Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Hello Ratmaze 0.5!

Yes!! Ratmaze lives again!! I'm very happy & excited to announce the release of our very first finished game, Ratmaze 0.5! I'll talk more about it, how it came to be, and other stuff in a moment. First, a link to the game (it's free!):

Click to play at http://games.pixeljam.com

This is Ratmaze 0.5b, to be precise. A much a scaled down, simplified version of the original Ratmaze game I had written about last week. This version is more like a game that consists only of a delicious cheese consuming bonus stage. There are no enemies, and there is no death (or killing), only running, eating, & dancing. There is a timer, and 3 levels of rank, with a slight payoff if you complete the game before the music ends the first time through. If you eat all the cheese within that time (roughly 127 seconds) you'll get to see Rat do backflips and dance. You'll get to see him do a simpler dance without the backflips if you do average, and if you're really slow (take longer than 254 seconds) I made an animation of him getting fat and having to sit down and be too full to dance. All of them are worth seeing though, 'cause the rat is really cute doing all of it. Oh yeah, the game is very kid friendly.

Look at all that delicious cheese! I think the rat ate too much.. here, take a look at some screenshots from Ratmaze. click on them for a larger view:

how's he gonna get those cheeses??

Hey, It's Dude, our good friend from Game01 (unfinished, unreleased)! He's just a dancing fool in Ratmaze. No, you can't eat him.

I have to tell you about the music for Ratmaze 0.5. It's totally awesome!! It's perfect for this game. Many thanks to Mark DeNardo (markdenardo.com) and Anthony Koerber (squareproduct.com) for their 8-bit masterpiece "poulenc". What fun it is to run around and chomp cheeses to.. You can also download it from within Ratmaze if you find the secret area. ;) If anything Ratmaze is a cool music video.

So, how did Ratmaze come to live again, you ask? I mean, I know I had written a whole blog, lamenting how it wasn't going to happen last week. well, it's as simple as this.. I posted a bulletin on myspace.com letting people know about last weeks new blog entry, and one friendly person sent me a message saying that she would have loved to have played Ratmaze. She went on to explain how much she loved rats, and even had a rat on the t-shirt she was wearing in her illustrated profile photo. I thought about sending her the relatively lifeless version of the game we had built it up to so far, where you could run around and eat a few pieces of cheese in silence, but I thought if I was going to do that, maybe miles wouldn't mind adding chees to all the rooms to make it more enjoyable. He was okay with that, but we decided to go ahead and do that and add a few other little details and release it for everyone to play. With 4 days of constant, hard work & late nights, we managed to finish it up last night. We made a temporary site for pixeljam games and behold! An actual finished game and a website to download it from/a URL to give people . games.pixeljam.com is born. It's only a temporary site for now and will be more thought out when we have time. I'm sure by the time gamma bros. is finished, we'll have made some changes.

Well, that's about all for Ratmaze 0.5. please tell all your friends about it if you like it. It's free and all, so, why not. Also, let us know about any bugs or glitches you come across. it's still kind of a beta version.

As for Gamma Bros. progress, we've been working on it some more as well. I made a few animations for the guys ship blowing up, and of them getting into their ships in the hangar at the beginning of the game. Miles has been programming the first level's waves of enemies and so far it's great fun to play. Here's an action packed screenshot of some game play. click for a larger version (actual game dimensions).

Super action!!!

okay, that's all for today. thanks for reading and have fun eating all that delicious pixel cheese!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Goodbye Ratmaze 1.0

Hi! Welcome back to the games.pixeljam.com blog. This week I would like to briefly touch on what's new with Gamma Bros, and then I think I'd like to take some time to reflect on a game Miles and I were developing last year that will probably never be finished that we call "Ratmaze".

So, first things first, a Gamma Bros update. Who are they again, you ask? Well, their names are Buzz and Zap, and they are brothers (by blood, although it's unclear exactly how), and they work together on a space station, doing some very important work (we think)..

They seem to be great with computers and are a bit on the strange side. I'd say Buzz (redhead) is a little more high-strung than Zap, who is more evenly balanced. they've both got girlfriends back on Earth, and the part of their lives that you, the player, will be involved with is getting them home from work safely. I'll get further into the history of these guys, where they made their first appearance, etc. another time.

As for what's new, Miles and I have both fortunately gotten a bunch of client design work recently, and since making a living is of primary importance, and cash reserves are becoming frighteningly low, that's where our time must be spent. We took many months off so that we could produce Gamma Bros and lived off savings & credit. Sadly,we haven't really worked on the game in over a week & I've also been having a rough time with my broken arm, but that's another story. We're hoping of course to find a way to make our living off of creative projects, retro games primarily. We truly want to make many great, fun games, we are just bursting & exploding with ideas and have about 6 or 7 games slated for development after Gamma Bros, including a sequel to Gamma Bros that will be a combo of spaceshooter, platform action game and adventure story. think Galaxian meets Robotron meets Master Blaster. maybe add Bionic commando in there..

