Category Archives: Thoughts and Opinions

Steam Deck

Hey guys, Valve sent me a cool present – a free Steam Deck for testing my games!

I played EBF5 a bit and it runs well enough, but is not particularly smooth, performance-wise. Which shouldn’t be too surprising as it doesn’t run great on most PCs either. EBF3 has lower requirements and seems to run better.

But the bigger issue is that the EBF games are designed for a mouse, and I wouldn’t want to play them with the Steam Deck’s track pads, which are quite similar to what the Steam Controller had. Maybe people who have practised a lot with the track pads will become quite comfortable using them, but so far that’s not me. The Steam Deck also has a touch screen, which you can use for the EBF games, but it’s still a bit clunky, especially since you can’t see tooltips this way. Controller support for the games would have been ideal, but I think it may be too late to be worth the effort at this point.

Bullet Heaven 2, on the other hand, runs great. It’s got the occasional stutter like it would on any PC, but it runs at a nice 60fps most of the time, and the controls are very comfortable. I think personally I’ll be playing a lot of 2D shoot-em-ups and platformers on the Steam Deck.

Sadly, I only received the middle model, so I can’t try out the anti-glare screen on the most expensive version (and we don’t have any sun in the UK at the moment anyway). It would have been fun to compare it to the Nintendo Switch screen, which is impossible to see on a sunny day. The Steam Deck screen seems to be about an inch bigger, which is cool.

As for hand comfort, it’s not quite as nice as an Xbox 360 or Xbone controller, or the Hori Switch controllers, but it’s not too far off. But that probably also depends on your hands.

Anyway, that’s my review for now. I’m not allowed to say much more at the moment.

Interview for BlueMaxima

Hey guys, I did an interview for BlueMaxima, the guy who runs the Flash game preservation project Flashpoint. He’s currently writing a book about Flash games, and wants to get lots of stories from game developers in there. Here’s some questions I answered for him – some of you may find the answers interesting.

Personal History

  • Tell me about yourself. 
  • What Flash games did you make? 

Hi, I’m Matt Roszak, also known as Kupo Games, or Matt-Likes-Swords on Newgrounds. I live in the UK and started making silly Flash animations when I was 13, and moved on to making games when I was 18. I’m 31 now and still using Flash, so that’s 18 years of experience! My best known games are the Epic Battle Fantasy series (5 games), and related spinoffs, including Adventure Story and Bullet Heaven 1 & 2.

  • How else were you involved in the Flash community?

Not very involved actually! I wasn’t a very social person and didn’t talk to other developers.
I did some achievement-hunting on Newgrounds and was moderately involved in the forum threads about that. It was mainly after Flash’s decline started and I realised that I needed to adapt that I started reaching out to other Flash developers to see what everyone was doing. I went to the Mochi London conference in 2013 (the last one!) and met Chris Jeff, Jimp, Jay Armstrong, Antony Lavelle, Reece Millidge, the Super Flash Bros, and other devs. Since then I’ve befriended many other ex-Flash devs on social media, and a couple who are still using Flash today. A lot of devs are also using Flash in their animation/art pipeline, and then doing the code in a modern engine, so there’s a lot of projects to keep track of.

  • What was your first Flash game, and on what site?

“Mecha Dress Up Game” was the first noteworthy game I published on Newgrounds and DeviantArt. Dress up games were very popular on the internet at the time (especially on DA), and very easy to code. DA even had a lot of tutorials specifically about making dress up games. I thought I’d try something original, so the game is about building robots and not much to do with dressing up. It was well received, and there’s a Newgrounds forum thread dedicated to sharing screenshots of users’ creations:

  • What do you remember about the community? How they interacted, voted, shared games with eachother?

They were very honest in their comments/reviews! The internet was not very personal at the time, and users were generally more rude than they are today (or at least that’s the case on the major Flash portals). Users had no problem leaving lazy reviews like “it sucks”, “no mute button = 0/5”, “I hate anime art”, etc. But for me it helped build thicker skin, and there was enough useful and encouraging feedback in there to make all of the comments worth reading. When there’s no barrier to entry, and literally anyone can play your game for free, there’s a good chance many of them won’t be into it, and that’s fine. But it’s also a good opportunity to learn how to make your next game appeal to more people.

