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The Tour Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Friday, August 28th, 2015 1:59 pm

I originally posted this on my blog HERE, but I’m reposting for any Ludum Dare folks who want to read it.

HERE is a link to my game, and HERE is a link to my Ludum Dare entry page.

To explain my game, I should first talk a little bit about Arlington Cemetery (that’s not a sentence you hear every day, and no, I didn’t intend a pun on the word postmortem). Arlington is a cemetery for the American military, and it dates all the way back to the Civil War. It holds around 400,000 bodies and is open to the public.

I’m not a patriotic or pro-military guy, but I live a few miles away from Arlington, so I’ve been there a few times. Visiting goes something like this: you walk around reading the graves, and you get little windows into the lives of the people buried in them. Maybe this guy died when he was 23 during World War 1, and then his widow lived another 60 years before she was buried next to him. Maybe this woman died in 2012, but she was younger than you. The graves become more than just a meaningless big number, and they start being stories. Each one could be a movie: would that movie be funny? Sad? Romantic? Tragic?

For example, a guy named Arthur Walk served in both world wars, then died in 1953. His wife died 3 days later. What’s their story?

Thinking about just one of those stories is enough to stop you for a second, but then you look up and find yourself surrounded from one horizon to another by graves. Each one is a story. Each one is a person. And you start to feel something that I can’t quite explain: partially guilty, partially complicit, partially sad. No matter what your political views are, it’s a harrowing experience.

And I wanted to recreate that feeling with my game.

(I should note here that I wasn’t trying to make my game fun. I wanted to make a “serious game” that felt heavy and somber, not a funny or light-hearted game at the expense of anybody.)

My plan was to visualize data from Arlington using satellite images, and I figured that somebody had probably collected data on positions of graves and information on who was buried there. I had myself a plan. Time to Ludum Dare!

The Map

My original idea was to use a single “high resolution satellite image” (whatever that is) and then figure out grave positions from that, but my googling didn’t turn up any images that I could use, plus I wasn’t even sure how I’d figure out the positions.

So I quickly switched gears and decided to use a piece of mapping software. I’ve been using the GWT Google Maps API at work, and I’ve been trying to get better at JavaScript, so I decided to try my hand at using the GoogleMap JavaScript API.

That turned out to be pretty simple to use. Here is all the code you need to create a google map and add a circle to it:

map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById('map'), {center: {lat: 38.876870, lng: -77.067524}});
var circle = new google.maps.Circle({
strokeColor: "red",
strokeOpacity: 1,
strokeWeight: 1,
fillOpacity: 0,
map: map,
center: {lat:, lng: element.lng},
radius: .5

I wasn’t very thrilled with the maximum zoom allowed by a google map: I wanted to make the view as close to “really being there” as I could, and google’s maximum zoom leaves you at a bird’s eye view. I tried other mapping APIs, but there maximum zooms were even worse. I then tried some kludges involving zooming in using CSS, but that just made the map really buggy. Oh well, I guess I had to live with the bird’s eye view.

The Controls

Now that I had some mapping software, I had to hammer away randomly carefully develop controls that felt more like a game than a map. Step one was disabling all of the default controls, which turned out to be very easy:

map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById('map'), {
center: {lat: 38.876870, lng: -77.067524},
minZoom: 20,
zoom: 20,
mapTypeId: google.maps.MapTypeId.SATELLITE,
draggable: false,
zoomControl: false,
scrollwheel: false,
disableDoubleClickZoom: true,
disableDefaultUI: true,
streetViewControl: true

This made it so the player couldn’t just relocate the map or zoom it out even further. After locking down the map, step two was adding controls.

One of the nice things about using Google Map’s JavaScript API is that I get a lot of things out of the box: I just tell the map where to display, and it handles the rest. So all I really had to do was figure out the starting latitude and longitude, store those in variables, and change those variables to change the player’s position.

