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Dwarves ate my Homework


This summer Toxic Blob announced Sin or Win would be released in September. I should have used the more appropriate term “soon”. I don’t want to launch a compromised Sin or Win so today I’m announcing that my new target is to release soon. Towards the end of 2011.

That I’m not releasing in September likely isn’t much of a surprise - September has flown past - so what happened? Why delay?

Toxic Blob exists to make awesome games and to fulfil my passion for cross-disciplinary creativity. But it’s not a day job. Not yet. For the past year, between visual effects projects, I have been self-funding Toxic Blob’s development of Sin or Win.

Some VFX work early in 2011 earned me several frugal months of Sin or Win development. No one noticed the delay because Toxic Blob was still in stealth mode. This summer I was presented with an opportunity to do some modelling, rigging and animation on Tarsem Singh‘s Untitled Snow White film. I needed the money and it was a fantastic opportunity; I’d be working with old friends & talented artists on what’ll be a beautiful sequence. After careful consideration I decided to work on Snow White.

Problem was… Sin or Win was taking slightly longer than expected to polish and I quickly found it impossible to balance family and VFX and Sin or Win development. If I worked insane hours I could work on both the film & Sin or Win, but I’d have to neglect sleep and my family. Years ago I vowed to work smarter, not longer. So I set aside Sin or Win until after I completed my work on Snow White.

The upside of today’s announcement is that my subconscious didn’t stop thinking about the game. When I was in the shower, at my bowl of cereal or waiting for files to download, ideas were germinating. I find taking time from the nitty gritty of development does that. I now have even more great ideas on how to expand Sin or Win! I think you’re really going to enjoy them.

There is a dichotomy when playing Sin or Win; players either play to earn a high winning score, or for a sinning score. The trick is that sinning poorly causes the game to end. Sinning well requires the player to be a damned fine talent. As I’ve had such a superb response from people who have played Sin or Win as it is, I’ve made the decision to release after polishing. Then in the new year I’ll expand the experience.

I want to thank everyone who has been incredibly supportive and for your anticipation of Sin or Win. I’m now focusing solely on Sin or Win and will be keeping you informed of any news and developments here at And, soon, I’ll be announcing the specific release date.

Sin or Win!


I’m pleased to announce the title of Toxic Blob’s upcoming iPad game... “Sin or Win”.

Development continues at a good pace, with sound design happening this week. More announcements soon.

Texture Atlas Failure

Pasted Graphic

Recently I’ve found my sprite classes had serious speed issues, and were becoming cumbersome to work with. They were some of the first classes I wrote when learning Unity and JavaScript. So this weekend I replaced them with a new optimised sprite class. One class just over a page long. Much less code, much faster routines, easier to work with and now I have support for texture atlases with cropped sprites. Which results in using less textures, less materials and less draw calls. It also means I can now take data direct from Zwoptex which means my workflow is faster. All that is left is to create a lovely interface to open the Zwoptex XML data and input that directly onto my objects. That’ll likely wait, though.

The above image is the result of my new sprite class on the Night Monster, but without the settings quite correct.

The Plague!


Just implemented a bunch of new features over the past two days. Plagues being one of them.

Pixels, Pixels, Pixels


My Nikkor f2.8 55mm prime lens arrived today. Not entirely game related, but it can focus at wonderfully close distances - and so here is a rather close shot of the game in action on the iPad.

I love the pixel look at this level. I started drawing digitally nearly thirty years ago as a young child when on a black & white Apple IIe. Back when pixels were the size of my childhood fist. So I have a strong nostalgia and love for the look of pixels. I had contemplated making this game using pixel art - even doing a prototype of the above reaper in pixel art - but ultimately it wasn’t the right look. Perhaps a future game - or level - will suit that aesthetic.

I drew with Deluxe Paint IIe when I got a 286... but anyone know what I would have drawn with on that old Apple IIe? MousePaint? We didn’t have a mouse, but controlled the pointer with a homemade joystick. My Dad built it into a small rectangular metal box, with two painfully stiff red buttons. It was always very easy to tell if we’d been playing with the Apple by the imprint left in our tiny thumbs by those red buttons.

Unity 3.2


Unity 3.2 is out! The most exciting new feature for me is the ability to profile standalone player builds directly in the Editor. Including iOS builds. Previously I optimised my code based on how my game ran in the Editor. But things on iOS often run differently than they do in OSX. Now I can play my game directly on my iPad while keeping an eye on the Unity Profiler.

But keeping one eye on the game and one eye on my monitor has proved awkward. By the time I can move my hand to the keyboard to pause XCode whatever caused the frame rate spikes has passed. Sure, I could scrub back in Unity to see the code, but my spikes are of a rendering nature - all lumped under a single time consuming line in the profiler. I need to go back in time to see on the iPad what visually changed to discover the cause of the spike. I need a time machine. And that time machine is my Nikon. It’s now set it up to film while I play, then I scrub through the resulting Quicktime to easily determine how to best optimise the game. The above is a screen shot from one of those quicktimes.

I still have lots of optimisation left, but with the help of the new profiler in 3.2 it’s a much more enjoyable job.

First Work In Progress (WIP) Screen Shot


Up until now I’ve kept my game an open secret, letting only close friends & family see (and play) it. But there comes a time when all children must find their own path out in the wide world. And so with pride, and some trepidation, I’m proud to present my first screenshot.