Brian Shaler

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Ludum Dare #23 48h Compo

Until Friday night, I had never heard of Ludum Dare, a global game development event celebrating its 10th anniversary. I found it via Reddit or Hacker News or Twitter or something, and discovered the event had kicked off 4 hours prior. Everyone participating in the Compo was given 48 hours to create a game from scratch around a theme announced that night. An alternate Jam competition has more relaxed rules, allowed teams, and ran for 72 hours. The theme was “Tiny Worlds,” which can be tricky when coming up with a compelling game idea. Fortunately, the theme and rules allow for pretty broad interpretation.

I wasn’t sure I would participate, but an idea popped into my head. Inspired in part by a segment of Dragon Ball Z Kai, I pondered what it would be like to jump from tiny planet to tiny planet. Mainly, what would happen to your perspective of “up” and “down” if you jump from the top of one planet to the bottom of another? The concept of “down” essentially just means “in the direction of the pull of gravity.” What drove me to want to build the game was the idea of making a 2D platformer where the directions up, down, left, and right are completely fluid and based on the gravitational pull of planets around the character.

Even though I haven’t used CoffeeScript or Processing.js before, I decided to try them out. Probably not a good idea on such a short timeline, but oh well.

The result was an auto-orienting 2D puzzle game where you have to jump from tiny planet to tiny planet to get to your goal before your oxygen runs out. You can walk around on planets and jump, but after leaving a planet’s surface, there is no longer any control over the character. That means if you miss a planet, you can drift off into space forever!

I finished an hour before the deadline and set up the game at PicoPlanets.com (a play on “pico” meaning one one-millionth, or 0.000001) and made the source code available on GitHub. You can also see screenshots and blog posts about the progress (“making of”) here on my Ludum Dare author page.

“Finally, a REAL Hungarian man”

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I was hanging out with a new friend I made in Budapest, via Twitter no less. A homeless guy approached us, stood in front of me and started speaking in Hungarian. My friend stepped in, speaking Hungarian to the man, gave him some change, and then the man left. My friend translated what the man had said to me. “Finally, a REAL Hungarian man!” My friend set him straight. Just a funny looking American.

In Hungary, almost every person on their paper currency features some sort of facial hair. Most of the statues, too, don mustaches and beards.

My handlebar mustache was uncommon among the people there,but it seemed to fit right in with their money and art. Their history.

I was a blast from the past.

Save or Shave Carl?

Last year, I participated in Movember, an annual world-wide charity event where men grow mustaches during the month of November to raise money and awareness for men’s health — prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Women have October for breast cancer awareness, and now men have November for male cancers.

At the end of November, I decided to keep the ‘stache and roll with it. I’m ready to give it up, but I’m going to give the charity fund raising one more push.

I figured it would be fun to allow people to choose whether or not I keep the mustache by casting votes with dollars. I might even throw a party in Phoenix (or should it be in SF?) to make the final decision and shave the mustache LIVE if “Shave Carl” gets more donations.

Check out SaveCarl.com or ShaveCarl.com for more details and to participate!

Code And Beats: Music Powered Twitter Wall

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to Code And Beats. I could’ve worked on work work. I could’ve worked on non-work work. But I didn’t do either. Instead, I experimented with some visual effects in Flash — combining video, audio input, and tweets.

By 2am, here’s what I had come up with! (I’ll post the code soon eventually)

Code & Beats: Music Powered Twitter Wall from Brian Shaler on Vimeo.

Fun stuff! I’m interested in seeing this event come to Phoenix. We just need to get the organizer (+developer +designer +DJ) Avi to fly out and then round up a few local DJs with some good electro material. Un tiss un tiss un tiss…

Also, here’s a separate pic I snapped of the Twitter wall:

Code And Beats: Music Powered Twitter Wall

Code And Beats: Music Powered Twitter Wall

I should’ve put together a video showing more of the background dancing clips. Some of them were pretty excellent!

Code and Beats

I found out yesterday that there’s going to be a rad event called “Code & Beats.” If it turns out to be as fun as it sounds, I’ll probably lobby to bring it to Phoenix.

Here’s the basic premise:

A party celebrating the art of programming through performance. A handful of hardcore coders from the city’s hottest startups will work in the center of a pounding dance floor to a musical journey of electro beats.

Some additional details: it sounds like the “hardcore coders” will be facing the dance floor, with external monitors mirroring their laptops and facing the dance floor. There may also be one or more projectors involved.

I’m going to experiment with some new visual Flash-based stuff, and will try to include the room’s music, a webcam, and/or tweets as inputs!

It should be exciting! Also, I’m probably going to open-source everything I write at the event and post it somewhere like GitHub.

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