Search Results for: zarfhome

I'm shifting my bloggery to

Nine years ago I made my blogging debut with a post titled Games that don't exist. I'd been on the web since 1993 (really!) but 2008 was my first venture into blogging -- which I guess I'd define as a semiregular series of nonfiction essays with an RSS feed.

The Gameshelf was a group blog run by my friend Jmac. I chose to participate because, well, I wasn't sure I'd be writing enough to sustain a blog on my own. Indeed, I never hit a daily or even weekly rhythm. But I got a couple of posts written each month -- which adds up. Over nine years I wrote 323 Gameshelf posts, documenting games I played, IF events I attended, and the entire development cycle of Hadean Lands.

But: everything shifts over time, and that includes the centers of gravity of web sites. Jmac moved his regular writing to a personal blog site. The Perl core of The Gameshelf (a Movable Type fork) rusted until it barely functioned. (That "323 posts" link above is supposed to let you browse all my Gameshelf posts, but it doesn't really.)

A few weeks ago, a routine Perl update broke the blog software completely. Fixing it was a one-line patch (thanks Jmac) but the writing on the wall had clearly acquired <BLINK> tags.

So, behold my brand-new blog page! It now lives at

I'm using, which is, yes, part of the Google-monster. But it works, it's free, I got the layout the way I want, and I don't have to worry about patching security holes. And there is an RSS feed.

I have imported all 323 of my Gameshelf posts. (Here's that first one from 2008.) You'll note that this post appears on both blogs, but it will be my last Gameshelf contribution. From now on, for everything.

(Except that I sometimes post on the IFTF blog, and the Boston IF meetup page is more or less a blog, and... well, life isn't simple.)

I expect I'll continue tuning the layout. There are a few remaining quirks:

  • Blogger's web import feature doesn't work (at least, it didn't work for me). I imported the old posts using Blogger's API.

  • Blogger doesn't understand Markdown. O woe! My importer tool did Markdown translation, but the resulting HTML is slightly munged. So the old posts may have slightly broken formatting.

  • All the images in the imported posts, and the cross-links to other posts, still point to The Gameshelf. The Gameshelf site will stay online for the foreseeable future, so that's okay.

  • I imported the blog comments too, but they appear as part of the post body. (For example, this recent post.) So the old posts all say "no comments" even though the comments are really preserved. (The Blogger API includes a verb for "fetch comments" but not "insert new comment". Why not? Who the heck knows.)

  • The search tool doesn't work. I think Google's crawler hasn't caught up with the imported posts yet. Hopefully that will fix itself.

  • For all anyone knows, Google will nuke Blogger next year. Or next week. (It's Google.) In that case I'll have to change platforms again. But I'll still host the site at, so no big deal, right?

Quirks aside, I am pleased with my new digs and so I bid The Gameshelf a fond and good-natured farewell. Posting will continue at the usual semiregular rate. See you all on the new domain.

Posted in Zarfplan | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pocket Storm for the new Apple TV

I'm happy to announce that Pocket Storm for the Apple TV is now available in the new Apple TV App Store. Apple's new set-top box ships today, and you can get your favorite thunderstorm on it.

To find it, open the App Store app on the TV's main screen, select Search, and enter STORM. (Or POCKET, or ZARF -- the text search is actually pretty good.)

Better yet -- if you've purchased Pocket Storm for iOS, you can download the Apple TV app for free! And vice versa. It's a joint purchase, which means you can buy it once and then install it on any iOS or tvOS device you own.

As always, I am donating 10% of Pocket Storm revenues to, because of the awesome service they provide to indie game designers and other artists. In particular, they provide CC-licensed thunderstorm noises to me!

Posted in Zarfplan | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pocket Storm on sale today

(If I was sensible I would have posted this last night...)

I just kicked Pocket Storm 1.1 out to the App Store, and to help spread the news, I'm lowering the price to one dollar -- today only. Call it Thunderstorm Friday! (In real life it's just drizzling out there in Boston, but with technology, we can do better.)

I got the download size down below Apple's 50-meg limit, so you can install the app over 3G now. There are a handful of other small improvements. (The fade-out timer behaves more sensibly now; you can use headphone controls on PS; and I plugged in the necessary vacuum tubes for the new iPhone 5 display size.) But app size is the important change. Apparently people make impulse purchases -- who knew?

And, as before, I am donating 10% of Pocket Storm revenues to, because of the awesome service they provide to indie game designers and other artists. In particular, they provide CC-licensed thunderstorm noises to me! Thus far Pocket Storm has not been a huge moneymaker, but I am hoping that over time, people support it.

Posted in Zarfplan | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BostonFIG followup

I was at the Boston Festival of Independent Games and it was pretty darn awesome.

(Photo credit to BostonIndies.)

I had Shade and Meanwhile sitting out on iPads, and people played both of them! It wasn't literally eight straight hours of IF demoing -- there were gaps -- but it's not like people ignored the IF in favor of the interactive comic, either. Several people played a significant fraction of Shade. One dedicated player ran through the whole thing. (With some nudges from me. The ending requires a certain degree of relaxed experimentation and persistence, which isn't easy to maintain in a crowded demo room.)

