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Game Dev Diary - Hnefatafl

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I was asked last year to see if an online version of the Viking chess game Hnefatafl could be built with the intention of showcasing it at a local history event. I love this game and if you've never heard of it (I hadn't until a year ago) go search it out. It has proved a difficult challenge but has led me down a familiar and enjoyable rabbit hole, that paved the way for my participation in the Sega game jam last month, in which I achieved third place. Learning the rules was a difficult challenge but soon learnt them, along with some basic tactics and techniques of play. I was able to put a working prototype together but the next challenge came when trying to make it two player over a connection. A few moths down the line, I had a reliable working single player version with rather sketchy two player functionality. The last few months have been busy with work and other projects but over the past few months I've been able to dip into the Hnefatafl build and apply a great dea

Game Jam Results

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I had written previous about The Arcade Vaults in Cardiff and the game design competition that they were running with Sega Amusements. After four weeks of development, my game Sticky Gumball was entered and my son and I travelled to Cardiff for the competition results. The best thing about the visit was standing in a room watching people play my game whilst discussing with the players about how it was made and the inspiration behind the idea. At one point it got really competitive between players and it was so nice to see people enjoying my game and the other entries. So to the results! The guy from Sega announced the top three winning games and I was so flattered that Sticky Gumball achieved third place, with my friend Rich being awarded second. First place went to a great game I have played quite a bit already and deserved to win, Ticket Tower . The game dev community there was so welcoming, friendly bunch and I hope to keep conversations flowing. Hello to you! You can play Stick

Contacting Zoltar on Twitter

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  You can now contact my Zoltar cabinet over Twitter! My Zoltar build is proving a great deal of fun and amusement and whilst it's not complete just yet, he has been generating a great deal on interest. I've been thinking about how to make my Zoltar cabinet more accessible to people and I think I've come up with a way for people to contact him over Twitter. Here's a short video of where the project is currently at. In order for Zoltar to respond to people's fortune requests, I first needed to load him up with some words of wisdom. I found a book of his sayings online and got to work recording them in a spreadsheet, so that I had them stored in a central location. The next step was to create a Twitter account for the Zoltar cabinet and was surprised to see that  @ZoltarCabinet  hadn't been taken, so I snapped it up. The idea is that when Zoltar receives a Tweet to his account, he will choose a random saying from the spreadsheet list and respond back automatically

The Three Amigos

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  There's about 18 months work put into these proof of concept cabinets. From left to right:  1. Hacked payphone running on my own telephone network.  2. Retro game cabinet running RetroPi off a Pi Zero.  3. Coin operated Zoltar fortune teller machine. These are all mostly made from Scrap or found and foraged materials. They're not yet finished but all three are getting close to the finishing line.

Building a Zoltar Fortune Teller Cabinet: Part Three

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The task of building a coin-operated Zoltar fortune teller cabinet definitely feels like it's turned a corner, now that a proper torso has been found and I've made a start on painting the cabinet. Here's an update video of the coin operated Zoltar in action, I've also provided a little walkthrough too, explaining how it's all put together. Don't forget to make a wish! The next step is to have the cabinet dispense fortune telling cards, just like you see with similar cabinets out in the wild. This is a problem I have yet to solve with the use of a Microbit but I have purchased a pack of Zoltar cards in preparation. I am also experimenting with a mini thermal printer to do the job also, having it print your fortune on paper similar to a receipt you get when you shop. I would also love it if the cabinet was painted in a carnival style, using those decorative fonts and colours to really make it stand out.  Previous Zoltar update posts: Part Two: https://www.rustyroc

Arcades and Game Jams

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 I wrote last year about my experiment with ads and selling teaching resources online ( read it here ). Whilst the money it generates won't make me rich quick any time soon, it has generated just enough for myself and my son to get away for a couple of days in Cardiff. As we were exploring the city, we stumbled upon this curious retro gaming cafĂ© called The Arcade Vaults . From the moment the door opened to the familiar Mario coin sound, I was hooked. This is such a great little place to find. This was such a friendly and welcoming place, with people of all ages wanting to eat, drink and play on the old games. Some I have never played before and it great to explore the three floors, we could have spent the whole afternoon in their quite easily. We even got to play on a Vectrex, something that I've always wanted to do. I really liked this machine and I can see why people adore them the way they do. They even had a score board for their customers. Looking at it I don't think

A New Themed Telephone Box

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Work began on a new themed telephone box for the hacked payphone project a few months ago. As we have moved house in the last six months, there were plenty of old wardrobe parts to help with the build. I wanted it to be a phone booth with a difference and though about going with a 70s theme, with the aim of eventually have booths for other decades too.  As a means to future-proof the project, the phone system now sends a booth id ahead of any calls it makes to the operator. This will ensure that when a Dial-A-Disc music stream has been requested, the operator can choose music appropriate the the booth type based on the booth id it's been given. The BT payphone has now been installed and although the blue cover doesn't fit with the overall 70s brown theme, I think the whole setup actually looks pretty good. When it's dark and the booth is all lit up, it looks really impressive. Imagine seeing this stood in the corner of the room when you're at an event, you would definit