Flappy Benj

Adventures in Unity #2: Flappy Benj

Click here to play Flappy Benj!

One day I was noodling about on my phone, when suddenly I had an idea. An idea for a videogame. A completely original, ground breaking idea for a videogame. Deciding this was probably the kind of idea that could net me in the region, of, let’s say,$50,000 in ad revenue per day, I fired up Unity and proceeded to fail vigorously at coding for a long time.

Thankfully I found this helpful tutorial that just so happened to guide me through making a game very similar to my brilliant, original idea.

So here it is, my first venture into Unity development. I’ve dedicated it to Benji, a cat who always loved flying, but really hated pipes. Thanks go to quill18 for his helpful Flappy Bird tutorial, and to the guys at Unity who offer an admirably robust set of learning tools to help out even the rankest coding amateur.

Also thanks to Oscar the cat, and his owner Department64 who uploaded the sounds of Oscar the cat to Freesound.org.

So click here to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Post your high scores. My current record is a staggering 43. See if you can beat that before the sound effects drive you mad.

If you can’t play the game you might need to download the Unity Web Player, which is here.

You have to not hit the ground or the pipes. I mean, you probably know how this works by now, right?

You have to not hit the ground or the pipes. I mean, you probably know how this works by now, right?

rise of the planet of the tomb raider

Exclusivity; what’s the point?

I remember when exclusives were actually a thing. Sega and Nintendo used to rally their fan bases around Sonic and Mario, and their marketing departments made it clear that each offered an experience you simply couldn’t find on a rival platform. Genesis does what Ninten-don’t, etcetera, etcetera.

Even as not-that-long-ago as the Xbox 360 and PS3 launches, exclusives were actually a big deal. Buy an Xbox and you get Halo. Buy a Playstation and you get Metal Gear.  I remember that being a big decision. I remember I really used to care about exclusives.

Fast forward to now. Metal Gear Solid 5 is coming out on 5 different platforms, and so is Bungie’s grand new venture Destiny. Exclusives don’t seem to be that much of a big deal anymore. I certainly don’t care about exclusives anymore. In fact, if I’m honest I tend to find them annoying, like they exist just to make my life a bit more difficult. Xbox does…basically what Sony does, now ; or something. Continue reading


Let’s try empathy

There’s been a lot of ugly, ugly shit going around online this past week. In the last few days the gaming ‘scene’ has become a pretty horrible place. I’m not going to go into details, because the details are splashed luridly all over the place already. I’m not going to link to anything, because you’ve all probably read enough articles about this by now. And I’m not going to name any names, because really it’s none of my business.

It’s none of your business, either. And I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, that none of the people responsible for the heinous crap that’s going around are likely to read this. But I think places like Reddit and 4chan are psychological poison, so I’m probably not going to get this across to the kind of people I’d like to address. Instead I’ll just leave it here, and hope that someone finds it beneficial, somehow.

The abuse of individuals by militant groups of utter assholes has reached a stage that frankly beggars belief. I’m confused by just how awful it’s possible for people to be, sitting, alone, in front of a screen and a keyboard, how they’re capable of spewing such abuse into a Twitter box, reviewing it, and considering it something worthwhile to send into the world. Not just into the world, to direct at a person, at another individual, sitting just like them in front of some sort of screen, typing on some sort of keyboard. It’s baffling. And horrible. Continue reading

Shovel Knight

Nostalgia & Heritage

As part of my ongoing musings on subject of nostalgia in game design – hell, I’ve probably written enough of these that I can get away with calling it a ‘series’ by now – I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits and the disadvantages of designing a game around a feeling of nostalgia.

It’s been pointed out, rightly, by many that nostalgia can work as a crutch for designers – by adhering to a template set out by games of the past they can sidestep a lot of the responsibility to come up with engaging game mechanics and systems. They can tap into a pre-existing audience more concerned with re-living the aesthetic of their youth than seeking new gaming experiences.

These are valid criticism of nostalgia as a design practice, and there are many examples of cynical nostalgic design out there. However, today I want to talk about what I consider an important benefit of nostalgia in gaming culture; that nostalgic design helps preserve the heritage of the games industry that might otherwise be lost to new generations of gamers. Continue reading

zelda wii U

The Value of Nostalgia in Design

nostalgia: noun, a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

I’ve written about nostalgia in games a few times before; once when considering how picking up a new take on a beloved genre can feel a bit like coming home, and again – a little more forcefully – when the validity of obvious nostalgia projects on Kickstarter was brought into question.

But at risk of writing pretty much the same thing over and over again – perhaps I’m getting nostalgic for my own articles now – I’ve been thinking more about nostalgia in games recently. Perhaps it’s because I’m at a time in life when the lure of older, simpler times is particularly strong, or perhaps it’s just because I’ve been playing the HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, a game that can instantly transport me back to being a carefree thirteen-year-old.

There’s something special about diving back into a game you know and love well. It’s not unlike re-reading a beloved book or returning to a favourite childhood film. It’s a feeling of comfort, a bit like belonging. Continue reading