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Bye Bye Blogger

After being with Blogger since 2006, I have finally embraced and fallen in love with Wordpress. The blog will be moving to

In the next couple days, will be released back to my server and point to the new blog as well. After that happens, this old blog will be deleted.

Good times blogger... but I'm over you.

Free Game Prototype: Portals thru Dreams

About a month ago I decided to do a free game. I've been thinking about Graduate Games next full game for awhile now, but have been indecisive. I stumbled across some abandonware on my hard drive and decided to explore the gameplay mechanic a little more and release it as a game prototype. I spent probably around 48-72 hours making the game and found it refreshing to limit myself from adding other baddies, graphics, and features.

Portals thru Dreams was inspired by Valve's Portal. I played portal for the first time over a year ago when the Orange Box was released. It inspired me to attempt to adapt the gameplay concept into a 2D platformer. I got it working ok, but later abandoned it. I picked it up again to use as my first free prototype, but drastically changed some of the mechanics.

The original abandoned version had a pencil/sketchbook art direction and involved shooting a portal with a gun (much more similar to Valve's Portal). The stick figure sketch guy also had a wall jump/slide ability similar to MegaMan X which made him way too mobile. The biggest changes for this new prototype are the mouse controls and the new Dream theme.

Portals Thru Dreams

Download and unzip the contents to c:\portalsthrudreams\
Launch the exe file

The goal is to collect remnants of your memories and return them to the exit gate. When all your memories are recovered, the exit portal will open. Your goal is to exit (press W on the exit) before time runs out.

Load - opens a load selector - pick levels from \data\levels
Play - Plays the loaded level
Edit - opens the level editor where you can make your own levels

You can move through the world with the A, S, D, W keys. Create portals in the world by left clicking and colliding the shot with the background. Touching a portal will transport you between the portals. Portals keep your momentum going, so falling into a portal will shoot you out the other.
Game by: Mike Gnade
Music: Little Piece by Pit_X which is freely available on
SoundFX: SpeedY's Guitar Sound Pack which is freely available on
Inspired by: Valve's Portal

Two New Magic Toy Chest Reviews

Our Game has received 2 new reviews.

ThumbGods Raves: "Magic Toychest is a good kid-friendly game, without defaulting to the usual match-3 system of many indie all-ages games."

and Unigamesity gave it a 4 out of 5, GREAT! Rating saying:

"The Magic Toy Chest a really great title, one you can play 20 minutes per day, just to relax and keep your brain working or 6 hours straight to prove the entire family that you simply rock."

"No, The Magic Toy chest really works and, with the excuse of making you a better and cleaner person, it manages to entertain you across an endless number of levels – all both mind bending and entertaining, fun and smart."

Indie Game Magazine Fan Page

It's very busy here and there's a ton of things to work on. I realize, I forgot to post here about the Indie Game Mag facebook fanpage. If you're a facebooker and like indie games, please join the group:

Here's some of the things going on here at Graduate Games:

  • Advertising and Supporting the Magic Toy Chest
  • Finishing/Proofing Issue 4 of the Indie Game Magazine
  • Looking for an Artist for a Free Downloadable Game
  • Prototyping/Coding a Free Downloadable Game
  • Ongoing Production work for our next Full Version Game

The Magic Toy Chest is now Available for PC!

The Magic Toy Chest is finally available for Windows PC! After spending crazy cash money and time to update all the visuals, stamp out the bugs, and implement new features, the wacky physics sandbox puzzle game is here.

Check out the Free Demo!

The Full Version Features:
- Over 100 Puzzles across 8 Distinct Rooms of the House
- An Interactive Tutorial that explains the simple point and click controls
- Beautiful and Colorful 2D graphics
- Over 16 Different Toys and abilities to Experiment With
- Sandbox Physics Gameplay which allows for Multiple and Imaginative Puzzle Solutions
- A fully featured Level Editor allows players to create and share their own levels
- 15 Trophies / Achievements to Unlock- Over 10 Different Music Tracks

For additional information on the Magic Toy Chest (or for screenshots, evaluation copy or demo), please visit

Killzone 2: Multiplayer

The real meat of Killzone 2 is in the Multiplayer. The multiplayer is absolutely fantastic and expertly creates the feeling of a true warzone. Since I've been playing the game for a few weeks, I've managed to unlock a few classes and earn some ribbons and other upgrades. The multiplayer experience starts you off as a peon of a soldier: you can pick either assault rifle, get 1 grenade and a measley 64 rounds of ammo. The good news is that the experience system helps you play against equally new players. I have encountered minimal lag (basically a few pauses in maybe 2 games) if at all. This is even more impressive since the game is f*&#ing hectic with 32 players and amazing graphics and explosions.

