Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What's in a name

Well, I've decided two things regarding NaViGaWriMo this year:

1: I've abandoning my theme, and instead am aiming to make a game that is fun to play with two players. Details hammered out so far: zero.

2: The name "NaViGaWriMo" has got to go.
Why? Because it's too long, too clunky, too blatantly derivative of NaNoWriMo, and "Writing" isn't even really the right verb. I'm intending to go public with this thing, and the first thing I need is a name that is a LOT less crappy. Unfortunately, I suck at naming things. Hence, I turn to you!
To all those reading: Please, suggest new names for this month. I will listen to them, and hopefully find one that is good, and use it! Your help is appreciated.

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaViGaWriMo Ressurection

Okay, first: The little updates:

UPDATE #1: I am still alive! Things have just been going slowly, what with school and midterms and life and all. I will try to pick up the pace again.
UPDATE #2: There is a new version of Vertical out. There are a bunch of changes, so rather than go over all of them here I'll just let you find out for yourself or read the readme.
UPDATE #3: I have now officially submitted Zombie City Tactics to the Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Competition. We'll see how it fares!


NaNoWriMo is upon the writers among us once again. What this makes me think is that NaViGaWriMo is more or less around the corner. I've got 2 months to plan out my new game, and possibly start a NVGWM website this time around, and spread the word so that we get more than 3 participants this year. In short, while work on ZCS will still be going on behind the scenes, but this blog will now be functioning as a NaViGaWriMo blog for the next 3 months.

I don't know what my game will be yet, but I do know that I'm going to continue with last year's theme of Action without Violence. This isn't an official rule of the month or anything, just my own personal challenge.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Position OPEN

Quick update, change in situation: I am currently looking for one additional artist. The search is once again open.

This artist will have two main obligations: Creating terrain textures, and creating images for a GUI. Don't look at the word 'textures' there and think of 3D modeling, because there are no 3D models. Just the city itself.

If you are interested in the position, either leave a comment on this entry, or send an email to kobuscrispi[AT] Thank you!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Source Code Extravaganza (+Extra)

Today is the day for a very special exclusive event: I'm going to provide the full source code to every game that I've talked about on this blog. That's Extinguish, Zi, Vertical, RRRRRPG, Zombie City 2, Zombie City 3, and Zombie City Tactics.

For those who wish to skip all my incoherent ranting and get to the files, you can download all seven of them in one dandy package right here:

7 Games Source Code

All games but one are coded in C++ (Zi is in Python), using OpenGL and SDL for graphics. If you're not the type to be interested in programming, skip to the end and there's a picture.

Okay, now to talk about each one in a little more (self-depreciating) detail (in roughly chronological order):

Zombie City II
This is the oldest program in the lot, and it shows. Biggest uncool thing here is the lack of a dedicated Display object. If you want to change the visual scheme of the game, then you have to go shuffling around in half a dozen different files. What a pain!
I'm rather fond of the AI code here, even if it is VERY closely tied to the original Zombie Infection Simulator's AI code. Also note: some of the map-drawing functions used here will also be used in all future Zombie City games!

Another old one, still no Display object. Pretty crude code overall - all special techniques (and virtually everything else) are hard-coded. Not much to talk about here.

Zombie City III
Same problems as the previous entries, but now with a ludicrously complex lighting algorithm! Hit detection is also handled horribly, too - every being checks its distance from every other being every frame. If (when) I make the next non-grid-based Zombie City, I'll definitely improve on this.

Ahh, the ill-fated NaViGaWriMo project. This only got to version 0.1, and it is very heavily based on the ZC3 code, and it crashes pretty frequently, but I am including it in here for posterity's sake.

This one is a little bit more elegantly coded than most of the above projects. Included is my very own hand-coded Sprite class, simple but it works. Also look within for alarmingly complex collision detection code!

This project is particularly unique in being the only one not coded in C++. It is, in fact, coded in Python, and coded pretty awkwardly at that. I was trying to cram Python into my C++-shaped programming mind, and this is the result. Works... mostly!

