Space Snake

I’m back! Well…not quite. In the remote case that there’s actually someone still reading this, here’s an update on things. First of all, today my first iPhone game was released! And I’m pretty excited about it. It’s called Space Snake and it’s basically a modern version of the classic snake game, I personally think it’s pretty cool (but then again I did develop it myself), hopefully the rest of the world will agree with me. In the meantime, you can check out a trailer and read some more info about Space Snake here.

In other news, I’ve been quite busy with school and other projects, but fortunately I already started working on the next iteration of my website. As you can see in the Space Snake link, Shifting Mind is soon moving to its own domain and a much prettier layout. If things go well I’m expecting the new site to be up and running before September and hopefully much earlier than that.

Postalicious Now Works with delicious.com

As several of you noted, Postalicious stopped working with the recent delicious.com update. The new Postalicious 2.0rc6 which now works with delicious 2.0. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, unlike with the old del.icio.us, to get tags to work you need install the custom rss.php file. To read more about the custom rss.php file please read the corresponding section in the Postalicious page or readme file. IMPORTANT: If you are upgrading Postalicious please make sure you also install the rss.php file or that you manually disable tags in the Postalicious options page. Otherwise some weird stuff may happen. Also note that the first couple of updates after you install this new version may not work perfectly but there should be no further problems after that. Finally, Postalicious is the result of many hours of hard work, if you enjoy using it, please consider donating. You can do so though PayPal by following the links at the right side of this page or at the bottom of the Postalicious page. You can download (and hopefully donate) Postalicious here.

The Power of Context

I know I promised I would let my blog go back to being dead in peace, but something curious happened to me yesterday and I thought it was worth blogging about it. It involves this comic, so it would be a good idea to go read it now. Also, the following paragraphs talk about the comic itself and my interpretation of it, so it would be a really good idea to go read it now.

The comic can be divided in two sets of panels, the first group describes that there is a huge asteroid set to collide with the Earth, and that experts say there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The second group shows how different types of people react to this news. Of particular interest is the last panel showing a girl with a baseball bat ready to hit the asteroid and send it away from Earth.

The first time I read this comic, I had not read any other minus. comics before and knew nothing about who minus was. The way I interpreted the last panel was that she was just a naïve kid who refused to believe that there was nothing to do to avoid the collision and decided that since no one was doing anything about it, she should take the matter into her own hands. To her, fending off the asteroid seemed as simple as grabbing a baseball bat and hitting the asteroid off course. To me, this seemed like a really nice way to showcase different reactions people might have to this type of news and to illustrate how some people refuse to go out down without a fight, even if everyone else has already given up.

But then, I started reading the rest of the minus. comics. I quickly realized that minus was capable of doing some pretty magical things, thus making my first interpretation of this comic no longer “right”. She is not naïvely thinking that she can use a baseball bat to hit the asteroid away from earth, she can actually do just that. She is no longer trying to do something against all odds, now she’s just saving the world. Even with this interpretation I still like the comic a lot, and in fact I’m glad I decided to read the rest of the minus. comics since most of them are really good. But I’m sticking to my original interpretation because I think it’s much better.

I find it quite interesting that I liked the comic more when I didn’t have the full context than when I did. It makes me wonder if I would have liked more the rest of the comics if I had seen those first. Or if I’ve been going around life missing really cool interpretations of things just because I look at them within certain context.

Postalicious 2.0

It’s been a really long time since my last update and I’m not even going to try to justify myself this time. I’ve been busy mostly with school, but ever since my winter break started I’ve been working on Postalicious. And I’m proud to say that today I finally released Postalicious 2.0rc1. The “release candidate 1″ part is just because even though I did a lot of beta testing, there’s bound to be some minor bugs around which still need fixing and I don’t want to end up with lots of new versions just to fix a few bugs. It’s a major update to Postalicious and it’s a much better plugin now. It’s a lot more flexible now and even more customizable than before. For more information about Postalicious 2.0, head over to its own post here. If you find any bugs with this version or if you run into any problems, please feel free to contact me. Also, if you enjoy using Postalicious please consider donating.

