How am I making the world a better place?

OK, so this started as an “I’m an indie game developer!” post, and morphed into the title you see above. Mainly because I discovered Gittip, and it’s one of those ideas that grabbed me instantly and wouldn’t let me stop thinking about it.

Gittip is essentially a recurring tip jar for folks on github. (And it sounds like they are ambitious, and want it to be for more than that, but at least for now, it seems like you have to have a github account to sign up — even to tip someone, so that’ll need to change eventually.) Anyway, you sign up/in and tell it who you want to tip on a weekly basis and how much, then it lumps all their tips together in one anonymous donation every Friday.

I’m in the process of setting up an LLC for my business. I quit my dayjob just over a week ago, and I’m going to be making apps (mostly games!!!), about 50% of the time ones that I design, and the other half of the time for other projects I think are awesome.

The point is, I’ve been thinking a lot about monetization, and how I want to be charging people for my apps. Freemium is the buzzword of the year, but it’s got a lot of different incarnations, some of which leave everyone sane with a bad taste in their mouthes. Other incarnations are a lot closer to the shareware model, only you give away the whole app, hoping that enough people want to pay you to make it worth your while. I like that idea, it really sits well with me ideologically, but I’m not certain I’m making games that have a wide enough appeal that the one to three percent of people who tend to pay for games like that would eventually pay all my bills.

If only gittip were somehow a viable payment option for apps!

I really think a model like gittip is how the non-physical-goods-based-economy should work! Or anyway it’s one payment model that has been missing: recurring anonymous microtransactions. Plus it’s combining that with philanthropy, but I really think that’s just marketing for the payment model, same as it is for kickstarter. Effective marketing, don’t get me wrong, especially because it’s marketing you WANT to hear, but marketing nonetheless. (I should probably explain that further, but I’m lazy… maybe in a future post.)

When you sign up, it doesn’t distinguish between folks who want to give or get tips, so you’re presented with a profile screen that asks you to fill in the blank: “I’m making the world a better place by… ________” My initial thought was “well, I’m not YET!”, but then I settled on “…making games nobody else has bothered making.” For now at least, I’m certain that’s true. Wish me luck!

ActionChess for the iPhone

It’s been a long uphill struggle, but ActionChess should be appearing in iTunes or in the app store on your device anytime now. I wrote about this over at, but I’ve already submitted the first update.

It’s weird, but now that it’s been approved, I almost feel more nervous about it than I did before it was approved, while I was waiting for it to get approved. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I definitely want to get puzzle mode in there sometime in the near future, along with a new game mode that I’ve been thinking a lot about in the last week or so. I have so many game mode ideas that I don’t know when I’ll find time to implement them all.

I have plans to get together with a new friend and iPhone developer on tuesday, and we’re probably going to collaborate on another game in the near-ish future also. We’re thinking about doing some kind of match-3 game, and in prep for that, I’ve made a list of all the ones I know about already on the iPhone. Let me know if you see any missing from this list (there have to be more, I’m sure of it).

Match 3 games I have or have some experience with:

  • ChocChocPop – florence’s favorite (adds powerups)
  • Gem Spinner (add “shape constraints”, background “clearing”, rotation)
  • Mix-A-Dot (adds color mixing)
  • Gemmed (adds cool “critter” mechanism and different piece types)
  • Puzzle Quest (adds RPG elements)
  • Jewel Quest II (added background “clearing”)
  • Bejewled II (played original Bejeweled, haven’t played the iPhone version)
  • Aurora Feint (like Tetris Attack)
  • Crazy Sushi (uses the Yoshi’s Cookie “slide a row” game mechanic)
  • Trism (trianges!)
  • ScribBall / CrayonBall (adds gravity, not sure if these should count)
  • Pinch ‘n Pop (also stretching the definition, but it is sort of a match-3)
  • Quadrix (“slide a row” not so much match-3 as making various shapes.)

…and the ones I haven’t (yet) played:

  • Chain3 (no movement constraints — apparently this has been out since app store launch)
  • Samurai Puzzle Battle (Puzzle Quest knockoff?)
  • Smiles (on my wishlist)
  • Diamond Twister
  • Popcorn!
  • Campaign Trail
  • Chocolate Shop Frenzy
  • Sliders (also uses “slide a row” game mechanic)
  • Slida (also uses “slide a row” game mechanic)
  • Gemlogic
  • Gems
  • Big Booty
  • Bling: Touch Fever
  • Glyph (looks to be a lot like Jewel Quest)

anyway, check out ActionChess if you have an iPhone, when you get a chance!

