The Ludum Dare Game that Almost Wasn't but then Was

Ludum Dare Compo came around again. A global 'game jam' competition that challenges participants to develop and publish a video game from scratch in 48 hours based on a mystery theme announced at the beginning of the deadline. Once again, I was in. The theme? Running out of power.



I got off to a fine start. Progress was great after a mere two hours in. The world of "The Last Gladewarden" was coming together nicely. A few of the trickier mechanics were already slotted into place and even Blender's insatiable desire to swallow my soul appeared less vengeful than usual.

Disaster struck as I headed to bed at 5 AM. I realized the spark was gone. There wasn't anything wrong with the Gladewarden, there just wasn't anything new about it. The planned hybrid action/tower defense was far too close to Antagonistic, my last Ludum Dare title. Sure, there were a number aesthetic and gameflow differences, but the code I was writing was painfully similar to that previous title. It wasn't new enough, different enough, 'dare'ing enough.

The next morning I awoke to a sobering realization: I was quitting. Ludum Dare Compo may very well be one of the most grueling technical competitions in the world and I wasn't about to kill myself rehashing the same ol', same ol'. I was out.

A mere hour later, I was back in. A concept had bloomed in my mind so bonkers is simply had to be given a chance. But could I make it? I had already lost nearly 15 of my scant 48 hours. There was only one way to find out!

With only six hours left on the clock, I was still missing the victory/failure conditions and an actual algorithm governing the main power mechanic. It was going to be tight, to say the least.

The game was completed with less than 30 minutes left until the deadline. 

Thus, without further ado (mostly because I'm drifting off to sleep here at my keyboard*), I present Airship Engineer: A gonzo little arcade game that challenges you to maintain three cantankerous steampunk engine contraptions to keep your travel schedule. Admittedly, it is missing a couple of my signature touches (such as an animated main menu), but it is a fine bit of silly fun. I hope you enjoy.

Grab it from MikeyKae.Itch.Io
See what other contestants thought about it at Airship Engineer's Ludum Dare page 


*Then I went to sleep and forgot to post this until now ;)

Ludum Dare 38 - I made a game in 48 hours

And, boy, is my everything tired!

One dev. Two days. A mystery theme. Welcome to the impossible world of the Ludum Dare Compo game jam. You might remember I triumphed over these ridiculous stipulations once before with Runty Raptor. Well, with this latest entry, I've set a whole new bar for myself with Antagonistic : Hamburger Hill.



Large scale action and big strategy in a small world!

Fly, spit acid, manage egg production, and lead your army of ants up Hill 943 to snatch the burger from inside beetle territory in this completely new action-strategy experience.

God save the Queen's lunch!

You can grab a copy from MikeyKae.itch.io for Windows, Linux, Mac, or even the full source code (Unity 5.5.2). The official Ludum Dare page is here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go collapse on the floor now...

UPDATE 4/24: Patched to v1.1 to fix a couple bugs (Not those kind of bugs, silly!) including the grass system!

UPDATE 4/25 : Fix for workers carrying food when game ends not being counted making it impossible to achieve perfect score.

UPDATE 5/3: Added 'bomber style' crosshair.  Spit travels farther and faster. Acid spit that now expires from being out of effective range disappears rather than explodes. Repurposed particle grass for new skybox. Tweaked lighting to match new skybox. Ant commander moved further to the left and out of your way. Wing flap speed now changes based on move speed and, even at max, is slower for less seizures. Wings made more transparent. Link to in-browser WebGL version added.

Zero Sum : Stalemate Manager - A new type of RTS in which you play both sides

The global financial collapse of 2026 marked the dawn of a new age of chaos around the world. Alliances shattered and revolution burns throughout regions previously believed unshakable.

It is in this dark future that the shadowy Pyramid organization has reassigned your position in Financial Oversight to Conflict Management. Your task: Spearhead Pyramid's new, more aggressive, "fundraising" efforts by manipulating these revolts into unwinnable wars while selling both sides the materials required to continue fighting.


