Indie Interview: Ashley (AshumBesher)

It had been a while since we last managed to corner a developer for an interview. But this time, a developer cornered me to get an interview done. After looking at their game (Muffins and Apples) and playing it for a bit, I decided to agree to that interview. After grabbing some muffins myself to sustain me during the interview, I met with him again.

Welcome Ashley. I’ve just tested out your game and I am surprised. But before we get into details of that, can you first tell me a bit about yourself?

My name is Ashley Spencer-Phillips, I’m 26 years old and I live in the United Kingdom. I’ve been into video games for most of my life starting with my Playstation 1. I would say I am mainly a retro-gamer, Pac-Man being my favorite.

So you are also a retro-gamer.  I’ve seen two games you’ve released. Am I right to assume that the older games were an inspiration to use 8-bit graphics?

Yes, I am very much inspired by older games, so I try to incorporate their qualities into the games I develop.

As well as using 8-bit style visuals, I like to keep the gameplay quite arcade-like. I believe the qualities of old games translate very well into modern mobile gaming; for example my games which are about beating the high score are enhanced with the inclusion of online leaderboards.

Apples and Muffins 1.PNG

Indeed, it does a bit, although some of the mobile speedrunners would disagree. But on to another question, when did you start making games and why?

As a gamer, I like to think I know what makes a fun game, when playing existing games, I’ve often thought about how they could be improved or tweaked. It was around 6 years ago while I was studying art and design at college I discovered Scratch software, so I played around with some basic coding to prove to myself that I know what makes a fun game.

So it was initially just for myself, but after others seemed to like what I had done, I started publishing games to Android.

I have never heard of scratch. What programming language does it use?

Scratch is a very basic drag-and-drop programming interface, it is very limited in what it can do and what file types in can publish to, but it was a good starting point for me. I don’t really remember about the programming language, it has been a while since I have used it. The software I use these days is GameSalad.

I see. So both your released games were made through that program. I myself started with RPG Maker, but I am more a writer than a programmer. What was the first game you made?

My initial game made using Scratch was called Chris’s Muffin Adventure, and the first game I made using GameSalad and published to the Play Store was called Chris and the Badgers.

I’ve seen Chris and the Badgers, which was released last year, right? And now you’ve released Muffins and Apples. What was your inspiration for that game (Muffins and Apples)?

Yes I believe it was released last year. The idea for Muffins and Apples was partially inspired by a specific level in a 2013 Pac-Man platform style game in which eating food would slow the player down making it harder to avoid the enemy. I took this concept one step further by making my game’s character get fatter as he eats muffins, and instead of an having an enemy to avoid; getting too fat would be the thing to avoid. I added constant weight loss from running to make being too thin a danger too. I am influenced by collect/avoid style games, but to make my game a little different, I decided to make the things you are collecting and avoiding the same things. One second a muffin could save you, the next second it could kill you.

Yes, that is something I’ve experienced several times in your game. Then there are the three modes, the standard mode: Where you gain points based on time, Muffin where you gain points based on muffins eaten, and apples based on apples eaten. What was the reason for these three modes?

The first build of the app only had the standard mode. I later added the other modes for a couple of reasons. I thought these other modes would give the player extra incentive to take risks such as trying to up their score faster by grabbing more muffins when already quite fat. I also thought it gives players two more opportunities to become number 1 on the leaderboard, so if they can’t beat a score on one mode, they could on another.

Apples and Muffins 2

How long have you been working on this game?

I don’t really remember how long it took altogether, but in the period I was working on it I was working pretty much nonstop.

Any other hardships you’ve encountered besides the nonstop working?

One small problem I encountered was with the score counter on normal mode, it was originally meant to be in decimals going up 0.5 days per second. It wasn’t until after I had published the game that I noticed Amazon GameCircle (the leaderboard system) didn’t support decimals. Luckily I was quick to remove the decimals in the score system before people wondered why their scores weren’t displaying properly.

That can be an issue indeed. We are nearing the end of the interview. Do you have any last words to our readers?

Muffins and Apples is an addictive retro throwback that’ll surely keep you entertained in short bursts if you’re on the move, or for hours on end if you really want to beat the high score.


I myself am not a fan of most mobile games, but this one was reasonable fun. If you want to try the game out yourself, you can find it on the google playstore.

An interview with Amerilainen – Bounce Rescue!

Recently a new indie game was released by Bitcore. It is known as Bounce Rescue!. The review of that game appeared earlier. However, since the bouncing mechanics is unique in platformers, we wanted to learn more about the reasoning. For this, we managed to corner the CEO of Bitcore, and forced this interview on him. Or rather, we cornered one of his team who informed got the CEO for us. Meet Amerilainen, the one who directed his team to create this game.


Hey, K1mpp4 said you’re doing an interview about us?

About the game yes, if you are willing to give it

Yes of course

Alright. Bounce Rescue! is an interesting game, and we only found out about it due to K1mmp4 posting it on speedrun.com. From what I have seen, the three of you worked on the game Bouncy Rescue, You, K1mpp4 and Arska. How did the three of you meet?

Ari is a deputy member of the board and my cousin, and now that I got an office for the company he came to make Bounce Rescue. I met Kimi at a local game gathering (late 2017) and within a few weeks he was in Bitecore. Now they have been making the game officially about 3 months in the team. I personally started the Bounce Rescue!-project in 2015.

In 2015, what inspired you to make this game?

I’ve always liked platformer games, so it was quite natural to start doing that.

Was there any particular platformer that was your favorite, and inspired the bouncing around in your game?

The greatest inspiration is surely Mario. Through mistakes and tryouts the game mechanics were born slowly.