After this brief update, my blog is most likely going back to being dead. I have a few other projects in mind, one of which is remodeling this site, but I’m not sure when that will be done so you’ll have to stay tuned to hear more about it.

Links for Apr 18th – Apr 21st

Galves Adventure Walkthrough

Lots of people are reaching my site searching for a Galves Adventure walkthrough, so I decided to once again please the masses. I broke it down in steps so that you can view the walkthrough step by step without accidently reading more than you want.

  1. ShowClick the barrel, then click on the elephant, and before the barrel comes down, click on the baby. He will crawl underneath the barrel.
  2. ShowClick on the baby again and watch how the spider puts him in its web.
  3. ShowClick on the mole to make him drop the rock with the foot to the second level and open a tunnel to the other side.
  4. ShowClick on the first and third doors in the second level to open them.
  5. ShowClick on the elephant so that he picks up the barrel. Wait for it to come down again, and click on the elephant again. This time the barrel will break the ground below.
  6. ShowThis step is a bit tricky. Click on the grey box that was just revealed after the barrel broke. A cloud wil form and it will start going around the screen. Notice that there are two other grey boxes that will make clouds, one of them is close right next to the mole, and the other one is behind the right branch of the tree where the spider-web is (you won’t be able to see this one unless you click on the bear so that he moves the branch to reveal it). The objective is to click on this grey boxes at the right time, so that all of the three clouds merge into one. When the cloud is on top of the round stone in the center-top of the screen, click on the grey box nearby. And when the cloud is on top of the word ‘The’, click on the grey box behind the branch. You should end up with a grey cloud.
  7. ShowWhen the cloud is on top of the lion click on it and the lion’s life will drop to 35.
  8. ShowWhen the cloud is on top of the cork (the one right next to the sun) click on the cloud again. This will fill the level with plants.
  9. ShowClick on the bear so that he grabs an apple from the right tree, sending the baby flying over to the left side.
  10. ShowClick on the remaining apple on the right tree so that the spider will grab it.
  11. ShowClick on the bear again. He will get the apple from the left tree and send the apple in the spider’s web to the right side.
  12. ShowClick on the crab three times. First it will get out of its hole, then it will climb the vine, and finally it will cut the web that the baby is wrapped around. The baby will go through the door to the other side and grab the apple.
  13. ShowClick on the baby so that he raises the apple and then click on the monkey above. The monkey will grab the baby and then throw him to the upper level.
  14. ShowClick on the baby, he will try to open the chest but he will fail. However his pacifier will start glowing, click on the pacifier and the baby will open the chest. Congratulations, you just got the golden diaper.
  15. ShowClick on the mole again, and then click on the baby. The baby will start walking through the tunnel to the other side. When the baby is on top of the mole, quickly click on the mole. The mole will bring the baby to the top level where he will grab the stone with the hand on it.
  16. ShowClick on the mole to make him go back down and then click on the baby so that he goes down the hole again. This time he will go to the other side to get on top of the elephant.
  17. ShowClick on the elephant and he’ll throw water to create a rainbow. Quickly click on the baby so that he crawls through the rainbow.
  18. ShowNow you need to click on the three icons below the red rock in the right order. If you mess up, just click on the red rock and it will reset. The correct order is in the next step.
  19. ShowThe correct order is: hand, lips, foot.
  20. ShowClick on the dragon. He will start flying and will eventually get below the baby. While it’s there click on the baby so that he rides the dragon.
  21. ShowA fairy will appear and you have to choose between a yellow stone and a purple stone. Chose the yellow one.
  22. That’s all!

Links for Apr 9th – Apr 13th

Where should gaming go from now?

I just finished reading an article by “Reverend Anthony” called Fun isn’t enough: why video games have to move beyond simple escapism and I decided to post my comments about it.

Generally speaking I agree with most things said in the article, games are a very powerful medium and very few people are taking advantage of that. To put it simply, interactivity takes conveying emotions to the next level. Even though you may have no real control over what happens in a game, interactivity makes you feel like you do, which in turn makes creates a feeling of responsible for your character’s actions. If I had to pick the most important moment in my gaming experience, [technically, this is a Final Fantasy VII spoiler, but I'm not even going to hide it just because by now everyone probably knows this already] I would pick the moment when Aeris dies in Final Fantasy VII. I was quite young when I played Final Fantasy VII and I hadn’t played many serious games before that, but the when Aeris died I realized how powerful games could be.