My first take was to use the obvious arrow keys: up goes north, left goes west, etc. I would just add or subtract a tiny amount from the latitude or longitude and recenter the map there. That worked, but it didn’t feel like you were on the ground. So I decided to have the up arrow go straight, and the left and right arrows turn the direction the player was facing. Now recentering the map just required a tiny bit of trig:

function goNorth(){
var speed = .000001;
var deltaX = Math.cos(angle*(Math.PI/180)) * speed;
var deltaY = Math.sin(angle*(Math.PI/180)) * speed;
map.setCenter(new google.maps.LatLng(map.getCenter().lat()+deltaY, map.getCenter().lng()+deltaX));

And drawing the “player” (which is just a pointer) was a tiny bit more of trig:

function redoIcon(){


var radius = .00005;

var leftX = map.getCenter().lng() + Math.cos((angle-135)*(Math.PI/180)) * radius;
var leftY = map.getCenter().lat() + Math.sin((angle-135)*(Math.PI/180)) * radius;

var rightX = map.getCenter().lng() + Math.cos((angle+135)*(Math.PI/180)) * radius;
var rightY = map.getCenter().lat() + Math.sin((angle+135)*(Math.PI/180)) * radius;

var coordinates = [
{lat:leftY, lng: leftX},
{lat:map.getCenter().lat(), lng: map.getCenter().lng()},
{lat:rightY, lng: rightX}

marker = new google.maps.Polyline({
strokeColor: "red",


One of my primary goals was to have this work on mobile, so I had to add some buttons outside of the map instead of the arrow keys. I wanted the controls to respond continuously, so you could hold down a button instead of pushing it a million times. To do that, I set up a little game loop that checked the status of which button was pressed and then did the correct thing:

function checkMovement(){
if(steps == 10){
steps = 0;

if(angle > 360){
angle = 0;

if(angle < 0){
angle = 360;

setInterval(checkMovement, 16);

The Data

All of that is fine and dandy, but it’s all for nothing if I can’t find the data to back it up. I just sorta assumed that somebody would have collected this data already. And that assumption turned out to be correct: Arlington Cemetery has a web API!

I was pretty surprised by this, but it was exactly what I was looking for. The web API allows you to put together URLs like this one:*&f=pjson

Notice the 123456 part of that URL. That’s the identification number of a particular grave, and visiting that url gives you data on that grave:

"attributes" : {
"OBJECTID" : 123456,
"SDSFEATURENAME" : "Government Headstone",
"SDSFEATUREDESCRIPTION" : "Arlington National Cemetery",
"INTERMENTID" : "38:5097:_:_:_"
"geometry" : {
"x" : -8579530.4255054388,
"y" : 4705019.6584724095

Those x and y values turn out to be esri arcGIS MapPoint coordinates, so I had to convert them to latitude and longitude using code I found from this StackOverflow answer:

private static Point2D.Double toLatLng(Point2D.Double pnt)
double mercatorX_lon = pnt.getX();
double mercatorY_lat = pnt.getY();
if (Math.abs(mercatorX_lon) < 180 && Math.abs(mercatorY_lat) < 90) return pnt; if ((Math.abs(mercatorX_lon) > 20037508.3427892) || (Math.abs(mercatorY_lat) > 20037508.3427892))
return pnt;
double x = mercatorX_lon;
double y = mercatorY_lat;
double num3 = x / 6378137.0;
double num4 = num3 * 57.295779513082323;
double num5 = Math.floor((double)((num4 + 180.0) / 360.0));
double num6 = num4 - (num5 * 360.0);
double num7 = 1.5707963267948966 - (2.0 * Math.atan(Math.exp((-1.0 * y) / 6378137.0)));
mercatorX_lon = num6;
mercatorY_lat = num7 * 57.295779513082323;
return new Point2D.Double(mercatorX_lon, mercatorY_lat);

Now, collecting the positions for every grave in Arlington was a single for loop. I wrote a Java program that started at identification number 1 and looped to the last identification number, visiting the URL for each identification number and collecting the data for that grave. This process took about **12 hours** (that’s how many graves there are!), so I left that cooking overnight.