I have to say, bouncy around is not seen in most games. I only know one other game that had bouncing mechanics like you have. That was The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for the SNES. As soon as I played the game, I feared the jumping would just be as annoying, you however made it easier to jump and give us the option to jump anytime we want after touching the ground after a jump, what this hard to implement?

Let’s say it was not originally meant to come into game, but because some of the levels were quite difficult I kept it in the game. After a few rounds of testing, I got it like it is now. So it was surprisingly easy to develop to the end.

I have never played that Mickey Mouse -game myself, need to take the test of that.

You should try it. Anyway, Bounce Rescue! is an interesting game with the bouncing. There were several character options to choose from. I notice no description on what they are good at, but for some testing I got some differences that lies with several characters. What was the idea of withholding this information? To make players try every character out and see what suits them, or did you have another reason?

The intention was that you have to explore the game. I wondered if this information was given first to the player, but now they have to test themselves. Of course, the characters with the best features are at the end of the game.

It has a mix of platforming, and some simple puzzle solving. And the characters are also a bit cute looking. Was this your intention when you started it, or did it come to it?

Originally, the goal was to keep the game colorful, cute and challenging.

And it is. I have played several hard and difficult games/platformers. This is not difficult, but very challenging. Good job on making that.

Bounce 3.jpg

The story of the game is a basic story. Your friends got kidnapped and you rescue them. You can opt to not rescue them as well. Are there different endings for that?

The main purpose was in gameplay, not in the story. The end of the game is always the same, you rescued all or not. You just don’t get all the characters unlocked. The controls in the game are polished in my mind, so with a little training the game runs easily.

Yes, the controls, despise the bounding, are great. 

So since the ending is not the same, why would you try to get all objects? Do they have a function or are they just for score purposes?

For example, some characters make you faster / easier to go levels thru. So just for those reasons, it’s worth rescuing the characters if you want to make better time / score record in the level.

There are other objects as well to collect. I forgot what the 3 were, crystals? What are the purpose of those?

Yes, collecting crystals you will get stars at the end of the level. And if you have enough stars, you’ll get the some achievements open. And the crystals give you more points at the end of the level.

Did you make any other games or was this your first?

I’ve been doing for over 15 years games, but this is my first official game. The company has only been around for 3 years now.

Longer than me then, only started 13 years ago. Did you make games professionally before or just as a hobby?

Just a hobby The material for the future has accumulated quite a lot now.

So now that bouncy rescue is released, what are your plans for the future?

The Japanese release on PS4 and the Xbox One release, and after that start thinking what is our next project.

No plans to get this on the switch?

There is not right now any kind of agreement for the Nintendo Switch. But it is not excluded.

Bounce 2.jpg

Besides your release, you also started a race on the release day for speedrunners. Why did you do this?

It’s great to see how fast someone really gets through the game. And of course fastest will get rewarded.

Already thought of what the reward will be?

Yes, it will be a cash prize.

I won’t ask how much that cash reward is. Anyway, we are reaching the end of the interview. The game is interesting and worth to get, and has gotten a high score on our review. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Hope you got the game and like to play it. And more info about races will come to our website (bitecore.com). Thank you for your support in advance!


Want to play Bounce Resue!? You can get it on steam now. We hope to see you in the race as well. Remember, the best place after 2 months gets a cash price. And I will personally add 5$ to the reward of the first place.

World of Warcraft Player Speedruns to Level 60 By Only Killing Boars

In the speedrunning community, you can always find the strangest runs and attempts. These runs are often known as meme runs, and what is happening right now is just that, but with an amazing purpose. One player, Ian, also known as ianxplosion on Twitch is currently attempting to do a speedrun to reaching level 60 on World of Warcraft, but with a twist. He will do this by only killing boars. “My life sucks *** and I am going to kill some boars, and I want you guys to be there with me.”

A few days after AGDQ, one player joked that if the WOW patch 7.3.5 would arrive on January 16th, he would be leveling to level 60 by only killing boars. Blizzard inadvertently called his bluff and released the patch on said day. Ian, the guy who said this, decided to make good on his promise.

This is a clear callback to South Park’s “Make Love Not Warcraft” episode, where the group was continually killed by an impossibly high-level player. They had to hide in the forest, killing pigs in order to level up and fight back. However, this required a lot of time and is mind-numbing. It will take at least several days to reach level 60. As it looks like now, he is going to do this in segments, which is the smart choice to make here, considering this will be taking a lot of time.

While Ian originally planned to kill boars in Elwynn Forest like in the episode, the patch brought that plan to ruins. The patch added a scaling world and thus he can’t keep killing boars in that place, as he will end up getting no experience. The reason for this is that he got a mental breakdown recently, which resulted in him leaving his job and losing his girlfriend. He has lost motivation to do anything, and the last 3 weeks were hard on him. He is now trying to find himself again and has time on his hands. Those factors are his motivation for his journey.

Wow Boars.jpg

He isn’t figuring everything out on his own. People have planned to help him by doing various things. Fellow players routed the entire run for him, so he’d know where to go to get efficient boar leveling going. Others said they were going to donate to mental illness charities if he really goes on with this. Since a lot of people are excited about this, he plans to use this run to try and find his own happiness. Ian placed the donation link for the National Alliance of Mental Illness on his Twitch. If you want to donate to his cause, he prefers that you donate to them.

At this moment of writing, he has completed two days of boar slaying already. The first day it took him over 11 hours to reach level 17 and a half. He killed 1534 boars to reach this level. The second day he finished at level 20 after 8 hours and 55 minutes. We expect it will last more than a week before he reaches the desired level. All we can do is hope he won’t give up before he reaches his goal, and maybe, we’ll be seeing more crazy things happen in the speedrun community.