The world order must be restored. Control is your burden.
  • Experience a revolutionary new form of RTS that challenges you to play both sides and avoid victory at all costs.
  • Manipulate the conflict by funding production, creating false orders, and blackmailing the influential.
  • Manage massive stalemates consisting of more than 100 units.
  • Plan your moves carefully to avoid suspicion lest either side uncovering your nefarious plans.
  • Play several challenging scenarios or create your own.
  • Name your own price (even zero!). 
 
 Now available for Windows, Linux, and Mac PCs at MikeyKae.itch.io/ZeroSum.

Project DFD is now Zero Sum:Stalemate Manager. Also done :)

Just a quick post to close this prolonged chapter of GUO. After about two-and-a-half years, I've finally decided that it is time for Project DFD to see the light of day. Two rewrites, three UI schemes, and half a dozen name changes later, I'm proud (and relieved!) to finally shove this little baby chick out of the nest and hope it goes on to make lots of friends.

While I can only dream that Zero Sum goes on to warrant enough attention to justify continued development, I am, at least, content in knowing that I've managed to complete another game.

Unless something goes horribly wrong, a full post with details regarding distribution will follow shortly.

Chasing GOTY 2016: Pokemon Go, XCOM 2, Superhot

Regardless of your preferred platform, genre, or commitment level, you had no shortage of great stuff to keep you busy all year. Even long running franchises seemingly oblivious to change got a shot in the arm. I mean, Mario got a runner game? Call of Duty has starfighters AND an emotional punch? Skylanders lets you mix and match your own characters without buying an army of figures? Uncharted replaced action and adventure with walking around and looking at stuff? Heck, The Last Guardian came out! Quite a year indeed! While RimWorld might have run away with our coveted Golden Giant Fire-Breathing Robot Baby GOTY statue this year, there were a few other titles we just couldn't let go unrecognized.

Let's deal with the hundred-pound Machamp in the room first: Pokemon Go is... not a great game. It is, however, a singularly magical experience. The combination of augmented reality, geocached treasure hunting, and one of the world's most beloved franchises created a perfect storm of childlike delight that kept many glued to their phones for months. Well, glued to their phones even more than usual. On the up side, we were all up, out, walking, and rediscovering our neighborhoods in a whole new light. No matter who you were or what you were doing, you'd have to be one cranky SoB not to crack a smile at the antics of a bunch of strangers laughing together as they ran from one side of your local park to another in search of virtual pocket monsters.


Growing Up Otaku Game of the Year 2016 : RimWorld

It was over. The colony was doomed.

We had survived the shipwreck that stranded us in this frozen forest at the edge of known space. We had survived the constant raids by passing star pirates and local tribal communities. We had (barely) survived that first hellish winter when we were forced to eat the chewed up remnants of our own after a hungry bear broke down the door to our ramshackle fort to devour the starving colonists within. We even survived the great fire that burned our humble abode to the ground and left many of us a missing few frostbitten fingers and toes. We had survived disease, killer robots, and toxic fog. Well... Some of us had survived all that. A lot of us didn't. But the colony, our fledgling civilization build on the bones and blood of our own (and the skins of many a local Muffalo) had survived. Until now.

Mae was one of our best. Well, maybe not our best. She was old and frail with a bad back. She refused to ever haul the crops in from the fields or clean the blood from the medical ward after our warriors were patched up following a skirmish with the locals. Still, Mae was a doctor. Not a great doctor, but a doctor none-the-less. She also had a special gift for negotiations, both with man and beast. It was Mae who trained the local wolves and foxes to haul grain while half the colony was bedridden with the plague. It was Mae who patched up captured raiders after an assault. It was Mae who later brainwashed convinced those prisoners to give up their piratey ways and find a better life at the colony with us. Everyone loved her. She had saved most of our lives, charmed many of us into settling here, and bolstered our workforce with four-legged, furry companions. She couldn't fight, haul, or clean, but she was the secret lifeblood that made sure we endured.

