The Derivation of Spring

Ah, a rainy spring day. One of the first this year.

Also, Easter.

Also, Conway's Game of Life Day! :D Today's date, 3/23, is the cellular automaton ruleset describing Conway's Game of Life. A dead cell comes alive with three neighbors, and a living cell stays alive with two or three neighbors. 23/3.

As far as I know, I'm the only one who recognizes Conway's Game of Life Day. Pi Day, 3/14, really steals the show for March. But I'm fine with that.

I've got news. You may be wondering what that picture is. It looks like a game. It is a game. It's my new game, released earlier this week on St. Patrick's Day for the fifth game design competition at Jay is Games. Yes, I actually managed to finish something in time for a contest.

Create your own glitch music in this experimental dodging game. Collect points to upgrade your tracks and control up to three ships at once!

It's an experiment in interactive music. I've tried dynamically mixing loops before (Braids) and now this is an attempt at something different, something a little more appropriate to Flash's technical capabilities. Glitch music is a style based on glitchy sounds like that of a skipping CD or record. In _dRive, the music skips when you move your ship. Crude, but an interesting toy to play with. I hope to refine the idea for the sequel, and perhaps for later games as well.

I worked with a composer, SineRider, to come up with some specially glitch-able tracks for the game. It was really fun to collaborate with him. I'd gladly do it again.

It's also an experiment in making educational games. Surprisingly enough, the name "dRive" is a combination of the words "drive" and "derive". It's a game about derivatives. The three tracks in the game, the three ships, correspond to the physical properties of position, velocity, and acceleration. Through playing the game, you learn to control all three at once, internalizing the mathematical relationships between them.

However, the game doesn't go out of its way to explain the math behind the motion. It's much more of a game than an educational tool. But I imagine it could be used to supplement a more traditional lesson about calculus or kinematics.

I made _dRive as part of Twig Games, a company I'm trying to start with a few other people who believe in the potential of games for education and social change (see my last post). This is our first game, so it's nothing particularly awesome yet. Just wanted to get something out there. You can expect some pretty cool stuff from us in the future though - I've got some good ideas.

Well, I've learned a lot over the course of this project, both on the development side and more interestingly, perhaps, on the marketing side. It takes a lot of work to promote a Flash game, if you want to do it right. Check my blog again in a day or two, I'll be posting a writeup of the lessons I've learned. Maybe they'll help you.

If you like _dRive, please try playing and rating it on these other sites as well:
The full, high-quality version of the game music is now available for download! Get it here.

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