  • What are your favorite Flash games? Both massive and obscure.

My favourite obscure games are “When Pigs Fly” by Anna Anthropy, and “Death vs Monstars” by GameReclaim. Both are short, quirky, action games that are fun to come back to and replay, and have aged well IMO. The “Frantic” series introduced me to the bullet hell genre. “VVVVVV”, “Machinarium” and “Binding of Isaac” showed me that even Flash games could be published on Steam/desktop and be seen as “real” games, so that was inspiring. Currently I’m playing “Run 3”, which I’m surprised supports my new ultra-wide monitor perfectly.

  • What was your favorite portal and why? Any runner-ups?

I liked Newgrounds for the freedom it gave creators, and the weird and edgy stuff that the staff would feature. But I also loved the careful curation on Kongregate – the badge system and game categories made it very easy to find stuff to play, and know roughly how hard and long the games were. The featured content was always polished and accessible. Newgrounds’ achievement system on the other hand was fun, but un-curated, and completely dependant on random developers being reasonable, and often they were not.

  • What would you consider your strongest memory of Flash gaming? It doesn’t have to be necessarily the best.

Dunno about gaming, but getting front-paged on Newgrounds was always exciting when I was a kid making Flash animations. Some of my animations even ranked #1 on the website briefly, which was very motivational.

  • Do you remember any portals, users or general stories that a casual community member might not know of? I’d love to get some more obscure stories into the book.

The time an Art Portal moderator on Newgrounds was hacked, and all of the images were replaced with dicks. I really loved some of the April Fool’s Jokes on Newgrounds. There was one year when the website “made some changes to get un-blocked in China”. The front page was covered in pro-China propaganda. The forums filtered many words – user became “worker”, BBS became “rice paddy”, Tom Fulp became “glorious leader”, etc. Usernames were replaced with random vaguely Asian names like “brucelee” and “Xi-Jinping”, and avatars were replaced with Mao Zedong’s face. A lot of users didn’t realise what date it was, thought the changes were permanent, and got mad. In retrospect it was pretty offensive, so I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again, but it was great fun.

Newgrounds Gets Unblocked By China - Off-Topic - Giant Bomb
  • Overall, what is your favorite part of Flash games, major or minor?

At the time, Flash was simply the coolest thing on the web. Every computer could run it, social media wasn’t widely adopted yet, and internet video quality sucked. Exciting new games were being published every day – and for free – and you could play them during your lunch break at work! As a gamer, you had a basically endless amount of content to play, and as a developer, you had a potential audience of tens of millions of players. It was really groundbreaking stuff.

Developing for Flash

  • What made you consider developing a Flash game?

All the kids at my highschool knew about Newgrounds and how to pirate Flash, so the software was available and exciting. I started off making animations in Flash 4 or 5, and I loved the attention I got from it. But animation was too much work on its own. I eventually figured out that adding some simple interactivity to your 5 minute animation could turn it into a 30 minute game – your work produced so much more content and novelty with just a few lines of code added. I think I was always interested in game design (I drew a lot of game mockups when I was very young, basically copying the style of games like Zelda and Pokemon), but never knew how to get started until I saw how easy it was to add interactivity in Flash.

  • How difficult was it for you to get started?

Not very difficult at all. Even if you have no programming experience, you can still make games with simple commands like onPress gotoAndPlay(scene). That’s all you need to add some basic interactivity, and there’s already a lot you can do with that. My first 2 games, “Mecha Dress Up Game” and “Brawl Royale” were essentially glorified slideshows (with good animation though!). For my 3rd game, “The Kitten Game”, I learned to use variables to add a simple scoring system!

  • What drew you to making Flash games specifically? Did other platforms like Shockwave, Unity, Java or so on carry any appeal?

I just used what I was exposed to. I didn’t see a lot of games made in those other engines, so I never considered them. With Flash is was really easy to see what kinds of content could be made, and there was a lot of free tutorials for it too.

  • Did you work alone? If not, who did you work with, and how did you meet them?