One chilly winter morning, Mae died from a heart attack.

Many of the domesticated forest beasts sharing our home went berserk with rage at the death of their mistress. Gunfire rang out from every corner of the fort as colonists desperately fought back against the furry horde. Some of our own fell to tooth and claw. Still others fell to friendly-fire in the impromptu firefight. Our medical ward overflowed. Many colonists needed to be treated in their own beds. Blood stained every corner of the colony. Still, few of the initial injuries were grave and it seemed we might pull through. Then the despair of Mae's death began to sink in.

Mae had saved many of us. Mae had spent many a day talking with us, eating with us, playing chess with us. She always had time for us (Mostly because she refused to haul, clean, or fight.). For some, Mae was the reason that they joined the colony in the first place. Mae's loss would take a heavy toll on the psyche of the colonists.


One by one, we began to crack. Some stripped naked and ran into the twenty degree below wilderness. Some went mad and started pummeling their fellow colony dwellers. The injury count grew. The blood spread. The despair deepened. Our one remaining doctor was forced to inject Go Juice every day just to keep up with the tending of wounds. Those not bleeding tried to clean as fast as possible to remove the offending blood from the most commonly used rooms. The medical supplies ran out. Infections set in. Emergency amputations amongst those suffering frostbite from wandering outside in the brutal winter weather, lost to reality in a haze of sadness, became common. Our people, even when sane, were becoming slower and less able-bodied with every lost appendage.

This is the way our world would end. Not with the bang of a pirate triple rocket launcher, but with the whimper of a woman dying of natural causes.

But usually you'll be wiped out by giant bugs tunneling into your bedroom a mob of bloodthirsty alpacas.


Checking in with JC for Christmas

Not that JC! Johnathan Coulton, silly. It is yet another winter holiday thing here at GUO and we have a tradition to keep up. You all should know the words by now, so sing along!




I Made This for You for Christmas: Play Kringle Krunch


Well, I actually made two Christmas games this year, but the other one was a whole lot more ambitious than I was able to get done in the two weeks I had left. Maybe next year. Still, I managed to burn some midnight oil and craft you this fine little arcade sugar plum I call Kringle Krunch!

Dodge the local air traffic and drop presents down chimneys in this high-skill arcade adventure staring Santa Claus!

Play in your browser or download this .zip file containing stand-alone build for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Judging a Politician by Its Wallet - Let's Look Up US Prediential Campaign Contributors

Unless you're a fan of staged reality TV shows, the latest US presidential race has been anything but interesting. None the less, wouldn't it be fun to look up our family, friends, and coworkers to see exactly who's been dumb enough to dump money into this sideshow? Thanks to Campaign Finance Reform and a global system of data tubes, you can!

Federal Election Commission



Welcome to the Federal Election Commission's Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal! Wanna search for a potential contributor up by name? Looking for a pretty infographic map? Just curious to see how folks in your zip code lean? Need to know which party is leading the cash race? This is your one stop shop for political campaign contribution data! Heck, spreadsheet nuts can even download a copy of all the data for themselves and make their own reports. Won't Uncle "I ain't got nothin' ta hide" Tony be surprised when you post a link to the ten grand he gave Bernie Sanders on his Facebook wall?

Sadly, this data is a good deal less interesting than back when GUO first showcased this site. See, following the sudden rush of transparency ushered in by McCain-Feingold back in 2002, political power players have sought to find new ways of obfuscating the money trail. Once we could look at this data and see the political leanings of your favorite companies as well as comrades. Sadly, those days are gone. The latest trend in political money laundering started in 2010 and today most major campaign contributions are paid not to the campaign, but an 'outside' committee such as a "Super PAC". Political campaigns then take out a loan from said committee so they need not disclose contributors AND the money does not count towards the maximum amount of cash a political campaign is allowed to raise. Just like how Uncle Tony funnels the profits from his heroin running totally legit cargo hauling service through his laundromat that the pizzeria borrows money from when he needs a new car or three. Pretty clever, eh?

