About fishbrain

I am a lover of limitless creative freedom, and tightly restrained logic.

Born 1969. Nurtured by BBC micro, VIC 20 and Commodore 64. BASIC. 6502/6510/8088 Assembly. Amiga.


Ludum Dare 37
Ludum Dare 34
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 20
MiniLD 25
MiniLD 24

fishbrain's Trophies

The "Dead-or-Alive" Award
Awarded by nSun
on December 30, 2011

fishbrain's Archive

I’m in!…

Posted by
Sunday, December 11th, 2016 10:38 am

Well, basically done… unless I get to do some last minute additions/tweaks.

A simple old-school 8-bit Commodore 64 palette inspired adventure game called “Ukhu Pasha”. You are Maita, you must defeat the Incan God “Supay”, find his throne room, and plunder his treasure!unkhu_screen_shot_01 unkhu_screen_shot_02 unkhu_screen_shot_03


Posted by
Monday, April 29th, 2013 9:31 am

Yes, a submission has been achieved! :)

OK… went over time… so it’s entered as a “jam”.

The initial Mondrian-esque vision was abandoned.

A last minute “Twine” creation is the final project.

Play It Here.

SNAP – post mortem

Posted by
Sunday, January 6th, 2013 6:59 am












“You are the villain”. My immediate thoughts revolved around men in diabolical capes with greased back hair, big nose, moustache and evil cackling laughter. Railway tracks. Ladies in distress. Cartoons…

I put those thoughts to one side.

What I like most about the pressure of 48 hours is that allows one to take big creative risks. This, for me, is the most satisfying part of Ludum Dare. When I play other LD48 games what I most want to see is originality – a spark of brilliance born of panic and enthusiasm – a glimpse into a gaming universe which no sane gaming studio would seriously explore.

I wanted to create a game which, rather than shrank away from the grotesque possibilities of “you [the player] are the villain”, embraced it with perversion and panache.

The (admittedly obvious) theme of initiating a mass shooting grabbed my attention.

During day one of LD, as I progressed with my design, news came over the radio: a massacre had occurred in Newtown, USA; a massacre of mostly young children. A sad day for humanity.

I decided to pursue my current game idea regardless. But the tragic events at Newtown helped me focus on what I considered important to such a game concept.

There was to be no romanticism, and the game would itself accuse the player of being a coward.

The visuals would be abstract, a representation of a cold calculated killer. Killing shapes is easy – killing people not so.

There would be no screams from the victims, nor graphic spurts of blood, nor spasms of death – figures would simply fade, as if fading from memory, fading from consciousness.

The gun would not let out a satisfying “BANG!”, but would be a simple muted “click”.

All of this would help distance the player from the act, but the fascinating twist is that I wanted this abstract interpretation to represent a very literal interpretation of the mind of the killer. What you are seeing in this game IS what the killer sees. This is the only way the killer can shield him/herself from the awful truth.

There is also a simple blood overlay with opacity and movement changes which reflect the players current health. It begins to obscure the player’s vision as health gets critical. As the veil of blood descends, it fogs the player’s vision… disorientation… panic… a sense of inevitable death… and finally, an urge to die.

The only tenuous thread connecting the player with reality would be the background noise – a blend of street sounds and general panic. These sounds represent encroaching reality – the thin line between  the killer and victims – and would attempt to worm their way into the ear.

I am happy that most people seemed to pick up on this idea, with many comments reflecting upon these stylistic devices.


Did it work?

The fun challenge here as a game designer is to make this style work, while trying to embed the mechanics of a fun game.

I think I succeeded, in that if you take away the cosmetics, you are still left with a game. That being said, definite improvements could be made.

There are a couple of interesting mechanics used. The first, is that civilian targets score more than police targets, even though civilians can not defend themselves but police will fire at you. Presently, a civilian scores 10 points, while a police officer only scores 5. A miss costs you 1 point to discourage mouse mashing type play.

The second game mechanic is the suicide mechanic. There are many ways the suicide score calculation could work, and originally I wanted it to oscillate a little. But in the end I used this simple formula:

suicideBonus = Math.floor(health/4) + 10


There is an annoying bug somewhere which makes the shooting collision tests a bit iffy.

