Playing Games with USB Drum Pad

2 Button Games

. Divekick Dave Lang. Best 2 button fighting game on the market!
. Super Hexagon Spent 27 hours in this game. Still great to come back to.
. One Finger Death Punch Fantastic game with lots of content. Wish it had Steam save cloud support!
. Kung Fury: Street Rage Adds new gameplay mechanics to the 2 button formula from One Finger Death Punch. Very challenging but fun!
. Pinball FX2 Pinball is awesome. Original tables that are based on existing IPs like Star Wars, The Walking Dead, different cartoons like Archer, South Park and a whole lot more!
. The Pinball Arcade Pinball is awesome. Based on real tables. Pick your poison!
. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat Never played it but this is probably a 2 button game right?
Divekick Controller
Divekick Controller

As a followup to my 2 button Games list, I was looking for an alternate way to play them. Since the Divekick controller unfortunately was never commercially available, I had to look for other methods to get my 2 button controller fix.

I was inspired by this video by Nick Robinson who used Gamecube Bongos to play One Finger Death Punch.

I considered buying the bongos but I ended up getting a cheap 10 dollar usb Drum Pad from China instead.

USB Drum Pad
USB Drum Pad

Turns out you just can't jam the usb cable into the usb port and expect it to work as a controller, whoops! I ended up setting an overly elaborate daisychain of no less than 5 programs to get it to work, but it works, so yay!

If you want the cliffnotes version on how to install this thing, I'll give it to you because I sure as hell didn't find any instructions for it on the internet!

Cliffnotes on how to get the USB Drum Pads to work as a controller

The first thing you do is install a program called USB2MIDI, which is a program specifically made for the usb drumpads to convert the input from them to MIDI signals.

Then you need to download a program called LoopBe1 which is a virtual MIDI driver. It allows programs that use MIDI signals to talk with eachother without actually needed a physical MIDI inport.

Afterwards you need to install a program called Bome's Midi Translator Classic which is able to convert MIDI signals to keystrokes. (Cool right?!) Unfortunately this won't be enough for most games since the keystrokes need to be delivered at a low enough system level (I'm not sure of the details).

Fortunately there is one program that is able to do that! Autohotkey! This ended up being a fairly roundabout way to do things. I used keyboard keys as hotkeys for other keyboard keys. e.g. Numpad1 ended up being a hotkey for the "left arrow", Numpad2 ended up being a hotkey for the "right arrow". You can't use the left arrow key as the hotkey for the left arrow key because of... reasons.

Finally, the most important thing... Bongo sounds! Google is your friend for finding those sounds, there are plenty of free ones out there! But how do you get those sounds out of the drumpad? Well, there is this awesome program called Soundplant which turns your keyboard into a music delivering device. I ended up binding the bongo sounds to my arrow keys and voila presto! Bongos! (Make sure to switch "background key input" on though which is situated in the middle top of the program).

After all that's setup, time to play! I had a fun time playing One Finger Death Punch, Kung Fury: Street Rage and Divekick with it! (Super Hexagon not so much!)

I also made some videos, showcasing some gameplay, enjoy!

Drumpad Game Videos

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Creating games as a hobby

Creating games is like poetry, nobody gives a poop about it unless it's your friends or kindred spirits!

Kewlsnake

Introduction

I love creating stuff. I lack the skillset to create beautiful drawings or music or tell elaborate stories and that's ok. The act of bringing stuff together into a coherent (or incoherent) thing is a reward in itself. I tried my hand at game creation a couple of times over the years. It mostly didn't pan out but oh boy was it fun!

Space Explorer (TI-84) ~2011

Ti-84 Calculator
Ti-84 Calculator

Even after my high school years I messed around quite a bit with TI-84 calculator! Remember this kids? Oh who am I kidding, people have been using the same calculator for 10 years!

This was one of the cooler projects I created.

Space Explorer (TI-84 Calcultor)
Space Explorer (TI-84 Calcultor)

It's a space universe generated on your calculator! You can move around with your spaceship X in this universe that's about 10^8 calc screens big! (Around 3000 football fields!)

Pretty cool, but slow as balls! =) If you want to play it on your calculator, go nuts!

Tony Hawk's Unity Skater (Unity) ~2013

Frustrated as I was with the lack of Tony Hawk games after 2005-2007, I did the only thing I could, make my own skating game!

