Questionaut by Amanita Design... It's awesome!

So much to blog about and instead of buckling down to do my good web citizen duty, I find one of the coolest Flash games I've played in a while. In fact, it's probably the coolest Flash game I've played since finding Samorost2 a couple years ago. No surprise that it's by the same creators, Amanita Design.

The game in question is an educational adventure game commissioned by the BBC called Questionaut. Follow that link and click the orange Go button for a taste of what a truly imaginative, artistic adventure game can look and feel like. I love the visual design, the music, the puzzle design, and more. The sense of humor displayed in the characters is delightful, and I can't help but think of The Little Prince as I fly from world to world to meet them.

The game targets an elementary school audience and drills you on trivia ranging from probability to grammar. I didn't have much trouble with the questions (aren't you proud, mom and dad?), though I was stumped for a few minutes on the stage 6 puzzle. There's honestly nothing here to ruin the gaming experience, and much more to commend.

Try it out. Enjoy yourself. Don't blame me when you're totally captivated. Cool

I highly recommend the Samorost games, and while writing up this post I was encouraged to find that they have a full scale adventure game in the works with the same incredible style called machinarium. Guess what I'll be buying when it's available... Wink

Check it out:

Machinarium Preview from Amanita Design on Vimeo.

A Procedural ASCII Universe

I've always been a big fan of ASCII based games. If I sit down to toy with a project, more often than not I'm doing something ASCII. I was never a great artist, but I loved Roguelikes (ADOM being my favorite) and had a mind to write a multi-player Roguelike back in the day.

Anyways, I just wanted to post about one of the coolest ASCII apps I've seen in a while. The name is Project Infiniverse. It procedurally generates universes with star maps and nebulae or planet surfaces with climate regions, vegetation, etc. It's pretty awesome to check out if you have the time and are on Windows.

The apps are programmed in my compiled language of choice, FreeBASIC. I'd love to be able to write algorithms like that. (There's the geek in me speaking. :D)


Well, for the last several weeks, there has been a FreeBASIC game programming competition in the forums at (view thread). I pleaded with my wife and was allowed to work on and submit an entry. I've sacrificed plenty of sleep to work on the project after she's gone to bed and ended up with what I feel is a solid, enjoyable arcade game with enough bonuses and gameplay strategies to provide some replay value. The title is SECTOR SHOCK, and it is your next favorite pasttime.

The restrictions of the competition were you had to use the original graphics and sound files from Space Invaders. I checked out what I had to work with and dove into brainstorming fast... during lulls in the day, over lunch break with Lyle, and while putting Christina to bed. The week before I had been playing with a game programming library called HGE that makes a lot of things easier... graphics, sound, frames, etc... it's just nice. Many thanks go to Dalex for porting HGE to FreeBASIC.

My final product is a top down space shooter that takes advantage of the arrow keys for movement, WASD for firing, and shift/ctrl for special features. The game features 6 types of enemies and their generators (portals), 3 types of weapons, 2 special maneuvers, and 2 special bonus types spread across 25 waves of combat. Each wave gets progressively harder, while your ship gets more lethal. There are a few different level types, and even some health and support resources that must be managed during gameplay. There are some fun particle effects to provide atmosphere, courtesy of the excellent HGE library without which my entry would not be near as good. I assure you the game is very beatable, as I've played through every level myself. Estimated play time is somewhere around 45 minutes to an hour.

I'm hoping to nab first price, which is 100 GBP, but even third prize is a nice bit of spending cash (Christmas presents, anyone?) when the U.S. dollar is so low. }:) I've gotta find more of these European competitions! I've listed my game in the competition thread with a few more details and credits, but I'll also put the screenshots and links up here. To view the other games entered, head to the competition page at FreeBasic Tracker (a FreeBASIC community site I'm developing... or have been for the last 1.5 years... ;)).

Eye candy:

Main menu goodness.

Probing an enemy to charge the ion cannon.

Wave introduction screen.

The final stage! Crazy!

So... what are you waiting for?

Download SECTOR SHOCK today, and post your high scores and best shot rates up here!

*If you have trouble starting this up, it may be your video card doesn't support the 320x240 full screen mode I'm using. You can adjust settings.ini to specify other screen modes, a windowed version, and any number of debug features. You can also use it to warp levels. Wink