One of the best features of KZ2 Multiplayer is the dynamic Objectives that change throughout the match. Every match includes Assassination, Attack & Defend, Deathmatch, Search & Retrieve, and Capture & Hold missions. After a 'Round' is completed, the game picks the next objective and announces it to each team without any loading at all. It keeps the game interesting and it's something new for FPS mutliplayer games. You can easily lose hours playing KZ2 without realizing it.

As you play and gain more experience in Killzone 2, things will become even more insane. Last weekend, I began to see Medics emerge and then Engineers who can build sentry turrets...soon flying sentry drones started flying around the maps and gunning me down. More recently, I've encountered cloaking snipers, enemies that look like friendlies, C4 traps, and rocket launchers. All of these additional wrinkles have made multiplayer more frantic and warlike (without any lag). They've also given me something to work towards and I can't wait to use (and abuse) some of the later abilities and classes.

Killzone 2 Multiplayer is a mix of CoD4, Gears of War, and Team Fortress with a sprinkle of SciFi. The class/badge system is fantastic and gives you something to work towards for whichever type of soldier you yearn to be. Killzone's single player experience is graphically impressive, but ho-hum when it comes to story and new experiences. Killzone nails what it needed to nail to have staying power though...and that's multiplayer.

Killzone 2: Single Player Impressions

I played a lot of Killzone 2 this weekend. I'm going to start with my single player impressions and move on to multiplayer later this week. I have completed 7 Missions (out of 10) so I'm pretty far into the single player campaign.

Killzone 2 instantly does 2 things incredibly well:
1. It is possibly the best looking game ever
2. It absolutely creates the feeling that an all out war is going on and your head is in the enemy's cross hairs.

The opening cinematic really sets the tone of the game and then the opening mission inserts you into a visceral warzone. The story (thus far) is good. It's pretty straightforward, and a little cliche. There's still the final few missions left and perhaps there will be an interesting conclusion or cliffhanger. I do like that the game feels 100% like a mature title. The graphics are grim, the gameplay is chaotic, Helghan is harsh, and ultimately everything has pretty bleak outlook. Killzone 2 is definitely not an uplifting title.

Gameplay wise, Killzone 2 is a mix of 2 parts Call of Duty, 1 part Gears of War/Rainbow Six and a splash of Halo. The biggest thing worth mentioning is of course the excellent crouch/cover mechanic. Unlike Rainbow 6 or GoW, taking cover never takes you out of the first person view. If you're near cover and crouch, you'll stick behind the wall or sandbags and if you're not near cover, you'll simply crouch and improve your aim and accuracy.

That leads me to the gunplay... there are no brightly colored plasma pistols in this scifi war. Almost every gun uses munitions and has incredible kickback. This is not a run-n-gun shooter....taking cover and picking Helghast off is definitely the name of the game. The guns all sound incredible and as long as you're OK with the slower pace, the game will please FPS fans.

Some specific highlights from the campaign thus far include:
  • Manning a turret and shooting a building to rubble
  • Driving a Tank for an all too short battle
  • Impaling Helghast with the explosive harpoon gun
  • Shocking enemies with the mighty electricity gun

Some of the most annoying parts for me have been:

  • The boss battle with the ATAC
  • The jolting and very noticeable in-game loading
  • A cheap scenario on a Train where enemies charge you, while a tank fires rockets at you.

It definitely is a missed opportunity not having any co-op for the single player game at all - neither online or offline (in fact there's no split screen options at all). My guess is that this was a time and tech issue, but it is certainly something that will be needed if/when Killzone 3 is released.

If you have a PS3, definitely pick up Killzone 2. The single player experience is certainly a unique take on the FPS genre and mixes several different game styles very well. The graphics are unparallelled and the multiplayer experience is probably the best available for PS3...but more on that later.

First Hour Magic Toy Chest Review

Very interesting review of the *new* Magic Toy Chest over on They only review the first hour and we followed World of Goo... but although the scores aren't that high (5 is seen as average) there was a ton of praise throughout the review, so take a look.

Street Fighter IV impressions

Rented SF IV this weekend and have put in a couple hours. It has been overwhelming praised, but I'm definitely not blown away. It's a pretty safe SF2 in 3D adaptation. It's well animated, but I wish they had gone more daring with the paintbrush/watercolor art style. I find the characters a tad cartoony and really loved that highly stylized first trailer. The game definitely needs an arcade stick and the computer AI is pretty brutal even on the lower difficulties...maybe it's just the crappy D-pad on xbox 360. I've only played about 4 characters so far (really like the new C. Viper) but the game is certainly solid. I really like the challenge mode since it teaches you the ropes and builds up the difficulty well. The final boss in Arcade Mode is impossibly cheap and the anime cutscenes have some laughable voicework. The main theme song is also pretty corny. The gameplay is solid though and there was no noticeable lag for me online...well done.

