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Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos is now on Steam
Dec 27th, 2021 by Ice Cream Jonsey

“Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos” is a game that I created with Mike Sousa and it’s now on Steam. We hired Nikos Chantziaras to help with a beautiful front end that is new to the game and gives the player easier control to change fonts and colors. Mikey “Jizaboz” Phipps helped us get the game working on three different operating systems (Windows, Macos and Linux) so this is by far the easiest way to play the game.

(A brief aside – I find navigating the soul-crushing user interface of Steam (“Steamworks”) from a developer standpoint to be excruciating. I hated it when I got Cryptozookeeper on Steam and I hated it just as much trying to get our new game up. I’m not kidding when I say that it is the single worst workflow I’ve ever been forced to deal with in my 25+ years as a computer professional. I hired Jizaboz to work with it and I highly recommend contacting him if you are easily angered about alien UX like I am. Mikey is doing a real service here.)

Mike and I started Jay Schilling’s Edge of Chaos over 8 years ago and we had many large stretches where we weren’t working on it, but we always wanted to collaborate again after initially doing so in 2001. I’m happy with the result, I think that this game contains the best jokes and bits I have ever come up with and it is the first game I ever sat down and completely plotted according to something resembling a writer’s fiction framework (Dan Harmon’s Story Circle in this case). I feel that one of the pleasures of text adventures is the ability to go off the rails and make your own emergent narrative, I think that this game benefits from a guiding literary force in the way that none of my previous games have.

So I hope if you’ve made it this far you check it out or Wishlist it. I get it, most of us have dozens or hundreds of games in our backlog but, gun to my head, I’d put this game up against any of them if you are looking for a quick adventure that might put a smile or two on your face. Also “putting a gun to your head” is one of the required steps on the checklist to get a game on Steam, so please add “Steamworks” to the Skills section of your LinkedIn profile if you ever successfully got Dad’s firearms safe unlocked as a kid.

Enceladus
Oct 4th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The 2019 Interactive Fiction Competition is live!! Check out all the games in this year’s comp here at https://ifcomp.org.

The game I made is called Enceladus, you can download it through the IF Comp site here. The Windows version is included in the zip file, but you can get what you need to play it on Linux and a Mac by going here.

Enceladus is a science fiction game with jokes. On a small saucer-shaped spaceship, a werewolf has somehow boarded your ship. You play as an ensign, just an x-ray technician and attempt to navigate the crisis. If you have never played any of my games before, it’s a great jumping-on point.

Play the games in this year’s comp, write some reviews, let people know what you think about all the games. This year’s pool of authors are one of the nicest groups of people I’ve ever found myself a part of and any feedback created is going to inspire some great people. Enjoy!

Cryptozookeeper IndieGala bundle
Jan 13th, 2019 by Ice Cream Jonsey

If you’d like to pick up Cryptozookeeper for Steam for a low price, you can get it through this IndieGala bundle for 12 more hours. Thanks for reading:

https://www.indiegala.com/monday-motivation-65

Cyberganked’s been Greenlit
Jul 30th, 2016 by Ice Cream Jonsey



My upcoming CRPG / text adventure hybrid called Cyberganked has been Greenlit on Steam. After sending out dozens of messages to Valve assuming, trumpeting and inventing for them their “no backsies” policy and receiving what I can only assume is tacit agreement, I’m confident that what has been done can not be undone, and we can get into the important business of rubbing it in the face of the terrible people that dropped by the Greenlight campaign’s comments to give me unending abuse.

(Just kidding, though hug your developer friends next time you see them.)

In all seriousness, thanks to everyone who voted, retweeted announcements, agreed to be in the game and provided so much positive energy. I don’t want to throw out a guess on when the game will be done, because it really is just a matter of grabbing the time to do it. I’ve got little cards for the rest of the tasks in some project management software written up. It’s on a good path. It’s on a great path.

For anyone seeing this for the first time, here was the Greenlight campaign, which includes the introductory video. The introductory video includes some screenshots and gameplay. The gameplay includes potassium be– well, this could go on forever and I must get back to finishing it!

Cyberganked is on Steam Greenlight
May 27th, 2015 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I’m putting the character role-playing game I’m making onto Steam Greenlight, in the hopes that it gets on Steam proper. This is not the first time I’ve tried to put something on Steam. Long before the Greenlight program, I submitted Cryptozookeeper into their old system and got a rejection letter. I’ll give the old process this: they were quick. Before I had even finished filling out the form on the old system they e-mailed me a picture of someone in Bellevue making the “cut him off” gesture.

