About sfernald


Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 20
Ludum Dare 19
Ludum Dare 17
MiniLD #17
Ludum Dare 16
Ludum Dare 15

sfernald's Trophies

The A+ Post Founding Award for Excellence in Explaining Code Monkeys ("Well, of course, the problem is there are virtuosos out there that can accomplish a ridiculous amount with code.")
Awarded by GreaseMonkey
on January 10, 2011
The "I got your cookies. I got your cookies right here." Award
Awarded by GBGames
on August 26, 2010
A jagged trophy as tall as your waist blocks your path
Awarded by HybridMind
on May 2, 2008

sfernald's Archive

Public domain content for compo?

Posted by
Sunday, August 11th, 2013 10:29 pm

I know the rule has always been that all content must be created during the 48 hour period, but I wonder if there’s been any consideration to allow content to be used that is clearly 100% public domain?

There are a number of sites where this kind of material is available, and it is clear that it is safe to use this stuff in projects now. There is much more organization and demand for public domain content on the Internet than there was a few years ago, so many sites specialize in providing it.

The reason I think it would be beneficial for the compo is that sometimes people like focus more on one aspect of their game entry. This would allow for someone to focus more enegy on the technical aspects of his game engine than on content while still being able to provide adequate graphics and sounds in his game. Yes, he could just enter the jam, the competition of the compo is compelling for many people and gives you the fix you just can’t necessarily get in the jam.

My thinking is it wouldn’t really give a leg up, because 1) 48 hours is 48 hours. Spend it as you please, cause every second is precious and 2) public domain content will always be inferior to a degree to specific content generated in the compo by an artist. Artists already have a huge advantage in this compo the way I see it with the use of high level game IDEs such as Unity and Game Maker. This would be a way I guess of throwing low-level programmers (C++/asm/etc) a bone.

To a degree we already allow this in allowing the use of sample libraries for music created for the competition. These libraries are allowed because they are provided by defacto to be incorporated into higher level compositions (songs). I would argue in just the same way, these public domain sites provide content to be used in higher level compositions as well.

Let me expand on this idea a little. You are actually encouraged to build off of public domain works. Most works have a shelf life and then disappear for eternity. It is a honor for it to be utilized in another work and go on existing. In the US, public domain law has existed since the Constitution to encourage the public to derive more works from it. It is there to help up unlock our creativity and build upon.

So I don’t really see this as simply adding a couple images or sounds to your entry from a public domain site, although that might end up being the primary use of the rule change. I could see more interesting works being created. Imagine for example a game based on HG Wells “War of the World” which used some of the original characters, plot and dialogue to create a more immersive and interesting entry then otherwise there would be time for. Or a rhythm game which had a dozen or so public domain children’s songs rather than the one weak song the contestant would actually have time to create. Perhaps these entries would not be created at all because the contestant did not have the necessary skill in writing or skill in song making. Seems like this rule might expand the quality of the entries by leveraging existing works. We might find much richer and more interesting entries than ever before.

Here’s a site with a list of just a few such public domain sites to give you an idea of what’s available out there.


My proposed rule change would be to allow public domain content as long as it was declared as such and cited with a reference to the site providing the public domain content.

What do you think? Good idea? Or just keep it the way it is?

The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started (Mark Twain)

Posted by
Friday, August 9th, 2013 9:29 am

Wow, time for another LD. How fast the time goes. I’m getting excited as usual. So many talented people (left and right brain thinkers) getting together in one (virtual) place. Let’s blow the (virtual) doors off this (virtual) place this time!

Anyways, this will be at least my 10th LD (lost count actually) and I’m as excited as ever to create, create, create. That’s what this is all about to me in the end; I just love to create things.

This time I’m going to build an old fashioned graphic adventure like Sierra’s Mystery House, which happened to be the first graphic adventure ever created.

I’m going to go take photos with my new camera and use those as the source of the art I create. Should be a ton of fun. Like a wild goose chase but instead of chasing a goose, I’ll be running around trying to find the shots I need for the game. I’ve gotten pretty good with Photoshop too lately, so I think I’m ready.

In the last LD, I created my own javascript interactive fiction engine, but I think it’s too specific to reuse without serious changes. Since I don’t want to spend the time on technical issues this time, I’m planning to use a nice IF engine called ChoiceScript which looks a little better than Twine and seems to have the features I will need.

The key for my entry to be any good is I have to come up with a good story, so I’m trying to read as much as possible to get my mind in the right mental shape. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.

Good luck to all who enter the contest and have fun!

Time for Ascension!

Posted by
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 4:54 pm

Do you want to become mankind’s Messiah or a strident Singularity that wipes out the Earth?

Voted best game of competition that allows you to resurrect your wife and then eat her!

Time for Ascension!
Play Online Now

Anyone Gonna Play Em All?

Posted by
Sunday, April 28th, 2013 9:58 pm

Is anyone going to try to play all 1732 entries this year? Lol..

Time for Ascension!

Posted by
Sunday, April 28th, 2013 7:55 pm

Whew, finished my game. Only got to really work on it last night and today, but still pleased with it. Definitely fits my style. I wanted to build a web game that was mostly built on story, but Twine seemed too limited for what I wanted to do, so I decided to roll my own, so to speak.

