Category Archives: Games & Apps

A Year of Games and Fonts

This year has been absolutely manic. As a sort of New Year’s Resolution in January I challenged myself to create at least one game per month for Chequered Ink. I achieved this and more by creating 12 games of my own for CI, helping NAL a little with a 13th, and even creating my own personal entry for a GMC Jam. On top of all the frantic game development I also designed 34 fonts, created a few design assets and had time to squeeze in a couple of holidays.

The last 12 months have flown by and I’ve learned a thing or two. First and foremost – I will never again challenge myself to create one game per month. I’m proud of every single game we’ve released this year over at Chequered Ink but the reality is more than half of them were cobbled together quickly to meet my self-imposed deadlines and have performed poorly in terms of revenue and attention – understandable when you take a look at something like “spellacle“. Secondly, fonts can be fun and they’re a great little earner. I mostly used to leave that side of the business up to NAL, and he still makes the vast majority of our fonts, but I’ve caught the fontographer’s itch and I have only NAL to thank for that!

Next year my plan is to spend a lot more time making fonts in the foreground while working on bigger, better game projects in the background. The first of those will be GameDevDan vs Life, which has added significantly to my gamedev workload this year above and beyond my target of one game per month. Hopefully it will be fit for release in Q1 of 2018 and I can move onto something new, big and exciting!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and NAL at Chequered Ink throughout the course of this year. I hope you’ll enjoy all the things we bring you in 2018. For now, here’s an itemised list of this year’s achievements:

Chequered Ink’s Games Showreel 2017

Games By Me

Districts

Districts

Released: January 30th
Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, HTML5
Originally NAL’s idea, Districts showcases the dirty practice of gerrymandering in politics. I’m always happy to combine several of my hobbies into one and this was a fantastic opporunity to bring gaming and politics together. More than that, Districts functions perfectly well as a standalone puzzle game for people with no interest in politics whatsoever. It’s a win-win! We even got a little pat on the back from the Electoral Reform Society and Make Votes Matter for our trouble.

Chequered Ink Page

DoodlesInSpace

Doodles In Space

Released: February 20th
Platforms: Android, Windows
Around the start of February I got this idea in my head that it would be fun to create a whole game using only hand-drawn graphics. I traced most of the graphics a few times over – with intentional inaccuracies – to achieve the wobbly/scribbly effect. I like how it turned out, even though it’s not particularly popular.

Chequered Ink Page

BeTheChange

Be The Change

Released: March 7th
Platforms: Windows
This game was created for #ResistJam, the game jam about resisting the rise of authoritarianism around the world in 2016-2017. The game comes off a little more passive-aggressive than I had intended. I didn’t want to shoulder the blame onto people actively opposing authoritarianism โ€“ I am one of them โ€“ but I think the central message is still a strong one. The people voting for these abrupt and dangerous changes aren’t all bad. In many cases they’re just people who’ve been left behind by the system we all live in. That’s why the game focuses on doing good deeds in your community.

Chequered Ink Page

SuperPlushFestival

Super Plush Festival

Released: April 7th
Platforms: Android, iOS
I get a little bit sad when I reflect on this one. SPF is, without doubt, my proudest game dev achievement this year. It took the longest to make, features lovingly crafted graphics and is the first (and still only) Chequered Ink game to feature its own unique soundtrack (as opposed to creative commons music). It also makes use of achievements and leaderboards on Google Play, and the gameplay is, as far as I know, utterly unique: a match-three game with the controls of 2048. Despite all that, it’s been a total flop. In a crowded marketplace it’s just not quite “AAA” enough, not “polished” enough to break through the crowd. It’s sad, but there’ll always be a special place in my heart for it.

Chequered Ink Page

WillO Revisited

WillO Revisited

Released: May 23rd
Platforms: Windows
Originally created back in 2013 for the YoYo Games Win Big Competition, I dragged this one up from the depths for a quick revamp and re-released it with Chequered Ink as the publisher.
This version features gamepad controls and attempts to move the WillO series away from the “mouse avoider” genre and closer to “puzzle game”.