New Magic Toy Chest Review: 7/10 Olives

The *new* Magic Toy Chest was reviewed over at Tech-Olive

here are some highlights from the review:

Despite MTC‘’s casual appearance, it actually takes quite a bit of thinking, planning and patience.

While MTC may be fairly complicated, the tutorial levels do a fantastic job of explaining to you how things work and what exactly your objectives are.

Gameplay: 8 With the physics and impressive level design, the game serves an experience that is not often found.

Lasting Appeal: 8 If you are a fan of this genre, then you know games like this offer massive replay value with the vast amount of solutions to any given problem.

IGM Issue 3 is Available!

Here's a late valentine's day present, IGM issue 3 is now available. This issue is our largest yet and features tons of indie game reviews! We review the 2008 IGF grand prize winner: Crayon Physics, Blast robots to bits in Droid Assault, Kick our way to stardom with New Star Soccer 4, Built a Kingdom in Kingdom for Keflings, and more!

Learning Flash: Game 1

Now that the Magic Toy Chest is pretty much done, I have decided to start teaching myself Flash before I start on our next major project. I've purchased a book and have gotten through chapter 3 so far. Here is the first of my series of flash games that I will chronicle as I learn actionscript. Perhaps an original free flash game will come out of this...

Visit Graduate Games

Halo Wars Impressions / Demo Review

I downloaded the massive 1.7GB Halo Wars Demo Last night. Despite the Tutorial being very annoying (your control is frozen as the computer talks to you...argh! let me do what you're telling me as you talk!), I found the demo pretty enjoyable. The gameplay works pretty good for being on a console and the graphics are pretty cool. I wish the camera could be manipulated a little more to show off some of the intense infantry battles. The most compelling thing about the game is certainly the story...this game looks to have the best story backdrop of any Halo title since the the CGI rendered movies look fantastic. I'm very disappointed about having only a Human Campaign, but perhaps we'll get a Flood and Covenant Campaign as downloadable content. I'm a huge Halo fan, so I'll probably get this if only to play thru the story and get the Mythic Maps early. I don't think the gameplay is compelling enough for me to play this multiplayer very much. I wish I was more of an RTS buff, but I'm not a huge fan of the genre. I'm very interested to hear if Halo Wars legitimizes RTS on consoles.

Far Cry 2: Preview/Impressions

I rented Far Cry 2 and have been playing it. It is absolutely gorgeous....the graphics have absolutely impressed me. The ability to start brush fires is also very cool, but I have found the single player - sandbox/GTA progression to not work very well. Luckily the multiplayer is pretty good with an interesting EXP and ranking system. I really don't get why the game carries the Far Cry name since it has nothing to do with the original "Island of Dr. Moreau" storyline or even gameplay mechanics (no catlike reflexes in this game). Oh well, it's a good rental, but I'm passing on a purchase.

Magic Toy Chest Gameplay Video: Puzzle 20

I spent some time this week recording some new videos of the Magic Toy Chest. Obviously, it's important to have some trailers/videos of the game as it looks in its current form. Check out the shows a possible solution to Level 20 of the game/demo. I've also taken a substantial number of screenshots and should be updating the game's webpage soon.

I forgot to mention: IGM+Zinio = GET IT!

The Indie Game Magazine Digital Subscription is now available on Zinio for $19.95 (you can also download/buy single copies). Zinio is the #1 Digital Newsstand in the world and IGM is happy to have this enhanced delivery method available to its customers.
About Zinio
Zinio is the leading global online publishing, distribution services company, with divisions focusing on digital magazine and book publishing, publisher growth services, retail services, cutting edge research and development and interactive media. Zinio's robust technical platform -- featuring a highly desirable online retail store, fulfillment capabilities, secure online and offline reading products, production services and marketing services -- enables consumers, regardless of geographic location, to search, purchase and immediately access digital publications, rather than waiting weeks or months for fulfillment and delivery.

Magic Toy Chest Take 2

Well the good news is that the magic toy chest v2.0 is pretty much completed. It took A LOT longer than anticipated and cost a pretty penny to make. My money driven self really wants to release the game directly on my site and cash in and recoup the cost of updating the title and that very well could happen...but since I suck at marketing, I'm going to wait a while as I pursue publishing/distribution agreements. The Magic Toy Chest will surely be sold via our website at some point, but that will come in due time. Right now, we're working on finalizing everything, beta testing, and tweaking all of the 100+ levels that ship with the game.

Please subscribe to our newsletter so you'll get the release announcements, but in the mean time you'll just have to be patient and look at the title screen above.

The Magic Toy Chest Updated Backgrounds

The Magic Toy Chest is vastly approaching its re-release... Hopefully all the time and hardwork put in to improve this game will pay off. To see all the new updated room backgrounds head over to: I left up the older backgrounds so people can compare the 2. Hopefully everyone agrees that the new ones are vastly better than the old.