When I got my first sponsorship offer from Armor Games (for Epic Battle Fantasy 2) in 2009, I realized that I needed to use original music in my games, as they probably wouldn’t be happy with all of the stolen music and Pokemon characters used in my games. I think I made a Newgrounds blog post about it, and soon Phyrnna (then known as HalcyonicFalconX) messaged me to say that I could use her existing music in my next game. We’ve been working together since, and she’s done the music for all of my games so far. I’ve also crowd-sourced translations for my bigger games, and occasionally commissioned cover artwork and trailer narration.

  • Can you give me just a quick, point-by-point overview of how you developed games? The technical side of things purely – how you program for Flash, how you create resources like graphics & sound (if applicable), how functionality improved & things changed in later versions of Flash, anything you can think of that might be noteworthy.

I generally start by making a small prototype to get a feel for the final game, and to make sure it’s something I’m actually capable of programming. Once the core mechanics work, I make all of the art and animations, and then program the levels and interface last. I guess it could be described as the waterfall model, as I don’t go back and forth between different tasks very much. All of my art is made in Flash with vectors, and sound effects are from free sources, or cheap general purpose sound packs. I tell Phyrnna vaguely what biomes/areas the game will eventually have, and ask her to make appropriate music from them. I would test my games on my DeviantArt page, so I could fix all of the bugs before publishing them on other portals. (funnily enough sponsors didn’t see DA as a competitor, so they had no problem with this)
As for changes with the Flash tech, ActionScript 3 added speed and a lot of new capabilities (much of which I never used), but also made programming a bit harder compared to AS2. I think the closest comparison is like going from JavaScript to Java. I think the most meaningful addition was Adobe AIR – an application wrapper that could be used to publish Flash content on desktop and mobile, which was sorely needed once the decline of web games started.

  • Were there any interesting technical challenges you had to face while making a game in Flash?   

Mostly being aware of hardware limitations. Internet was slow, so your game filesize had to be reasonably small, and Flash content was completely powered by the CPU, so you shouldn’t overdo it with the complexity of graphics. I think the most complex thing I actually coded was the path-finding function in my RPGs, and even that was based on existing algorithms, so I can’t take credit for any groundbreaking technical accomplishments. There was always a forum thread somewhere where someone programmed the same thing before me.

  • What was the development community like? Any forums or boards or other sites that are worthy of mention?

Wish I had used them more when they were still active! I think the Starling forums are currently the best place to go to chat about Flash dev, and it’s mostly related to mobile now.

  • Did you make games as a hobby, on the side, or a full time job? Did it ever get ‘serious’, and if so, when?

I made animations and games for a few years just for fun, and for the fame I got on Newgrounds. I didn’t even know that one could make decent money off Flash games until Armor Games contacted me about EBF2. Their offer was generous enough that I immediately realised I could make a career out of it. For EBF3 I gambled and went with a performance-based deal from Kongregate, which paid off (EBF3 got 1 million play on Kongregate in the first week!). I continued to work with Kongregate until they stopped doing sponsorships (Bullet Heaven 2 was one of the last games they ever sponsored). Today my Flash games are making more money than ever on Steam, even though my audience is much smaller than it once was. Flash games have been consistently profitable for me since EBF2, so I’ve luckily never had a day-job. Always been self-employed, working from home.

  • What was your first “viral game”, what were the circumstances around it, and what was it like inside your head and on your site/portal entry when it did go viral?

I was actually on holiday just after EBF3 launched, so I don’t remember following it that closely, other than being exciting about the play count on Kongregate. It’s still my most played game ever, and it’s got somewhere around 20-25 million plays across the whole internet.

  • Did you ever have a strategy when making games, marketing or business wise? Or did you just work on what was fun?

I tried to make sure that my art style and characters were always recognizable, and it worked. People today still find my new games on Steam, and recognize my art style from 10+ years ago.
Other than that, I always make sure to manage my risks and expectations – I won’t put in more than a couple of months of work into a new type of game. If the game is successful, then I can work on a bigger, better, sequel. And if not, I can just move onto something else without wasting a lot of time. I won’t work on a big project that I don’t think will pay off. For example, EBF1 and 2 took around 4 to 6 weeks each to make. EBF3 took around 4 or 5 months. EBF4 took around 15 to 18 months. EBF5 took almost 4 years, and was published on the web just before Flash stopped working – like EBF4, it was a huge success on Steam though.
I do miss working on smaller projects just for fun, but I think working on what the people demand is more satisfying in the end, and it’s hard to go back to a lower quality of work once you’ve raised the bar for yourself.

