Posts

Showing posts from December, 2018

Scratcheroids!

Image
Scratch is an online visual programming language designed to teach newcomers how to code. If you know me very well, you'll know I've often been critical of visual programming languages, citing them as being more cumbersome to learn and use than plain code. While Scratch isn't a total exception, it struck me as one of the better options out there, and so I set out to create something in it myself to find out.

The result is Scratcheroids!—a simple, yet sophisticated interpretation of the classic Asteroids game that uses many programming techniques I regularly employ in actual programming languages. While the limitations of Scratch are clear, I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how far I could take it, and Scratcheroids! barely... er, scratches the surface. Normally, Scratch projects are limited to a play space of just 480x320. I circumvented this by creating a barebones camera system which not only simulates a larger area, but supports parallax depth, variable positio…

XGASOFT

Image
XGASOFT is a middleware and game development studio I independently founded in 2017. Its name stands for International Game Arts, represented both by its diverse creative influences and its collaborators from all around the world. XGASOFT's mission is "telling stories with code"—using interactive technologies not just to entertain, but to impact and inspire.

Its first product, VNgen, is designed to facilitate just that, putting the power of interactive storytelling in the hands of developers of all skill levels. VNgen is designed to be a great experience for both developers and end users, placing an emphasis on smooth animation and production value previously only achievable on a large budget.


As a game developer, XGASOFT utilizes VNgen and other first-party technologies to create interactive stories of its own such as Yugure no Kagami: The Mirror of Dusk, a Japan-inspired urban fantasy adventure following the exploits of metaphysical Guardians of the Sun and Moon and t…

Edge Engine

Image
Edge Engine is a suite of software created from 2014-2016 for GameMaker Studio. It began from a utility I wrote for myself, originally titled Simple Display Scaler before being rebranded as Edge Display Scaler some time later. Although it was one of the earliest programs I ever wrote, the utility value of a drag-and-drop scaling solution that worked across all platforms appealed to developers of many skill levels and instantly put my work on the radar. Inspired by this success, I went on to write other tools in the same spirit, culminating in Edge VN, one of the first fully-featured visual novel engines for GameMaker.


Before GameMaker Studio's EOL in favor of GameMaker Studio 2, Edge Engine was used by hundreds of developers and included in projects spanning a variety of platforms, including PC, Android, iOS, and PlayStation 4.

While it is no longer supported, Edge Engine remains available to download for legacy users on both the GameMaker Marketplace and Itch.io.

Download on GameM…

Final Fantasy XV Radio Tuner

Image
Based on Vidsquish, Radio Tuner is a frontend for a collection of audio libraries that makes it possible to import, export, and replace music from the hit JRPG Final Fantasy XV—specifically, music designed to play while driving the game's featured vehicle, the Regalia.


As one of the first mods available for Final Fantasy XV, Radio Tuner was immediately popular among fans and was featured in a number of online media publications, including Kotaku, GeForce.com, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, GameWatcher, and many more.

Download on NexusMods

Download on ModDB

Vidsquish

Image
Vidsquish is a graphical frontend for a collection of video processing libraries designed to offer compression, customization, and enhancement of videogame cutscenes—including some ultra-rare ones supported by few other tools. Featuring a powerful profile system, new games can be added to the roster of supported titles without modifying the underlying code, and new profiles can be created by the community as well.

For those trying to save disk space, Vidsquish cuts down on the filesize of one of most games' largest components, sometimes by several gigabytes. For those wanting the smoothest experience, Vidsquish offers interpolation to convert low-FPS cutscenes to 60 FPS or higher. Running a non-standard monitor? Vidsquish supports virtually any aspect ratio with options to crop or letterbox content to best fit your screen.

The user interface is fully skinnable, supporting both landscape and portrait layouts. Not only does this allow customizing the frontend to suit your tastes, bu…

PalmDB

Image
PalmDB is a download catalog for Palm OS applications opened in 2018 to preserve the legacy of this highly influential piece of pre-smartphone tech history.