If you want to follow his attempts, we recommend you to visit his twitch.

The Secret Behind Retro Gaming’s Popularity

Retrogaming has become popular over the last few years. While yearly many news games get released, people are fond of the old games. Newer games ends up having graphics that looks like it is taken from a retrogame. Why is this? That is what we will find out here, as nostalgia is not the only reason.

Retro games are games that were released between 1970 and 2005. Games from the 1st to 6th generation consoles are considered retro games. Among classics like Legend of Zelda: Orcanina of Time on the N64 and the first sonic games on the Sega Genesis, there are many hidden gems on the consoles: unknown games, waiting to be discovered. These games gain popularity on Twitch through “console challenges”, among other ways.

SonicTheHedgehog1

According to most who enjoy retro games, the nostalgia plays a big role in their decision to play the game – something I disagree with. I decided to talk with several people who play, and sell, retro games. While many play it for nostalgia and reliving their childhood memories, this does not apply to the younger generation of games. Gamers are now generally old enough that they have fond memories of certain games they enjoyed as a child. When these old-school gamers talk to the newer generation of gamers, they can inspire them to try out these classics. This is how the newer generation of gamers come in contact with retro games.

Another reason why retro gaming is increasing in popularity is the speedrunning community. With big events like Awesome Games Done Quick, people come in contact with retro games. The presentation of the game sparks interest and allows the reader to get a first-hand look at the game. Guests are encouraged to play the games casually or try to speedrun the games, or in other words, play through it as quickly as possible.

While speedrunning is a challenge, there is another trend in retro gaming going on as well. It is known as console challenges. There is an entire community for people who try to beat all games on a specific console. “Goati_” is my personal favorite of them all: trying to beat all Sega Mega Drive games. These challenges are not easy and take years. Since it can cost a lot of money to do so, several will be using emulators to play all the games ever released on a certain console.

Stacked Games

This brings us to the next point. Retro games, in general, are cheap. Where games nowadays cost over $40, retro games can be picked up for a few bucks. The affordable price makes collecting the games more cost-effective than the modern game, such as Call of Duty. While finding a good console for your games can be hard, you still won’t be spending over $200. Both the games and consoles are cheap, with few exceptions. For example, the original Castlevania: Symphony of the Night game is even more expensive than big titles released recently. I asked one collector why he has so many Atari games. His response? They look nice stacked on top of one another.

Retro games are also known for their higher degree of difficulty and their uniqueness. Compared to nowadays, where developers will release similar titles each year, retro games were all unique in one way or another. The Megaman series were known for being hard and punishing, which made people try to beat it. Mario was known for being a family-friendly game. The urge to want to learn what inspired the entire series is also a reason people come back to retro games. A look into Mario’s past is unique and can show how far gaming has come. With that being said, people discovered these games are harder than what is the standard today. This was because the earliest games were arcade games; the harder the game, the more credits people needed to pay. Beating the game became a challenge in itself. The first generation of home console games followed the trend of being hard to beat.

The last reason is that Virtual Consoles came into existence. Nintendo releasing the older games on different platforms once again has given a spike in the retro gaming community. With the release of the NES mini and SNES Classic Mini, retro gaming returned to its former glory. Both of them were sold out quickly.

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If you have a different reason for playing retro games outside of what has been listed, you can let us know in the comments below. If you want to try out a game or two, you can google where you can find them. We won’t recommend using an unofficial emulator, but rather find an official one or buy the game itself. We hope you will find a hidden gem among all the retro games.

An Interview with – Liam Sorta, Founder of Game Dev Network

Welcome, LiamSorta. We have heard you are the one behind Game Dev Network. Not everyone knows what that is, so can you explain what GDN is in more details?

Game Dev Network is a community dedicated to bringing together those with an interest in the games industry. We are home to 4000~ members, welcoming anyone from total beginners to AAA veterans. We also have a range of channels aimed at various specialisations such as helping with code debugging, providing art feedback and even tips on game design!

We’re always looking for ways to enrich the experience of our members, one way in which we do this is through hosting game jams aimed at bringing members of different disciplines together in order to create a game from scratch in a short amount of time. We also try to involve sponsors to provide jammers with goodies for various services and professional development prizes (and stickers too!). You can read more about our most recent jam, in which we ran a charity raffle in support of the disabled gamers charity, SpecialEffect, over here: https://itch.io/jam/gamedevnetwork-the-big-festive-game-jam.

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While I joined the discord, I noticed that you categorize each skill differently. You have coders, artists, musicians, etc. I assume you did this to make it easier for people to find the right man for the job. While it not always works, for example, I once was asked to do graphics design while I am only a writer in there, it is very useful in general. Were there also other reasons besides this?

While they do offer some immediate context as to what their role is when posting in our #looking-for-work channel, it’s more of a way to allow members to express their interests. On a side note, we have additional ‘LFW’ roles that members can join, these roles are mentionable by other members looking to hire paid roles.

In your community, you have a game maker channel, but not an RPG Maker channel. Was there a reason for that, or is RPG Maker after all these years slowly dying?

We have channels for the major engines in which our members use, Gamemaker being one of those, along with Unity, Unreal, Xenko and Godot. The latter two of which were added based on community input. We’re always looking to cover more ground and if a particular engine has enough demand, we’ll be sure to add it.

That is a good reason to expand, and most of the RPG maker community have several sites they go to already. But one thing I never expected was to see a Legal channel. What was the reason this one got added?

Many new developers find themselves in a position of requiring some form of legal advice. While we do attach a disclaimer with this channel in that any advice is just that, and not to be taken with any legal weight, it can benefit those with various questions relating to setting up their own business, freelance contracts, etc.