After I had all of the grave data collected, I had to collect all of the data for the people buried in those graves. The grave data contains a INTERMENTID value, which can be used with the Arlington web API to cross-reference graves with the people buried in them. For example, I could put together this URL to find the people buried in the above grave:,PrimaryFirstName&sortOrder=asc&&start=0&method=IntermentsRender

That URL gives you information on the person (or people) buried in that grave:

{"BRANCHOFSERVICE":"US ARMY","COLUMN":"","COURT":"","DOB":"04\/06\/1890 00:00","DOD":"03\/14\/1959 00:00","DOI":"03\/19\/1959 00:00","GRAVE":"5097","IMAGEURL":"headstone_image_id_175469_front.jpg|http:\/\/\/AttachmentRetrieve.aspx?AttachmentKey=254324,headstone_image_id_175469_back.jpg|http:\/\/\/AttachmentRetrieve.aspx?AttachmentKey=254326","ISS_ID":175469,"LOCATIONID":"38:5097:_:_:_","NICHE":"","PRIMARYFIRSTNAME":"ADAM","PRIMARYLASTNAME":"LITVINS","PRIMARYMIDDLENAME":"","RELATIONSHIP":"Unspecified","SECTION":"38","SUFFIX":""}

Now came another for loop: I wrote another Java program that looped over every grave I had already collected, got its intermentID, then used the web API to get all of the people with a matching locationID. That process took another 18 hours!

After I had collected all of the grave and person data, I wrote a third Java program that combined them into a single JSON array of people and their grave positions, and saved that to a file. This is the file that my program would actually use.

Loading the Data

The data file I created was JSON, so loading it in JavaScript was just a matter of using ajax to get the file, then using the parse() function to create an array of objects, then looping over those objects and adding them to a data structure to use when checking against the player’s position:

function loadData(){
var xmlhttp=new XMLHttpRequest();
if (xmlhttp.readyState==4 && xmlhttp.status==200){
var graves = JSON.parse(xmlhttp.responseText);

for(var i = 0; i < graves.length; i++){
graves[i].x = graves[i].lng;
graves[i].y = graves[i].lat;
graves[i].width = 0;
graves[i].height = 0;

This worked, but the data file was about 250 MB, so it took a couple minutes to load when you started the game. No player wants to wait that long, so I had to load the data in smaller pieces.

To split the data up, I created a fourth Java program that organized the data into 10 files instead of 1. This program split the positions up into “rings” by checking their distance from the player’s starting position. That way, the first file would contain the graves closest to the player’s starting position, the second file would contain the graves in the second-closest ring, etc.

int[] counts = new int[20];
boolean[] added = new boolean[20];

FileWriter[] fw = new FileWriter[20];
for(int i = 0; i < fw.length; i++){
fw[i] = new FileWriter("C:\\Users\\Kevin\\Desktop\\TheTour\\data_" + i + ".json");

outer: for(String graveNumber : gravesMap.keySet()){
JSONObject grave = gravesMap.get(graveNumber);

double graveX = grave.getDouble("lng");
double graveY = grave.getDouble("lat");

for(int i = 1; i < 20; i++){
if(Point2D.distance(centerX, centerY, graveX, graveY) < i*ringDistance){

counts[i-1]+= grave.getJSONArray("people").length();

added[i-1] = true;
continue outer;

added[19] = true;


counts[19]+= grave.getJSONArray("people").length();

for(int i = 0; i < fw.length; i++){

Now that I had the data split up into multiple files, I used a recursive ajax call to load the files one at a time:

function loadData(loadingIndex){

var xmlhttp=new XMLHttpRequest();
if (xmlhttp.readyState==4 && xmlhttp.status==200){
var graves = JSON.parse(xmlhttp.responseText);
for(var i = 0; i < graves.length; i++){
graves[i].x = graves[i].lng;
graves[i].y = graves[i].lat;
graves[i].width = 0;
graves[i].height = 0;
if(loadingIndex < 11){
};"GET","data/data_" + loadingIndex + ".json",true);

This worked out, because now the graves closest to the player’s start position loaded much faster. And as the player moved around, the graves further away were being loaded in the background.

