Saturday, June 30, 2007

Return of the Point and Click Adventure

I love that casual games is a space where older game genres can be reborn and updated for today's players.

The puzzle game genre which was left for dead in the stampede to 3D has more than made a home in the space with the likes of Bejeweled, Zuma and dozens of other games. The Eye Spy style of games that were a blip on the PC game landscape many years ago have made a resurgence with some cool new twists to the game play with the likes of the Mystery Case Files series.

And now the humble 2D point and click adventure is starting to come back. Azada from Big Fish Games and Dream Chronicles from KatGames are very reminiscent of Myst in their look and storyline, but are 2D point and click through and through. The player has to solve some brain bending puzzles on single screens or locations in order to progress in a linear fashion. As each section is solved more of the mystery is revealed.

These games are more analogous to Myst than Monkey Island but I don't think it will be long before we see non-linear character driven point and click games emerge.

Oddly enough I've recently been re-playing Flight of the Amazon Queen... hmmm.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I like StumbleUpon!

A friend of mine did an "I like it" on my site using StumbleUpon and within a day my site traffic tripled. Pretty cool.

In the meantime I've been stumbling and have found some neat pages. Here are some of my faves so far:

I have no idea what this is about - but it appears to be an exhibition of painted Darth Vader masks.
Paper Toys - print out make your own paper model of Angkor Wat.
Bow Man - a flash game bow and arrow game.
Double Wires - another flash game that will have you making out like Spiderman!
Disorientation - a very interesting game. The name says it all.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


A friend recently introduced me to a cool web app called StumbleUpon. It's a plug-in for your browser tool bar that lets you find new new and interesting web sites by clicking on a button.

At first its fairly random, but you can set your profile to favor the sort of things you like and it will start to filter the sites by your tastes. You can also click on a "I like it!" button to register if you did or didn't like the site - and this in turn affects if other people will be sent through to that site.

It's pretty cool - so far I've found a number of really interesting game sites that I wouldn't have discovered otherwise as well as a some intriguing flash games - the likes of which I will blog about later!

Oh, and if you came across this post via "StumbleOn" then please click on the "I like it!" button so other people can discover Game Musings :-)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Doctor Who

I've managed to watch a few episodes of the 3rd season of the new Doctor Who - and I have to say it's pretty darn good. I grew up with Doctor Who, so I have a soft spot for the show, but the new series has me hooked.

Like any show, there are a a few dud episodes, but all in all the quality of the writing has been great. Well, as great as you can expect from a show about a time traveling alien who uses a London Police Box as his time machine.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to watching some more episodes - apparently this new season only gets better and better! Now, where is the Doctor Who videogame?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brainiversity Update

It's just a week until Brainiversity officially launches on the web.

It makes its debut on a number of portals on Friday, June 29th. I'll have all the details when it launches, in the meantime here's a new screen shot:

"Word Maker" activity

In family news Zac is settling in well at home. At the moment he sleeps, eats, and sleeps some more. When he is awake he is the most adorable little fellow you could imagine! Tomorrow he will be a week old.

Monday, June 18, 2007

How much can you get paid to develop a downloadable episode for Xbox Live Marketplace?

Oh, about $25 million per episode.

Well, only if you're Take Two and you're doing exclusive downloadable GTA IV content for the 360.

Wired has a report that says Microsoft paid Take Two $50 million for 2 exclusive downloadable episodes. They say this is basically 5 times the budget for Gears of War. Read all about it here.

In other news, Zac and Leigh will be home from the hospital tomorrow. There's gonna be a few sleepless nights coming up, but it's all totally worth it!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Baby updates

With Zac only days old I've been pretty much focused on the little guy and keeping Ella, his big sister entertained for the last 3 days. Ella has been great and is excited that she has a baby brother.

It took a little while for her to work out that Zac's daddy was her daddy, but she seems to have come to grips with that now.

In other news, Brainiversity has passed all tests and is scheduled to hit the web proper at the end of this month. Stay tuned for more news!

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's a boy!

I'm the proud dad of a little boy named Zac, born 16th June, 2007 [EDIT - I wrote 2005, but it was 2am in the morning...]

Woo hoo!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sumea Interview

Sumea the very cool Aussie game developer news site, has just posted an interview with me about indie game development.

In it I talk about classic point and click adventure games, and how I hope that the Nintendo Wii and DS may be the platforms that help bring back the adventure game.

Speaking of which I saw that Telltale Games has secured $6 million in Series B funding to develop new titles and expand to additional hardware platforms. Here's hoping they port Sam and Max over to the Wii!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I'm going on a Safari!

Right now I'm writing this blog entry using Safari on my Windows XP machine.  I downloaded the Beta version of the Mac browser as soon as it was available.  I'm going to give it a go for a week or two to see if it's better than Firefox.