Zombie City Tactics
And this brings us to my latest creation. Coded decently well all around, no huge complaints. Zombie Lord code a tad buggy, and my implementation of the A* Algorithm is wince-worthy. Also packaged is ZCTEDIT, a simple program I used to create the 100 maps packaged with the game.

And that's that. All .zip files come with all .DLLs and data files required to compile and run the program. Recently, I've been listening to my CompSci professor rave about how great Scheme is, and it sounds pretty interesting. After this is all over, I may try to make a game in it.

Feel free to use this code to make your own games/mods/whatever, under two conditions: Credit me for my work, and send me a link to it so I can check it out.

On an almost-but-not-quite-entirely unrelated note, I recently recieved the first ever piece of Zombie City Survivors fanart, from artist Mike Yi! Check it out:

Ajax Turtledove: The Fanart

Lookin' good, Ajax!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Numbers and Jumping

I wasn't planning on talking about these, but they've been causing a bit of a stir, so here I go. This post is about two of my older projects, which I just recently touched up a bit and released: Vertical and RRRRRPG.

Vertical is incomplete. It is an engine that lacks a game. As it is, the only goal is to go upwards, using jumping, walljumping, and a grappling hook. The tower is randomly generated and infinitely tall. Consider it a work of zen if you'd like. Once you get used to the controls, it really is a very relaxing and engaging experience.

RRRRRPG, on the other hand, is an actual complete game! It is, in some superficial sense, an RPG (as the title would suggest). However, one crucial change has been made: There is no content in the game. Every plot event, pre-rendered background, elaborate dungeon, and block puzzle has been cut out to streamline the experience. All PCs and NPCs are simple polygons, and the world is shaped like a series of concentric circles. All that remains is a set of numbers that go up. Frankly, I have no idea how this manages to be fun, but it does!

For those who like to see before they play:
Vertical screenshot
RRRRRPG screenshot

Okay, it's really time for me to get back to ZCS. To hell with college, social life, food, and sleep!

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Brief news update: Zombie City Tactics has been ported to mac!
Zombie City Tactics v1.0 (mac)

Should work on OS X versions 10.2 and later on PPCs and any version on Intels. Exact same game as the PC version, only with an HTML help file and a snazzy icon.
There is one other implication of this announcement: Zombie City Survivors will also be available to mac users. Apple geeks rejoice!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blogging of the Dead

Sorry for the vast dearth of updates recently. This hasn't been from lack of activity on my end - on the contrary, there's so much to discuss that I don't know where to start.

Zombie City Survivors is gradually creeping towards the light of day. Barely any actual work has been done yet, but I've been making steady progress in assembling my team. I have two artists and a writer for sure, and am almost positive in my choice of a musician. I still need one more artist, but I have plenty of applications to sift through and choose one from. Which brings me to this message: With the exception of sound design, all positions are currently closed for application. Feel free to email me about your talents, but you will face the very real threat of being ignored.

As a side note on this subject, I would like to thank Insert Credit, GameSetWatch, and Kotaku for linking Zombie City Tactics on their frontpages. Their support has been a great help in raising awareness and hype for my future projects!

Anyways, enough blabber. Let's talk about SURVIVORS.

Zombie City Survivors will follow the parallel stories of two characters: Ajax Turtledove, and Vanessa James. Both of them stumble unintentionally into an unnamed city in the midst of a zombie outbreak, and are then trapped in by a military quarantine. The player chooses one of these two characters, and leads them to survival, banding together, and taking back the city.

The game will be divided into smallish regions, varying in size from a city block to a single house. If you destroy all the zombies in a region, then you get to upgrade one character, and all adjacent regions are unlocked for you to travel to. If you lack the firepower, you can also run through an area, avoiding confrontation and getting safely to the other side. However, doing so only unlocks one adjacent region, rather than all of them. Human survivors will be found throughout the city, and can be rescued and recruited to join your team. Day and night will pass as regions are completed, allowing the player to tackle the more difficult areas during the day and push through the safer regions at night, when visibility is limited.