Chequered Ink Page

Ballooning Over The Ocean

Ballooning Over The Ocean

Released: May 29th
Platforms: Windows
Created for the new GMC Jam #4, where the theme was “Voyage”. I made it from start to finish only a few hours before the deadline and it came 21st out of 43 entries. The goal is to float your balloon across the ocean to a little island using a giant fan and giant wind-reflector things.

Free Download

Guessy Trove

Guessy Trove

Released: June 30th
Platforms: Android, Windows, HTML5
The “Trove” series of games over at Chequered Ink have always been a way for me to create games that are simple to understand, fun to play, and allow me to exercise my gamedev muscles without too much real thought. This game is no different. It’s a simple game of “higher or lower” with a pack of playing cards, but set in a retro treasure trove. What’s not to like? Fun fact:
For the part in the trailer where the deck is cleared I had to cheat and have the game write the order of the cards to an external log so I could “guess” them correctly – otherwise guessing 52 cards right in a row would be nigh-on impossible!

Chequered Ink Page

Flore Ibrida

Flore Ibrida

Released: July 27th
Platforms: Windows
In a change of pace from pretty much everything else I’ve released this year, Flore Ibrida sees the player taking control of a peaceful little garden. You can randomize, plant, breed and mutate flowers to attract different insects to your little piece of planet Earth. I’d always wanted to make a game where there was a shifting “genome” which determined the looks and behaviour of some kind of animal or plant. This isn’t a full realisation of that dream, but it’s a good start and a nice little time-waster.

Chequered Ink Page

Spellacle

Spellacle

Released: August 25th
Platforms: Windows
I don’t have much to say about this game other than: I was running out of time to meet my August deadline and needed to make something very quick and painless. The end result is… different, but not particularly fun. Chalk this one up as an artistic experiment.

Chequered Ink Page

Store Room Inc.

Store Room Inc.

Released: September 20th
Platforms: HTML5
I found this game when I was browsing around for old project files to use in GameDevDan VS Life. It’s an updated version of Store Room which I was planning to release at some point but never got around to it (I can’t even remember why). Basically, you just dodge the falling boxes. Given that it was never actually released and was quite similar to the original (which is already in GDDvsLife) I decided to release it separately as a Chequered Ink title.

Chequered Ink Page

TMOBH

The Mystery of Bockston House

Released: October 27th
Platforms: Android, iOS
This murder mystery game is based on the first ever game I created for Android. The original was created using tables, yes TABLES, in HTML5 and ported to Android using PhoneGap and Eclipse. It was awful, but somehow still managed to rack up 19,000 downloads. When it came to developing GameDevDan vs Life, I wanted this game to make an appearance. But there was no way I was going to use the original – even if I hadn’t lost the source files. So instead I set about developing a brand new version of the game and it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve created all year. So good, in fact, that I thought “why not release it on Android and iOS as a separate game?”

Chequered Ink Page

Maddening Euphoria

Maddening Euphoria

Released: November 5th
Platforms: Windows
99.99% of the work here is NAL’s, but every game we make is a team effort in one way or another. There is no way I could have made the other 13 games in this list without NAL’s support,
and I expect him to take credit for that (even though he never has), so I like to think it works both ways ;). That said I did actually provide direct input on this game in terms of QA and a little work on the Steam side of things. Heck, just play it, it’s pretty darn cool.

Chequered Ink Page

Eggsmas Jump

Eggsmas Jump

Released: November 20th
Platforms: Android, iOS
Keep the eggs in the air by drawing trampolines underneath them – that’s the entire premise of this game. It didn’t have to be a Christmas game, in fact it’s probably more suited to Easter, but it’s the game I felt like making at the time. Chequered Ink has existed for 3 Christmases now, and each time we’ve poured our hearts into a Christmas-specific game. Eggsmas Jump is this year’s entry.

