Planet Sweeper development update

Since people seemed to enjoy my Ludum Dare game “Planet Sweeper”, I decided to develop the prototype further. The aim is to expand on the basic “particle flow reveals hidden objects” idea to add some depth to the game, polish everything, and build versions primarily targeted at tablet devices (iPads and Android tablets), and maybe the web and OUYA. How time flies when you are having fun – it’s been 5 months since Ludum Dare 30 and no progress updates, so here we go. Progress !

Planet Sweeper Title Screen, Early Feb 2015


Here’s a rough rundown of the work I’ve done on Planet Sweeper since the initial prototype: Continue reading…

Designing levels for Def – no build zones

With Phr

Here’s what a level looks like pre-seeded with Phr ‘no build zones’.

I’m currently designing levels for the campaign/story mode of my tower defensish game Def.  There are various approaches that tower defence (TD) or RTS games take in progressively introducing new tower types and enemy types. It’s not uncommon to have a kind of tech tree, or a store where new tower types can be unlocked. As the player progresses through levels and gains more money or experience points, a greater variety of towers become available. These open up new strategies which usually need to be exploited immediately to deal with new enemy types. Continue reading…

A response to Cargo Cult Nostalgia

A response to “Cargo Cult Nostalgia” by Peter Silk (maker of the amusing nautical exploration game “The Wager”). You should read that article first (edit: and be sure to read Peter’s comments below), else this probably won’t make any sense.

I essentially agree that the Cargo Cultists might be sometimes fooled by the feeling of nostalgia and focus on the ‘trappings’ as a proxy for the real attributes that they enjoy in a game. But I also think it’s unfair to dismiss all their requests as driven by purely ‘nostalgia endorphins’. Some of these requests no doubt come from their dissatisfaction with design decisions taken for many modern point-and-click adventures that aim to broaden their target market and as a result fail to satisfy a certain type of player.

Continue reading…

Braindump of my proposed changes to GrandMasterPixel

Many of you have probably noticed (and quite a few players have commented) that the judging rate in GrandMasterPixel has become very slow in the last few months. This is frustrating since I know everyone likes to see how their pics do in the Arena quickly .. it’s pretty disheartening to submit you masterpiece, only to check two days later and find it hasn’t even been judged once !

As I’ve mentioned, this is to do with the having a larger ‘live’ pic population than when the game first started. My simple simulations suggest that with the current live pic population of about ~2000 pics, and about ~1000 battles daily (which was the case a few weeks ago), only about 15 % of pics should be missing out on getting at least one battle per day. The numbers will be a little different now, but you get the idea. Nonetheless … judging just seems too slow, so changes are afoot.


For the latest GrandMasterPixel update, I increased the judging token recharge to one token every 15 mins (4X faster) .. but since many people will then also submit 4X faster, this won’t really solve the slow judging issue. The big change I have planned next is to increase the number of hitpoints for new pics (from 10 to 100) and the submission cost (from 10 to 40 submission credits per pic). I’ll probably also make it so pics lose 2 HP per lost battle, to prevent the pic population growing too much. I haven’t settled on these numbers 100% yet, but if my spreadsheet shenanigans are correct, the result of all this should be a faster judging rate, with a similar submission rate (about a maximum of two pics per day).

For the math/game design nerds: The other advantage will be that since all the numbers in the game are larger, it should be easier to tweak things more subtly in the future without moving away from whole numbers (eg, the smallest possible tweak to submission cost currently is 10 %, a change of +/- 1 to the total value of 10. A higher overall submission cost will make smaller percentage changes possible). Going to larger numbers kind of goes against my initial philosophy of keeping the numbers small to make the game more approachable to casual players … but now I’m thinking that this was a false premise, and it won’t be an issue for the majority of existing (or prospective) players.

Side effects

My biggest issue with making these changes is how to best deal with existing pics. Some people would very rightly complain if brand new pics suddenly got 10x more HP, allowing them to easily acquire more wins than an ‘old-world pic’ – so I will probably scale up the hitpoints for all existing pics by 10x (and current wins/loses by 5x), to match what would be equivalent if they had been submitted under the new system. This is probably not quite perfect, but it will have to do. At the same time, achievement thresholds related to numbers of wins will have to be multiplies by 5. In the process I just need to be very very careful to not completely mess up the database somehow :P

Bonus braindump !

While I’m at it – here’s another idea of something the might help speed up the perceived judging rate. I could prioritize judging for active players, so that if someone hasn’t judged for one week, their pics get flagged as “inactive” and don’t get included in battles as frequently as pics of active players. This would reward you guys that play every day, without requiring any major ‘economic’ changes immediately.

Woo hoo ! GrandMasterPixel beta available on the Android Market.

I decided I needed to avoid losing momentum on GrandMasterPixel … so I’ve pushed through to ‘beta’ and made it available on the Android Market. I hope the server backend doesn’t melt (actually it’s hosted on Google App Engine, so I think it will be just fine .. but some optimization wouldn’t hurt :) ). Thanks to the small number of users who played the game during the alpha phase – you’ve drawn some cool little pics !

Download GrandMasterPixel (beta) from the Android Market