Man, the planning for this game is evolving at a mile a minute, and I really don't know what to say about it. So instead, I am going to share some EXCLUSIVE ZOMBIE CITY SURVIVORS CONCEPT ART with you:

Ajax Turtledove
Vanessa James
Assorted Zombies
Some more zombies
A couple special enemies from the late game

That is all for ZCS for the moment. Questions are encouraged for the comments section, and I will try my best to answer them!

In other news: Zi was featured in Bravo Screenfun, as I announced earlier! It had a fairly minor appearance - no mention in the actual magazine, just on the included DVD. The description, translated into English, was approximately as follows:

At first, "Zi" reminded me a little of "Tetris," but the game plays completely differently. Blocks fall towards the center from above and below, and must be pushed together so that three or more similarly colored blocks are together. Only then can you remove the blocks with a right-click. The more blocks the group contains, the more points you get. If a column reaches the edge, it's game over! There are four different play modes: Three difficulty levels and a Fun mode. Control is with the mouse.

Not bad, aside from a couple factual errors (only two difficulty levels, and the game can be controlled entirely with the left mouse button)! I haven't gotten any crazy German fan mail yet, though.

Stay tuned for more undead updates!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The BRAINS have it

Okay, if you enjoyed the Zombie City Tactics demo, then you're gonna LOVE this:

Zombie City Tactics v1.1

New features include double the number of maps, better camera, more in-game being information, and a whole mess of other stuff (the full list is in the readme). For the visual thinkers out there, screenshot.

Okay, now to talk about my next project for a bit. Everything I've talked about doing in the past? Back burner. This is BIG. Over the course of the next year or so, I will be doing two things:
1: Assemble a dedicated team of talented people, and create Zombie City Survivors, the best and possibly last Zombie City game to hit the market.
2: Start up a website, with all my old games available as free downloads, and Survivors on sale for around $10-15.

That's right. I'm going COMMERCIAL. This is one hell of a gamble, but this whole thing with Bravo Screenfun has got me thinking that maybe it's time for me to stop poking around with my silly freeware titles and really start getting into the scene properly.

But enough about my crazed plans, let's here a bit about Zombie City Survivors!
ZCS is going to take some elements from Zombie City Tactics, Fire Emblem, Resident Evil, and an obscure freeware Gameboy Color demo called Hungry are the Dead. In other words, a Tactical RPG (with more emphasis on the Tactical than on the RPG), where the player progresses through different sections of Zombie City, fighting off the undead and reclaiming the city for the living. To keep it from suffering from the problem of most SRPGs (i.e. that as the game goes, you get so powerful that the Strategy part gets less and less pronounced), each character will be very limited in how powerful they can become, and thusly forced to specialize in a few skills, encouraging the player to build a team of characters who can compensate for each other's weaknesses. The game will have a day/night cycle, with vision at night being only in the direction a character is facing, creating strategy in the order the player does missions in - do the easier levels at night, then rush through more dangerous areas during the day.

I could talk about this alot more, but all of this is still in the planning stage right now, so any of it could change on a whim. I should be starting on this project pretty soon! STAY TUNED.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Going Global

Quick update:
If you've been reading my comments, you may already know this, but my game Zi is going to be released on a CD along with either the September or October issue of German gaming magazine BRAVO SCREENFUN!

This is SO going on my resume.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

What do we want? Brains! When do we want it? Brains!

Presenting the first public release of Zombie City Tactics! This is the demo version (50 maps out of an eventual 100), so there'll be more features on the way for sure.

Zombie City Tatics v0.8

Download! Play! Enjoy! Feedback!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I just got back from a brief vacation, haven't updated in a bit, and have been fairly productive recently. So, update time!

