Glitch Art in Crown of Thorns

In Crown of Thorns (see this post for details on the project), some areas are infected with a malicious distortion.  I’ve illustrated this through glitch art, and I’m pretty pleased with the overall effect.  Here are some examples of animations I made:


They look like a hot mess on their own, but the effect in context is something like this:

The Library of Grace Ma’al, afflicted with distortion.
The Church of Grace Daru, afflicted with distortion.

I made these through a mix of glitching techniques called databending: opening a media file in incorrect formats to mess with the data.  In this case, I opened image files as text files in a text editor and as audio files in Audacity (open source sound-editing program), manipulated them by changing the text or applying audio filters, then converting them back into images (though, in all honesty, there was a good dose of good old fashion GIMP audio filtering too).  It’s mostly a trial and error process, though sometimes you can get fairly targeted effects.  For instance, the horizontal striations in the static filter on the screen in the above examples came from opening the static images in Audacity and applying the wahwah audio filter, and where the striations appear and how wide they are corresponds directly to what portions of the “audio” data I applied the filter to.  In the object animations, when whole parts of the objects are jumbled around, that probably comes from copying and pasting portions of the raw data to other parts of the file.  If you’re interested, Google “databending” and you’ll find more informative tutorials than I can give.

On some level, I wish I could have procedurally caused visual artifacts in real-time during play rather than preparing a bunch of glitched assets.  Programmatically glitching visuals in-game seems more in the spirit of video game glitch art.  Still, it was pretty fun including these techniques in a game.

Speaking of the game, this project is currently in testing, and needs a lot of music and sound design, but should be ready for release soon!


Asteroidal Projection in Beta

Last winter, while stepping onto a bus, I had an idea for an Asteroids-like game that took place in the Poincaré Disk, a model of the hyperbolic plane best known for its use in M. C. Escher tessellation art.  Well, I haven’t followed through on that, because it would be hard to do.  Instead, I grabbed a much lower-hanging fruit which, to a layman observer, has a similar visual effect.

Thus was Asteroidal Projection born, an Asteroids-clone that takes place in normal Euclidean space, except with the plane compressed into a disk-shape.  Distances become increasingly distorted as you get farther from the center of the screen, with distant objects remaining visual, though warped, in the edges of the disk.  This visual distortion gives the illusion that the game is occurring on a curved, dome-like surface, but this is actually not the case.  Mathematically, the game world is topologically equivalent to the plane, and all the physics and collision detection occurs identically to how it would on a flat play area.  You can think of the game’s visuals as an alternative way of viewing flat space which keeps much more of the play area in view at once but does not preserve shape, distance, or angle.

For the topology/complex analysis nerds out there, the visuals in Asteroidal Projection are the image of the Euclidean plane through this homeomorphism:


And yes, strictly speaking, this is not a projection, just the standard homeomorphism from the plane to the disk.  What can I say?  I didn’t think “Homeomorphic Asteroids” had the same ring to it.

Anyway, you can play it online here:

This “beta” is very informal, just drop me a line if you have any feedback!  (


PS I still haven’t decided whether I’d rather use really minimalist, purely geometric visuals for this game.  What do you think?


The Blue Room in Beta

I’m pleased to announce that The Blue Room, an short adventure game about depression, anxiety, and loneliness, is now in open beta and available on

The Blue Room is a room escape game, but instead of locked doors and puzzles, the true impediment to escape is the protagonist’s own depression and agoraphobia.  The central narrative of the game is framed by the two choices your character is given when you attempt to open your door and go outside: “No,” and “Nah.”  As you explore the room and learn more about the character’s past and daily life, you unlock more excuses for not going outside–“I’m too tired,” or “I’m not ready,” or just plain “I don’t want to.”  Throughout the game, the paralyzing effects of depression and anxiety are simulated for the player by the restrictive choices presented to them.

This is a deeply personal work for me, inspired by my own experiences, and those of people close to me.  Even when it moves out of beta into it’s final release, I will never charge money for The Blue Room.  I only hope that it raises awareness about how challenging depression can be, and engenders empathy in those who play it.