Jan 16 2017


Generals always fight the last battle, right? I’ve noticed this is often true of people’s creative work. We sketch out territory in one project and map it further in the next. Or perhaps we fence round the territory we’ve seen and colour in the negative space—the gaps left by the last project’s outline. This is how our individual games connect into bodies of work, dots into lines, and how our central themes begin to emerge.

Cardinal Quest 2 was my reaction to the 15-minute playtime games I’d done before. I wanted to make something players could zone into for hours; something big enough to feel like a real commercial game worth money. That is, a commercial indie game in 2010/2011: the era of Amnesia and Recettear and Desktop Dungeons and the Minecraft alpha. That seemed like a high bar but what the heck, right?

Continue reading »

Feb 27 2015


The Flash version of patch 1.1 is live on Kongregate!

This update introduces THE TOWER and THE ALCHEMIST—two big chunks of content that’ve been in the works for a while. The Tower is our new Endless mode, a world you can keep climbing indefinitely until it kills you; the Alchemist is a new seventh class who specialises in crafting scrolls and potions. Each brings new achievements and new stuff to fight for!

The iOS and Android versions will be updated shortly, likely next week. For now, here are the broad, spoiler-free patch notes! I hope you enjoy exploring the new stuff, and I look forward to seeing how far in the Tower you can get. 🙂


  • Added The Tower, an Endless Mode accessible once you’ve unlocked 15 Achievements.
  • Each Achievement Rank you’ve earned now gives you a bonus chest in that floor of the tower, so you can have bonus items up to floor 50.
  • Added The Alchemist, a brand new class who specialises in crafting and combining items and inventing new technology.
  • Added Sampling Vials, new items that appear within the Acts and the Tower. To unlock the Alchemist, you must find and use Vials on five bosses to collect blood samples. Alternatively, you can unlock the Alchemist immediately for $5.


  • Consumables (potions, scrolls, etc) can now stack up to 2 per inventory slot.
  • Each class’s “Toughness” talent is now uncapped.


  • Added Alchemist skills “Craft”, “Combine” and “Pistol” to Spellbook.
  • Added six new consumables. Two of them are legendary.


  • High score achievements altered to only trigger on the Acts, not the Tower.
  • “All six classes” achievements for clearing Acts changed to “all classes” (including the Alchemist). However, if you’ve already unlocked these, they’ll stay unlocked.
  • Added six new Alchemist-related achievements.
  • Added five new Tower-related achievements.


  • Invincibility Potion now protects against magical damage (e.g. Fireball).
  • iPhone: Fixed Retina support on iOS 8 (and possibly iOS 5?).
Jun 24 2014


Hey everybody! This patch has a few balance changes and a couple new features. The biggest is “Glide”, a new skill you can find that replaces “Haste” and allows you to leap and glide over some obstacles. A close second is a consumable that lets you see a little more about how the game works. I hope you’ll enjoy exploring them both!

The patch is up on Kongregate. The game also has official badges there now, including an Impossible badge for hitting 120k score. Have fun getting this one!

The next patch will be delayed a bit while I wrap up work on the Android build. Here’s the good news: once the Android version’s out I’ll be able to spend some time working on new content, like perks, a unique “endless” mode and maybe even new characters. 🙂


  • Clicks on consumables during spell casting will now be ignored
  • Spells will no longer spawn on top of exits
  • Fixed some glitches in boss cutscenes (especially Act 1’s)


  • You will now gain more Morale from gold and kills on higher difficulties (+10% on Hard, +25% on Suicide)
  • The awareness boost enemies get when wounded has been reduced
  • Some abilities that move enemies can now drop them into lethal pits or lava (where available)


  • “Haste”: replaced with new skill “Glide”
  • “Reveal Area”: now reveals nearby treasure as well as walls and obstructions
  • “Smite”: renamed to “Vital Strike”, reduced bleed effect durations
  • Wizard’s “Ice Blast”: reduced cooldown, reduced strength of freezing effect
  • Pugilist’s “Sweep”: slightly increased stun duration
  • Paladin’s “Judgement”: reduced cooldown
  • Thief’s “Speed Runner” perk: replaced with “Airstrike” (now grants “Glide” instead of “Haste”)


  • Added two new consumable items to discover, “Tome” and “Spyglass”
Feb 05 2014


There’s a monster in Dungeon Keeper that never appears in the summon lists. It’s a monster that’s been around a while and I think I’ve finally figured out what it means to me and how I want to guard against it.

Etruscan pottery. Photograph by Wolfgang Sauber

As the legend goes, Hercules was set many tasks to atone for his sins. The second was to slay the Lernean hydra, a nine-headed creature whose breath was lethal poison and bile so putrescent that wounds it touched would never heal.

Worst of all, cutting off any of this monster’s heads would cause two more to grow. It was immortal. Continue reading »

Aug 30 2012


Steam Greenlight is live!

Cardinal Quest II’s page on Greenlight is live!