Quadtree of Graves (would make a sweet band name)

My game’s algorithm went something like this:

– Determine the player’s latitude and longitude based on what keys or buttons they were pressing.
– Center the map at that position.
– Find graves near that location and display information about the people buried in them.

That last step worried me, because I knew that iterating over 400,000 graves and checking their positions against the player’s position every time the player moved would bog down my game too much. I thought about [different ways to store the data]( that would make accessing it faster.

I decided to just use a Quadtree, specifically this JavaScript quadtree implementation. A quadtree is good at telling you which positions are **not** near you, so it cut back on the number of checks I had to do when figuring out which graves were near the player.

This turned out to be overkill, since simply looping over them ended up being surprisingly fast, but oh well, at least I can say I’ve used a quadtree now.

Visualizing the Data

I had all of the pieces put together: loading the data, getting the player’s position based on user input, getting the graves near that position, and getting the data on the people in those graves. The last part was visualizing those people.

I created a function that took a person and return an html component that showed that person’s information:

function createPersonDiv(person){
var personDiv = document.createElement("div");
personDiv.className = "personDiv";

var nameP = document.createElement("p");
nameP.appendChild(document.createTextNode(nameCase(person.firstName) + " " + nameCase(person.middleName) + " " + nameCase(person.lastName) + " " + person.suffix));

var branchP = document.createElement("p");

if("Unspecified" != person.relationship){
var relationshipP = document.createElement("p");

if(person.dob != null){
var dobP = document.createElement("p");
dobP.appendChild(document.createTextNode("Born: " + person.dob.substring(0, 10)));

if(person.dod != null){
var dodP = document.createElement("p");
dodP.appendChild(document.createTextNode("Died: " + person.dod.substring(0, 10)));

if(person.doi != null){
var doiP = document.createElement("p");
doiP.appendChild(document.createTextNode("Interment: " + person.doi.substring(0, 10)));

if(person.imageUrl != null){
for(var si = 0; si < person.imageUrl.split(",").length; si++){ var imageLink = document.createElement("a"); imageLink.href = person.imageUrl.split(",")[si].split("|")[1]; var imageImg = document.createElement("img"); imageImg.className = "tombstoneImage"; imageImg.src = person.imageUrl.split(",")[si].split("|")[1]; imageLink.appendChild(imageImg); personDiv.appendChild(imageLink); } } return personDiv; }

Whenever the player moved, I just called this function with the people buried nearby. Putting it all together, it looks like this:

ss5 (Custom)

What went well?

I came in with a goal of visualizing the graves from Arlington, and I think I achieved that goal. My end result is very close to what I was picturing in my head before I started. I’m pretty pleased with how well everything came together: there weren’t very many moments of pounding my fists against the keyboard. The hardest part was remembering which directions latitude and longitude represented (I ended up in Antarctica many times), and for the most part development went pretty smoothly.

I’m particularly proud of my solution for splitting up the data. I realized pretty late in the game that loading the whole thing wasn’t going to work, which gave me a split-second of panic. But my solution was pretty simple and low-tech, and more importantly- it worked. Even more importantly, “recursive ajax call” just sounds cool.

Best of all, a few people seem to “get it” and are leaving comments like:

This is great. Chilling and pointed interpretation of the theme. I like it as a proof of concept, and I think there’s lots to explore here. I hope you continue with this project.

This is really powerful. I can’t say I enjoy it, but it really nailed the theme.