I followed the excellent "Cooking With Unity" video tutorials made by PushyPixels (which you can find here).

I started creating my awesome skating game...

... and quickly found out I was in way over my head and never touched Unity again! But hey, atleast I made a dude grind a rail!

Dirty Cops 2: A Giant Bomb Murder Mystery (Twine) ~2014

After my project with Tony Hawk, I lost interest in creating stuff for a quite a while. If other people can do it better, why make it yourself, right? (Still waiting for that killer Tony Hawk game though!)

I got around to messing around in Twine after playing Depression Quest (by Zoey Quinn) and Sacrilege (by Cara Ellison) that was on Zoey Quin's GOTY list 2013.

I think Twine is cool, albit a bit basic. (People have made some awesome games with it though!) The demographic for people that play Twine games are usually Twine creators themselves or or people who just enjoy text adventures in general.

(let me reiterate my fabulous quote from the beginning of my blog here!)

Creating games is like poetry, nobody gives a poop about it unless it's your friends or kindred spirits!

Kewlsnake

And that's ok. The first Twine game I made was called Dirty Cops 2: A Giant Bomb Murder mystery. You are a cop, trying to solve a murder. You can just walk away, you can solve the murder legitimately or you can do videogamey stuff and kill everyone, all leading to its own unique ending. In this game all the NPCs were Giant Bomb crew members. I sent it to Patrick the day before he officially left Giant Bomb. In hindsight it's probably quite tone deaf to send a game to someone where he is one of the potential victims? (Sorry Patrick!)

As to why the game is called Dirty Cops 2? Well the reasoning was that the first game in a franchise sucks and that the second improves on the concept, right? So if you skip directly to the second game, it must be great right?! Makes sense to me!

Vinny's Head (Twine) ~March 2015

Artistic interpretation of Vinny Caravella's head
Artistic interpretation of Vinny Caravella's head

On March 28th there was a Giant Bomb Game Jam. I wanted to enter because I liked to mess around with Twine. I had a couple of ideas in my head on what I wanted to make. I first started with a murder mystery game where you would need to visit locations and read loads of text that was ripped from Wikipedia to find the answer. (Interesting idea but not very fun!)

The second idea I had revolved around Vinny's head. I wasn't sure about the details but I wanted to create something about his head. Eventually I decided that the goal of the game was not to stress Vinny out or he would go bald. It was an extremely short choose your own adventure type of game. If atleast someone got a chuckle out of it, then my goal has succeeded! I think I finished it in around an hour or so and uploaded it on the first day of the jam before the game entry page was even ready!

I tweeted it to Vinny, he retweeted it which lead to a lot of people checking it out, which was pretty cool!

It was also played on the Big Live Live Show 2015 and judged by starjudges such as Adam Boyes, John Drake and Dave Lang!

Here's a link to Vinny's Head if you're interested.

Ghost Master 2D (RPG Maker) ~April 2015

Ghost Master
Ghost Master

I like love Ghost Master. I think the creator is great. I even tracked down a +10 year old lost review of Ghost Master for the hell of it! If you're not familiar with Ghost Master, it can be described as an anti-Sims type game where you scare sims with ghosts.

Because my needs for scaring sims weren't met with modern games, I golly do what I do best, create it myself!

I used RPG Maker to create what I wanted out of it.

Scaring NPCS is fun. (Ghost Master 2D)
Scaring NPCS is fun. (Ghost Master 2D)

You are a powerful demon that's imprisoned and every inane move you do, adds more years to your sentence (Freedom Wars style!). You can reduce your punishment by infiltrating in people's houses (in the gif on the left as the family's dog!) and scaring them to death. The map design isn't great but the mechanics are there. You use your powers to activate crystals that are located in the house. When the inhabitants come near, they get scared, your power increases which allows you to activate more crystals.

For the moment Ghost Master 2D is just a one level prototype but I had a lot of fun playing (and creating) it. =)

Kissing Foes (RPG Maker) ~April 2015

The fever to create stuff is on me now! Almost directly after creating my Ghost Master prototype, I started working on my next project. This is the type of experimental indie hipster bullshit that you'll either hate or enjoy. It's a short game about kissing people. It's inspired by Chulip (even though I never played it). It's what I imagine Chulip to be, hah!

