Archive for the ‘indie’ Category

A great feeling – An original ChipWits fan gives the new version a big thumbs up!

January 6, 2007

I got a huge psychological boost from our first feedback from a fan of the original ChipWits:

“I got a Commodore 64 when I was 5 and some years later my 5th grade teacher turned me on to Chipwits. I was hooked immediately, and I largely credit this game for enhancing my early interest and understanding in programming, so a special thanks to Doug and Mike! Today, I am a full-time software engineer and I develop games on my spare time.

I was thrilled and honored to receive an invitation to help playtest ChipWits. As soon as I read the email I immediately went to download it and try it out. And I love it! It’s fantastic to see ChipWits back in action! Thank you so much for bringing it back!”

His full report is very detailed and absolutely useful. I have told Mark that I will do my best to lure him into the heart of the ChipWits project.

I found Mark by googling “chipwits”, and I found a couple other die-hard ChipWits fans that way.

I’ve been smiling a LOT since I read his report. I know we’re on the right track.


ChipWits on the Web

January 6, 2007

After we release our shareware standalone ChipWits we are going to dive right into creating an online ChipWits game community.

Margaret and I spent a lot of last year working on GODinabox to build a Flying Spaghetti Monster-centric* online game world. We did a lot of learning about online game communities and I got a good start on coding the guts of our game platform.

My last paying gig was as Demo God in Microsoft Research’s Virtual Worlds Group right before I became disabled 9 years ago. Margaret designed one of the first worlds that ran on the VWG platform.

So it’s going to be very cool to see where we can go melding my** first game with an online community.


* Bobby Henderson – the FSM’s Prophet – is a partner in GODinabox.

**co-created with Mike Johnston.

Archeological expedition into the Ancient Maps of ChipWits

January 4, 2007

Mike and I wrote ChipWits in 1984 in a blaze of inspiration and insanely hard work. After launching the Mac version in Fall 84 we produced the Commodore 64 version and the Apple II version in less than 6 months.

I didn’t keep the best notes. I’ve got a box of disks and printouts and sketches of IBOL ops and even the first drawing of a ChipWit (which I will scan and upload here). Nowhere can I find maps of the original 8 missions.

So I am playing the original game on an online Apple II Emulator (IE only for now, they are working on their Firefox emulator plugin):

Stymied by a impassable pastry

The majesty of Apple II Graphics: ChipWit #7, lacking ZAP or PICKUP, is blocked by PIE.

I wrote a keyboard-driven ChipWit so I could explore at will. IFKEY S->SKATE FORWARD, IFKEY X->SKATE RIGHT45, IFKEY Z->SKATE LEFT45.

Apple II Keyboard-driven ChipWit with a bug

There are 2 Bugs in this ChipWit! Spot ’em! Answer tomorrow.

The Apple II IBOL editor is pretty amazing. We did the Mac version first and were Mac zealots so not only did we port the game to the C-64 and Apple II but the cursor-driven menu interface. as well. Note that instead of a mouse, players had to use a joystick to control the cursor. Clunky but it works. Running in emulation the interface is even clunkier.

I wound up having to kill 2 editing-induced bugs before it ran.

I decided to spelunk in Octopus Garden first – the most challenging mission. The ChipWit always starts on a random square in a central room. There are 8 corridors running from that room, each terminating in a room containing a high-score DISK to PICKUP.

It feels very strange playing one of my own 22-year old games. I know that I spent endless hours working with Mike on the Apple code and all the sound-FX and silly little animations did a real deja vu number on me. It was fun when an electrocrab sidled up to me because my heart-rate did go up and I SKATED my guy out of the room ASAP.

I ran into 2 pies that blocked my path (fiendishly placed there by some devious game designer (me or Mike)). So now IndieBot (the CW’s new name (after I. Jones)) sports a ZAP chip to clear the PIE.

I’ll have all 8 missions mapped by tomorrow. If I survive the PIE.


Yesterday’s bug – The arrows from both bottom chips should point right:

IndieBot debugged

On the road to Greedville

January 4, 2007

I’ve started inviting old friends to test the game. I emailed my kindergarten buddy Mike Perren and reconnected with my best friend from high school Denis Grundmann. I found Denis googling (Bless you, St. Al) – he’s got a great website selling his art – .

I’ve had a great exchange with Casey Muratori about the gameplay of ChipWits. I’ll post excerpts from it. He really wants it to go in a puzzle and level-up direction, which I know is doable and lots of fun but is waaaay different from the original ChipWits’ gameplay. Puzzles are also not my strength as a creator.

I am going to craft a couple new missions. Actually spend time playtesting them myself. Good clean fun.

But first I am going to create a playable 4-room classic Greedville. The simplest mission should be the first ChipWit online contest.

Drove the box with the Black Lotus to the Post Office in Luck (WI) this afternoon. Beautiful grey hazy sun.