  • What was it like working with Flash portals like Kongregate? What sort of deals would you make, if any? Did you ever use something like Flash Game License, and if so, can you tell me about your experience with it?

I didn’t use FGL and just contacted Kongregate and Armor Games directly for bidding. With Kongregate I was always paid based on how many users I sent to their website (usually linking to my previous games worked best). I preferred this sort of deal as there was almost no upper limit on how much money I could make, and I still lived with my parents so didn’t need any sort of safety net. EBF4 was the first time I offered an in-game DLC purchase, and that did pretty well on Kongregate too. The contracts were very friendly, and the sponsors never owned any of my IP or the rights to any sequels, which was not the case for everyone. In many cases we didn’t even bother with contracts, everyone in the industry trusted each other enough for that. EBF4 was also the first game I published on Steam, around 7 or 8 months after the web release – I added a lot of new content to make sure people would pay up for it.

  • How much did the community support you, and how did they contribute to your success?

They clicked the links and bought the games! But also they were very happy to test buggy, beta versions of the games, which helped make sure there wouldn’t be any major surprises on launch day. There’s also a ton of fanart of my characters, which I always feature on my website and also in the games themselves!

  • Were you around pre-and-post Macromedia era Flash? Are you able to draw a comparison between the two companies’ handling of the technology?
  • Do you think Adobe buying Flash at the end of the day caused more damage than it would have if Macromedia hadn’t been bought out?

I think Adobe just never figured out how to make money from the Flash/AIR tech. They developed ActionScript 3 and Stage3D, made Flash run efficiently on mobile, tried to charge money for some of those extra features, but gave up on that plan when developers got mad about it. I think after that, momentum started to fizzle out and they just continued to do the bare minimum to keep the tech alive. The new subscription model of Creative Cloud removed any incentive for Adobe to add new features to their software – devs were simply forced to keep paying for Animate/Flash whether they liked the service or not. Most of the cool features and frameworks since then, like Starling, DragonBones, Spine, and AIR Native Extensions, had to be developed by 3rd parties. I think if Adobe kept actively working on Flash/AIR, it could still be a competitive 2D game engine today, and many devs agree with this view. Instead, only a small niche of veterans are still using it. AIR has been handed over to HARMAN, who seem to be maintaining it for now, but who knows how long that will last. Windows is very backwards compatible, so Flash/AIR should run on it for many years to come, even without maintenance, but that’s not true for mobile or Mac.

The End of Days

  • At what point did Flash go into “freefall” in the public consciousness, in your point of view?

Fake news had a lot of fun painting the tech as being unsafe, slow and old-fashioned. The problems they talked about weren’t unique to Flash, and often they only acknowledged some use-cases. (such as talking about Flash being used to make malicious ads, but not talking about it being used for animation on YouTube, etc) I think a lot of big companies like Apple and Google felt threatened by Flash and planned those attacks.

  • Have you ever met anyone blatantly anti-Flash or anti-Flash games specifically? Did you try to change their mind? Were you successful?

Just morons on Twitter. I just tell them that Flash still works outside of browsers and don’t bother arguing with them beyond that. Most gamers don’t care what game engine you use.

  • What didn’t you like about Flash as a platform, either during its peak or fall? Anything specifically egregious worth mentioning?

Mainly just Adobe’s lack of communication and outreach. They seemed very clueless about what developers actually wanted, and didn’t fix a lot of bugs that had been around for years. Also the Creative Cloud subscription sucks ass. I wish I could permanently buy my favourite version of Flash, and then never give them money again. It’s ransomware.

  • How many people were still playing your games at the end? Did you ever find out overall total player numbers? Any thoughts on those numbers?

EBF5 got around 2 million plays on the web in 2018-2020, mainly on my website, and on Kongregate. Not a lot compared to EBF3’s 20 million, but there’s still enough people playing web games for devs to get some feedback and experience there, before moving onto other platforms. That’s not really a fault with Flash specifically, web gaming in general has become unpopular since mobile took off, and HTML5 games aren’t doing any better.

  • Any opinions on the state of the indie gamedev industry, and what it was like compared to Flash at its rise & peak?