Recently, I've been looking back towards my Zombie City series. After a bit of bug-smoothing I'll be releasing the first new version of Zombie City II in at least a year, this time with the ability to set it up as a Werewolf City, along with a bunch of minor nonsense. This is pretty minor, though.

Bigger than that is my nearly-ready-for-release new project, Zombie City Tactics. It's a turn-based strategy game in the world and visual style of Zombie City. The gameplay largely revolves around expanding your territory and trying to capture towers, which are constantly emitting streams of zombies to confound the player at this task, before the player is overwhelmed by the waves of the undead and his army is crushed. It's actually pretty fun, but not quite ready for release yet. I'll post the initial release in my next update, until then, enjoy a nice little screenshot.

I haven't really been working on anything else these days, what with being employed and all. If you want to blame anyone, blame The Man. Further updates fairly soon.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Killbot Goes to the Store

It's next week, and just as I said I would, I have created a work of Interactive Fiction. Somewhat interactive, at least... Killbot's ability to interact with things is somewhat limited.


So begins KILLBOT GOES TO THE STORE, the touching story of a merciless killing machine and his quest to be reunited with some groceries.
His task, however, will not be an easy one - the world of ordinary life is a scary and confusing place to a robot with only death and destruction on its mind - especially a robot without opposable thumbs. From escaping his bedroom to opening his front door and beyond, everything is a perplexing challenge for Killbot 5000. Except for one thing, that is - causing humans to become very, very dead

To play KGttS, you will need Frotz and an insatiable desire to destroy humans. It is STRONGLY reccomended that you play the game with caps lock enabled.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


So it's been what, a month since my last entry? Close enough. Anyways. What have I been up to?

I've created a nearly complete game.

It's quite a shock, thinking about it... this is the most complete game I've made since I started this blog. Man, I've been in a RUT. I promise, however, that I'll be cracking down over the summer.
But I digress. Let us get to the MEAT of today's entry.

Zi v0.82b

I mentioned this briefly in my last entry, back when it didn't even have a finalized name. Now it's nearly a finalized game.
Zi is, like many of the great games of my generation, about colored blocks. You move the blocks around, then you click on them to make magical things happen. Let the screen fill up and you die. I'm being vague, but It really shouldn't take much more than a few seconds of experimentation to figure out the basics of how the game works. Play Classic before Trendy.

Zi is very much a game about getting points. Since the game never ends, it more or less has to be, unless I go into the Pretentious Artsy Games field. Or the Sims. The scoring system is described in some detail in the readme, but the general core of it is destroying lots of small groups of blocks in rapid succession, then destroying one big group for massive score. It's not the only way to play, but it works well for me.

Next week I'll post again after I finish my next class assignment (Zi was for my Game Programming class, it's due friday). It'll be a text adventure!

I'm not going to talk too much this time. Play the damn game!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Of Python, Leftrunner, and Nintendo: A Teaser

I should mention - I'm taking a Game Programming class. It's put both of my main projects on temporary standby, as I have to make a new game for the class. In Python, which I have never worked with before.

Python is kind of strange, by which I mean not like C++ at all. The lack of typed variables took some getting used to, particularly with regards to instantiating things. It took me a damn long time to do something as simple as creating a large, empty array. The syntax is fine, although I don't much care for the enforced whitespace.
Really, I think my biggest problem with Python is that I'm trying to make it be C++. My code looks like C code, only with different punctuation and more convoluted. Maybe someday I'll have some shining revelation and Python will suddenly all make sense, and I'll be pouring out code that my current, lesser self would only be able to squint at in confusion... but I don't think that's very likely. Realistically, I'll probably get through the class, then forget about Python for a long time, giving it another try in the distant future.

The game I'm making for this class is sort of a Tetrisy kind of thing, which is hard to explain in text. So, you don't get to know much about it until I feel like releasing an Alpha of it. For the title, I'm tilting back and forth between Dharma and Zii.

