KarmaStar (iPhone Casual Strategy Game)


As a side project, I’ve been working with a small team on a card/board-style iPhone game called KarmaStar. The game is done and should be up on the App Store in a couple of weeks. (This is not my primary project with Arkane Studios…it’s something that I wrote up and we tested locally using marked up Uno cards and dice. I love the iPhone.)

I have a couple of things to say about this project:

First, it was completely rejuvenating to work with a tiny team on a small-budget project. I envy casual game developers in many ways. I had a really good time working with the people involved (directly or in support roles). I got to do a bit of everything, which reminded me of my skills (and deficiencies) and helped me sharpen up some.

Second, my respect for people who design strategy games just went through the roof. I mean, through the roof. Most of the time, we all just iterate on existing game rules. For KarmaStar, I didn’t start off using the (excellent, smart) design method of “taking an existing game and modifying it.” The structure was worked out without modeling it on something else exactly, mostly as a challenge. It was hard, even though this is a simple game.


I hope to post more on the project later…process, what-went-right/wrong, development quirks, details, etc.



I just saw Watchmen (twice) and liked the movie, though it wasn’t perfect.

My observations:

Much of what I loved about the graphic novel was preserved, even with the changes. The heroes-as-flawed-people, lots of thematic points, etc.

Some of the characters are actually better in the film than they are in the graphic novel, which surprised me. Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II, Rorschach…all great. The character-expansions for the Comedian, Dr. Manhattan, Rorschach, et al were just exceedingly well done.

Visually, the movie was gorgeous. And the music, to my surprise, added tremendously. It felt appropriate to the medium.

Halfway to three-fourths of the way through the movie I was giddy: “This can’t be this good…” The last quarter of the movie and the ending, which were weaker and rushed, brought me down some.

If you haven’t read the original, you should. The Watchmen graphic novel is brilliant like nothing else: Unlike most fiction, the world moves in a disturbingly real way, sometimes driven by emotional reactions, sometimes by chance. It’s subversive to its own genre and challenging (like deeper vs shallower music). It’s a fascinating “alt US history” due to one major imagined change: The development of a superhero during the Manhattan project that leads to US dominance, Nixon escaping his shame and defeat, victory in Viet Nam, and less humility for the US government. It’s a comic focused on the interpersonal conflict between (and within) characters. The book can be read as an argument against cowboy-mentality and unshakable faith in heroes, giving it a lot of theme to chew over. It handles sex and relationship doubt better than most (non-graphic) novels. The elements of the story and the artwork itself are massively over-connected and sort of internally hyperlinked in a way that requires multiple readings. The characters are much more complex than those in most comics (and even in most novels). Watchmen contains a story-inside-the-story that people are affected by years later and still discuss.

It’s just great and deserves to be read several times.