It seems incredibly cluttered and competitive now. It’s possible that this was always true, and devs are just more vocal about their problems on social media now. But either way, the bar for making a successful indie game is so much higher now. There’s not many examples of small indie games like Friday Night Funkin suddenly getting 10s of millions of plays, where as at the peak of the Flash days, it seemed to happen all the time. (I think you should contact or follow Lars Doucet (Defenders Quest) about this – he has a lot to say about the indie games scene)

  • What do you think of efforts like AwayFL and Ruffle? Do you think they might recapture the magic of Flash if ever completed?

Ruffle seems very promising – it can already play a lot of my old games, and with better performance than on Flashplayer. But without all of that portal sponsorship money, I don’t think there’s gonna be any incentive for web games to come back. Instead, I hope that Ruffle can help improve the performance of my Flash games on desktop and mobile, or on whatever platform is popular in a few years. But even if Ruffle worked perfectly, I would still find Flash hard to recommend due to the problems with getting a Flash/Animate license from Adobe.

  • Speaking of recapturing the magic, how do you feel about HTML5 games today?

I haven’t seen HTML5 do anything that Flash couldn’t already do 10 years ago.

  • How can we play your games now that Flash has been exorcised from most browsers?

I would recommend Flashpoint to most people – all of my stuff is there. My biggest games (EBF3, EBF4, EBF5, and BH2) can be purchased on Steam with more content, and my older games will also be released there, eventually. My mobile port of EBF5 is also almost ready, and after that, I’ll likely port a few more of my games. (I say port, but it’s still running on Flash, I’m just optimizing the performance and changing the UI)

  • Anything else you want to say?

I keep needing to repeat this, but Flash is more than just the browser plugin. People are still using the software to animate cartoons, and Flash games are still being published on desktop and mobile. And all of those old web games are still playable, and probably always will be as long as someone remembers to back them up.

Summary of 2020

As is my yearly tradition, here is a rough summary of my year:

• Me and Ronja went on a weekend trip to Killin, a small town in the countryside of Scotland. On the way back I got the car stuck in some snow in the mountains. Some passers-by let us use their shovel, and we were back on our way. I should be more careful in future, but I’ve since got a new set of tyres for my 18-year-old car, so maybe that’ll help.

• I finished off the big version 2 update for EBF5, which added a ton of new content and re-playability to the game. People could now play it for hundreds of hours if they wanted to, and the game has continued selling very well. If you haven’t revisited the game since that update came out, you totally should.

• Me and Ronja got invested in US politics this year, and were eagerly following the election news, including the democratic primaries and caucuses. It looked like Bernie Sanders had a chance. What an optimistic start to a nightmare of a year.

• Wildfires, World War 3, race tensions, and Brexit dominated a lot of the news. And the year was just getting started.

• The coronavirus plague obviously defined the entire year. In retrospect, everything that happened seems so obvious and predictable, but in the first few weeks I assumed that governments and people would take the proper precautions to limit the spread and damage. Oh, how naive I was. Two weeks before the first national lockdown, I realized we were in for a wild 18 months or so before a vaccine was developed and distributed. Ronja has a bad immune system, so we were way ahead of the government’s guidelines. The UK has some of the worst virus stats to date, so we have to be extra careful. Meanwhile in Finland, things have been pretty much normal.

• We got a Nintendo Switch early on in the year. I was not impressed by the hardware – it was just a portable WiiU! The screen is so reflective you can’t play outside, the controllers give you hand cramps, and it didn’t even come with a stylus! The games were okay – but nothing that couldn’t already be done on the WiiU. The game I looked forward to the most was Smash Ultimate… but due to the virus, I never had a chance to bring friends round to play it. But on the other hand, Ronja played Animal Crossing for hundreds of hours, so we still got our money’s worth in the end.

• I continued playing Nintendo ROM hacks, including GBA and N64 stuff, and even made some quick edits to Pokemon Fire Red myself! If copyright laws were reasonable, Nintendo’s oldest games would be public domain by now, and anyone could have a shot at making new commercial versions of Mario and Pokemon. I’d love that.