You can experience the Greenlight page for Cyberganked by clicking here. There’s a trailer on the page that I haven’t posted to Jolt Country, along with some screenshots.

Cyberganked is an RPG made with the Hugo programming language, which is what I’ve used for the last few games. I’m calling it a text adventure / RPG hybrid to keep all my options open. I guess the difference is that you won’t have to think of new verbs like you would in a normal text adventure. You’ll have all the commands you need in Cyberganked from the beginning.

Robb’s works are not for everyone, but they’re for the intelligent, good people. So the problem kind of works itself out. I interviewed him for a documentary on interactive fiction a number of years back, and his works before and since have been hilarious buffets of viciousness, intelligence and humor. I can’t recommend his way of doing things enough, and his consistency in working on these projects is admirable. Support this guy! — Jason Scott

I wanted to thank everyone that has commented and retweeted links and encouraged me through the process. I anticipated lots of Greenlight comments saying how much the game sucked and by extension how much I suck. Instead, I’ve already been getting great feedback. I’ll be putting updates here and there as I don’t think there’s a whole lot of overlap between this blog and the Greenlight page.

Cyberganked is a ways away from being finished, but I wanted to get it approved for Steam early. If you have a chance to vote that’d be awesome. (Greenlight Downvoter is in the game as a level six enemy, so if you ever wanted to be represented in a video game that’s your big chance. I’d still appreciate the yes vote, though.)



Unlike communism, your votes truly matter. I’m psyched as I can be to make this the best game I’ve ever worked on. I don’t care if the thing makes money — it’d be nice to break even. Steam allows me to have my games seen by more people, and that’s its value to me. It will get into the hands of people who would otherwise never experience them.

pfff — Sigurd

Pfff indeed, friends.

Autumn Cyberganked Update
Dec 2nd, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

This quarter’s update to the progress of Cyberganked is over here at Indie Game News.

Lots of news there that makes me happy. Randy had another successful year with the haunted house, and I was able to get a lot more characters photographed inside. (If you are ever in Denver during October, please visit his haunted house! It’s easily the best in the state of Colorado.)

One other thing that makes me happy is that I have started to implement automated tests. It’s tricky for me to do that with Hugo: there’s no “headless” mode, I don’t develop with a real IDE, and my tool of choice to script the game and test against output would be Selenium, which is not something I can use at the moment. I did finally come to a solution to these problems, which was to stop being such a baby, and do the automation that I COULD do.

Waaah! WAaaaaaargh!” — that was me irl

So I now have a system in place to pull my code from its repository and at least grep for some strings and values, and send me an e-mail if it doesn’t work. For instance, I usually set the hit points to some enemies to 1 in order to test what happens after they are defeated. Now, at least, if the Psycho of Western Hill has 1 HP, I will get a reminder to fix it when I wake up in the morning.

There’s one last bit I wanted to share about how development is going:

I can’t do transparencies in Hugo. I can’t put one image over another. Well, I could, but they would be square or rectangular images. I also don’t have the ability to manipulate graphics at a per-pixel level. This is fine, I knew this going in and I have made four other games with graphics just fine.

But there was one effect I wanted – when meeting one antagonist that wore shades, I wanted the first character in the player’s party to be reflected in those shades. I had two choices to get this effect done — First, I could create a separate static image for every single actor in the game and reflect them in the shades. There’s 22 different actors for player characters, so that would mean creating 22 different images. I could do that, or I could do the other option, which is to not have that effect in the game at all. I chose the former.

Randy has a dentist’s office room for his haunt. There are little teeth glued to the wall — the reason for this is that in the haunted house’s mythology, the dentist is extracting teeth and chucking them against the wall. It’s dark there though, so most people do not see it. Teller says that “Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” Along the same lines, I burned an evening of my life making 22 separate jpgs for this one scene in my game. I say that not because I think it is supposed to impress anyone, but because when I finish this game I hope that people who have never played one of my games before can take some solace in the fact that a crazy person made it for them.

I made a page here in case you’d like to be on an e-mail list to be notified when the game is done.