Quick “what’s up” and howdy doody

First of all, I just posted a couple of mini-reviews over at my game dev blog about match-3 puzzle games for the iPhone. I’m loathe to link to it, because I’m going to be moving the URL for that blog in the really near future. (OK, well, probably not until next month, but soon anyway.) The idea is to put everything on my new super-secret game development domain, This will probably happen shortly after I’ve already launched ActionChess for the iPhone (I’m finally making chesstris!), and slightly before I’ve re-branded Go-Tetris! as ActionGo.

I flip-flop over whether the new names should have colons in them. ActionGo versus Action:Go, and ActionChess versus Action:Chess. I think I like the colon separation slightly more just because of how it looks visually.

Reformat the Planet

Today was the last day to finish watching Reformat the Planet over at, so I just did that. The documentary, about the first “chiptunes” Blip festival in NY in 2006, featured some interview and performance by Neil Voss, who I have babbled on about here before because I liked his video game soundtrcks for the N64.

It strikes me that there are so many scenes and subcultures that I think are awesome and would love to be a part of, but never will be.

I will have be satisfied with downloading more mustic from the 8-bit people website. Yum.

Tetrisphere soundtrack by Neil Voss

Last night I was reminded of my fruitless search (back in 2002, I think) for the Tetrisphere soundtrack. Tetrisphere was (and still remains) one of my favorite games of all time. It was released for the N64. Sound for the game was done by this guy Neil D. Voss, I learned at the time, but Nintendo never actually released an official sountrack, even though the game won a “best soundtrack” award from Nintendo Power. Conspicuously the wikipedia link above doesn’t really say what Voss has been up to since then.

Anyway, you can find mp3 rips of the Tetrisphere Soundtrack and The New Tetris (which he also worked on) available at this random Galbadia Hotel site.

Also interesting is this IGN interview with Voss on the making of the Tetrisphere soundtrack (via wikipedia).

Stop Animation in Video Games and movies

Florence, Mike, Jason and I went to see Be Kind, Rewind last Sunday, (the new one Directed by Michel Gondry). I love Gondry’s style so much, but this one fell pretty flat for me. Maybe my expectations were inflated because I have loved his other movies so much, but it didn’t really live up to something. I liked The Science of Sleep better, and I remember feeling pretty similarly disappointed when that one came out.

Anyway, this morning a co-worker sent out a link to the Game Over Project‘s Human Space Invaders, which of course I think is brilliant. They also made a version of stop animation human tetris, (not to mention Pong and Pole Position).

Bonus link to a blog post that outlines a pretty sweet tetris variant the author thought up. (lazyweb!!!)

Go Tetris! presentation

I gave a presentation tonight for the local twin cities chapter of the International Game Developers Association. I think it went well. There were somewhere between ten and twenty people in the audience, and they seemed genuinely engaged and interested.

The presentation can be found here:

After me, another guy, Darrell Hardy presented about board games and the industry in general. I guess he worked at fantasy flight for years… he seemed like a really nice guy, and had several interesting things to say.

Florence tagged along, and she even said afterward that she’d had a good time. She’s been showing more and more interest in games lately. I’ve even got her playing an x-box game (Samurai Warriors 2) with me semi-regularly (the latest in the Dynasty Warriors… er, dynasty, it’s a great one for co-op). My crowning achievement: She admitted to me tonight that she closed her eyes and saw guys running around with little red bars above their heads.

Portal Preaching

OK, I know I’m late to the game on this one, but I just finished playing through Portal (rented the Orange Box for my 360 this weekend), and… damn. So fun! Everyone and their mother has already ranted about how great this game is, and I have mostly been trying not to pay attention, so I never heard anything about how great the song in the end credits was. I also seemed to miss any mention of how funny the game is. The end boss fight was especially hysterical, and I totally didn’t expect a boss fight at the end of the puzzle game, but it really worked! There were several points at which Florence, who was mostly sitting next to me but not paying attention, giggled right along with me at the robot’s hysterical quips.

whales and elephants, oh my!

First of all, there is a vote going on right now over at to name a whale. What does it say about people who use the internet that the winning name right now (at 49%) is “Mister Splashy Pants”?

Secondly, our office’s South African Canadian is back from the outback, and he brought a bottle of Amarula with him. It’s tasty… possibly even tastier than Baily’s (although very similar), and makes me want to try out some Marula fruit. Anyway it’s put a pleasant buzz on the end of this first-workday-back-from-vacation.

Tonight I plan on spending my entire evening curled up with Florence on the couch, alternating between the new episode of Heros, Super Mario Galaxies, and possibly the second disk of the first season of Flight of the Conchords. I got the new Mario game this weekend, and am excited to play more… Florence and I rented the first disk of Flight of the Conchords last night, only realizing as we walked out the door that we’d have to return it today. (Overnight rental… wha!? I like nicollet village video, but I’m going to have to remember not to get new releases from there again.) We may well get the second disk, but we’d either be forced to watch it all tonight, or break down and go to Blockbuster instead.