• My plans to visit every major theme park in the UK this Summer were cancelled. Scotland’s biggest theme park closed down due to poor attendance and the coronavirus. But then they re-opened after selling a bunch of their rides. Scotland’s biggest rollercoaster is gone. It was one of the worst rollercoaster’s in the world, according to enthusiasts, but I’m still gonna miss it.

• This year I’ve been doing more art just for fun, rather than work – including pencil drawings, pixel art, vector art, and bigger Lego projects.

• I started work on porting EBF5 to Android using Adobe AIR, and made a decent amount of progress. The game is currently in a playable state, but needs some more optimization and user-interface adjustments. I didn’t finish it this year because I got sidetracked with other work…

• I played Age of Empires 2: Deluxe Edition, for around 500 hours, usually with my brother and some friends. We got reasonably good at 4v4 matches. It’s cool to see a 20-year old game still alive with regular updates.

• Me and Ronja of course also joined in on the Among Us craze, and we had enough friends playing it that we could easily set up 8 to 10 player games. We never took the game very seriously, and usually got drunk while playing it. The best part was thinking of edgy nicknames like MrPooPiss, Titler, FrontBum, BloodFart, or FetusYetus.

• I got a drill and learned how to use it! I mounted some hanging flower baskets in the garden, and a coat shelf in the hallway. Other minor home improvements included: Upgrading all lights to LEDs, renewing the smoke detectors, and replacing cupboard knobs.

• Garden improvements this year include painting the shed, repairing some old fences, planting a cherry tree, and building a totally new fence. I also scavenged a perfect wooden gate from some neighbours who were throwing theirs out. Very convenient. We also made friends with the local cats and squirrels.

• Most socialising this year was done over Zoom – we went to the pub online, essentially. Occasional real-life visits were permitted, but we always kept things outside to be safe.

• I spent £3,000 on a new VR-ready PC and a Valve Index. Was it worth it? Not really – I could have spent less and not noticed much difference. Most software can’t even take full advantage of my new 12-core CPU. But I can put it down as a work expense, and half of that money would have gone to taxes otherwise.

• My favourite single-player games this year were easily Doom Eternal and Half Life: Alyx. Amazing next-gen stuff that I’d love to play more of.

• My entire exercise routine has been replaced with Beat Saber this year. I’ve gotten pretty good at the game, and there’s only one official level I can’t beat, and that’s Ghost on Expert+. I doubt I’ll ever beat it.

• Me and Ronja celebrated our 30th birthdays, as did many of our friends. We sadly couldn’t make a big deal out of it.

• My family got us a fancy barbecue for our 30ths. I knew nothing about cooking, but it turns out it’s fairly straightforward and hard to mess up. You just heat stuff up and check it occasionally. We had socially-distanced garden dinners almost every week over the Summer, usually with my brother and his girlfriend. We also learned what happens when you don’t keep the barbecue dry and clean…

• I started working on re-releasing all of my old Flash games on Steam, including EBF1, EBF2, Adventure Story, Bullet Heaven, Brawl Royale, Mecha Dress Up Game, The Kitten Game, Cat Cafe, and a bunch of prototypes and minigames. The games mostly remain the same, but have some new quality-of-life features, and have had copyrighted content replaced with original content. A couple of the games also have completely new content. Once again, this project was not finished this year because I got sidetracked with other work.

• I pulled my old NES stuff out of the attic – I’ve got both PAL and NTSC versions of the console. I disassembled them, cleaned them up, cut the region-locking chips, replaced the springs on the controllers, and everything works almost as good as new. Games usually start up on the first try.

• I bought some modern NES games, and some Chinese carts containing ROM hacks, and I’m having a fun time. It’s cool that people are still making new content for such an old console.

• Halloween was much less eventful this year – we did the usual cooking and pumpkin carving, but there were no trick-or-treaters or guests, so we had time to rewatch some old horror films.

• My office is looking better than ever – the plants and Lego mosaics on my desk add a lot of color. I’m considering buying an expensive chair that should last decades, and hopefully do my health some favours… but it’s not safe to go out and try some chairs at the moment.

• Towards the very end of the year, I started working on an unexpected update to EBF4! I’ve wanted to publish EBF4 on more platforms for a while, but there was a long list of bugs and features I wanted to fix first, so that’s what this update is for. EBF4 is getting a lot of quality-of-life features from EBF5.