More graphic feedback for player health would be better. For example, the player foreground sprite dims/flashes when damaged/low health. I am a little disappointed I didn’t include this obvious idea in the original, as I think it’s a small addition that would make a lot of difference.

Some floating score indicators could help too, appearing when you shoot a target.

More graphic variety would is also an easy thing to add.




Play the game here.

Cracked the two hundred mark :)

Posted by
Monday, December 31st, 2012 12:38 am

…I’ve rated just over 200 games now :)

LD COMP RULES: allowing pre-existing (royalty free) content.

Posted by
Thursday, December 27th, 2012 5:42 am

I think the use pre-existing content, eg, royalty free images and sounds, should be allowed.

1) Publicly available code libraries are allowed.

I must admit that I myself never use pre-existing code or libraries and start all my projects from a blank canvas. I understand the rationale behind using such libraries – no need to reinvent the wheel – and I have no issue with it. But why doesn’t this reasoning apply to content? If I can use a royalty-free image of a simple space-invader why should I create it from scratch, especially if I have limited artistic ability?

Currently, this seems biased towards artists. Game developers are, above all, programmers; they may have some artistic ability, but first and foremost they must be able to program. Yet, we allow existing code libraries to be used.

Is it permissible to create, use and distribute a public code library which renders royalty free images or plays royalty free sounds?


2) “We want you to create something free of copyright restrictions” (from Competition Rules).

Surely, Ludum Dare is then the perfect place to delve into royalty free content then? It is a skill to find, assess, rework, and credit if necessary such content. This is the perfect place to practice such a skill, and a breach of copyright in the realms of a 48 hour programming competition is far preferable to a breach of copyright on release of a finished product.


3) “Photos and recordings you make of people or things are acceptable content, just you must acquire them during the competition.” (from Competition Rules).

Again, if coders complain of having to reinvent the wheel, isn’t this a far worse situation? For example, I want to use a siren. I now have to spend valuable time walking the streets, waiting for a police car to pass, while clutching a hand held recorder. It seems a bit unnecessary to me, when game development should be the priority – 48 hours is a much shorter time-frame when it comes to collecting media assets as compared to purely programming.

Can I ask a friend to play the assorted sound effects I need, and stand beside him with an audio recorder?


4) “Fonts, drum loops, drum samples, and sampled instruments are allowed IF you have the legal right to use them.” (from Competition Rules).

So samples are OK? So to circumvent the rules as they stand I can create a soundback of royalty free sound effects, package them together and claim that I am using an instrument?

I don’t see any practical difference between a “sampled instrument” and a “sample”.

I also don’t see any different between a character from a “font” (esp. wingdings) and an “image”.


I hope I’m not coming across as pedantic, or spoiling the “spirit of Ludum Dare”, but it seems to me that the current ruling as regards royalty free content fails for many reasons: It is difficult to “prove” if someone has used them or not; It is difficult to enforce; It can be circumvented in clever ways; It puts people with little or no graphic experience at a severe disadvantage.

There exist content generators, and one can procedurally create content – but why remove the option of pre-existing free content?


As an additional note, I love scrawly scratchy art and amusing sound fx generated solely for the competition – like people saying “BANG!”. Such content has it’s place, and it will always be used.


Any thoughts on this?

A century!

Posted by
Friday, December 21st, 2012 10:53 am

SOOO much LD gamey goodness…. HOORAH!…..  I’ve just reviewed my 100th game! :)


Posted by
Sunday, December 16th, 2012 9:28 am

I managed another dark LD entry. Go on a shooting rampage – blame the theme I’m afraid. I like to use LD to explore unusual themes, game mechanics, and ideas.

I was drawn to the idea of some interesting game mechanics. Innocent people are worth more points than police, although police can shoot at you and deal health damage.

I was also intrigued by the idea of a “Suicide Bonus”. If you die from wounds, you get no Suicide Bonus. If you suicide, you get a bonus based on your current health. But of course, if you suicide, you can no longer score points. So… when to suicide?