From the early '90s to late '00s, Palm pioneered many technologies we enjoy in modern smartphones today. Unfortunately, with the popularity of iOS and Android, Palm failed to gain a foothold in the smartphone market and was shut down in a series of acquisitions. In the years following, Palm OS's massive library of applications was nearly lost. With no first-party store and almost all third-parties dropping support, for a time it was virtually impossible to find any trace of what was once a thriving digital economy.

This began to change thanks to Reddit. A small community of Palm enthusiasts slowly found each other on /r/Palm, some of whom had archives of their old software ready to share. These were first collected on PalmArchive.com, where my own archive was featured among a handful of others. But I wanted to take thi…

Chaos Rings Preservation Project

Image
In the early '10s, Square Enix teamed up with veteran JRPG developer Media Vision to create a series of role-playing games exclusively for iOS, and later Android smartphones. For the time, it was an incredibly ambitious project with advanced graphics, console-style gameplay, a deep storyline, and a highly memorable soundtrack. Unfortunately, the games were a bit too far ahead of their time, and updates to Android and iOS broke compatibility with them just a few short years after release. Rather than fix the games, Square Enix simply pulled them from sale, leaving arguably the best original mobile game series to be lost to time.

The Chaos Rings Preservation Project resurrects the earlier games in the series by using offline, prepackaged emulators running compatible versions of Android on Windows PC. The latest game, Chaos Rings 3, currently retains compatibility with the latest versions of Android and iOS and is not included in the project, although it is possible to run it in the…

LucasArts Classic Game Patchers

Image
While it no longer exists today, in the '90s and '00s LucasArts stood at the forefront of advancing game technologies, and produced many titles spanning a wide variety of genres which are considered classics to this day.

While many of these games are now available for download through GOG, in the past it was difficult if not impossible to get them running on modern PCs due to outdated 16-bit installers and ancient video modes not supported on today's graphics cards. To solve these and other problems, I collected community fixes and added some of my own to compile patches for the original disc-based versions of the games. My goal was to preserve the original experience as much as possible, right down to retaining the classic LucasArts launcher used by many games of the day.

These patches will not replace your original CD—they are not cracks. Instead, an ISO image will be created and patched with all necessary fixes and updates to get the game running on a modern PC. This i…

"The Sunflower Society" (Ghost in the Shell)

Image
A reference to the 2001 anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, "The Sunflower Society" is a YouTube channel dedicated to the preservation of the final hours of the short-lived online multiplayer game Ghost in the Shell: First Assault, based on the anime of the same name.

Introduced in late 2014, First Assault spent most of its days in alpha and beta testing, only enjoying a full release six months before its worldwide closure in December 2017. Despite mixed reviews, the game was enjoyed by a small but dedicated community, of which I was a part from the first closed alpha test.

Aside from its significance as part of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, First Assault served as a notable reminder of the impermanence of games as a service. With no LAN functionality ever implemented, the closure of official servers rendered the game completely inaccessible even for users to revisit familiar maps locally.

In order to preserve the gameplay experience and the hard work of its …

About ThinkBoxly

Image
ThinkBoxly was the original tech blog I started all the way back in 2012—before many of today's major web publications even existed! Initially, it was intended to be a tech news and reviews portal, but with time, it evolved into something more personal. From 2017-18, it served as a devblog for VNgen, the first product developed under the XGASOFT brand. Today, it lives on in these archives as a record of over 200 posts and 50 videos created in its lifetime, collectively generating hundreds of thousands of views.

Fun fact: the name "ThinkBoxly" came from a suggestion in a domain name availability test. The original name was going to be "TechBox", but that domain was already taken. A few randomly-generated permutations later and "ThinkBoxly" was born! It might not make much sense, but it lent itself to a catchy logo, and the name stuck.