• Me and Ronja got a dog! It’s a 7-month-old Staffy and Frenchie mix, and is quite well behaved already. She’s consuming a lot of our time at the moment, but this should gradually settle down. She has yet to meet my family’s other dogs, so I’m curious to see how that goes.

• Christmas was fun despite the lockdown limitations. We exchanged food and messages with family members, without getting too close. Me and Ronja binge-watched Lost, which I’ve never seen before, but I remember it was incredibly popular when I was a teenager.

And that’s about it.

Honestly, I am not optimistic about the future. Most of the bad news from this year was predictable and preventable, and seeing how poorly our human civilization has handled it, I’m concerned that the coming years won’t be any better. This could be the start of a disastrous decade – but I hope I’m wrong! Maybe the coronavirus vaccine will be super effective and delivered swiftly. Maybe Brexit won’t end up being a big deal. Maybe we’ll take climate change seriously. Maybe Joe Biden won’t be a corrupt, corporate sell-out. Haha.

Either way, I think me and Ronja managed to have a fun year despite being stuck in the house for most of it, and we’re fortunate enough that we don’t have to worry too much about what the future may bring.

Halloween was Yesterday

Hey guys, here’s this year’s pumpkins I gone and made. Ronja made the left-most one. Next year I need to remember to buy a carving kit, as I can only do so much with a knife.

Trick-or-treating was cancelled this year – not only is coronavirus skyrocketing in the UK again, the weather has been pretty stormy. We cooked pumpkin pie, cupcakes, and soup, roasted the seeds, ate cheap candy, and started playing Alien Isolation. The usual Halloween stuff for us.

The government is getting ready for another month-long lockdown to hopefully save Christmas. But unlike the previous lockdown, they’re still leaving schools and some other things open, so it’ll be curious to see if they make it in time. Either way, I’m sure there’s gonna be a huge surge in cases in January.

If you want to hear something really scary, I’ll repeat some doomer thoughts that I posted on Twitter earlier:

2020 isn’t a series of accidents, it’s a series of predictable man-made disasters that we saw coming and did nothing about. This is a sign of things to come, and 2020 could very well be the best year of this coming decade.

Coronavirus may never go way. Climate-change-fuelled natural disasters will become more frequent. More and more jobs will be automated, and young people will either be unable to find jobs, or never be able to retire as pensions are cut. The wealth gap will continue increase and the poor will be blamed for all problems.

We won’t get UBI, or a Green New Deal, or any improved public services. Three or four big companies will own all communications and media platforms, and control information access at will. Propaganda bots will pass the Turing test, and unlimited fake news will be created for free. Governments will fight this with ever increasing surveillance. The trends are pointing towards a Black Mirror dystopia.

Progress isn’t guaranteed. Keeping your rights, privileges and health isn’t guaranteed.

Happy Halloween!

EBF Collection: Mechs and Apples

Hey guys, I’m almost finished Mecha Dress Up Game v2.

I completely remade the interface, and it almost feels like a new game.
A lot of sounds are new, because the old ones were painful. There’s a couple of new parts and backgrounds. An export to jpeg button. A bunch of pre-made mechs to give you ideas and help you find some cool color schemes. And a new soundtrack with 4 tracks!

EBF1 and 2 have sequels, so there’s not much I wanted to add there, and Brawl Royale is such a simple game that there isn’t much you can change. But Mecha Dress Up definitely had a lot of stuff I’ve wanted to add ever since I first published it.

In other news, Epic Games are suing Apple for having a monopoly on their devices, and not letting developers sell software directly without giving Apple a cut. I’m rather excited about this. No company should be able to dictate what you can install on your computer, and where you’re allowed to buy software from. PC operating systems have been open forever, but for some reason people think smartphones and tablets are an exception – they’re general-purpose computers and should be open just like PCs!

Oh, and I feel the same way about consoles too. They’re all general-purpose computers, and there’s no technical reason that exclusives should exist – only business reasons. When I was a kid, consoles could only play games specifically designed and programmed for that console – but that’s not been the case for a few console generations now. Oh well, at least we’ll always have illegal mods and emulators.

Anyway, if Epic gets better terms for developers and customers, or even just pushes the conversation in that direction, I’m all the way behind them. Let the legal battles begin.

Free your computer.