Now to get a bit more personal, we do want to know more about the man behind GDN. What inspired you to create this community?

Well, aside from being an avid developer myself, I also organize a number of events. Notably, I co-founded and organized a hackathon based in Birmingham, UK called HackTheMidlands. A Hackathon is similar to a game jam, though with an emphasis on just creating anything. Typically, attendees use a range of APIs in an attempt to solve business/social challenges in just 24 hours. It’s always a blast to see so many people enjoying themselves; we were honored to have hosted 150 hackers in both 2016 and 2017 and are excited to see Hack The Midlands continue to grow and support developers!

Gamedev wise, I also organized a Global Game Jam venue at my university for ~100 jammers from around the country. 48-hour jams pose a separate set of logistical problems, though with what seemed to be a lifetime supply of pizza/healthy snacks, we were pleased to see so many incredible, creative entries from budding developers!

GDN was a continuation of supporting developers network and collaborate with each other. Starting with just a handful of members in February of this year, we have flourished into a friendly hub for all #gamedevs to learn and share with each other.

So in less than one year, it grew so big. What is your secret?

Honestly, I wish I knew! I’ve always taken the approach of any community being member-focused, meaning that we actively listen to feedback, requests and their comments to make GDN as beneficial to them as possible. I also have to give a great deal of thanks to our moderation team: Acid, Marco Hoffman (Chikari), Harry Shipton, and Thomas Richards. Having such a solid team means we can not only poll any intended events/proposed changes in order to make sure we’re making the correct decision, but also to help make sure GDN is an accepting, friendly environment welcome to all.

You also announced with some volunteers to run classes on various areas of game development next year. What specializations can we think of, and how do people join these classes?

Yes! That’s part of our ‘GameDevNetwork: Academy’ program. We are re-launching the program next year with the intention of providing online video repository of completely free video content for as many specializations as we can cover. Community members can volunteer themselves to run one of these sessions, done either in the form of a live stream or pre-recorded video. We also provide our tutor volunteers with a shiny new rank in our community server as a small token of thanks. We have lots of exciting plans for the GDN:A and are eager for anyone interested in running a session to get in contact with us.

Do you have any advice for new game developers?

The best advice I can offer to new developers is to start making something as soon as possible! Don’t worry about scale, the smaller the project is, the sooner you can finish it and work on something totally different, and thus, get a better breadth of experience. It’s for this reason I’d recommend checking out the various game jams hosted online or in person. A few resources to find jams:

  • https://itch.io/jams
  • http://www.indiegamejams.com/
  • https://www.reddit.com/r/gamejams

We are nearing the end of the interview. Thank you for these wonderful information and insights in the community and why you founded it. Just one final question remains, do you have any last words to our readers?

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the moderators of GDN ( @AcidZenith, @Chykary, @UnityCarti, @harryjshipton) they do a brilliant job in making sure our community is always a welcoming one as well as proposing suggestions that have gone on to help enrich the community as much as possible! For anyone wanting to join GDN, they are more than welcome to by following the invitation link: https://discord.gg/gdn I also have some ramblings on Twitter: @LiamSorta

Zelda Randomizer Tournament Finals – A Link to the Past

After months of matches, hammering enemies, searching for mirrors, and swagducks, the final matches for the Fall Open-Mode Tournament were played. Out of the 100 participants of the main tournament, Cransoon and ajneb174 clashed in the finals. And then there was the finals of the secondary Tournament. The secondary Tournament was available to anyone who didn’t make it into the main tournament. In here Zean and Xirtanul met in the finals. The grand price: Their names in the game.

The first match of the finals was played on Wednesday, the 27th of December. Before the match we were shown the best of the tournaments, which was a great way to relive the experience. With the first item found in the first match being the boomerang, the finalists set off. Very early it was known by a check of ajneb174 that the first game was an Agahnim required seed. The hammer and first sword were found fast, but the other sword upgrades were hiding in Ganon’s Tower. Cransoon lost time 30 minutes in the match due to two deaths to Mothula. In the first match, anjeb174 was already fighting Ganon before Cransoon entered Ganon’s Tower. He finished at a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes and 15 seconds. Cransoon finished 12 minutes later.

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The second match was played on Saturday 30 December. The early gloves in Link’s house made ajneb174 grab a bomb and enter in the sewers. There he found the sword and more bombs. This match really showed why these two belong in the finals. In this match, no dark rooms is required without a lamp. Both of them went through the dark rooms and finish the game without ever finding the lamp. Cransoon entered Go-Mode first with finding the Firerod in Turtle Rock 43 minutes in the race. Sadly he died on Vitreous after doing the Misery Mire Dark rooms. He bailed out directly, bought potions and tried to enter the Palace of Darkness. Then he discovered he had no rupees left. Ajneb174 entered Go-Mode 59 minutes in also with the Firerod. In 10 minutes anjeb174 closed the gap between him and Cransoon. While it looked like Cransoon would enter Ganon first, he had 2 hearts and decided to grab a fairy first. This allowed ajneb174 to enter Ganon first with 4 hearts and just blue mail. Finals ChampionOne hit would have killed anjeb174, but he managed to evade everything Ganon threw at him. While some would say Cransoon threw as soon as he grabbed the fairy, he took a hit during the Ganon fight. The race was close to the end. Anjeb174 managed to finished first, and Cransoon finished 15 seconds later. This means that ajneb174 is the champion of the Main Tournament.