And then the Newtown tragedy happened, and made me feel sad and uncomfortable. RIP.


ss1 ss3

Something to do with moustaches… surely… ?

Posted by
Saturday, December 15th, 2012 3:00 am


Just add bad guys…

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 11:12 pm

Well, coming along nicely… a few things to do in terms of fleshing it out.

But I’m happy with some of the mechanics.

It’s “Asteroids” style, but with quasars (which have repulsive force) and planets (which have gravitational force) – these forces act upon your spaceship as well as your bullets. I’ve also added strafe (thrust left and right) commands which seem to work well and are quite fun.

Graphics and animation coming along but… er… at the moment there is no goal. I’m running out of time (as we all do of course) – I had various ideas to use the planets (bases on planets, rescue little people, ability to land on planets) but think I’m going to have to prioritize and add some bad guys for dog fighting first. It feels like the sort of game/controls where dog fighting will be good fun!


LD23… let’s go!

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 1:22 am

My computational desktop bits…


Android release of Fishslap

Posted by
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 7:33 am


Just a note to inform the general universe that ‘Fishslap’ (born from a mini LD) is now available for Android!











fishslap for android


I did it!

Posted by
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 1:00 pm

Managed to put something together in less than 24 hours! Post-mortem, reflection and analysis to come later.

It’s a dark piece of coding… but I’m happy with it…
fishbrain…. sleeeeeep… now


Thanks Ludum Dare!

Posted by
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 11:35 pm

Back in February, I took part in my first (mini) Ludum Dare. I created a game called “fishslap” which I was quite happy with. Simple, entertaining and fun… that was my philosophy.

Here’s a screenshot of the original version:













Here’s the link to the MiniLD-24 entry:


I spent the next few months reworking an ActionScript3 version, then an ActionScript3 mobile version – but I found that when I compiled it to iPhone performance was not good! In the end, I came up with something “acceptable”, but every single line of code, every graphic, every effect had to be painfully scrutinised in order to get a reasonable frame-rate.

So I bit the bullet… purchased a cheap Mac, and got into Corona SDK. Corona SDK is highly recommended! The language, Lua, has a lot of similarities to ActionScript… and performance is BLITZING!

Just a couple of days ago my final, and by far best version, of fishslap was accepted into the (Apple) App Store! WOOHOOOO! :)

Check it out…. there is a FREE version and a cheap .99c version.

Here’s some screen shots:
































Here’s a youtube link:


iTunes Link:


My website Link:


I still find it amazing that this game originally appeared from 48 hours work, with such competition limitations as “2 colours”, “1 button”, “fishing” and “reverse”(?) . This made me think of fishing, but from the fishes point of view. It motivated me to save up for equipment and software and get into mobile development, which (early days) I’m loving!

Hoping to be a part of LD21 :)


Thanks Ludumites!,



King of the Track

Posted by
Friday, May 13th, 2011 6:43 am

Yo LD’ers, coders and freakers,

Just sharing the news with a shameless plug…

There will be a juicy two-page-spread editorial about the game “Track King” in June’s edition of “Racing Victoria – Inside Racing” (Australian horse racing magazine).

Stoked! :)

“Track King” is a game that my friend and business partner created, with additional design and content from me, including flash based applications (RaceVision, Silks, DNA lab etc.). He covers the PHP/HTML bases. We’ve put in countless hours of work since TK was launched late 2007.

It’s a multiplayer online stable management game. We won BBG’s “Best Simulation 2009” award against some pretty tough competition.


Brass Monkey – Post Mortem

Posted by
Friday, May 13th, 2011 3:20 am

Brass Monkey – Post Mortem
A Treatise on Simian Semantics

What happened…

When I first heard the theme “It’s too dangerous to go alone. Take this!” I sort of shrivelled up and died. I had placed this right at the bottom of my list of preferred themes. It seemed too generic, too clichéd; it simply didn’t grab me.

The irony here being that a tight rigid theme allows more creativity than a vague theme.

I judge a theme by how quickly they evoke images, characters and game play. Many themes like “absorption” and “evolution” gave me instant visions into doors of wondrous possibility, but the final chosen theme gave me nothing – just a mental blank page.

