Global Game Jam: Sleepwalking Backwards

At the Global Game Jam this past weekend, I was part of a team that created a Commodore 64 game called “Sleepwalking Backwards.” It’s a short narrative experience, written and designed by Jonathon Myers. Go play the game here!

Why a C64 game?

The C64 is the first computer I had as a kid, and the machine I learned to program on. The programs I would write would be simple things written in BASIC. They might ask you questions and give simple responses, or draw some ASCII art on the screen. Most of them would involve rapidly flashing the colored border around the screen, because it was an easy and fun effect. I remember filling several floppy disks with these little experiments.

Early last year my interest got rekindled in the old machine, and I started playing around with programming for it again. I remembered several things that I wasn’t able to figure out as a kid — machine language, bitmap graphics, sound — and thought it would be cool to go back …

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GGJ 2010: Sprinkle

Jason wasn’t the only Fire Hoser to participate in the Global Game Jam last weekend. I was also in the trenches slapping a game together, only I was on the other side of the river at the Northeastern University site.

The result is Sprinkle, a neat little puzzle game based on the idea of raindrops falling through a tree. The goal in each level is to move objects around to guide the falling water droplets to a flower. Once the flower has fully bloomed you’re taken to the next level. Go ahead and give it a shot — it only takes a few minutes to play through.

Looking at the game again after letting a week go by, I’m impressed with how fully developed the game seems for a two-day effort. It contains a coherent core mechanic, some interesting variations, and a fair number of well-thought-out (if simple) levels. This is all the more impressive considering that, in true game jam fashion, the first playable level came together at roughly 1:00 Sunday afternoon, …

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Don’t Listen to Ford – Customers Know Best

Studying entrepreneurship at MIT, I constantly hear the importance of engaging customers early on in the development of new products. To create a successful new product, you have to listen to the customers and really understand their needs.

But some companies don’t do it. A common reason not to engage the customer is the feeling that its a waste of time because customers can’t conceive of breakthrough products. Henry Ford once said “if we asked our customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” The key to this quote for me, though, is the question that’s being asked. You can’t just ask a customer what they want. You have to really get …

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