Time for Ascension! is a text based game built with HTML, Javascript and JQuery. Actually, I use TypeScript code to generate the Javascript.

It should work on all computers, tablets and phones with a modern web browser.

I believe it fits the minimalism theme because 1) it is a text-based game and has no graphics or sound and 2) the design of the game is based on a simple event queue – it is incredibly simple.

Limited testing, but I was able to verify a win condition.

Play Time for Ascension!


You are Danial Gibson, a software genius and billionaire who is trying to save mankind from a deadly plague.

Can you make the Ascension and become Mankind’s savior?

If you like science fiction stories, give it a shot.

All In

Posted by
Friday, April 26th, 2013 5:59 pm

HTML + JS + JQuery = “In it to win it”;

Post-mortem with the most-mortem

Posted by
Saturday, September 1st, 2012 11:10 am

It’s always fun when LD time comes around. I stop what I’m doing and start looking at all the various new languages and frameworks out there, and of course I feel the tug. Clojure had its womanly grasp on me for a while. Then I was heart-struck by a Monkey. CoffeeScript beckoned with its smooth curves and warmness.

But I was pissed this time because I didn’t finish my last entry for Tiny Worlds. And I had a great idea for that theme, with an interactive fiction about an experiment with nano bots. If you didn’t get the experiment under control, it would lead to the destruction of the whole planet. But I just couldn’t get to the finish line with TADS 3, or at least with my knowledge of it. Spent too much time just trying to figure out how to do things and looking stuff up.

So for this compo I was determined to create the decent interactive fiction game I couldn’t last time. So I went back to a language I was familiar with, Inform 7, the language I had used to make a crappy fiction game maybe 4-5 competitions ago. This time the week before I read and worked through the only book available on the subject, Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7. In retrospect, that worked out well, because though you can build things with just knowing pieces of a language, it is really helpful to at least know about all of the parts of a language.

For instance, Inform 7 had this concept of scenes that the book really didn’t touch on until the end, but it was a critical part of my game and allowed me to make it much more narrative than it would have been otherwise. There are separate chapters in my game and the state of things changes heavily between them, creating a tight narrative focus.

So to make a long story short I felt Erebus and the Terror came out pretty well. It was my best IF by far. I knew how to add the synonyms to keep people from getting too frustrated and I wrote in enough actions that people were surprised how well the parser could follow them.

It was not perfect though. After I laid out all of the rooms, I got sidetracked with implementing ship directions, ie, port, starboard, etc. But I ran into a bug with it and finally I realized I was as confused as heck with the directions and so would everyone else probably. So I just tossed the concept and I’m sooo glad I did.

I would definitely use Inform 7 again. In fact, I might go back and port what I have of my Tiny Worlds entry to see if I can finish it.

If you like survival horror or science fiction, you might want to give it a try.

Erebus and the Terror


I wanted to mention one more thing because I think I glossed over the most important thing I gleaned from this LD. That is that out of failure can come success. My failure to finish the IF game in ld23 was direct motivation for my success in ld24. I switched back to a language I had more success with, and I was determined to be more prepared so I invested in the purchase of a book and I spent a week working through that book before the ld. There’s no way my entry would have been as well done without having taken these steps of preparation. And there’s no way I would have bothered to do that if I had not failed at ld23. So take note in that, and if you failed in ld24, use that as motivation for ld25. Carry that failure with you and I guarantee that you will be more prepared and have more success as I did. I think it’s true that we really learn the most from our failures, if we open ourselves up to them and embrace them.

The Erebus and the Terror

Posted by
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 6:41 pm

Finished the game just in time. Exhausted. Mentally gone. Will check back tomorrow. It was fun I guess but I can’t enjoy it yet.

My compo entry is an interactive fiction survival horror set on the prospector spaceship Erebus.

It should run on any system with a web browser. Even iphones or android phones.

The Erebus and the Terror

The Erebus and the Void

Posted by
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 1:12 am

Well, getting a good start so far on my interactive fiction. There are no graphic shots to post, so I thought I would post the intro text to the game, to give you a feel of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a science fiction thriller set on a prospector’s ship, the Erebus:


Welcome Number Three, SERIAL NUMBER 4FJ394WS198. Your given name is Bobby, by the way. You have been awakened from stasis for active replacement duty and should now be in a relaxed and comfortable state.

I will now UPLOAD your duties. Process begins in 3…2…1–UPLOAD has failed due to unknown error.

Please remain in relaxed and comfortable state as the backup protocol is accessed.


Bobby, you are on the prospector vessel Erebus. I am the ship’s computer and I will be your companion and assistant during our time together. My systems are currently running at 23 percent, however the good news is life support is currently unaffected. You can listen and communicate with me at any time through the neuro-transmitter embedded in your skull.

Before I release the restraining straps Bobby, I need to advise you of a few things. Although you are human and have free will, you are property of the Issaka-Allen Corporation. You must endeavor to protect company property and resources above all else. Failure to comply will lead to criminal prosecutions being enacted upon the ship’s return to Earth.