An interesting and original idea. I’m not so much into data visualization but I think bringing this to the jam is amazing and surprising. 5* for innovation :-)

Leaving the theme up to the “player” was the right thing to do. There’s a lot to take from this if you give yourself some time to think it over. I’d expect anyone who did so would likely find something different than the next person.

What didn’t?

One of my primary goals for this was for it to work on mobile devices. and that fueled a bunch of decisions I made. However, that failed miserably: the data (even split up into multiple files) seems to be too much for a mobile browser, so it crashes. Even if it didn’t crash, the user interface is nowhere near as smooth as desktop, so the buttons aren’t very responsive. It’s basically unplayable on mobile, which is a bummer.

It’s not very fun. I never intended it to be a ball pit, but I wanted it to be enthralling, not boring. One of the things I tell people when rating their games is that they should make their players feel fast- just moving around in the world should be interesting. I failed to follow my own advice here. I did that on purpose- I wanted the player’s speed to be about the same as actually walking around in real life, but that feels painfully slow when looking at it from a bird’s eye view. If you could just zoom to the other side of the cemetery, that’s defeating the whole point. In fact, the player’s speed is closer to a car, but it still feels too slow. I’m not sure how to get the right balance between “slow enough to take it all in” and “interesting to use”.

It’s not a game. I knew this wasn’t going to be Mario, but this is Ludum Dare after all, so I probably should have worked a little harder to add goals or something. I considered adding something like a scavenger hunt, maybe taking a tour or finding famous graves:

ss4 (Custom)

It’s not very personal. I wanted to really invoke the feeling of “these graves are people, these people have stories”, and I think I partially achieved that. But it still feels a little more like data than it does stories about people. I thought about adding a “google me” link to each person. But it’s amazing how much is just lost to history. Now that everybody is on facebook, it’s easy to forget how little data is available on people who were around before the internet.

I didn’t explain it very well. I wanted to leave it up to the player- some people might feel pride, some people might be horrified, etc. But by not explaining at all, I’m afraid that most people just won’t “get” it at all, move around for a couple seconds, and then hit the back button. I think a lot of people won’t even know what they’re looking at. I guess I should have made more of a statement instead of leaving the player with no information.

Wrap it up

Overall, I’m pleased with the results, and if nothing else, this is a good start to a more polished final product. That’s the whole point of Ludum Dare, so in that way I succeeded.

The Dare

I thought it would be interesting to list every single thing I googled (you can find your search history here) throughout Ludum Dare, in order. Gulp, here goes:

arlington cemetery grave information by lat long
arlington cemetery get grave information by lat long
arlington cemetery get grave information
arlington cemetery grave information
arlington cemetery grave listing
list of people buried in arlington cemetery
arlington cemetery grave list
arlington cemetery LOCATIONID lat long
arlington cemetery LOCATIONID
arlington cemetery api LOCATIONID
arlington cemetery api
lat long -8579114.7468382735, 4703637.7785233567
arlington cemetery grave id location
java json
200000 seconds
200000 seconds to hours
java filewriter append
esriGeometryPoint to lat long
convert esriGeometryPoint to lat long
web mercator
web mercator viewer
esriGeometryPoint spatial reference
WGS_1984_Web_Mercator_Auxiliary_Sphere to lat long
convert esriMeters to lat long
latitude longitude map
google maps
java json
java read text from url
google maps javascript max zoom
json java
json validator
30000 seconds to minutes
30000 seconds to hours
javascript map api
javascript map api
html css zoom
css scale
arlington national cemetery satellite view
arlington national cemetery satellite view
arlington national cemetery high resolution satellite images
google maps api increase max zoom
google maps api maximum zoom level
google maps api go beyond maximum zoom level
google maps css zoom
css scale
javascript set css of element
css transform-origin
google maps api disable user interaction
javascript hold in button
javascript mouse down
google maps api set center
efficient storage of lat lng points
javascript listen for arrow keys
googlemaps api marker
googlemaps api marker
googlemaps api marker icons
google maps rotation
javascript max memory
windows 8 prevent restart after update
windows 8 find when computer will restart after update
your pc will automatically restart today if you don't restart now
javascript quad tree