Anyway, going back to the article, there are a couple of things I don’t agree with. Firstly, while I do agree that there needs to be a greater focus on serious games, I also think that the games that are “just fun” are also a very important part of gaming. Games like Guitar Hero or Dance, Dance Revolution are proof of this. These games are certainly not very deep, but they’re still great games. And what makes them great is precisely that they are simple games which are just incredibly fun to play. I think these type of games are a completely valid form of art and should continue to be developed. The other point I don’t agree with is that games should become “morally challenging tragedies” (maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get what I mean :P ). I agree with the fact that there should be more games that explore the world’s shades of grey, but the focus should not only be in the darker shades of grey, the lighter shades also have a lot to offer and therefore they should also play an important role. Instead, I think that the focus of the gaming industry in the near future should be to interact with the player in more meaningful ways.

Two examples of what I mean by this are Shadow of the Colossus and Eternal Darkness.. Shadow of the Colossus puts the player in a situation where he regrets some of his actions. And even though the player is aware that he has no choice but to kill the Colossus if he wants to keep playing the game, he still feels guilty after killing a Colossus which did nothing that might justify its killing. In the case of Eternal Darkness, the interaction with the player is made deeper with the use of sanity effects. What you do in the game doesn’t only affect your character, it also affects you. Some of the sanity effects can be quite hard on the player, for example Show Spoiler when you try to save your game and you get an error saying that the file has been corrupted and your progress has been lost, you'll probably believe for a few seconds until you realize the game is just playing tricks on you.

Games could certainly benefit from more complex story-lines, but I think it is much more important to first work on the way the interaction with the player works. After all, to get a feel of what more complex story-lines are about, game designers can always turn to other forms of art such as books or movies, but player interaction is pretty much unique to gaming.

Links for Apr 5th

Meta-gaming

For some odd reason, last week turned out to be quite a “meta-gaming” week. And by that, I mean that last week I came across several games about games. Since it was such an odd coincidence, I though these links deserved a special post.

The first meta-game I’d like to talk about is The Marriage. The Marriage is a downloadable Windows game (sadly there’s no Mac version) created by Rod Humble (executive producer of The Sims) that was first shown on one of the Experimental Gameplay sessions at GDC 2007. To put it simply The Marriage is intended to be art. For some time now, there’s been a big debate going on about whether videogames should be considered art or not. What Rod Humble aimed to do with The Marriage is to prove that an piece of art can be created by interactivity alone, that is, by establishing a set of rules that govern the player-game interaction. Most people agree that movies are an art form (or at least some of them are) and interactivity is pretty much the only thing that separates movies from videogames. So by showing that interactivity can be an art form by itself we are one step closer to convincing the world that videogames are art. The main goal of The Marriage is to establish an emotional link with the player while the player attempts to figure out the rules of the game. I won’t say anything else about the game since doing so would probably spoil the experience for those of you who have not played it yet. In any case, there’s a very good explanation of the game’s rules and intended meaning on Rod Humble’s website, so be sure to read all about it after you play the game.

The other meta-game is actually a four game series called “Understanding Games”. Part 1 is my favorite of all four and deals with the most basic aspects of what a game is and why we play them. Part 2 goes deeper into what exactly is it that a game needs to be fun and not bore the player. Part 3 is the hardest of them all (yet, it’s still pretty easy) and talks about how players approach a game. Finally, part 4 talks about the characters inside a game and how the player looks at them. Overall “Understanding Games” is an interesting approach at explaining games. People who don’t know much about games will find these games quite revealing, and people who are game junkies already will probably have a better understanding of exactly why they spend most of their time playing games.

Finally, I would like to post a couple of links that people who enjoyed these games should like. I think I have blogged about both of them before, but it won’t hurt to do it again. The first one is a book called Theory of Fun which tries to explain what makes something fun. The second one is also a book, this one called GAM3R 7H30RY which talks about what goes on inside the mind of a gamer. Both are very good books and anyone who has any interest in games will probably have a good time reading them.