Cardinal Quest II’s got a brand new trailer!

It’s got a website, too, but that’s fairly placeholder. 🙂

I’ve been building up this stuff all week; it’s so awesome seeing it all go live and the game get some public exposure. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to the Greenlight page and hit F5 repeatedly. 😀


Jun 30 2012


Here’s a challenge for you: name three current-generation console games with a key female protagonist where you can’t see her cleavage at any point.

Take a few minutes and see what you come up with. I threw this at Twitter yesterday and the answers I got back are down below our classic Strong Female Character contorting wildly so you can see her arse and her tits in a single shot, so y’know – try it yourself before you get to the spoilers.

“My spine!” yells Lara as she hits the floor. Sorry Lara; you’ll be in hospital for the next few weeks.
Continue reading »

May 18 2012


Between one thing and another (okay, mostly Diablo III) I haven’t had much time for blog-posting over the past two weeks. Even so, development’s been going on at full pace.

The single biggest thing I’ve done is add a half dozen new monsters and totally overhaul monster placement and the difficulty ramp. Essentially I’ve made the monster difficulty and the player’s strength climb about half as fast over the course of the game, meaning that for any given monster there’s a much wider period in the game during which it represents a credible threat. That lets me mix up your opposition a bit so encounters are more diverse.

One of the new monster classes is the mage. Now, these fellas tend to hang out at a distance causing trouble. The one there is a Fire Mage who’s happiest chucking fireballs at you. There are a few others; the Conjurer summons random elementals, and the Priest can heal and buff other enemies around you.

In my last game, totally at random, I met two Priests in the forest. There were a few enemies around, but because of the trouble the priests can cause, I went after them first. I knocked one of them down to hardly any health. He ran away, so I chased him out into the open… and then the other priest healed him.

Then they both buffed enemies around me. And then I died.


The other major improvement lately is the stealth system. It’s a bit clearer what’s going on. Here are two enemies who haven’t noticed me yet:

…and here’s one who just did:


I’m gradually trimming down the todo list; CQ2 is perhaps a few months away from a state where I reckon we could do a decent closed beta. As part of heading towards that goal I think I’ll start next week by laying in a placeholder version of the game menu and revising the in-game UI (again!). Here goes…

May 03 2012


Yesterday, Electronic Arts – an international games publisher with 7,820 employees and annual revenue over three and a half billion dollars – announced an EA Indie Bundle.


Of course, though the whole concept’s self-evidently ludicrous, it’s a bit hard to put your finger on why. So Nathan Grayson over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun immediately declared we should start stacking the chairs and pulling down the decorations. The word’s completely meaningless now! “Indie” is over!

But it isn’t.

Continue reading »

Mar 23 2012


Okay, this week’s been a slow week for getting stuff done – besides some playtesting and bugfixing – so here’s some SCIENCE:

The Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire

Everyone has a body clock. Right? Your body synchronises with the rising and setting of the sun, making you more alert and active at certain times of day and more tired, cold and confused at others.

Now, not everyone’s works the same. Some people tend towards “morning”, which means that their daily peak of physical and mental energy is early in the day and near when they naturally wake up. Such people tend to get up earlier than everyone else, go for runs at 6am, that sort of thing.

Then there are “evening” people. Their peak is in the evening, nearer sunset. They tend to stay up, work late into the night and feel like crap in the morning. I’m one. It has its advantages, but if you’re expected to be in an office by 9am, it can kinda suck 😀

Most people fall somewhere in the middle. Anyway, there are a few important things about this cycle and getting the best out of it:

Continue reading »

Feb 13 2012


On Saturday evening I was browsing the TIGSource forums and came across this thread about making a game of Snake in ActionScript and sharing the source. It got me thinking, and I ended up spending the weekend making a Snake variant called Corpse Snake where you grow as normal and then score points by mutilating yourself. Go play it!

One thing I’ve noticed a lot of Snake clones do is that they make the play field really large and empty, so there’s very little pressure on the player to respond. I prefer to keep the pressure on – so Corpse Snake runs on a pretty tight 18×13 play field, it starts off with a few squares filled in around the edges, it has five apples to go for at any given time… and the play field gets smaller as you go. I hate to bang on about this, but it’s one of those situations where the size of the screen is really important.

I finally started playing with Pixel Bender on Sunday, which is basically a way of using GPU shaders in Flash. You can now look forward to every single game I make having shaders in. ALL OF THEM. 😀 I’ve been meaning to get into shader programming for a while: it’s basically how to make pretty things happen just with programming, which suits me fine. Layering Pixel Bender effects over the top of 2D games isn’t quite as fun as shader programming in 3D, but it’ll do for now.

Anyway – if you want to play around with Corpse Snake yourself, the source code’s at the bottom of the game’s page. You’ll just need FlashDevelop, HaXe and Sam HaXe. You’ll need the Pixel Bender toolkit as well if you want to muck about with the shader.