Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Tying different timeslots together

I wish I knew what to say when people ask me what I do.

Sometimes I'll say I write video games, other times I'll say that I write books, or that I help people learn Welsh. Of course I do all three. Even that's getting too complicated, as I'm starting to write books about different things and in different languages.

I thought it'd be nice to have some way of tying everything together. Linking stuff if you like.

colin.cymru is the result. It's not so much a website (it isn't a website btw) but a series of links, which I can redirect over time.

So colin.cymru itself will currently take you to my personal website, while colin.cymru/books will magically whisk you away to my Amazon UK Author page, whereas colin.cymru/us will take you to my US Amazon Author page. That way I can leave links in various places and update their destinations if needed.

Brilliant, eh? For those of you who have an interest in such modern alchemy it's all made possible by a free and open source url shortener at yourls.org

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Return of Nintendo - One question for you all

At last - something to look forward to. The Nintendo Switch reveal made me realise just how much we've missed the gaming giant's presence over the past few years.

Will it be powerful enough to compete with the big 2 consoles? Will the battery last long enough for a decent gaming session? Will those little controllers get lost on the train?

Yes, too many questions right now. But just one question from me:

Do we want Mario back in all his gameplay glory on a decent console, or do we want him prostituting his inheritance in a dodgy series of casual games on the fag end of tablet gaming?

Where do I sign for that pre-order?

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The PiMan Speaks!

He wouldn't do it for money, he wouldn't do it for fame, but the total recluse formally known as the PiMan has been coaxed out of retirement. Why? The video explains all.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Slightly Magic Time!

What's the hour, you ask in rhyme - on your Pebble, it's Slightly Magic time!

Potassium Frog. Official watch designer to Bigwiz the Wizard.

Big day today. As well as Deus Ex Machina and Slighly Magic on Steam, we've got a third launch at the Pebble appstore.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Madness - You never can tell

Back, way back through the mists of time, when I was young and... oh, I dunno, let's not get maudlin.

Twas a dark and smokey night in Cardiff's Top Rank when Madness took over the timeslot with their blend of music hall, Ska and nutty storytelling. We never knew, that's the thing. We never could have known, who could?

Listening to their new track Mister Apples has made me realise - you never can tell. If you'd have asked me to predict which group from my youth I'd be listening to in the cold new world of 2016 I would never have said Madness. Funny that.

Still, it's very much welcome, and I'll take my medicine however it comes. 

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Clearing the Decks

It's been a funny few months, with a slew of new releases lined up for the Frog.

We'll be putting Deus Ex Machina and Slightly Magic on Steam, in their almost certainly final versions. Deus is down for 30th September release, and I'm toying with the idea of releasing Slightly Magic the same day, which happens to be my birthday.

I'd go so far as to say that both games are now the definitive versions, and that my two years or so programming them have mainly been well spent. They're both important games in my opinion, and it'll be a weight of my shoulders to see them given a proper release on PC, Mac and Linux.

There are another couple of surprises for Slightly Magic, but I'm still sworn to secrecy on that front. I thought I'd just write a few things about this final Legacy edition, while it's still fresh in my mind.

When I got Slightly back, me initial reaction was to sit down and take a good look at the game to see how the old fella looked. It had been 20 years or so since I'd played the game, and monitors have improved dramatically. I was shocked at how good the graphics looked, at least to me. Yes, they were retro, but because the game came in at the later end of the 8-bit machines' lifetime they still seem to hold up quite nicely. Chris Graham did a fantastic job, and to be honest I really wanted more people to see the game.

I thought the natural thing to do was to reprogram the game, clean up the original, remove a few machine-specific quirks and let others be the judge. Which is where we seem to be now.

Playing the final game yesterday afternoon, I realised just what I'd done - this game is better than the original. Yes, I dare to say, free from any nostalgia-tinted spectacles this is the version I'd want people to play - the PC, Mac & Linux Legacy Edition.

Why would that be, you might ask. The graphics, for one, don't flicker in play. Not just the Spectrum attribute-clash flicker, but flickers on screen redraws and speech and menu popups. Plus I do like the new in-game commentary option, because I'll never have the chance to do that again for the game.

Oh, and the save game, gamepad mapping and audio extras add a certain polish, which I think players of the original would have appreciated. Fast loading, crisp graphics and audio, and the experience of playing on a large tv with a wireless gamepad make for a very rewarding experience.

What next, after September, you might ask? Well I'll be running a Kickstarter starting August 15th, for a brand-new game featuring Slightly. More news on that very soon. It's a whole new format and a whole new style, but I'm hoping to carry Slightly's legacy forward.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Deus Ex Machina - The Final Cut

Quite a nice surprise this morning; an email letting me know that Deus Ex Machina, Mel Croucher's classic video game, had been accepted for inclusion on the Steam store. I programmed the C64 and MSX versions of the game in the 1980's and then agreed to do the same for the Anniversary Edition, which Potassium Frog released very recently.

It feels like we've finally got a proper release for the full desktop version - PC, Mac & Linux. Maybe the world's finally ready for Mel's dystopian nightmare, at least it'll be there for the curious few.

I let Mel know immediately, and we were soon wondering what extras we could add to this, almost certainly, final edition. It's making work for ourselves, of course, but we both want to send this one off with a splash.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Goodbye Slightly Magic?

A very strange feeling came over me last Friday afternoon; a mixture of melancholy and release.

I was uploading Slightly Magic to Steam for late summer release, when it struck me that this would be nearly the last time I'd be working on the game. I do have another format to program, about which I'm sworn to secrecy for the next month or so, but things are starting to feel pretty final.