Chequered Ink Page

Thysanura

Thysanura

Released: December 10th
Platforms: Windows
Finally we come to my last game of the year. The last in a marathon slog through the good, the bad and the very ugly: a top-down shooter called Thysanura. The name comes from a deprecated scientific term for the family of insects which includes Silverfish and Firebrats (which the player character is based on). To be completely honest, this one was a calculated move I made with one thing on my mind: Chequered Ink’s yearly games showreel (seen above). Many of our games this year have been slow-paced puzzlers and I wanted to finish with a bit of a bang. So I developed this neat little shooter with lots of flashy effects and screen shakes. Enjoy!

Chequered Ink Page

Fonts By Me

This list is identical to the 2017 section of my Fonts By Me page, but I thought I’d repost it here as part of my 2017 debrief.

Diary of an 8-bit mage

Typist's Pseudonym

Nuernberg Messe

Not The Middle East

Not The Far East

Hannover Messe

CQ Full Stretch

Ode to Idle Gaming

Messe Muenchen

Saint Knick Knack

Xmas Sweater Stitch

Inky Thin Pixels

Swore Games

Weymouth Ribbon

Spoopy Ghost Pixels

Racetrack Stencil

Messe Duesseldorf

Leipziger Messe

Filthy Bassline

Edgy Marker

Stuttgart Messe

Frankfurt Messe

Der neue Spargel

Somerset Barnyard

Blackletter Buffoonery

Some Kinda Madness

Old School Adventures

Kรถln Messe-Deutz

Crudely Calculated

Modest Felt

Chunky Felt

Bristol and Bath

Thickedy Grunge

Thickedy Quick

Sketchit Means Sketchit

Chubby Thumbs

Thinly Handled

FEATURED_GDDvsLifeDevlog

GameDevDan vs Life – Devlog 04

Progress is trundling along on GDD vs Life. The game launcher itself is now virtually complete and most of the work I have left to do is outside the launcher. This is because the launcher reads in all the information it needs from text files and launches the EXEs of the other games from an accompanying “Games” folder. This means any patches for specific games can be dealt with separately so that updates don’t take a million years to upload / download.

Launching a game

Launching a game in GameDevDan vs Life

One of the last things I have to do in the launcher is update the credits, but I’ll be doing that as I go along. For the most part the games were created & developed entirely by myself, but some games use creative commons music or graphics, or were created in partnerships during jams and stuff, so there will be a comprehensive credits screen in the launcher itself to make sure people get the recognition they deserve:

Credits Screen

Finally on Friday we got the project set up on Steam Direct and uploaded a test build to make sure it all works fine – and it does (after a couple of hiccups). Hopefully once I’ve done some of the heavy lifting work on the older games in the pack we’ll be able to put up some kind of nifty “coming soon” store page and a teaser trailer, but I’ll focus on getting the actual work done first!

The game on Steam

See ya next time!

FEATURED_GDDvsLifeDevlog

GameDevDan vs Life – Devlog 03

June has been a busy, busy time for me with a bit of electioneering, a holiday and lots of Chequered Ink stuff. As such I’ve had little time to work on GameDevDan vs Life but I’m getting back into it!

Below is my to-do list / spreadsheet which, as you can see, has a lot of red marks on it meaning I have lots to do. Yeah, don’t worry if you don’t understand it, I barely understand myself.

The key thing to note is that 5 of the games are complete or at least test-ready (so I’m still working on 45 of them and the launcher). The games which are ready are some of the newest, WillO: Revisited, Chickens and Moles (2013), Dewey Feed Grogg, Super Honeybees Cluster on Hornet and Wish That I Could Be Human.

I hope to get a few more test-ready within the next week, but for now you can keep up with my progress on Twitter!