So, being confused by this theme, I desperately wanted to steer clear of anything predictable, and of any concepts already done. (Perhaps I get a point for this… ).

I spent the entire first day thinking, scribbling, walking, and generally procrastinating. I spun yarns in my head about a far future monkey race of beings (a la Planet of the Apes). In this context, the player could then be given an ancient artefact of any design – this idea amused me greatly, and struck me as the crux of “escaping the usual”.

For some reason, a trumpet came to mind.

And of course, what would a monkey know of trumpets? Perhaps it is a hat (which was the original idea, and it is implemented in the game; but it bounces up and down so it’s not really very evident that it’s a hat).

Some idea I had involved Pied-Piper-esque scenarios… a silhouetted monkey dancing across a barren landscape, playing a trumpet, leading a multitude of rat-like post-apocalyptic mutants to their death.

Another idea was a kind of “simple simon” musical challenge, you would have to essentially “jam” with the enemies to defeat them.

After the end of the first 24 hours I was building a civilization in my head. This was fine if I wanted to write a novel, but I was supposed to be making a game.

But I am stickler for cohesion – the back-story of a game is important to me (he says, while typing a blog entry about a monkey playing a psychedelic trumpet).

At the end of the first day I had not written a single line of code.

THIS was a mistake.

Any code, any dirty code, any spaghettified mess of code is required at the end of day 1. Something. Something to get your project moving.

Instead I had done some “asset fishing”; this helps me think, and reflect upon ideas. So I grabbed certain CC/royalty free images that inspired me in some form or another, without really knowing what the final game was going to be.

This sort of random haphazard multi-sensory work flow is fine… unless you’ve only got 48 hours.

I slept on it.

I struggled the next day too, and played with assets – graphics and sound – still without any concrete ideas.

5.00pm on day two, I write my first line of code.

Something came together over those hours. Nothing amazing, but a nice little game that can be expanded upon. The submitted version lacks pace, and “powerups” – easy enough to address.

I’ve always been a great fan of Jeff Minter (a Commodore 64 guru of psychedelic gaming), and I wanted to add some of this flavour to “Brass Monkey”.

A couple of quick words regarding royalty free images… I wasn’t sure of the “legality” of this, it seems the consensus is I am not supposed to use them. I can understand how it’s not really “in the spirit” of the competition.

I remember reading some post where someone offered the general advice: “if it feels like you’re cheating, don’t do it”. I didn’t feel like I was cheating. And the silly thing is, if I were to use a publicly available AS3 library (like “flixel” I think it is) I WOULD feel like I was cheating.

But that’s just me, and it’s a bit silly, and it’s something I shall get over… I need to explore some of these libraries.

I’m from the “olden days” (not TOO old, but technology changes so fast doesn’t it?). Cut my teeth on programming machine language, by “hand” of course, for the 6502 chip on my Vic-20 (no assembler – manual opcode lookup, split addresses into low-byte/high-byte format, poke them into memory, and hope the machine doesn’t crash!). This is in about 1981, I was aged 12. My father is a programmer, so he helped and encouraged.

So, I was around for the excitement of the microcomputer revolution. Progressing from the Vic-20, to the Commodore-64 and then the Amiga (…oh, the Amiga, how I miss thee). So, I’ve always written my own libraries for everything, because computer were much simpler back then.

BUT all that being said…
I highly recommend the LD experience to anyone and everyone!
It IS challenging, but also great fun!
As difficult as I found this one, I still enjoyed the experience!

The one big thing out of the Ludum experience is the COMMUNITY.
It is so inspiring to see the work of others, and read about their experiences and ideas. It’s also amazing to see all the different technologies – for example, I wonder what it would be like to write a game in Python? I’ve no idea… but many out there do.

There is a real sense of comradery and community here!


My head hurts…

Posted by
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 11:56 am


well, I’ve managed to finish an LD20 entry! woohoo!
Of course, I would have liked to expand on it…

Afraid I can’t blog and thrash code at the same time – it hurts my head…
a post-binary-bender-blog will come later,

well done ludites!
look forward to checking out the games!

[cache: storing page]