On another front, I've been throwing ideas around fast and furiously on another website regarding a game I might be working on with someone else. The working title of the project is Leftrunner. The idea revolves around a character who is constantly, automatically running to the left, fighting enemies and building speed. Combat would be largely focused on knocking enemies down and trampling them. There's really alot more to the concept, but I'm not going to go into further detail about it until 1) I can devote an entire entry to it, and 2) I know for sure that it's actually going to get started. Stay tuned!

On a last note, Nintendo recently revealed the final name for their next console: The Wii. It's weird, it makes you feel like kind of an idiot when you say it, it's kind of unclear how it's pronounced. Nevertheless, it's been steadily growing on me since I heard it. I support it for three main reasons: It's easy to remember, it opens up the floodgates for a thousand horrible puns, and it made the rest of the internet furious. I am wholeheartedly in favor of anything that causes mass, harmless, digital mayhem.

I have a midterm tomorrow. So, I now bid you all adieu.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Fission Mailed: Ressurection

Hey, I'm still alive! Fancy that.

The last two months were a break from programming. The quarter is over, I'm taking a lighter load of classes, so I'm back into the development spiral. I'm not ready to pick Extinguish back up yet, but I have two new projects.

The first project is my feeble first attempts to write a Roguelike. I've never tried this before, so this particular project is more of an self-teaching excersize than a full-fledged game. After I finish this, I may start over and make a proper game in the genre. My engine is not particularly elaborate yet, allowing for little more than moving around the map and opening/closing doors. I'll talk about this one in more detail once it gets going.

The other project was inspired largely by the vast amount of time I've spent playing N. This game has brought be nothing but fury and woe with its brutal difficulty and unforgiving nature. After a while, I began to ask myself: Why am I still playing this? Why is this stage so compelling after the 80th time I've died on it? Rather than find a reasonable answer to these questions, I decided to make a sadistic platformer of my own. It will use a simple (and incomplete) platforming engine I made a while back called Vertical, and will heavily emphasize use of a grappling hook for getting around. Beyond this, I have little planned, except that it will include enemies with fairly basic AI (although they will not be the main emphasis of the game, as our hero will have no weapons), and movable objects that will interact with the world using some decently complex physics.

The moral of the story: I'm alive, kicking, and coding. Expect more updates in the future.

Until then, enjoy a simple demo of the Vertical engine.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


National Videogame Writer's Month ended 15 minutes ago. My final status:
I do, at least, have one more release for you:
Extinguish v0.1 Alpha
I am not at all happy with the level of progress I made towards my goal. There still aren't even other humans, and the game crashes randomly near the end. Was this too ambitious of a project? I don't think so. I simply didn't work as hard as I needed to. Next year, I'll do better.
Neither of the other participants even got their projects started. I was the only one left at the end.

So what now?

I'm going to keep working on Extinguish. I want to see it in some near-complete form. At some point in the near future, I'll also be starting an unnamed platformer project borrowing heavily from an engine I've already made. More details when I have them.

So ends the first NaViGaWriMo. I hope to do this again next year, and get even more people involved. This journal will continue to exist, as a chronicle of my game development in general.

Good night.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tech Demo #4: Basic Engine

Finally, FINALLY, my Firefighter game contains the ability to fight fires.
Extinguish Tech Demo #4: Basic Engine

I'm actually really happy with how the water effects turned out... the fire, water, and steam are all drawn using the same method, and it all flows together smoothly.
New thing to keep an eye on is the blue bar underneath health - that's water pressure. If it's getting too low, just stop spraying water for a second or two. I think it works pretty well, but I might end up making it more strict.
The building isn't randomly generated anymore, but is instead pulled from the file "map.dat" in the data folder. Feel free to tinker with it for alternate maps (just open it using notepad, it should be obvious from there).