Looking for a little more information on Super PACs and the recent "dark money" fad among today's political movers-n-shakers? I urge you to check out OpenSecrets.org run by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan, non-profit research group dedicated to studying the flow and effects of political monies.


Celebrate Star Trek's 50th Birthday with these Great Fan Productions

Star Trek turns 50 years old today and, while there certainly has been plenty of official stuff to buzz about (The new movie is pretty darn good and a new VOD show has tongues wagging), it is perhaps even more interesting to see what the sci-fi legend's fanatical fan-base has done with their own blood, sweat, and tears than what Trek's corporate overlords turn out.

There's another reason to check out this latest batch of homegrown movies and shows: This may be your last chance. The year-long legal kerfuffle between Axanar Productions and CBS/Paramount has led the the TV and film powerhouses to begin crafting a set of formal guidelines for fan productions. These new rules are a little... tighter than folks have been used to.  There is a very real possibility that every single entry in out little list could come under fire at any moment. In short, get 'em while they're still here!

You can read more of the Axanar case and ongoing fan film drama on AxaMonitor or any other Star Trek news site.

On with the shows!

Star Trek Continues


Much like its elder sibling, Star Trek New Voyages (Formerly Star Trek Phase II, as covered here on GUO four years ago), Star Trek Continues attempts to fill in the missing fifth year of the adventures of the NCC 1701 "No bloody A, B, C, or D". Obsessively detailed recreations of the 1960s sets go without saying, but it is the immaculate recreation of Kirk's Shatnerisms (once you get past Vic Mignogna's squeaky voice (or, if you're an anime fan, Full Metal Alchemist flashbacks)) and the genuinely thought provoking plot lines that will keep you hypnotized throughout. As a special treat, Continues even includes a direct sequel to the (in)famous episode " Mirror, Mirror" that fans of the ISS Enterprise won't want to miss!

Star Trek Horizon


A passion project three years in the making, Star Trek Horizon is a full length movie that takes us back to the Enterprise NX prequel times for a wonderful new adventure with foes both new and old.

Star Trek Renegades


If you ever wanted something truely new from the Star Trek franchise, Renegades is exactly what you've been waiting for. Forget the squeaky-clean UFP and Star Fleet, this feature follows a brutal batch of interstellar pirates drafted by a secret Federation intelligence agency to save the galaxy. In short, it's Star Trek's version of The Dirty Dozen (sans Lee Mavin but adding a Breen (I bet he wouldn't mind shaving with cold water ;) )).

NOTE: Renegades' web site seems to be in a bit more disarray than most fan features following the Axanar fallout. Here's a direct link to the feature on YouTube.

Star Trek Hidden Frontier, Odyssey, and Helena Chronicles


Fan films gained new life and new frontiers with the advent of free, online video hosting sites. Back in the early 2000s, Hidden Frontier was certainly one of the most ambitious projects leading the way. Lacking the crowd sourced cash flow of its contemporaries listed above, the original Hidden Frontier series is a little... cringe inducing to watch. Pushing past those earliest of productions, there is no arguing about the ambitious later parallel series, Odyssey and Helena Chronicles, both of which are linked by a separated homosexual male couple and share a single, epic finale.

In terms of viewing order, I'd suggest jumping into Odyssey, but save the last episode. Next, watch all of Helena Chronicles. Finally, Watch the last Odyssey episode (3.01 Tossed Upon The Shore). YouTube Playlists.

And Many, Many More


Obviously, this is quite far from an exhaustive list, just a few of my recent favorites. Hopefully this feature will inspire you to look beyond the usual sources. Star Trek has come to mean something very personal and important to many people's lives. Some of those people have the talent to share that love and take their beloved universe full of hope and imagination to new and daring places. Places where no one has gone before.