The finals of the Secondary Tournament was between Zaen and Xirtanul. This was played on Friday 29 December. In the first match, the gloves were found early. However, the hammer was hiding at the bat. They found this after 1 hour in. The final item they needed in match one was Bombos, so they could enter Misery Mire. Xirtanul was the first one to find this medallion at Kholdstare. Zaen was doing Ice Palace at that time, and it didn’t take him long to find this as well. While Zaen was climbing the Gauntlet, Xirtanul was fighting Ganon already. He finished Ganon before Zaen entered Agahnim2, taking the victory in race 1.

Finals 3

The second race was played soon after the first race. This time the hammer was not as elusive as last time and found in Eastern Palace. While they found most items, this time the Hookshot was hiding. After Zaen took out Lanmolas in Desert Palace, he found this item. With only the Firerod left, he found Silver Arrows in Swamp Palace. He entered Go-Mode after going into Hookshot Cave and finding the Firerod. Both did Turtle Rock before Skull Woods in this race. Moldorm was trying his hardest to throw Zaen down, but he managed to stay on the platform. Entering Ganon first, he managed to take him down with his silver arrows and take the second match, forcing the third decisive match.

The third match was played after a 10 minutes break. This time there were early mirrors, moon pearls and flippers. The seed this time was fast, and Zaen was quickly taking a big advantage this race. He kept expanding his advantage during the entire game. While he forgot that he had the boots, he started using them when entering Moldorn in Hera’s Tower. When he went to check the Spiral Cave and finding the bow, he had the game. Xirtanul decided not to check the Spiral Cave when he had the opportunity and missed this item. It was thanks to this decision, that he won the game. Xirtanul was 5 minutes behind when he entered Ganon’s Tower. Zaen was already fighting Ganon. This made Zaen the champion of the Secondary Tournament.

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If you didn’t watch the matches yet, it is worth to watch back. Congratulations to both anjeb174 and Zaen for winning their tournaments. If you want to see more ALTTP randomizers or these racers, you can see them again in the next Tournament. The top 8 of the Main Tournament and the top 4 of the Secondary Tournament will be in the main tournament. The Key-sanity tournament will be starting at the end of January where our latest Author will be participating in.

Finding your other half – Jack N’ Jill Review

A simple yet challenging platformer made by Rohan Narang. With music and graphics that can be considered a nod to the retro games. With various mechanisms to reach the end of each level, this game can provide hours of entertainment.

Jack N’ Jill is a one-button retro platformer. Take control of Jack or Jill, jumping (or wall jumping) to get past obstacles and enemies. Your goal is to find your other half while wandering all 7 worlds. There are 20 levels in each world, making it a total of 140 levels.

As you start the game, you can choose between Jack or Jill by selecting one in the lower left corner. By default, it lets you play as Jack. When entering the first level, you get a small tutorial about how to play this game. Tap to start a level and delve into a fun, yet simple game. Like the popular game “Geometry Dash”, repeatedly press your screen to keep the moving Jack alive. As you progress, the difficulty rises, introducing complex combo-jumps you learn by repetition. For example, as soon as you start the second world, you gain the ability to wall jump. Each time something new appears, the character comments on it before the start of the level. Sadly, the unlocked abilities can’t be used at earlier levels.

Jack N Jill Jump

While the gameplay seems simple, it is not always forgiving. It starts off easy, but soon you notice that the timing has to be a lot more precise than you expect. Sometimes you need to press the jump button way before you reach the pit. Another time you need to press it at the last moment. You can’t really determine what you have to do by looking at the level. This makes many parts of the adventure very unforgiving, as when you die due to this, you have to start the stage all over again. Thankfully, the developers were more forgiving when hopping off of enemies. You have a larger window to press the screen again to jump the full distance again instead of half the distance. If you managed to wait for the last moment, you even can jump further than possible. There are no uses for that, but it makes it a bit more manageable.

The graphics remind us of the Gameboy days. The black and white style with the simple character design is a tribute to that beautiful handheld device. The backgrounds are also very simple and not in the least distracting. In fact, if you focus on the game itself, you hardly notice it. The main characters could have been a lot more unique, but the simple design of them really works well with the retro theme.

Jack N Jill.png

While the game is fun, and the gameplay good, the music itself is repetitive. Each world has their own music, but all of them seem to consist of the same parts in it, with some other instruments giving variation to the world music. For short sessions, it seems fine, but if you play it for more than 30 minutes, it gets annoying. When you keep dying, you keep hearing the music go on and on, always cheerful. It does not really capture the retro feeling we suspect they were going for. The 8-bit era had games with better music, which is a shame since this is where they could have shown their love for the game.

The games of Rohan Narang are mostly inspired by old Gameboy and NES titles, and this game really shows his love for those titles. We find the characters cute and charming, and this game is no different. However, in contrast to the old Gameboy games, the music of this game is below average quality. The best way to enjoy this game is by turning the music off and listening to old Gameboy platformer OST’s while enjoying your simple adventure.

EnomView Score: 7 out of 10.

An Interview with Veetorp – Legend of Zelda Randomizer (ALTTP)

The Legend of Zelda A Link to the past Randomizer grew big in a short time. Today we will be having one of the developers of the program in for the interview. It is Veetorp, one of the lead programmers of this project. Without his dedication, this would never have become as good as it is today.

From several people I have heard that you are the one behind the randomizer code, who first started working on it. What pushed you to make that randomizer?

I rewrote the randomizer code to what it is today based on code that Dessyregt originally wrote in C#. He had written a Super Metroid Randomizer and adapted the ideas from that into A Link to the Past. It wouldn’t be fair to say I first started working on it, but I certainly made it what it is today. For me personally, I love this game, and I love the logic puzzles of all the ways the game allows you to get different things. I am a programmer by nature, so once I got my teeth into it, I couldn’t stop writing code and making it better.

