The Winds of Change

Unexpected things happen, and circumstances change out of our control.

A recent family disaster has meant that I have had to transition from a stay-at-home father bringing up the kids to becoming the major wage-earner. This has meant the amount of time I have for developing has decreased dramatically though I hope to be able to keep up my infrequent blogging and coding.

Hopefully in a few months when the storm has settled in my personal life, I can actually finish “Pirate King of the High Seas” and get it released.

Virtually Real Games

Aside from the behemoth of spaghetti code that is “Bunker Squad” (sometimes known as Bunker Mentality), which has its origin in such game mechanics as seen in Laser Squad (Playable on-line here, along with its predecessor Rebel Star), I always had a private remit that theoretically the turn based games I made should be transferable to the real world, i.e. be able to be easily made into an actual physical board game.

Artifact Location Card Image

Of course it has been easier said than done. I feel I kind of cheated with “Pyramid of the Pharaoh” as I never really determined how in a physical version of the game the artifacts would be hidden/distributed about the game board. Perhaps there would have to be specific artifact tiles from where to dig up the corresponding item. Or different Artifact Location cards may have different individual tiles on them, which are traded for the artifact card when it is dug up from the tile. Still though, when funds allow I would like to head over to the game crafter, and order the pieces to make up a real version of Pyramid of the Pharaoh, and sit down and play it around the proverbial games table.

Tentacle Arm Spinner Prototype

I have been a lot more strictly following this guidance when making “Pirates of the High Seas“, and developed a set of cardboard spinners to determine such things such as the random movement of whirlpools, and typhoons. For the computer version I thought about having some sort of flick motion , or drag and release system on touch-screen devices to control/influence the rate at which the tentacle spun around the spinner. But in testing it didn’t seem as convenient/fun just to let the computer handle all of this stuff automatically in the background, and have only a minimal amount of end-turn time. Still it is something that I might include as an option in the final release of the game if I can get the controls to feel right, and I have the time.

The other main game I working on at the moment, “Politbureau” is also readily translatable into a real world board game, but I leave details of that for another post.


Flogging an Undead Cephalopod


Sometimes you just have to admit defeat.

I have spent the last few months making a game called “Halls of Cthulhu“.

The premise of the game was to be a constantly shifting/changeable set of tiles that made up the game board, inspired in part by the Ravensburger¬† board game “Labyrinth“. But rather than slotting tiles into the board, tiles are revealed and changed according to a fluid ruleset. The player has to reach the center of the board, to retrieve the book of the dead, the “Necronomicon” and return with it to one of exit tiles to escape Riyadh, and the Halls of Cthulhu.

cthulhu screen

Also within these halls, four shamblers wander aimlessly, whose mere presence threaten to drive the players insane. Indeed rather than health, or life points players have a limited number of sanity points, the exhaustion of which drives the players insane.

The only problem, designing an AI that could cope with the ever changing board and rule sets, and play an effective strategy to present a reasonable challenge to the human players. After a couple of months I had to admit that I was probably flogging an undead cephalopd, in terms of both the playability and actual fun of the game to play.

Time to move onto the next project, which I am definately going to keep simpler to preserve my sense of achievement. Something pirate flavoured maybe..

Ancient Inspiration and Toil

Before I started work on “Pyramid of the Pharaoh”, I worked on another project that at the time I called rather originally “MYRPG-Caves of Adventure”, which quickly developed into a rogue-like cave dungeon bash game. You can see an early prototype over here (MYRPG – Caves of Adventure) if you are lucky enough to get it to run.


Any not long after I finished this prototype, which was borne out of my earliest memories of playing on the ZX Spectrum such games as Rebelstar Raiders, and the now infamous Laser Squad (or as its later incarnation as X-COM). I decided to ditch the fantasy genre and instead “relocate” to a post-apocalyptic world, and concentrate on the squad elements of the game. Hence the birth of “Bunker Mentality“.

After spending several years trying to finish the game and only ending up with something more and more nebulous than before, despite repeated attempts to cut back on the game remit, I put it aside.

You can see a video of where the game had got before I started work on Pyramid of the Pharaoh.