java read text from file
Exception in thread "main" java.nio.charset.MalformedInputException: Input length = 1
eclipse increase memory
eclipse increase memory run configuration
eclipse vm arguments xmx
java bufferedreader file
arthur walk 04/11/1895
elsie walk 11/29/1892
Arthur Richard Walk
javascript ajax
javascript json
amazon s3 access-control-allow-origin
javascript json
googlemaps api point
latitude longitude map
javascript array
javascript create element
css div attachment
javascript get element by class
javascript get element by id
javascript clear element children
javascript check if undefined
javascript string to lower case
javascript element add class
doi date of internment
doi date of interment
date of interment
define: interment
javascript string split
javascript create img element
javascript create a href
css overflow scroll
Lloyd Patterson us army 11/24/1934
Lloyd Patterson us army died 11/24/1934
Lloyd Patterson us army died 11/24/1934 arlington
walter thomas us army 06/19/1933
walter thomas us army 06/19/1933 arlington
walter thomas 06/19/1933 arlington
javascript cos
javascript to radians
topdown person sprite
topdown person sprite
javascript google map polygons
javascript quadtree
javascript onkeyup
javascript setinterval

javascript button onmousedown
javascript function
javascript onmousedown
javascript inline function
ajax maximum length
latitude longitude map
(-77.082348) + 0.030384
(38.891929) + 0.030384
(38.891929) + 023987
(38.891929) + .023987
(38.891929) - .023987
javascript quadtree
(-77.082348) + 0.030384
(38.867942) + 0.023987
2.5 gigs / 10
2.5 gigs / 100
250 mb /10
how much memory can a website use?
json validator
javascript array append all
javascript google map rectangle
arlington cemerery
javascript android onmousedown
html favicon
google maps javascript street view

I dare you to post your google search history from Ludum Dare weekend!

Deploying Processing: use SvgExe!

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Thursday, April 24th, 2014 3:32 pm

Hello fellow Processing developers!

As you prepare your toolset for this weekend, you might realize that the latest version of Processing removed the ability to export to multiple platforms! That means if you’re on a Windows computer, people with a Mac or Linux computer won’t be able to run your game.

Boo! That’s terrible in a place like Ludum Dare where the ability to deploy to multiple systems is a MUST.

Luckily, there’s hope. I’ve created a tool called SvgExe (yes I am terrible with naming things) that takes your Processing sketch and exports a self-extracting runnable jar that can be deployed to ANY system. Just use the simplified step-by-step interface and you don’t have to worry about it.

And this isn’t *just* me shamelessly self advertising. SvgExe has been included as an official Processing tool, which means you can get it directly from the Processing editor:

The homepage for SvgExe is here:

And a tutorial on exporting a Processing sketch is here:

Let me know if you have any questions about getting it working, the easiest way to reach me is on twitter @StaticVoidGames!

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Monday, April 22nd, 2013 4:19 pm

I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 overall rated Ludum Dare games of all time!

View it here: Top Ten Ludum Dare Games

Is this a handy “what to do” guide, or a way to waste time before Ludum Dare starts on Friday? You decide!

Warmup Weekend = Perfect Time to Make a Holiday Game!

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Friday, December 7th, 2012 3:02 pm

Static Void Games just started doing monthly themes, where any games made with the month’s theme will get a place on the front page. December’s theme is HOLIDAYS!

So if you’re making a Java or Processing game for this Warmup weekend, it’s a perfect excuse to make a holiday game and get on the front page of Static Void Games! Then if you like how the site works, you can use it for your hosting during Ludum Dare next weekend!

For more info, check out the explanation. Either way, happy jamming!