I'm a huge fan of Firefox - the browser is so far ahead of what MS is doing with Internet Explorer.  So Safari will have to be pretty damn good for me to make the leap to it full time.

So far Safari is looking good especially for a Beta version. Obviously some things that will be fixed, or will improved in later versions.  Some of my favorite things include:

1) The Find on Page function (CTRL-F) is better than Firefox.  It displays the text you're finding in a cool orange and white box so it really pops from the screen.

2) When you click on a text entry box it highlights the box with a cool blue glow. Very nice.

3) When the page is loading the address bar becomes the loading bar. Simple and effective.

Anyway, if you're interested, download the Beta of Safari now from Apple.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Brainiversity Marketing

With the Brainiversity gold master done, I'm just waiting on my distributor to do their final round of testing - then the game should hit the web on some major portals.

Brainiversity Chart Mode

While I'm waiting I'm preparing the Brainiversity marketing plan so people who love games like Brainiversity will know it exists. Making a game is one thing, but getting people to know it's out and where to find it is another.

One thing I've learned about promoting your game is that it's usually as simple as contacting news sites with a press release and giving them a copy to check out. So many developers tend to forget to do this and wonder why their game isn't getting any press. If you don't tell people they won't know!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Amazon Queen Ringtone

I found a midi file of the theme to Flight of the Amazon Queen the other week, so I made it into my phone ring tone. It replaces my previous ring tones which alternated between Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle music.

If anyone out there is interested, you can download the midi file from here. You'll need to use whatever software that came with your phone to transfer the file onto your handset.

The music for Flight of the Amazon Queen was composed by Richard Joseph, a pioneer of games audio who sadly passed away this year. He did a lot of music for the Bitmap Brothers and Sensible Software, and did some of the earliest work on interactive music with the game Chaos Engine.

He'll be sadly missed, but I'm sure he would have appreciated that many of his fans still listen to his music today.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Real Toy Story

I've been reading The Real Toy Story by Eric Clark, a fascinating book about the toy industry. It looks at the history of the American toy industry, the role of inventors and how the business has changed over time.

One of the big changes that the American toy industry has experienced is that many of its companies have been gobbled up by two big players - Hasbro and Mattel. Companies like Playskool, Corgi Toys, Fisher-Price, Parker Brothers, Tonka, Kenner, Milton Bradley, Tiger Electronics and J.W. Spears are now just brand names or subsidiaries.

The other big change is that large retail chains like Wal-mart and Toys 'R Us have a lot of power in affecting what toys are available, even down to influencing the package design and price.

What surprised me was how difficult it is for a toy inventor to get their idea to market. As a game developer who can create a casual title and get it out to the masses, I was amazed that most inventors have to use an agent to even speak with Mattel or Hasbro - and that agents can take a cut of between 50% and 60% of the inventors earnings! And to top it off, a lot of companies are reducing their risk taking, preferring to badge old games with licensed IP (Simpsons Monopoly, anyone?), so the chances of getting something new out is pretty small.

I know a lot of games publishers are risk averse, but at least the barriers to entry are so much smaller - especially in the casual games market. There's something very cool about being able to make a small game like Desktop Tower Defense and have millions of people play it - and actually earn a decent chunk of change at the same time!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More Freeware!

Halloween Harry/Alien Carnage has only recently been released as freeware - and just when you thought it couldn't get any better I'm proud to announce that the Hebrew version of Flight of the Amazon Queen is now available for your downloading pleasure.

So, if you speak Hebrew and love graphic adventures, grab the game here!

You will need ScummVM to play the game, so if you don't have it yet, grab ScummVM here.

Instructions on how to get ScummVM working is available on the official ScummVM site at

A big thanks to Ori Avtalion for hassling me to give permission for the release. His persistence paid off. Coming up soon is a Greek version of the game, which is quite cool as there never was an official Greek release. I'll post a link when it's done.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Different Casual Game Approach

I came across this article at GigaOM about Paul Preese's Desktop Tower Defense (DDT).

DDT is a free flash game where you have to defend your desktop from invaders by placing strategically placing defenses and building a maze to channel the enemy.

Since it's launch sometime before March 07, Paul's site has grown so quickly that he now gets around 20 million pageviews a month. What's interesting is that while his game is free to play Paul earns revenue through advertising and asking for donations. He says he averages high four figures monthly from the game.

Check out the full article here at GigaOM!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Naughty Doggies Do Well (again!)

Congratulations are in order for Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin. These are the guys who started Naughty Dog, the company behind Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, before selling it to Sony.

They've created a new company called Flektor and have managed to sell it to Fox for what some estimate to be around $20 million. Flektor was only founded in 2006 and provides a way to edit media for posting on the web. Not bad for a years work.

Will this impact on their plans for Iron and the Maiden? Who knows, but I guess $20 million will go some way toward developing the property :-) I'm keen to see what the guys will do with games now that they're financially independent.