Cyberganked: Character Portraits and Weapons
Aug 11th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

The process I have been using for actors in Cyberganked is as follows:

– I place an ad (or ask a friend) if they can run through Randy McLellan’s haunted house at The City of the Dead, when the haunted house is up. (September and October, usually.)

– I get 400-500 source photos.

– The rest of the year, I incorporate these people in the game.

I don’t know exactly what I’ll need when people go through, so I try to hit every room and get a little of everything. With over 10 actors shot, I now have enough source material that I can “greenscreen” my friends if they don’t live in Colorado. My friend Chris Monahan is one such actor, and I hope to shoot Rob O’Hara next month in Oklahoma.

The haunted house is filled with items that could be used as weapons. I am trying to get “realistic yet funny” weapons in the game, along with “realistic and painful” ones. So one such made-up weapon might be a Windex container that is duct-taped to a flash that sprays acid. Another might be an AK-47.

I don’t have all actors with the same weapons. So one thing I am trying to do is depict the actors that were using certain weapons. If you equip your character with a weapon I have a picture for, the appropriate graphic becomes their new character portrait.

Because screens are fun, here are couple examples. Megan Spielhagen found a revolver in the haunted house (thanks, Megan!) and Chris had a Beretta. If you create a character and choose either one of them as the actor for your characters and give them those weapons, here is what you will see when you >look at them in-game, or if they are doing things that cause their portraits to show.



(You can click for the larger image.)

Cyberganked is being written in Hugo, and is really more of a character role-playing game than text adventure. No ETA on when I will be finished with it just yet. I have a “Cyberganked” tag on this website if you’d like to see past updates.

Bundle in a Box – 7 Hours Left!
Apr 2nd, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey


Bundle in a Box, yesterday

I did a terrible job promoting the Bundle in a Box on my own site, which is unacceptable, because my game Necrotic Drift is part of the Bundle in a Box. I have some incredible excuses as to why I am typing this out with seven hours left to go. Rich, layered excuses. Think of these excuses as unlockable extras. Here we go!

– I went on my first vacation in a couple years, visiting my family in lovely Rochester, NY, right as the Bundle dropped, away from my PC.
– Both this site and my other site at Caltrops managed to go down for extended periods of time.
– I decided to sell my pinball table and needed a day to vacuum the cat hair off it.
– I took a Centipede cabinet as part of the trade for the pin, and it fell on me, almost snapping my leg and arm in half, on its way downstairs. Argh.

… It really is quite painful. Flying to Rochester, I mean! hrewhrwhrwehrwe

But seriously, Benjamin “Pinback” Parrish said that if the Centipede game took my head off, my body should have sprouted another one. Jonathan “Roody Yogurt” Blask said that he would have appreciated the irony if I were maimed by a “crushing” game like Dig Dug. I feel that should I ever get into real trouble and bleed out on my floor, the IRC logs of my death are going to be hilarious. I’ll be entering “9 1 1” into a high score table as I take my last breath to a cackling cacophony of wiseguys, as I get @kicked from life.

All right, so now that the apologies are out of the way, let’s talk about the Bundle. Here is the link that takes you to the page where you can buy it. The price is obscenely low. A lot of websites are obsessed with telling you how great their wares are, and why you should give them money. Since I screwed up, and managed to blog about it with seven hours left, I’ll instead link to this scathing review at Capsule Computing. Mari Shishido hated it! The people who dislike Necrotic Drift tend to dislike it a lot. Top this, Braid:

Necrotic Drift is a chore to play. Between the unbearable characters and the long parts of the game where nothing but awful banter happens, the game is not enjoyable. Having to guess at the exact word the game needs to move forward is boring and frustrating, while the rest of the time it is monotonous in that it will repeatedly allow one simple word to continue. This is a waste of time, even if it was free. Having to pay any money for it at all is unthinkable. It is not even so bad it is good, it is so bad that it is bad. 3/10

I’m glad that there’s a site out there off the 7 through 9 scale, but I have to think that a 1/10 is reserved for games that kill you when they boot. In all seriousness, I want to thank Mari for taking the time to play. Of course I wish that the game was more her thing, but the best thing about the Bundle in the Box is that you can’t beat it for the number of games included. There’s nine other games, and as soon as I have the functioning use of my nervous system again, I will be playing all of them.