Now that that is done with, I hope you are still in a relaxed and comfortable state. Due to memory UPLOAD failure, a manual tutorial will be run to prepare you for your duties.”

The straps are released. You are in a coffin-sized compartment attached to the side of the wall.

The voice in your head continues, “Bobby, you may refer to me as Raul. I am named after the sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin of the man who invented me, by the way. If you have any questions, you may simply ASK me, and I will do my best to answer, even though my systems are currently functioning at 23 percent.

Now Bobby, I have detected you are not in a relaxed and calm state, so your first duty is to locate the crew’s quarters and get some sleep. You have been in stasis 4021 days by the way. What is a few more hours?

Please have a look around the ship as you make your way to the crew’s quarters and feel free to ASK me any questions you might have.”

You step out of the hibernation chamber and have a stretch and a look around.

Indie Game: The Movie

Posted by
Friday, August 24th, 2012 12:02 am

Hey, caught this wonderful documentary film last month. It’s a very inspiring story about successful indie gamer developers. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Now is the perfect time to catch it to inspire you to greatness.

Check out the preview:

I was wondering if any of you know if any of the guys in the movie have ever done a Ludum Dare before? They definitely seem like the type!

They are:
Edmund McMillen (Super Meat Boy)
Jonathan Blow (Braid)
Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy)
And of course the unforgettable Phil Fish (Fez)

My Favorite Things

Posted by
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 12:01 pm

I thought I should mention a list of my favorite tools which I think really might help people out. These aren’t free tools necessarily, just some I’ve fallen for.

If you are interested in doing a cross-platform game, check out monkey. This language is really going places. Code your game once and it will run on: Mac, PC (OpenGL or DirectX or XNA), flash, html5, iOS, Android, PS Vita, Nintendo DS, and even believe it or not Amiga apparently.


If you need to do pixel art or tiles sets, look no further than Pyxel Edit. This is the best tool of this kind I’ve seen since Deluxe Paint!


Now if you’re a programmer type and want to make music, you got to check out this amazing DAW, Renoise. I just love this tool for making music, because it is 1) so well done, 2) so full featured for a tracker and 3) let’s me make music in a way that makes sense to us programmers, I think.


I am going to try to do a IF game this time, so I won’t be needing most of these tools. If you want to make interactive fiction, I don’t think there is a better choice than Inform 7. It’s the ultimate “natural language” programming language. The things you can do with it will blow your mind.


So what are the tools you are in love with?

Day of the Introns – Progress Report

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 10:23 pm

Working on a science fiction IF game by the title of “Day of the Introns: an Incident in Laboratory 14”. It definitely fits comfortably into the “Don’t Fuck with Mother Nature” genre.

Didn’t get as far as I wanted today for a couple reasons. Had some family obligations and spent way too long going through the documentation trying to learn TADS.

I love learning new languages, but I have no idea why I always choose to do it under the time constraints of a 48 hour contest.

Anyway, I think I finally know enough to be able do a lot of the stuff I want to do to try to do.

It’s all going to come down to how far I can get tomorrow, because there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to add. Things will definitely have to move along faster than today for me to finish the game (without huge sacrifices).

Hope things are going well for everyone else on the Nebula tonight! Goood night.

The Day of the Introns: An Incident in Laboratory 14

Posted by
Friday, April 20th, 2012 11:32 pm

Got a name for my entry and I think I have the story line in place. Think it should be a good fit for the theme.

So far I’m pretty happy with the progress. The writing seems to be flowing ok. TADS 3 is nice and I think I like it better than Inform 7. Much more intuitive to my OOP programmer’s brain. Still have a lot to learn with it to do anything interesting.

Hopefully I can come up with interesting puzzles tomorrow. So tired, I can’t think any more.

Good night all and good luck to you.

Embracing the Madness

Posted by
Friday, April 20th, 2012 2:12 pm

I have had a tough time deciding what framework to use this time.

I was going to do something flashy and vectory in Unity with RageSpline and PlayMaker with some tunes created with Cubase.

But I don’t know, I just sort of feel like writing something.

So I’ve decided to go ole school and I’m doing a work of interactive fiction. I’ve used Inform 7 before, but this time I’ll think I’ll try TADS 3 and see how that goes.

I’m going to use my MacBook Air, the Frob TADS compiler tools, Text Wrangler, and bash.

I got the colors just the way I like them in my text editor, yellow against black. And I got my bash looking all transparent and cool too. Too cool for school.

Have fun guys and good luck! Remember, don’t get stuck on anything for too long…

ABC, Always Be Compiling!

Wow, LudumDare is too huge now!

Posted by
Friday, April 20th, 2012 10:04 am

I think the number of first timers completely outnumber those of us who have been in the contest before. The posts are flying by. But not a single reply or even a “heart” on the front page. I doubt this post will last more than a couple hours on the front page.

I can remember when this contest had about 50 entries or so. Wow, times have changed.

Anyone entering the contest who has been around here for more than 5 years (like me)?

I’m in like sin

Posted by
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 11:20 am

I’m in for this one. Going to do a text adventure using inform 7. I’m hoping for some dark topic because I want to do something really dark this time.

Hope everyone has fun out there!

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