I'm surprised with how well the late stages of the month have been going. There's only one real big hurdle left to overcome - civilians. They need to be computer-controlled and smart enough not to leap into fires and burn to death. Harder than it sounds. After that, I just need to take my engine and wrap a GAME around it!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tech Demo #3: Firefighter

As the deadline draws horrifyingly near, I finally start to get my ass in gear. Extinguish gets a big fat update, now including an actual firefighter. He can't fight fires yet, but he can scurry around and get burned.
Extinguish Tech Demo #3: Firefighter
I'm anticipating a question from some of you: "Is that really what the firefighter is going to look like in the final game?" The answer is: pretty much. I may add a bit of detail to it, but that's the general look he's going to have. I'm not planning on making him any more humanlike unless someone else wants to do the modeling, and even then I'd wait until after the one-month release.

Currently, I am not at all satisfied with how the hero takes damage from fire. The problem: There's no heat. You only take damage when sitting directly in a fire... sometimes not even then. The next release will fix this, and add water with which to fight the flames. At that point I may stop calling these Tech Demos.

I'm starting to wonder whether or not I'm going to make my target. Release day is only 8 days away, and I still have to juggle all the other parts of my life. If I don't, then I don't think it's a flaw in the feasibility of NaViGaWriMo... I definitely could have been working MUCH harder. No one said this would be easy.

That's all for now. STAY TUNED!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Another Tech Demo release already

Progress continues... now the fire actually somewhat resembles fire!
Extinguish Tech Demo #2: Rendered Fire
As you'll probably notice, there are still some problems... like being able to see the fire through walls. I am working on correcting this, but I'm not sure how.
By the next demo you should be able to WALK AROUND!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Extinguish Demo #001: Fire Algorithm

Fire has come to the world of Extinguish! More importantly... Extinguish has come to you!
Extinguish Demo #001: Fire Algorithm
Basic explanation:
Arrow keys move the camera around.
Red tiles are on fire. Brighter red means hotter flames.
Dark grey tiles are burnt tiles, and cannot catch fire.

That's all, so far. In the final version I'll obviously have prettier (read: existent) fire effects, and the fires will probably spread more slowly (as it is, a whole building could be down in flames within 2 minutes). But for now, this is what you get. Feedback appreciated!

NEXT: Either Particles or a Player!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The healing has begun

The bumpy ride towards success has once again begun in earnest. I abandoned what code I had and started working from the ground up, stealing liberally from my other projects whenever it seemed helpful. So far, I've gotten it to the point where it displays some walls. Hey, it's a step up from where I WAS.

I've actually found an interesting dilemma in my visual scheme: How to draw stairs. It seems simple enough, until you realize:
-Everything has to be built on the grid, and the grid spaces are pretty big.
-The walls are really low.
I can't make the walls taller without impairing the player's vision. I can't make things narrower than one tile without complicating the code. I'm sure I'll think of some workaround, but it's a bit puzzling at the moment.

Still no fire demo. Not for a while yet, I'd imagine. I may have to trim this project down for the end-of-month release even more. We shall see.

Lots of homework to do. Bed looks inviting. Ah, the life of a college student.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A rough start

So this crash-before-it-starts bug. I have looked into it intensively, used every potentially helpful feature of the debugger, and determined it to be
The problem can't be in my code. The program self-destructs before it even reaches my code. My compiler must be doing something... or something. Whatever it is, I can't fix it. So, I'm starting over. From scratch. day 4, zero progress has been made.

On top of this, it turns out I have a hell of a workload this quarter. I don't know how I'm gonna balance this and schoolwork... I may not be able to get done by the deadline. If there's no avoiding this, then I WILL continue to work on the game until either it's released, or I declare it a lost cause. I can only hope that the month gets better from here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's gonna be a long month

Well, today marked the first day of work on Extinguish, and presumedly the second day of work for my comrades. The project is off to a rough start. In its current state, when someone tries to run the program, it produces a fatal error and crashes before the program even starts. Tomorrow I shall set about fixing this travesty. But hey, if I wanted a relaxing pastime, I'd play solitare.

My next post, whenever it is, will almost certainly contain a Spreading Fire demo. STAY TUNED!