a shovel and a bag of gravel. It wasn’t very good, but I drove on it until it got washed out in a thunderstorm. I’ve been making little roads in my spare time ever since.

DS: How did you get started with Black Road?

EC: I went for a B.S. degree in asphalt engineering at MTU, and I had a good portfolio of my own roads that I’ve worked on, including some great student projects that I did, like the section of road between 4th and 5th along Jefferson street. Harold Carlisle, the CTO at Black Road, reached out to me after he saw some of my roads that I posted on Twitter. I was a good match for the types of projects they had been working on – small, self-contained roads that offer a smooth ride from start to finish.

DS: How many roads have you worked on so far?

EC: Twelve, if you include canceled roads. Since we’re a small construction company, we try to fail fast when we’re building a new road, so that we can put our efforts into only the roads that are really clicking with us. That way we can try out more interesting designs and really break away from the clichés that you always see while driving.

DS: What are the specs on your driving rig?

EC: It’s an 8-cylinders custom Toyota engine, 5.8k RPM overclocked to 6.2k. I like to stay on the cutting edge so that I can drive on the latest roads with maxed-out settings.

DS: What’s it been like working on the Red Bug Lake Overpass?

EC: It’s been great so far. The alpha build has been done for a couple of weeks, and we’ve been having road nights at the studio where we all drive over it for a couple of hours to see how everything is coming together. I think you’ll all have a blast with what we’ve come up with here. The signage will blow your mind when you see it.

The New Overpass Photo by Janne Moren
The New Overpass
Photo by Janne Moren

DS: How did you come up with the concept for this Overpass?

EC: We kind of lucked into it. We were watching Live Free or Die Hard for inspiration, and decided to try our hand at some ramps. There was some open ground in the Red Bug Lake area where we were making our test builds, and we noticed that there was some hype building up at the stoplight nearby. People were interested in what we were building – so we decided to drive with it.

DS: How does your signage philosophy play into the design of this road?

EC: We went with a wide, sweeping on-ramp design to draw the eye to where it needs to be – the apex of the overpass. This is augmented by abstract signs – primary colors and solid black symbols only, no words or numbers. It had to be easy to drive on to, but still rewarding to get over, so there’s a wall along the side so that you can’t see Red Bug Lake Road until after you crest the peak. It’s utterly spellbinding when the sun is rising.

DS: Sounds fantastic, I can’t wait to drive on it. Any words of advice for budding road designers?

EC: Keep your spade handy, and always drive with confidence.

DS: Thanks, Ed!

Puzzle Game Reading

Here are some good articles I found while looking for research into the design of puzzle games.

Designing the Puzzle, by Bob Bates, is an article that focuses on the design of puzzles in an adventure game. Regardless of whether an adventure game focuses more on the story or puzzles, bad puzzles will distract the player from the better parts of a game. It includes a list of the fundamental types of puzzles found in games, things to avoid, things to shoot for, and techniques to mitigate the damage that overly difficult puzzles can do.

The overall mantra is to play fair with the player, and avoid such things as player paranoia:

It is very unsettling for a player to worry that the reason he can’t solve a particular puzzle is because there is some tiny area of the screen he has overlooked. If he finds out that this is the case, he will get mad at you.

How are puzzle games designed?, by Herman Tulleken, is a series of articles that begins with some great historical information about puzzles. One of the early examples is the ancient Ostomachion, a tangram-style puzzle originating from mathematical research that Archimedes was doing regarding the division of the square.

Moving Beyond Alchemy is a classic article by Daniel Cook about the use of skill atoms and skill chains for any type of game design.

Perlenspiel: Mow Problems

Here’s my latest hit Perlenspiel game, Mow Problems. In this game, you play a lawnmower that shoots clippings out of the right side of your mechanisms when you mow over a patch of grass. You have to mow all of the green squares, but don’t let too many clippings land on one square, or else it will become impassable.

Your task is made more easier or more difficult by the things that people like to put in their lawns. Trees block your path, but you can put as many clippings on them as you’d like. Pools aren’t allowed to have clippings in them at all. Can you mow all 10 lawns without going crazy?

The below area is an iframe, so you can play the game right here! Click on the L1-L10 buttons to play the levels.

Some action shots:

 

Perlenspiel: Checkers

I spent part of today recreating the game of Checkers in Perlenspiel. The biggest challenge was to implement the forced moves and multi-jumps. The source code is 396 lines of code, although I’ve removed the unused Perlenspiel functions by moving them into a wrapper .js file. If you want to use this source code in the downloadable Perlenspiel, you’ll have to add those empty functions back in. Don’t mind the garish colors I chose!

Play here: http://diehrstraits.com/games/Checkers/

Source: http://diehrstraits.com/games/Checkers/game.js

Checkers game in progress.
Checkers

 

 

 

It’s hard to post when it isn’t a habit

I’ve been busy playing things like Minecraft and Terraria, which are both sandbox adventure games where you dig in the ground to find valuables, which you then use to build better stuff for digging in the ground with.

They both also have multiplayer support, and let me tell you, it’s amazing to build and explore with your friends.

Both games cost less than $20 apiece – it’s worth getting one of them and checking it out. Minecraft has the advantage of being 3D, while Terraria has a better adventure progression built into the game.

Game Idea: Building Controller

A planning failure has left a nearby construction project almost complete, but the company that will be leasing it has very strong efficiency, water, energy, and security concerns that must be addressed.

As a building automation controls engineer, your job is to make this building smart enough to improve all of the above categories, which will save the leasing company money in the long run.

At your disposal are various kinds of sensors that can be used almost anywhere, and they can be used to control different aspects of the building to keep things running smoothly. You’ll have to design a robust system that can handle all 7 days of the week, including any special events or circumstances that may drastically raise or lower the amount of people present.

Gameplay items:

  • Monitor usage to increase or decrease the temperature of a particular floor or area
  • Lock or unlock particular doors on a time cycle
  • Set up elevator park locations and other behaviors
  • Dim or shut off lights in areas that aren’t being used, or have enough natural light