|Villagers & Heroes of A Mystical Land (2011)||(Lead Engineers)|
|Marble Blast (2002)||(The Marble Blast Team)|
|Marble Blast Ultra (2006)||(Development)|
On Liam Ryan's 10th birthday his Dad gave him Borland C++ and a book on how to program, and he has been programming ever since.
A lot of what he programmed was just for fun. AI always fascinates him: he has made quite a few neural networks and genetic programs (once he made a program that evolved AIs to control opposing Pong paddles). Originally he had to mod some other game like Jedi Knight or Tribes 2, or use Direct2D or even the DOS Console, but more recently, with tools like Torque and Flash and Unity, it’s much easier to prototype something interesting quickly. He was also involved for several years with Top Meadow and GarageGames as an artist, scripter, and programmer, and worked on several games such as Marble Blast, Minigolf Mania, and Puzzle Poker, as well as other smaller Top Meadow projects such as Hunter Sub and Balls Away. He worked briefly on Ace of Aces, which was released on InstantAction.
Starflight II and Seven Cities of Gold are high on his favourite games list, because they manage to feel both large and detailed. They also manage to convey a sense of ‘verisimilitude’, i.e. that while the games are open-ended (sometimes overwhelmingly so at first) one can often use common sense (or genre sense as the case may be) to imagine what one ‘ought’ to do, and this is often reasonably successful. Though he has not played it as much, he thinks X-Com will become another his favorite for the same reasons.
He also likes Dwarf Fortress and Cave Story for quite different reasons. Dwarf Fortress is remarkable in that it has a very sophisticated simulator, which is somehow designed in such a way that stories (be they bizarre, or emotional, or awesome) seem naturally to emerge. On the other hand, Cave Story is arcadey, but the gameplay and progression are almost perfect: challenging but rarely frustrating.
His strangest project is probably Newbot. For a while he was interesting in chatbots, which are programs that try to ‘converse’ with you: you would write a sentence, and the chatbot would respond with its own sentence, and so on back and forth. Newbot was the second one he tried (hence the ‘new’) and the most successful. Some chatbots are preprogrammed with responses to various keywords, but Newbot would actually learn its words and ‘grammar’ (as far as it had any) from what you said to it. Of course this caused some interesting confusions. It could never be convinced it was Newbot. However much he told it “You are Newbot!” it would only respond “You are Newbot!” It once arrogantly declared “I am Supser, you are Newbot the launch button.” One very enigmatic saying it once uttered, upon being told that it had to hide in the sewers, was: “it water it water it sided come on the go! you go! you.” It actually wasn’t too complicated. All it did was map each word to each other word with a ‘weight’. The higher the weight from one word to another, the more likely it was to say that word after the first. So if you often said ‘door’ after ‘the’, the chatbot would also likely say ‘door’ after ‘the’.
Marble Blast was the first published game that he was credited in.
His favorite game quote is “The unplanned organism is a question asked by nature and answered by death.” from Echelon III.
Last updated: Oct 04, 2013