For every Charity Game Jam game uploaded to Static Void Games this weekend, I’ll donate 10 (US) dollars to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. So even if you don’t have any money to spare, just uploading a game will help out! Have a friend who might want to participate? Get them to make a game too!

I’m doing this partly because I might not be able to enter myself (schoolwork calls), partly to raise some awareness about the site, but mostly because it seems like a cool thing to do.

Static Void Games does only support Java and Processing games, so if you aren’t a Java developer yourself, maybe you know somebody who is?

The small print: I don’t anticipate any problems, but I think it’s important to be honest up front- I reserve the right to not count games that seem to be taking advantage of this system- the same game multiple times, for example, or a game that doesn’t actually load anything. I’m just a regular guy, not a company with a big budget, so be cool! Also, I’ll probably put a cap of $100 or so on my total donation, but I’d love to reach that cap!

Hey all,

I’m currently working on a project for school involving content generation in game jams. It would be quite helpful if I could start off my presentation with examples of Ludum Dare games that use content generators. So if any of your games (past or present) use a content generator, let me know!

The games don’t have to be popular or successful, and the content generation can be as simple as a random level creator. Basically I’m just trying to show that hand-coding levels is too time consuming for game jams and that people use content generators to prototype a game instead.

It’s not too late to do the October Challenge!

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Friday, October 26th, 2012 1:27 pm

Did you want to participate in Ludum Dare’s October Challenge, but couldn’t find the time or couldn’t figure out a good way to handle payments with your current development approach? Or maybe you’ve never written a “real” game before and thought it was more than you could handle? It’s not too late!

As some of you might be sick of hearing about by now, I’m developing a website specifically for indie Java (and Processing) developers who want an easy way to showcase their games- and make money! I spent my October updating the site’s look and feel and making things more obvious, so check it out at

Developers can specify an ad code for their games, and they get 100% of any revenue they generate. Getting an ad code is as easy as signing up for a google adsense account!
So if you still want to try out the October Challenge, maybe think about using Static Void Games! You could upload some old games, or spend this weekend doing your own mini-challenge.

Think about what you could do by October 31st with a theme of Halloween!

The Debate

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Monday, August 27th, 2012 5:46 pm

I only had about 4 hours to start and finish a game, but I did it. I’m glad, because I was pretty bummed about missing out on such an awesome theme.

It’s pong between Darwin and Jesus- the winner finally decides the debate between science and religion!

Yes, it’s ridiculous, but maybe it says a little something about the conversation, I don’t know.

Play it if you feel like it! Link:


Religious quotes wanted!

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Monday, August 27th, 2012 5:06 pm

I’m finishing up my jam game, and I just need some quotes on religion and spirituality, especially in regard to science and evolution. Anybody have any favorites?

I’m more in need of quotes in support of religion and spirituality, so those are especially welcome!

LWJGL Testers Wanted!

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Friday, August 24th, 2012 12:46 pm

Hello fellow Ludum Darers,

I just added support for LWJGL to the Java hosting site I run, Static Void Games.

It seems to work for me, and I have a tiny example “game” to prove it:

But I don’t actually know anything about LWJGL, so I’d love if somebody could test it out by uploading a real game that uses LWJGL and making sure it works as both an applet and a webstart. If you don’t want to actually host the game there, you can always delete it afterwards. For more info, I posted a short blog entry here.



Hello fellow Ludum Dare-ers! Warning: blatant self-advertising ahead!

As some of you may know, I run a website devoted to indie game programming in Java and Processing at I’ve designed the site with programming contests like Ludum Dare in mind. You no longer have to worry about time-consuming deployment or web development, so you can spend more time focusing on the fun part- actually making your game!

Just follow the step-by-step uploader, and you have a decent-looking website showcasing your game as an applet, a webstart, and a downloadable jar. At the very least, it’s better than putting your game on dropbox or mediafire. Not only is it free, but developers can actually specify their own ad codes to make money off their games!