A programmer by nature is a good thing to be these days, and that definitely made the randomizer into a piece of art already. I have seen many runs of this game and played a few randomizes as well. I can agree this is a great game for this. Yet while making the Randomizer, I am sure you have run into many hardships. Like changing the item location would require a lot of work. What was the hardest thing you have encountered so far in making this? 

We have a great team of guys around the project, really brilliant guys. A lot of the time, if something seems impossible, just talking it out with them or asking help has gone a long way. From a randomizer perspective, one of the hardest things has been working out a fill algorithm that is both fast and achieves the most varied results possible, as well as the logic involved in some of the more “interesting” dungeons. Palace of Darkness has had its logic overhauled countless times, including an eight-hour call between me and ChristosOwen, where we tried to figure out every possible way someone could key-lock in the dungeon.

The game itself was almost originally designed to handle moving around items around. Moving 1 item from a chest on one side of the world to another chest is surprisingly easy, but when you modify some of the more interesting item locations, that becomes harder. Bombos Tablet is an example of this. Karkat had to rewrite large portions of the item draw code to enable randomization of the standing items locations like that.

So the normal items itself were easy to move around. Were all item locations found already by the time you started, or did you have to dig deep into the code to find them all?

A fair amount of them were found or created. Most of the recent deep digging into the code has been for all the extras and added modes we have been working on currently and recently.

One of your recently added modes is Key-sanity. Was it easy to implement that, besides changing what the maps and compass do in the game? I can imagine it harder to make sure the keys and dungeon items stayed in their own dungeon.

For Key-sanity we had to create 58 brand new items to the game. The keys, maps, and compasses were tied to their dungeon. The game only had generic versions of these and based the item you got on where you got it. We also had to completely reimagine our randomizer to understand what it meant to find keys outside their own dungeon.

So it required a lot more work after all. Did this reimagining give you any new insights? Any possibility for new game modes or variations?

Very Much so, we have 2 larger variations we are working on right now. It also made the logic a little easier to maintain, although it is a little more complex.

Anything you can reveal about the two larger variations, or is it all a secret for now?

One involves a more Zelda1-esque key situation, currently named Key-Sanity-b. The other one will be a fun surprise.

Sounds interesting, and a possible new article as well when the surprise has been released. But to the other point, today in the daily race, I noticed that Christmas has arrived to Hyrule. While many online games nowadays do something for this season, what inspired you into doing this?

The whole team has thrown around ideas of special randomizers at different times: April Fools, St. Patricks Day, Valentines Day. It struck me this season to really just push for it. It certainly helped that many of the hackers of AlttP could help out with their specific areas of expertise. Plus, it is always fun to spice up the game, it is what we do.

The ice mechanics in the overworld is annoying, but the fact that you don’t need flippers to access several areas also changed the locations you can visit earlier. Did you account for this while making it?

Annoying? Festive! We had a discussion about having the logic account for iced-over lakes and rivers but decided the time would be spent better making all the features we did. I believe in the future we will adjust the logic when we make adjustments like this. The sequence breaks for not having flippers is mostly harmless.

It was an early decision to keep the Ice Physics only on the overworld. Dungeons would have been way too hard, and there would be countless bugs to solve.

And we are all glad that it stayed in the overworld, well maybe except Moldorm. With this festive edition, there is a poem on the site and at the ending as well. As a poet myself, I am wondering who thought up the poem.

That is our very own walking_eye, one of the newest members to the team. I asked for a short description of the mode without giving him too many details, and that poem arrived. It was like getting a gift myself, so amazing.

I can say he has talent. How long will people be able to enjoy the festive randomizer?

Currently, we are planning to keep it available until the new year.

That will give our readers a chance to try it out on the release of the interview. One subject that we did not touch yet, however, are the custom sprites. From what I know of trying to change sprites of SNES games, this is a hell. How did you overcome this?

Surprisingly, Link’s graphics are all in a single location and not compressed. With a few graphic editing tools out there it is actually relatively easy to swap them out for a different set. We also have a large active group of sprite developers that have been pumping them out like candy.

That is a surprise for a SNES game. And the large group is certainly helpful for that as well. What is your favorite sprite so for in this and why?

I really do like them all, laughably original Link is my favorite. It holds so much childhood nostalgia. I will say to try the updated Santa Link, he got a little spruce up for the season.

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Some of the sprites people can select for the randomizer.

Original Link because of the nostalgia is a good reason. Personally, I prefer to take the Touhou characters. While I will be waiting for more of them to appear, I heard that V28 of the randomizer will appear very soon. What can we expect in that one?

It certainly is getting closer, V28 is adding a feature on the site of a “Daily Game” where is pregenerates 1 game each day of different settings. This way people can play the same game at different times, or try new modes they hadn’t thought of before. We are also updating the link Entrance Randomizer to have some of the new features that Amazing Ampharos has been putting in, like Key-Sanity Entrance Randomizer. There will also be a slew of fixes for the Customizer we put in V27.

That would be very interesting to see. Do you have any tips for new runners of this randomizer? Anything they should begin with?

First I would suggest joining the discord, there are so many great people in the community that are very happy to help out. Then I would certainly suggest playing through the original game, getting a feel for the mechanics is very helpful. This also helps with the general knowledge of Vanilla locations. Then I would suggest watching a few people stream the game, they will give great tips on routing and how to get through certain sticky situations. Don’t get discouraged by your early runs taking over 2 hours, my first rando took me 5 hours. People who sub 1:30 randomizer regularly have played it a lot. And most of all, just have fun playing it.

My first 4 runs ended in unfinished runs, the 4th one sadly due to a crash of my console at Ganon. Crossproduct’s tracker did help me a lot in learning the different item locations and what is required for those. Would you recommend his tracker as well for beginners or do you have a different one in mind?

I would absolutely recommend Crossproduct’s tracker, that guy is both amazing and brilliant. The world map tracker is super valuable to new runners, just knowing where you can go is probably one of the most important things in item randomizer. He is also my roommate for AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick) this year.

That is great. We do plan to cover AGDQ as well, even if none of our team can be there. I did not check the schedule of it yet, but will there be a randomizer at it as well?

You’re in for a treat. Saturday night ChristosOwen and Andy will be doing a race.

Living in Europe, I guess I will miss the best stuff once again. Anyway, we are nearing the end of this interview. Do you have any last words to our readers?

Thank you all for your time, I hope you guys get a chance to try the randomizer and enjoy it as much as I do.


For more information about the randomizer, check our previous article where we cover the basics of it here.

Completely Custom Zelda Game – A Link to the Past Randomizer

After mostly disregarding what happened in the first two games, Link awakens to his uncle leaving his house. He just runs out the door, into the rainy night. Ganon has moved all items around Hyrule. You have to find all the items necessary to beat Ganon. This is your chance to be a hero. This is A Link to the Past Randomizer.

Earlier this year, a small group of programmers managed to make a program to randomize A Link to the Past. In a short time, it grew exceptionally, and the runners of this game, together with the viewers can’t be compared to other speedruns. With the ability to even change the player sprite into something else, and lower or remove the hearth beeping, runners jumped on this game.

ALTTP Randomizer Logo

The original game itself is one of the Nintendo classics that a lot of people played in the past. The addition of this randomizer gave a big boost in the replay value and makes the game unique every time you generate a ROM. This is what makes running, or watching the game an interesting experience. Nobody knows what you get when you open that chests. Will it be the gloves, the hammer, or just the single rupee? Even the pendants and crystals are shuffled among themselves, so the first dungeon Eastern Palace in the original game can here be a crystal instead of the green pendant. And if you try entrance shuffle, even the dungeons and caves can be at different locations than you are used to.

Since the items are randomized, there has to be a way to make sure the game is still beatable. Else you can end up with the bow behind an enemy who requires a bow to beat it. This is where logic comes into play. The most commonly used logic is the No Glitches. This logic requires no knowledge about the game and will prevent you from getting stuck anywhere. Of course, this also makes it so that you don’t have to do dark rooms without a torch. As the name says, no glitches are required, but you can use minor glitches still in progress. This is known as a sequence break. Sequence breaks can allow you to skip certain parts or items, but can also sidetrack you. Going into a dark room without a torch is known as doing a sequence break as well. It is never required to do a dark room without a torch. Experienced runners can do this, but if you are just starting out, try to avoid it.

World Map Overworld

Pendants are shuffled with crystals.

Because of the logic of a randomizer, you don’t always have to fully clear a pendant dungeon. The pedestal, where you normally get the master sword, can have any item of the item pool. This can also be rupees. With the items randomized, you can get the items required to access the dark world early in the game. Requirements to get into the dark world are the Moon Pearl, and Either Titans Mitts or Gloves and Hammer. Or if you are unlucky, a torch, Master Sword or Cape and a sword so you can beat Agahnim1.

In the randomizer, there are three modes, known as Standard, Open and Swordless. Standard mode is the closest to the original game. You start in Link bed and see your uncle leave the house. As you make your way to the castle and your uncle, you will get the sword. Because the first chests do not need to have a torch, there are several changes made in this. You will be given a free lightcone during the escape only. This makes the game easier for those who are just starting out, as you will have a guaranteed sword. The second mode is Open mode. Here Zelda has been rescued already and you can start at the Sanctuary or Link’s house. You do not get a guaranteed sword, and might be weaponless for a long time.

And then there is Swordless mode. Imagine a sword without swords. For this, you need the alternative weapon known as the hammer. The hammer has a shorter range and a longer delay after using it, making you more vulnerable to enemies. Because Ganon can only be damaged with a sword, and some items only accessed with a sword, there have been made changes so that a hammer can be used instead. And unlike in the other two modes, Silver arrows are available in all difficulties.

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The item you gain is randomized each time you generate a seed.

Besides, the modes are the Variations. These offer new ways to play this game. The Timed Race variation has a timer counting up. There are 20 green clocks that subtract 4 minutes from the timer, 10 blue clocks that subtract 2 minutes of the timer and 10 red clocks that add 2 minutes to the timer. When racing this mode, the one who has the best time wins the game, regardless of who beats Ganon first.

OHKO (One Hit Knock Out) mode makes it so that you can’t take a hit. If you do, you die. It is this variation that altered the logic for some items, as all items should be accessible without having to take damage. There is also a timed OHKO mode, where the OHKO mode starts after the timer reaches 0. Depending on the difficulty, you have more or less time. Here you also can find clocks, which adds time to the timer. Red Clocks, however, sets your timer to 0. This only exists in Expert mode. If you find another clock after the timer reached 0, leave the OHKO mode till the timer reaches 0 again.

Blue Mail Upgrade

A blue mail on the ledge.

Triforce Hunt is a nod to the original Zelda game, where you had to find the triforce pieces. Here, instead of 8, you need to find more pieces, depending on the difficulty. Also, the difficulty decides how many pieces can be found. The only way to win this game is by collecting the required amount triforce pieces, not even beating Ganon beats the game.

Key-Sanity is the newest variation. All dungeon items are shuffled into the item pool as well, this includes all small keys for a dungeon. Keys found on enemies or under pots will stay there like in any other randomizer. In this mode, it is worth collecting maps and compasses. The overworld map no longer shows any dungeon information unless you collect that dungeon’s map. Compasses show how many chests you have checked in a dungeon after collecting it. It is important to know that in this mode, the dungeon music is randomized as well, so you can’t hear if it is a pendant or crystal dungeon by the music.