Soo, speaking of games on hiatus, let me tell you a little about a little game that we were working on after we put our first large adventure game on indefinite hold. It was called "Ratmaze" and we took it as far as completing the game map, adding some cheese to the rooms, and making the rat controllable to run around (u,l,d,r) the maze. the idea was to make a simple game where you had to do certain tasks to collect all the varieties of cheese in the maze within a specified time limit. The game would have been relatively non-violent, no killing, just lots of dodging, running around and knocking over "enemies" (snakes, bugs, bats, worms, spiders, scorpions, mousetraps, other rats & mice maybe). There would also have been a large main cat that would stick its paws and face into the maze occasionally to thwart the rat's mission, but the cat wouldn't kill the rat, just stun him for a moment, where he would lose precious time.

There would have been secrets too, of course. There's got to be secrets in video games. it's like rule #3 of video game making! Well, that's about all I can tell you about Ratmaze. we've moved on to our Gamma Bros game and will probably leave Ratmaze behind. I loved the little Rat, so he'll likely be seen in some of our games to come, and maybe there's a possibility that we'll try a Ratmaze 2.0 in the future, many games later, but for now we've just got to consider it a learning experience & move on. Perhaps we'll let people run around the relatively empty and unfinished halls of Ratmaze sometime, but it's not that entertaining beyond a minute or two & once you've gotten all the cheese. it's totally unfinished & somewhat lifeless in its current state. check out some more of the screens: (click for larger views, actual game size)

An example of a piece of cheese that Rat would have been searching for. I think that's a small wedge of swiss.

Ah yes.. something pood here.. and you would have had to carry this poo pile over to the area where the spiders had blocked a passageway with a spider web! The flies on the poo pile would follow it and the spiders would have been distracted with catching them as you worked through the web to get to the new area. :)

At some point, you would have had to locate an old can, put it in the water and use it as a boat to be taken to a previously unreachable location

You'd have to find the little rat-sized helmet to get the cheese from this trap..

uh oh! watch out rat dude. it's the fussy feline trying to wreck yo' sh*t!

Well, there you have it. Ratmaze. Sorry little Rat buddy. Maybe we'll see you again in the future.

That's all for today. check back in a week or two for more of.. something. oh yeah, please send us email to games@pixeljam.com if you'd like to be on our mailing list. We'll let you know when Gamma Bros is ready, and future games as well.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Gamma Bros update, Feb 07, 2006

Hello Universe,

Welcome back to the Gamma Bros. pre-release news & info blog. I'm not sure really what to call it, but that should do for now. In today's blog I'm going to post first-time-ever screenshots!, as well as talk a little bit more about the game. First, here's a screenshot of the intro/title screen:

Look at those guys work.. they sure are hard workers.
. So, what is the Gamma Bros. you ask?, well as I mentioned in my first Gamma Bros. blog, It's an original Flash based retro style video game being designed & developed by Miles Tilmann & myself, (Rich Grillotti) with 8 bit music & sound fx by Mark DeNardo. It will be free for all to download & play. It's been in development for about 6 months maybe, building on characters and story concepts from our first game, which we've completed about 1/3 of but had to stop because it was a bit too ambitious for a first game & would have taken way too long to complete. "Game 01" was more of a screen by screen adventure game (think Robotron meets Atari 2600 Adventure/NES Legend of Zelda) where Gamma Bros is straight-up action space shooter... (like Gradius, & Robotron somewhat as well). Both are based on a very minimal pixel art style I was working with originally for a series of pixel models for an Art/Fashion exhibition
here in Chicago a couple years ago. You can see the pixel models at http://anything.org/.

Non-stop action! this would be from one of the earlier levels. watch out! those missiles are guided.

So, the Gamma Bros. themselves come from "Game 01" (working title), and in that game they are sort of like mini-bosses of the "wind" stage. Not necessarily bad guys, but making things hard for the main character (Guy) for some reason. Here in Gamma Bros, they are still the same odd dudes, but you control them on their commute from the space station they work at to their homes back on earth. That's the big, glorious goal here. To get home from work. Of course, it's not so easy with waves of enemies attacking the whole way every day, but I suppose they get used to it. Here they are as they appear in this game:

Zap in a fast ship

Buzz in his regular ship

Zap in his Jetpack

Buzz in his Jetpack

There they are, all suited up for space travel. Watch out, if you wind up out of your ship, in your jetpack in space, you'll be very vulnerable. one shot/hit & you're toast! Click those images for larger versions.

Okay, that's all for today. If for anyone would like to use these screenshots in any art or gaming publication or magazine, that's fine with us as we'd like to get the word out, but please let us know (gammabros@pixeljam.com) where it's going to be used & send a link or copy of the publication. Also, please include a copyright notice "copyright 2005-2006 pixeljam.com" for these images. A link should be directed to "http://games.pixeljam.com".

And finally, if you would like to be added to our mailing list, send an email to gammabros@pixeljam.com. We'll make sure you are included in any mailings about our game(s) we send out. And no, we won't sell, give or share your email with anyone else.

Have a great day!

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