Archive for the ‘games’ Category

Got ChipWits working on the Mac

May 19, 2007

Running under Adobe Apollo. Apollo is slick. It was a cinch to convert my Flex project to an Apollo project.

I gave one last shot at getting ChipWits running under MDM Zinc and it went off into a loop that was impossible for me to debug on the Mac. So I bit the bullet and converted it to an Apollo app.

Apollo isn’t ideal because it’s in alpha right now. The installation will be a hassle because a user will need to install Apollo first and then the ChipWits.air Apollo file. When Adobe rolls out the release of Apollo installation will be a one-step deal, but for now if a player doesn’t already run Apollo they’ll need to install it manually.

I got a Mac Powerbook off eBay a few weeks ago – a 1.5 ghz G4, which will be the low-end Mac we support. I picked this Mac as the target at the suggestion of Jay Bibby of . ChipWits runs a tad slower on the Mac than my PC of the same speed, which concerns me. I may hire a Flax/Flex animation guru to review my code to help me pump up the performance of the game. Flash isn’t the speediest game platform, for sure.

It felt good to see ChipWits running stably on a Mac again after 23 years.


Flex, my ChipWits dev platform, goes Open Source

April 26, 2007

When I looked for a cross-platform game development environment over a year ago Adobe Flex was just coming out the door. Margaret was comfortable doing animation in Flash, but I was sceptical of ActionScript. When I got a look at ActionScript 3.0 I felt comfortable taking the plunge.

I’ve really enjoyed working with Flex. Today’s announcement that Adobe is open-sourcing Flex gives me even more confidence I made a good choice of platforms. Scoble has some nice vids up of interviews with core Flex devs about Adobe’s open source move.

I’ve spent the past week working on IBOL editing in ChipWits. I’ve got undo/redo working well. Got copy/paste working last night along with the start of multiple-select. Tomorrow multiple-select drag & drop. Since ChipWits players will spend the bulk of their time editing IBOL code anything I do to ease editing will pay off bigtime.

Today I also got a Mac Powerbook which I bought off eBay. It’s a G4 1.5 ghz – which is going to be our base Mac target machine at the recommendation of Jay Bibby of Jayisgames . Having a Mac version of ChipWits ready when we launch is important to me because ChipWits came out first on the Mac in ’84. Apollo is still not ready for me to use to deliver Mac ChipWits ( and Mike Chambers suggests that Apollo will be following Flex’s example ) so I will be wrestling with the killer Zinc Mac bug.

Buried in the Drifts

March 2, 2007

We are snowed in for the 2nd time this week. This time the snowplow guy refused to plow the last 1/3 mile of “road” to The Pad. He plowed only to my 2nd-nearest neighbor (the nearest neighbor is a Summer cabin – no one home) so I moved the car to their house in the middle of the storm – up the hill.

The hill is a challenge in Winter – it slopes North and often has got an icy underlayer – and I don’t blame the snowplow guy for giving up on it. He plowed partway down before giving up, though, so he left a 3-foot high plowed mound of snow right in the middle of the hill. I had to get the Subaru’s speed up and punch through the mound while climbing the hill. The snow is light and it made a satisfying snow explosion as I slammed through it.

So we’ve got a 1/3 mile walk to the car. Getting another load of firewood will have to wait. We’re doing pretty good on propane, but I’ve cut the thermostat to 60. If we’re snowed in long we’ll have to use our toboggan to haul wood to the cabin.

I had a great day of programming yesterday. I will probably drop a new build of ChipWits tonight. I fixed a bug in ELECTROCRABS – now they can actually damage your ChipWit – 20 E-CRAB ZAPs and you’re done.

We’ll finish the current contest and then next week let some of the geek game forums into the playtest.

Contest of Doom & ChipWits Forums

February 26, 2007

I just uploaded a new build of ChipWits and announced this week’s contest – Doom Rooms.

I’ve had a couple of great days of programming, some of my best days in months. I think this trend will continue.

I implemented Hummingbird Mode – supah-fast ChipWit speed. That’s really going to be helpful when we have to run all the contest-entry ChipWits through a 10-mission series.

Margaret and I also set up ChipWits forums at Wonder who will be the first one besides me to post there. Dare ya.

We are snowed in. Our plow guy gave up and is going to try a bigger plow tomorrow.