Slightly Magic is 25 years old this year, and it seems very odd to be working on the game so long after its initial release. I remember at the time being a little uneasy about Slightly's future; I couldn't see that the game would be available for more than 5 years. After all, who was going to reprogram the thing after all the 8 and 16bit formats had died? I didn't expect it to be me, that's for sure.

So that's a Good Thing - that the game is still available, and soon to be given a shot in the arm by PC, Mac and Linux Steam release. I won't get my life back, because Slightly is already alive and well in a new game which is almost nearly ready to start demoing. In an odd way I feel I have a duty of care to look after him, if that makes any sense at all.

Good Things are numerous at the moment, as will soon become apparent, but I'm still feeling pretty down about the EU referendum result. Hard to fathom, for those of you who voted out I'm sure, but true nevertheless. I've also been writing some of the dialogue for Slightly's new game, which I noticed was a little lighter than I'd expected. I think I might be compensating for my general melancholy mood. 

Oh yes, and a funny thing about Slightly Magic. What I've realised, and didn't really expect, is that a lot of new players really appreciate the game. I thought at first they were just being polite, but people have seriously gone out of their way to ensure Slightly's debut on Steam and on Slightly Magic's next, final format. Thank you all, it really does make a difference.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Making of Slightly Magic

How fast does 25 years pass? In the blinking of an eye, I fear. For it really was 25 years ago that my game Slightly Magic was released. I'm always a little nervous when I release something new, but in Slightly's case I needn't have been. 

He's done me proud over the years, and so I couldn't let this anniversary pass without throwing a magical bean feast. Actually there'll be more than one magical event this year, but I'm sworn to secrecy on the others for a while.

However, as a party-starting taster for the awesomeness that's yet to come, a new full-colour art book is available now on Amazon. It's called 'The Making of Slightly Magic' and features some fascinating insights from myself together with the marvellous artwork of Chris Graham. It's well worth a look if you've an interest in games, retro or modern.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Unfinished News and the Time Flux Paradox

You'll have to bear with me on this, but it's been a surprising few weeks at Potassium Frog.

A couple of quite wonderful things have decided to come together which have almost made me squeal with delight. However, due to the nature of games design, secrecy pacts and the Time Flux Paradox I can't say anything about these things for quite a while yet.

Writing games is a funny business. Anything I'm working on now won't generally see the light of day for a few months, years, or possibly decades. And even some things which I could talk about are probably best left for now, because it's just too early.

The trouble with that box of lice is that I tend to get bored with anything I can actually talk about since I probably finished with that months, years or decades ago. That's the Time Flux Paradox in a nutshell. Ho hum.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

How I became a best-selling author

Yes, it took me by surprise too; one of the perks of occasionally writing in Welsh, I guess.

'Coed Y Brenin' is a book I wrote a while ago, for Welsh learners. I'd never published it until 2016 as I wasn't happy with the format. It was originally Welsh and English side-by-side, but I thought that people were in danger of becoming a little lazy.

Anyhow, the book seemed to fill a need, as ten days or so after release it found itself at the top of the Amazon UK Welsh-language e-books chart.

Croeso i Aberarthur, pentref bach cysglyd yn y De. 
Mae llawer o bobl yn byw yma, ac mae stori gyda phob un. Credwch chi fi.

Welcome to Aberarthur, a small sleepy village in the South. Lots of people live here, and each has a story. Believe you me.

Apparently Aberarthur is a fictional village, in that it exists only in my mind. The funny thing is that as you read this book it will exist in your mind too, but entirely through the medium of Welsh.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Where does the future go to die?

The future is an unwritten country. I think that's what Timmy Flux said on the Deadpan Channel last night.

Me, I've got a ton of unfinished business to trifle with and a collection of papers to rifle through which claim to be my diary. Like they say, if you can even remember there was a Tranquil Generation you are almost certainly confused. Even way back then, in the Endless Summer of Tomorrow.

So where does the future go to die? And how come there are people in my diary who I've never even met, at least that's what they tell me.

I write this from my cell in Amnesia Towers, where the guards are very kind, on the third Tuesday of each month. There's a shadow on my window, and an echo of a daydream on the radio; Tom Thugg and the Violets sing a golfing melody like they always did, even way back then. When?

If a tree falls in a barbershop and there's no-one there to plant it, does it really rain on the moon? And just what is the sound of one hand scratching, and why do stars suddenly disappear, every time you walk by?

Donny Moonshot, April 2016

Friday, 5 February 2016

It's what he would have wanted

Went to a taxi-driver's funeral yesterday.

The hearse double parked outside the house and beeped the horn to let the mourners know it was there.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Your Stars - Feb 2016

I don't believe in Astrology, but apparently that's because I'm a Libra. Anyhow...

Squirrius, the Nutcollector

Your cusp is on the ascendant. Prepare to meet thy matchmaker.
Lucky Fish: Pollock

Scabies, the Elephant

You enter the room, but everyone ignores you.
Lucky Dog: Ralph, the Spaniel

Doorbell, the Debtcollector

Beware of falling marionettes.
Lucky Skin Condition: Dandruff

Friday, 8 January 2016

This is a lazy game, but what's wrong with lazy?

Something struck me the other day when looking through the comments for Cheshire's Cheese Nightmares on Steam Greenlight. Some people seemed to be implying that it was a lazy game.

That statement probably sums up the game quite well, I thought, but probably for different reasons. 

What's wrong with lazy?

We wouldn't call a musician lazy for recording a song with a single guitar and vocals. We wouldn't call an artist lazy for producing a sketch or a quick watercolour. So why is a video game lazy for not trying to be anything else other than a half-hour or so of easy relaxation? Lazy gameplay; relax and unwind.