FEATURED_GDDvsLifeDevlog

GameDevDan vs Life โ€“ Devlog 02 (Preliminary Games List)

Yesterday I announced my brand new project and games compilation GameDevDan vs Life. The pack will feature 50 of my past games from my career in game development so far. As pointed out by high school friend and former “Wormintheworks” teammate Botothy, the screenshot I shared featured a game that won’t be in the pack (cos it’s his lol). In fact, the current version of the launcher reads from a list of games many of which I either don’t have access to anymore or published for other developers, so for clarity here is the actual list of games which I expect feature in the pack upon release:

  1. Antibody Blast
  2. Antibody Blast 2
  3. Antibody Blast 3
  4. Antibody Blast: Go
  5. Balloon Festival
  6. Ballooning Over The Ocean
  7. Brash Kangaroo: Portals*
  8. Chickens and Moles 2012
  9. Chickens and Moles 2013
  10. Concentrik
  11. Cosmos
  12. Cosmos Origins: Delegates In Peril
  13. Dan’s Narcissistic Adventure in Jam Land
  14. Dewey Feed Grogg
  15. Guitar Master
  16. Guitar Master II
  17. Guitar Master III
  18. Gyro Boss vs Life**
  19. HannaH
  20. Harrison Keats
  21. Hob’s Ash***
  22. I have never
  23. Jam Battle Shooting Gallery****
  24. Just Pop Bubbles
  25. Kitty Pounce
  26. Last One Standing: Paper Pumpkin Apocalypse
  27. Last One Standing: Tiny Panda Barrage
  28. Louise Payne: Criminal Damage
  29. Maggot In a Frying Pan*****
  30. Papantzin
  31. Pharmer Phil’s Phlock
  32. Potato Patch Propaganda
  33. Profanity Bot
  34. Radslaughter******
  35. Ring Of Fire
  36. Santa’s Christmas Defence
  37. Shuffled
  38. Store Room
  39. Sudz
  40. Super Honeybees Cluster on Hornet
  41. SuperBeanJump
  42. Thawed Out
  43. The Mystery Of Bockston House
  44. Tiny Pirate Captain
  45. WillO 2012
  46. WillO 2013
  47. Winmoo 2008
  48. Wish that I could be human
  49. Zhat
  50. Zhat: Reloaded

*Wasn’t called this originally, it’s a re-brand of a fan game.
**An exclusive version of Gyro Boss just for this pack.
***Seeking permission/deal from the story-writer, though the game itself was made by me.
****Originally “YoYo House Jam Battle Shooting Gallery”, to be changed for obvious reasons.
*****Seeking permission/deal from Dadiomouse, will re-brand if needed.
******Has already featured in NAL is Alive.

It’s gonna be a long old haul to get all of them working smoothly on new PCs but I’m looking forward to delivering the finished article! Follow me on Twitter for more updates.

FEATURED_GDDvsLifeDevlog

GameDevDan vs Life – Devlog 01

Today on Twitter I announced a brand new project for Chequered Ink called GameDevDan vs Life. Prior to our business partnership over at CI, NAL and I had both released a whole bunch of fantastic games on our journey as budding young developers. At the end of last year NAL released a compilation of over 130 games on Steam called NAL is Alive. Now it’s my turn! ๐Ÿ˜›

Development has begun on my own game compilation, which will feature 50 games updated for new PCs. You can see an early screen shot of the launcher below:

The launch screen as of 09/06/2017

The launcher is already up and running and I’d love to throw out a version right now for you to play with, but first the actual content needs a little TLC. GameDevDan vs Life will feature all of my entries to the GameMaker Community Jam, as well as many of my commercial games released for mobile and desktop devices over the last ten years.

Where possible I hope to make each game compatible with gamepads and keyboards so that the flow from launcher to game is as smooth as possible. Some games, however, were built entirely for touch controls and will undoubtedly feel better with the mouse.

So there we have it – big news, I hope to bring you more of these devlogs as I progress through the project!