(Yes, I wrote down a bunch of synonyms and action phrasings that I forgot to implement back in 2000. I will add them to the game when the iOS version comes out. User testing!)

Naturally I had a stack of IF cards to hand out to Shade players. I also got to show off the XYZZY Award I won for it, way back. And the puzzle-key I designed for the MakerBot promo game. (In the photo, the puzzle-key is sitting on top of the XYZZY. Sorry, I would have arranged that better if I'd known. Also I'd have been looking at the camera.)

Meanwhile was also popular, of course. It demos very well -- hand it to someone, and they'll get the idea instantly.

(I also had Pocket Storm running on an iPod. You can see the headphones in the photo, but nobody picked them up. Oh well. The good news is, I now know that an iPod can run PS for eight hours without recharging, even with the screen set to stay lit.)

I did not get much chance to look around the rest of the show, because I was standing and demoing for eight hours. That laptop in front of me? Didn't open it once. I thought I would be able to work on some HL code during slack time in the show. Ha ha.

But I could see some very nifty first-person 3D exploration games running across the room, and hear the shrieks of Conway's Inferno. (All my puzzle friends noted Conway's Inferno as a clear puzzle hit; I agree. When the iOS version ships, buy it.) And I got a few minutes to chat with Jason Scott before he showed his movie. I hear Peter Molyneux dropped by, but if I saw him, I didn't know it.

I did not win one of the show awards, which were voted by the crowds. (Didn't expect to.) You can see Shade got a string of yellow dots -- votes for "best narrative" -- although, to be fair, I think a couple of people were voting for Meanwhile. I don't see the winner list posted, but I know that the Best Narrative trophy went to Resonance, so congrats to Wadjet Eye.

Conclusion: this festival was a big success. It was an excellent way for crazy small-time developers like me to show off games, talk to people, and generally demonstrate our existence. Many people tried my games; more people watched the documentaries. I pushed the PR-IF link on anybody who expressed an interest in IF, so I expect we'll have a packed meeting in October. (Not yet scheduled, sorry.)

The show will happen again; it will be bigger next year. If you're a game maker in the New England area, and you're not big enough to set up a gigantic booth at PAX or GDC, you want to be at BostonFIG in 2013. I will be.

Posted in Boston | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Zarf at BostonFIG

I am happy to announce that I will be showing off Shade for iOS at the Boston Festival of Independent Games, at MIT next weekend. I will also have Meanwhile, Pocket Storm, Fealty, and the rest of my iOS portfolio ready to demo.

(BostonFIG: Saturday, September 22, 10 am to 10 pm, MIT buildings 34 and 26. Free and open to the public.)

More IF stuff at FIG: Jason Scott will be a keynote speaker, and he will be showing Get Lamp at some point. Plus there's this whole showcase of other indie games. It'll be cool.

What, you ask? Shade for iOS? It's still in development -- don't go running off to the App Store to find it. As with Dreamhold, I'm planning to leave the game file unchanged from its circa-2000 release, but I will add in-game feelies of some sort. Only not a map. A map of Shade wouldn't be very interesting.

Posted in Boston | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pocket Storm

I am delighted to announce Pocket Storm -- a generative audio environment for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Pocket Storm is my first Boodler project for iOS.

It starts with a calm summer night. Soon you'll hear thunder in the distance, then wind and a spatter of rain. After half an hour you'll be in the thick of the storm. By the end of the hour it will have faded into the night again. Then the cycle begins again.

The Pocket Storm is not like other environmental audio apps. Every thunderstorm is different! Wind, rain, thunder -- even chirping crickets -- every sound is chosen from a library, with subtle variations of pitch and timing. The Pocket Storm weaves these elements into a tapestry of sound which will never repeat.

Here's my Pocket Storm web page; or snarf it straight from the App Store.

Boodler is an open-source soundscape project which I invented years ago. Boodler is designed for any kind of complex audio environment -- weather, traffic, alien worlds -- but I've never developed it as it really deserves. The Pocket Storm is my first attempt to bring Boodler to a consumer audience.

Rather than trying to sell a complete "Boodler for iPhone" app, I'm taking the approach of do one thing, very well. So Pocket Storm is a one-hour thunderstorm, which plays as background audio. Or you can stream it to AirPlay. You can set the timing as desired, or adjust the weather manually. There's also a timer option, if you want to go to sleep to it.

Audio samples from Pocket Storm, at different stages, are posted on the web site.

Owen Williams created the first Boodler thunderstorm soundscape, more than a decade ago. My app doesn't use his code, though, nor the old Boodler sound samples. I've built an all-new thunderstorm -- or rather, a set of thunderstorm variations -- using sounds from the project.

The sound libraries that I've compiled for Pocket Storm are now posted on the Boodler web site. (They're all Creative Commons Attribution, Sampling Plus, and Zero licenses.) The agents (source code) that assemble the sounds are not currently available; as usual, I'm trying to find a balance between open-source work and secret sauce. But you are, of course, welcome to compose your own Boodler thunderstorms from these sounds, or use Owen's original.

(Speaking of which: a percentage of the App Store revenue from Pocket Storm will be donated to the Freesound project.)

Posted in Zarfplan | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments