Blog | Doomlaser - Part 4

Good Games are Hierarchies of Attainable Goals

Kyle Wilson has written an insightful article called The Flow of Intentional Gameplay, where he picks apart survivalism and goals in videogames. He makes the case that good gameplay hinges on the player having readily identifiable goals at all times, and that games like Half-Life 2, and consoles like the Wii are successful because they are good at doing this.

Very interesting read. [via GameSetWatch]

The Frustration of Being a Third Party Facebook Developer

Back when Facebook’s much lauded platform API launched this past May, I wrote and released two apps. The first was a little screen saver for Mac OS X that grabs photos of your friends and creates a fun little Quartz Composer visualization. The second one was something I worked on with another guy I met in the facebook developers IRC channel.

It’s a little utility called Shortcut that allows you to very quickly jump to the profile, wall, or photo albums of any of your friends without an intermediate page load – kind of like an app launcher such as Quicksilver, except for your friends.

The second one lead to several webdev job offers I was totally unqualified for and a small but enthusiastic userbase.

So anyway, I woke up this morning and noticed that Facebook has added the functionality of Shortcut into their site-wide search bar, without so much as a courtesy e-mail. I suppose it was a fairly obvious idea, and the app itself used a feature provided by Facebook and most famously used in their photo tagging pages, so I can’t be that pissed… But I still feel a little swindled.

As an aside, I suspected Facebook might add this feature sooner, but figured they hadn’t because it would really slice into their pageviews. I guess this means it really is true that Facebook is more concerned with viewing time than page views, which is a great attitude for its users. Think about how many page loads it takes to do anything in MySpace.

Chicago iPhone Launch

While hanging out in Chicago this past Friday, I decided to check out the line at the Michigan Avenue Apple Store in anticipation of the dramatic 6pm launch of the iPhone. It was nuts: cops on Segways, restauraunts handing out free food, and a line that stretched around the entire block.

I tried taking a few pictures on my crappy cellphone, but realized that I could probably get better results from the iSight in my MacBook Pro. So I ended up walking around, holding my machine up and attempting to capture the general pandemonium.

Around 6:15, I went across the street to a Starbucks to see what kind of stuff I’d managed to get, and quickly spliced it together into a little video in iMovie.

When I came out, everyone in line had already gotten phones, and I could finally wander into the store to try out some of the demo units on display.

I guess my thoughts echo those of most reviews. Really nice flashy interface, and my few minutes of trying to type ‘’ into the touch screen made me want to destroy it.

Facebook Screen Saver

Facebook’s new public API has brought forth a lot of creative effort from external developers, but there haven’t been many desktop applications released to take advantage of its power.

So I thought, what better way to do something fun with the platform than write a MacOS screen saver?

Friend Photos finds pictures of your facebook friends and turns them into a dynamic slideshow.

It makes use of Quartz Composer in much the same way as the Apple TV’s famed screen saver, passing a data structure full of photos and metadata gleaned from facebook into a QC patch and moving them around for dramatic effect.

Let me know if you have any issues, clever presentation ideas, or what have you.


I’ve written about the creation of this screen saver, along with the early days of the Facebook API, and Facebook’s own embrace of Quartz Composer over here, if you’re interested.

Wacky Mini Golf

Dan Labriet has released his latest masterwork into the indie Mac game scene. It’s a highly polished 3d mini golf game, with a number of cool features.

My favorite is its iSight integration, which allows you to snap a photo to be used on your golfer’s avatar. The game also takes “polaroids” of significant events in your golfing exploits and saves them to a gallery for later viewing.

You can select these photos to e-mail, print, or upload to an online gallery on Dan’s site– all from within the game.

Wacky uses Newton Game Dynamics to handle physics, and it’s fun in and of itself to figure out what obscure corners of objects you can hit to send your ball flying in a preposterous path.

Graphically, the game sports a fur shader, depth of field, reflective water, and flowing lava with bloom lighting The player models are skeletally animated using Cal3D. But what’s most impressive is that Dan did all of the art and programming solo.

If only he’d used my story concept: You versus a cargo cult of mini golf worshipping cannibals..

Kernel Panic Screen Saver!

So awhile back I was thinking, “You know what would be funny? A screen saver that fakes a kernel panic!”

For those of you who might never have seen one, a kernel panic is basically the most shocking crash that you can get on a Mac. It’s Apple’s equivalent to the famed Blue Screen of Death.

What a great way to play a prank on someone, or frighten yourself.

So here is the end result, a harmless screen saver that faithfully emulates the horrifying experience of a kernel panic. It comes complete with a misleading Quartz Composer Preview so that the effect is all the more terrifying.

Update: KPSaver is now 64-bit and compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 and above. Legacy users can download the old version here.

If you enjoy KPSaver, please consider supporting it with a PayPal donation.

Download KPSaver

Enjoy KPSaver? You might find our Mac app Cursorcerer useful, and Say hi to @Doomlaser on Twitter