Item Menu

All crystals have been gained.

If you became interested in try this out, you are recommended to join their discord first. There are a lot of helpful people in the community who will teach you the basics. And most runners use trackers to keep a track of there items. The recommended one for beginners is Crossproduct’s tracker, which you can find on his twitch channel. You can watch several streams, tournaments and play it to get familiar with the game. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t beat a seed the first few times. It is not that easy to beat this game when first starting out, but you will get a feel for the logic, and slowly learn all item locations. Eventually, you will finish a seed, and this can take a long time for the first finished seed. For me myself, I could not finish the first 3 seeds, the 4th seed ended due to a crash. The fifth one I tried gave me a time of 4 hours. Now, if you want to run it, or want to know more, visit their official site: http://vt.alttp.run/randomizer. It has all information you need to get started.

Speedrun: McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure

McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure is a platformer for the Sega Genesis made by Treasure. It was released in 1993 and contains 4 stages. These stages are known as the Magical Forest, the Magical Town, the Magical Sea and the Magical Moon.

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In this game, your health is represented by gems. These gems are used to pay to get past certain parts or to be able to damage bosses. But the gems are not the only things that are related to health. Throughout the levels, you can find flowers. The Gold flowers represent half HP and the white flowers 1/3rd HP. If you get 2 gold flowers, your gems recover, unless you are at full health. Same with 3 white flowers. And to make sure you don’t lose your life if you accidentally jump into a death pit, you can get balloons as well. To increase your magic attack, you can collect magic upgrades. Level 3 is the max level you can have. If you lose a life, you lose all you have collected and end up with the initial values for everything, except balloons if you have more than 1.

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As for the plot of this game, it is not even related to food. There is also a rumor that it was intended to be a completely different game, and McDonald’s elements were shoehorned in at the last-minute. Considering the number of bugs, this is debatable. The plot basically goes like this: One Day, Ronald McDonald was walking in the magical forest, where he found a piece of a treasure map. He then goes on the hunt to find all pieces of the map, which will lead to the treasure.

This game can be considered a speedrunners worst hell. A large percentage of the game are autoscrollers or things you can’t control. A lot of getting a good time comes down to just nailing a precise input moment on the stuff you can control. A runner of this game known as WhoaConstrictor calls this game a “Negative Space” run for this reason.

This game has a considering lack of bugs to abuse. There is only one glitch that can be used in this game. It is known under the runners as Balloon boost. Basically, when Ronald falls into a death pit, he uses a balloon powerup. This powerup lets you float freely in the air for 255 frames. While Ronald is in balloon state, the game stops checking what platform he is on, since it assumes he is floating around. If you touch down on a moving platform during the state, the game engine assumes he is in the air, and on the platform as well. This increases his speed. This trick was found in November 2017, so it is a relatively new trick.

Balloons are abused a lot in the moon level. There is a section where there are long gaps of bottomless pits, and balloons decrease the time you need for that section. There is no need to worry about your balloon count since during the game you should pick up enough naturally.

Health management in this game is not as easy as in other platformers of that time. You need to keep in mind that you have to make payments or have enough for boss fights. The flowers are what makes the health management harder. If you are not at full gems, and you collect enough flowers, you get a gem. At times, you do want to avoid that, as you know there is a gem a bit further ahead you can grab. Beginner mode is mostly run because health management is easier than in Normal and expert. This also makes Beginner mode a lot shorter.

MTLA_race.png

While you can collect gold in the game, in a speedrun you won’t be using it. There is only one time where you enter a shop, and that is in the train stage. When you enter and then immediately leave the shop, the default screen position is ahead of where it would normally be if you waited. This saves one second of the run. The community of the game says that WhoaConstrictor hated that stage so much, that he found the 1-second skip.

The current World Record holder at the time of writing is Boon, who got a time of 20 minutes and 10 seconds. He achieved this time at 10 November 2017.

And this was the game that was chosen by the Speedrun Weekly community to be raced for the 7th race of the first season. With some runners joining the SRW discord and share all information required, the races were able to learn the game and set good times in the first race.

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After a week of practice, three runners entered the first race. After a lot of mistakes, problems on the restream with the racers starting early and other issues, the one who claimed the first spot with a good time of 20 minutes and 34 seconds was WhoaConstrictor. Second place was Knight with a time of 24 minutes and 56 seconds. Third and last was Legs with a time of 26 minutes and 32 seconds. WhoaConstrictor felt he cheated considering he already knew the game, but that is how SRW works. Knight messed the first stage up

The second race had 5 participants. The WR holder Boon entered the race as well and ended up first with an official SRL time of 20 minutes and 27 seconds. YumeTsubasaCH managed to get a new PB during the race and finished seconds with a time of 25 minutes and 36 seconds. Legs had entered this race as well and again finished third place. His time was worse this time around with 27 minutes and 59 seconds. The only one who went in blind in this Speedrun Weekly race was DarQ_Massacres. It took him 1 hour, 2 minutes and 8 seconds to complete the game. WhoaConstrictor entered this race as well but ended up with a forfeit.

When we take these two races together, only the best time counts for the winner standings of this week. With that, the clear winner of this weeks SRW is Boon, followed by WhoaConstrictor on the second place and Knight in the third place.

Standings
1. 0:20:27 Boon
2. 0:20:34 WhoaConstrictor
3. 0:24:55 Knight
4. 0:25:36 YumeTsunasaCH
5. 0:26:32 Legs
6: 1:02:08 DarQ_Massacres