Chulip in all its greatness!
Chulip in all its greatness!
Give that big boy a big kiss! (Kissing Foes)
Give that big boy a big kiss! (Kissing Foes)

The town of Frownville has been hit by a terrible curse!

Everybody has been turned into monsters. It's up to you to turn everyone's frown upside down! Use your special smooch powers to turn everyone back to normal. Give all the foes a big kiss to convert them back to happy villagers!

Includes over a hundred Love Quotes by various people including Bob Marley, Marylin Monroe and Nicolas Sparks!

Game description( Kissing Foes)

Someone at indiegames.com wrote a lovely review for it which I quite enjoyed. If you want to play Kissing Foes, you can find it here.

Gunslinger Osdeon (RPG Maker) ~May 2015

3x3 grid system used in Snatcher
3x3 grid system used in Snatcher

If Kissing Foes was inspired by Chulip, then Gunslinger Osdeon was inspired by Hideo Kojima's 90's graphic adventure Snatcher! Not the story nor the setting, but the combat. It had a very interesting 3x3 grid Rail Shooter component that was excellently suited for a controller. It gave you precision and allowed you to shoot where you wanted to shoot.

I've recreated that railshooter component on PC and it allows you to do the same but with the keyboard. This was the project where I spent the most work on and that inspired me to write a blog about creating games as my hobby and how far I've come.

Gunslinger Osdeon
Gunslinger Osdeon

It's been a long road since creating Space Explorer on the TI-84 calculator. Hopefully there are many more games to come!

You can find Gunslinger Osdeon here.

Thank you for reading!

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Rhianna Pratchett's Ghost Master review

Giant Bomb exclusive reveal!

Rhianna Pratchett wrote an excellent review for the game Ghost Master in the July 2003 issue of PC ZONE magazine. Because PC ZONE went belly up in 2010, its review archives were lost and so was the review... Until today!

I contacted the owner of http://www.pixsoriginadventures.co.uk/ who uploaded a bunch of old magazines to his site. He was kind enough to scan in the specific review and send it to me.

I uploaded the scans of the review to imgur here.

Here's the response of Rhianna Pratchett when I tweeted her the scans:

Here are the scans:

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Love Letter to Chris Bateman

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Chris Bateman

Introduction

This is a shortlist of games where game designer, philosopher and author Chris Bateman was involved in. He worked on more than 40 published games in total. Quite a lot of them were pretty throwaway like Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue, Bad Boys: Miami Takedown, Bratz games... but there were also some hidden gems among them. He took part in development of games like Ghost Master where you scare people with ghosts in a Sims type of environment or Discworld Noir which is both an example and a parody of the noir genre. He was also involved in a great little Slovakian Euro-RPG, called Kult: Heretic Kingdoms (Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition in America) where you pretty much start off as the bad guy and try to kill off religion. Ten years later he's also taking part in development of the sequel called Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms which you can now find on Steam!

He also wrote some great post mortems which made the games themselves more interesting. In true game industry fashion, he barely made money off them. At their time these games were commercial failures and he doesn't see a penny from some of the later re-releases on Steam or GOG.

Recently Chris Bateman got awared a PhD in aesthetics of play of games and videogames at University of Bolton and is the first person to do so.

Discworld Noir (1999)

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Description: A point & click adventure game that takes place in the Discworld universe with approval and involvement from Terry Pratchett. It features a new character who is a private investigator. The game is an example and parody of the noir genre. Chris Bateman was responsible for the narrative design.

You can watch a post mortem about Discworld Noir here.

Discworld Noir isn't available on GOG or Steam and on top of that it's near impossible to run it on a modern pc. Some of the guides for getting this game to work basically tell you to install the game on a virtual machine of Windows XP.

Ghost Master (2003)

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Description: An anti-Sims game where you haunt Sims with your ghosts. All the good bits in the game were designed by Chris Bateman. Negative bits are the puzzle missions, which are hard especially towards the end. This game is at its best when just scaring people.

You can read the post mortem about Ghost Master here.

Ghost Master can be bought on Steam here.

Kult Heretic: Kingdoms (2005)

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Description: An action RPG that's limited in scope but well executed. The narrative design is done by Chris Bateman. You are an inquisitor who wants to eliminate religion. The game breaks away from standard fantasy tropes (no orcs or elves).

The post mortem for Kult: Heretic Kingdoms can be found here.

Kult: Heretic Kingdoms can be found on GOG here.

Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms (~2015)

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Description: Sequel to Kult: Heretic Kingdoms that is currently in Steam early access. Chris Bateman is the narrative lead and script writer in this game.

Developer diary with Chris Bateman can be found here.

Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms can be found on Steam here.

Credits

The image from Chris Bateman was taken from his twitter account @SpiralChris.

The image for Ghost Master was taken from an excellent visual walkthrough for the game at http://www.visualwalkthroughs.com/.

The Shadows Heretic Kingdoms logo was taken from the official website at http://www.shadows-game.com/.

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New Geometry Wars release? Play Grid Wars 2

Unlike Geometry Wars which eventually plateaus in difficulty facilitating high scores in the range of hundreds of millions of points, GridWars 2 has an exponentially increasing difficulty curve. Eventually, the enemy spawn sites become so large that they nearly envelop the entire grid.

Grid Wars 2 Wikipedia page

Grid Wars 2 was a freeware clone of Geometry Wars that was so great, the creators of Geometry Wars asked to pull it down because it was hurting their sales.

In the wake of the announcement of Geometry Wars: Dimensions, I decided to post some great Grid Wars 2 mods that you never know existed.

These were all posted in one form or the other on a forum called YakYak. The last post in that thread, was made by me where I posted some links to fixed up mods and builds of the game (which are dead now). I thought it was a good time to repost them.

Disclaimer: I didn't make the game nor did I create any of the mods. Consider me as the guy who fixes shit long after anyone stopped caring.

Grid Wars 2 v5.4

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This is the last officially released version of Grid Wars 2. It's pretty hard to find so I provided a download link.

Grid Wars 2 v4.1 (with Graphics Mod)

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This is the version you'll be likely to find if you google Grid Wars. It can be found here. It makes the game look beautiful, unfortunately the version of the game is a bit outdated.

Grid Wars 2 v5.4 (with Graphics Mod)

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This is a version I cobbled together. It's the latest version of the game, combined with the graphics mod posted previously. There are also some minor bug fixes. This is the version I'd recommend playing.

Download

Asteroid Wars

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Very cool Asteroid inspired Grid Wars mod (created by DD on YakYak).

Download

Star Trek Mod

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It has some great sound bits and images from Star Trek (created by KlaxonCow on YakYak).

Download

Star Wars Mod

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Star Wars mod (created by The LaMonster on YakYak).

Download

Special Blend

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This is something I created for myself. It's pretty much a mix of previous mods. Here's the description I posted a couple of years ago on YakYak:

This is a mash up of different builds and mods and thus is a highly personalised version. It's as far from the "Classic" grid wars as you can get.

- Built on version 5.4

- Graphics from Taumel's build 4.1

- Star Trek mod from KlaxonCow (with the glowing bits)

- Colour scheme from Star Wars mod by The Lamonster (meaning just the trail, but still awesome)

- Replaced the Red Clones from 5.4 with the ones from 4.1 because I found those from 5.4 too fast/too responsive

- I replaced the dark green bouncy bullets from the Star Trek/Star Wars mod with the original bright bouncy green bullets. (required some editing of the source code)

This all together makes for a pretty trippy experience.

Download

Grid Wars 2 Rebalanced

I started a project to rebalance the scoring system and do some quality of life tweaks. Hope you'll enjoy!

Changes Overview (more info in PDF in zipfile)

- Black Holes gain 100 points in value for every enemy absorbed

- Bombs don’t remove score multiplier anymore

- Lower score multiplier requirements

- Faster Get Ready and Gameover screens

- New sounds

Download

Credits

I'm going to repeated the same words I posted a couple of years ago on the YakYak forums, I still mean them today.

Words can't describe how awesome the people are who worked at this. Taumel's work on the graphics department made Mark Incitti's game look THAT much better. The Star Trek mod added those tiny soundbits of Star Trek characters which are surprisingly really enjoyable. Together with the changes made on the enemies/player ship you get a real nice atmosphere. Also I don't know if the creator of the Star Wars mod knew this but just simply changing the sprite for the player shot from yellow to red was a stroke of genius. It made you able to make the normal bullets a nicely multicoloured mix of red and yellow and when you then get the super shot, your bullets turn into a very nice intense darkish red.

Thank you, Mark Incitti for creating Grid Wars.

Thank you, Stephen Cakebread for creating Geometry Wars.

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