I’m working on adding new features (I just added a notification system) and tutorials all the time. I’m very open to suggestions and I love hearing your feedback! But even as-is, the site is useful to both pros who don’t feel like dealing with deployment and web development (especially during the crunch time of Ludum Dare) and complete novices who want to take a look at the tutorials and source of real games for help.

So, check it out!

Good luck during Ludum Dare!

Black Sheep

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Sunday, July 15th, 2012 6:33 pm

I spent the weekend programming a puzzle game called Black Sheep. The goal is to fight the herd’s mob mentality and escape the pasture!

Edit: Although the submission period had expired (it was only 9PM, I swear!), I emailed Folis and he gave me a link to the submit page and I was able to upload my game!

Check it out here: Black Sheep

Designing Puzzles is HARD

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Friday, July 13th, 2012 8:00 pm

I’ve got the basic engine behind my game done- you control a black sheep, and each level is a pasture you’re trying to escape. But the pasture also contains other sheep (and shrubs) that can get in your way. The other sheep move when you do, and different sheep can move differently (some with you, some opposite you, some always left, etc)- so you have to use the herd’s mentality against itself to get to the goal.

The pre-art version of the game looks something like this:

The trouble is, designing puzzles is REALLY HARD. I don’t know where to go from here. I have a few puzzles that explain the basic principles of the game, but I’m hitting a dead end when I try to come up with meaningful, not-too-hard, not-too-easy puzzles. I thought this would be the easy part!

Any suggestions on how to design puzzles? Any ideas come to mind that I might expand upon?

MiniLD 34: Radar Defense

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Sunday, May 20th, 2012 8:23 pm

I just uploaded my entry to this weekend’s mini-LD, check it out if you feel like it:

Defend the radar station! Detect incoming enemies, click to launch a missile, and last as long as you can!

Thanks Ludum Dare

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Monday, May 14th, 2012 1:34 pm

Since the front page seems to be full of posts complaining about something or other, I’d just like to extend a thank you to the organizers of Ludum Dare. You took a small event and grew it into a worldwide community, and that’s awesome. I want to buy every single one of you a beer.

As far as I can tell, Ludum Dare doesn’t make any money, so it’s still just a few people doing this for free (or at expense) in their spare time. So if you want to complain and suggest changes, remember that nobody forced you to participate, and maybe donating a few dollars would make it a little easier for somebody to take time out of his/her busy schedule to try to meet your demands.

The point is not to win or to meticulously figure out what ratings you got and whether or not any of this is “fair”. You made a game in 2 days. You played a bunch of games that other people created in 2 days. Maybe you became twitter friends with some like-minded people in the community. Isn’t that awesome enough? Celebrate, move on, make more games, improve your craft, and reconvene in 3 months (or in 4 days).

“But we’re just trying to improve ourselves and offer suggestions!” Okay. That’s cool, I get it, and I’m not really criticizing that. I just wanted to offer a positive “great job!” post between the “ugh this would be so much better if…” posts.

So, great job! Thank you.

Games with Awesome Songs?

Posted by (twitter: @StaticVoidGames)
Saturday, May 12th, 2012 11:00 am

I’ve played several games with awesome soundtracks, and I’ve been downloading them when they’re available. I want to share the songs I’ve found as a sort of LD23 Soundtrack, but I need more songs to make a full album!

So, were there any games that you thought included great songs? Did your game use an awesome soundtrack? If so, let me know and I’ll give the game a play and try to include the song (along with credits to the developer and song writer, of course) in a forthcoming post with a link to download the soundtrack.

Here are some of my favorite soundtracks:

Tiny Tim’s World by tacograveyard
Tiny Tim's World

Prince of Leaves by evilseanbot

Hamster Bowling by tfendall


And of course the obligatory link to my game, A Pale Blue Dot, with phat beatz by MC Carl Sagan:

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