We are going to spend the next few days adding Intro Missions and documentation and then mid-week we’ll start announcing the game in geek forums. I want a bunch of programmers in the next batch of playtesters – it’s not quite ready for the mass market yet until we document and tutorialize more.

I feel good about ChipWits and the prospect of making bucks off of it.

Margaret got some great video footage of Herman the Ermine. We’ll upload some action footage of this magical little creature to youTube.

It’s a good sign that I am heading to bed before 1 am.

I just posted 2 more chapters of Channel Zilch.

And the Winner is…

February 7, 2007

Visit’s Prestigious Hall of Pie.

That was fun.

Got a late entry in the 14 and under category and since it’s the only one I am running it right now to generate scores. Looks like it might kick the tin bootie of the oldsters. [Update: Eric Hsu’s tightly coded and elegant ChipWit takes the youth division and, yep, comes out on top over all. Congrats!]

Starting to run Contest ChipWits

February 6, 2007

Margaret and I are both under the weather. We worked our tushes off getting the new website up and killing bugs for playtesting.

So we are taking a day off. I’ll be running the contest entries through Greedville and posting the result late tonight.

We are then going to take a few days off to catch out breath. Next weekend we’ll announce the next contest, which will involve ZAPping ELECTROCRABs.

We are getting a few more visitors to the website, but aren’t going to shout out about the game until the end of the month, when our little game should be playable by people who didn’t cut their coding teeth on the original Mac, C-64, or Apple II versions.

Thanks once again to our great playtester/bughunters.

Check out’s New Look

February 5, 2007

Margaret went live with her cool new design for

I am thrilled. I love the look: very ChipWits – friendly and geeky. It’s striking and fun to look at.

Which makes me very happy because I am going to spend many hundreds of hours looking at it as we release our standalone ChipWits and then build our ChipWits online game community.

ChipWits registration keys are now on sale for the beta price of $14.95.

We aren’t shouting to the rooftops about ChipWits yet, because we want a small beta for a couple more weeks. But we invite anyone reading this to join us in playtesting ChipWits.

Monday night is the deadline for the first week’s contest. We’ll post the winners Tuesday evening in The Hall of Pie.

People who enter ChipWits contests and who turn in bugs or comments for improving ChipWits will receive prestigious virtual bling in ChipWits Online. So let’s hear from you.

I will post a new build Tuesday night and announce the next contest.

Playtesting week and the Contest

January 31, 2007

We are uncovering some good bugs in ChipWits playtesting this week. So far none have been a mystery. I’ve been able to replicate and squash them in short order.

Also doing a little gameplay tweaking. I was nervous about the SAY chip because when I first implemented it the voice synthesizer would lock out all mouse and keyboard input while it had its SAY. So I set the cycle cost to 5 to ensure that the mission would end quickly. Now it’s much better behaved and Mark Roth suggested it be free to encourage its use. So be it. Along with that I made SING free. So ChipWits can talk and sing without sacrificing scoring.

Now that I know ChipWits behaves well on a number of people’s machines I am going to slowly spread the word. Not going to do a major PR campaign until we’ve run another week’s contest with a more challenging mission.

The next few days I’ll tweak baddie behavior and animation. Electrocrabs were idiots in the original game and I plan to raise their IQ’s a few points.

We will start selling the beta game tomorrow. I’ve got an account with the online distributer BMT Micro and just uploaded a batch of serial numbers. By the end of February I should know whether I have a future as an Indie Gamer.

First Contest

January 30, 2007

We are kicking off our very first contest at with fabyoolous t-shirt prizes. Greedville is the mission and high average score for a series of 20 is the contest.

2 age brackets – 14 and under and Unlimited – so grownups have a chance to win something, too.

We will enroll the winners in’s prestigious Hall of Pie. 1st week’s winner gets +10 Geek Cred points.

I notice traffic at this blog and has picked up quite a bit since I dropped the playable build. Cool.

ChipWits Build drop tonight

January 28, 2007

Margaret and I are working to put up a new build on before we hit the sack (which averages 3 am for us).

Thanks to everyone who keeps checking this blog for progress on the game.
I just got back from a walk on the lake. New snow shows off the evolutionary drama of my wild neighborhood. In the middle of Lake Almira we found a kill site – looked like bobcat tracks with big paws close together – with only a few sprinkles of blood left of the victim/meal. Mika and Travis were fascinated by the smell and taste of the pink snow.

I’ve got the woodstove glowing. Tonight’s sunset has faded to frigid greys.

Back to coding.