Rock Paper Shotgun did a writeup on the Bundle here, so if you don’t trust me, trust them. And here is a review at GamingMomentum, where the reviewer seemed to enjoy it. I hope you get a chance to pick the bundle up. Every cent I get from it will be used towards my next game, which I’ll start blogging about here. Thanks, as always. :)

Hugo Open House Competition 2013
Jan 6th, 2013 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Here are the entries for this year’s Hugo “Open House” Competition 2013!

C.H.U.M.S. by Jason McWright

Clockwork Boy 2 by Marius Mueller and Roody Yogurt.

Cyberganked Proof of Concept by Robb Sherwin. Not a text adventure, but a tech demonstration of using Hugo to make a CRPG.

Patty Flinger A game where you fling patties, by Paul Robinson.

Waiting by Paul Lee, with source code.

The authors have been playing each other’s games the first week of January, and you can read (and contribute!) some reviews here.

Enjoy the games, everyone.

Roody Yogurt Reviews IF Competion ’12 Games! (Part Two)
Oct 24th, 2012 by Roody Yogurt

The Lift by Colin Capurso

More so than any other type of game, weapon pedantry is really annoying in CYOA (“OH NOES YOU CHOSE THE KNIFE WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN THE CROWBAR!”). Starting off with that kind of situation was an instant fail in my book. The only nice thing I can say about this piece is that the premise recalled the Outer Limits episode “The Elevator” for me.


The Test is Now READY by Jim Warrenfeltz
(I played the first version)

Starting your game off with someone shouting “run, you magnificent bastard!” is pretty funny.

That said, I hate games that explore morality (I saw another review call it ethics and maybe that is the better term). How I play games doesn’t have enough of a correlation to how I view the world to have any kind of meaning, so you’re really only signing up to hear what the author has to say about it. Even if the author’s point is about the ambiguity of it all, again, it’s a meaningless exercise that bugs me enough that I intentionally avoid it.

Oh, yeah, I had something to say about the intro, too. I think I would have preferred the fake-prompt method to keep the intensity up, where each keypress equals one letter in the prompt, although the full-command it does here will definitely be useful if somebody plays the game on something like the ifMUD’s Floyd bot. Also, the pedant in me doesn’t like the fact that the introduction uses a command that I can’t use (“LOOK BACK”).

Response-wise, the game could use some work:

Frank says, “God, Harry, I thought we were dead for sure – I mean… well, metaphorically dead, you know, not like… well, the walking dead.”

>talk to frank
That’s not a verb I recognise.

>ask frank about dead
There is no reply.

>

Between the lack of implementation and discovering that it was a morality game, I closed the book on this one after finishing the first section.


howling dogs by Porpentine

All of the slow, looping prose felt like the CYOA-equivalent of unnecessary-IF-pauses. While being far from deducing What’s Going On, I enjoyed the ideas of martyrdom/saintdom and its relation to the persecution of women and how it is injected into a futuristic setting, but the pace was far too plodding for me and I eventually threw in the towel before completion.


Kicker by Pippin Barr

By the end of a playthrough of Kicker, it’s clear that it isn’t really much of a game (nor is it trying to be). In it, you play a football (or “American football”, for non-US people) kicker. The entire game seems to be based on random outcomes. Even when it is time to kick the ball, your success seems to have no correlation to how many times you’ve >PRACTICEd, >STRETCHed, or >EXERCISEd (I couldn’t think of any other commands to improve my chances).

While not a small amount of work to code, I imagine, I can’t say Kicker is really “IF comp material” nor is it really enjoyable. It seems to me like it’d have been better done as a Textfire game or something, where it would have had the good graces to end after one quarter. Oddly enough, the Textfire games were released in the 90s, which is also the last time I really laughed at a kicker joke.


Valkyrie by Emily Forand

According to the blurb on the IF comp site, this game is a collaborative effort among community college students. I don’t think this is a successful game as it is, but I don’t want to be harsh. Technically, there are misspellings and ill-constructed sentences. After reaching a dead-end (yes, it’s a CYOA), the ‘go back to the start’ link didn’t even work.

I don’t think the tone of the writing works well as text, but I found myself imagining that it could work in some sort of audio-based CYOA system (isn’t that a thing? I thought there was a thing) where they read the passages aloud. That might force some urgency.


STAY TUNED FOR PART THREE!

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