Games: Rift Snake (2015)

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 3.23.25 pm

Rift Snake is a reimplementation of the classic Snake game for the Oculus Rift. It is part of an research project with the School of Optometry at the University of New South Wales investigating the use of the Rift to treat amblyopia (lazy-eye). In a twist on the usual Snake game, the coins need to be hit in a specific direction, indicated by the arrow on each. In the Rift version, the arrow is presented as two separate triangles and only one is shown in each eye. Thus the player must use both eyes and make them converge at various distances to successfully play the game.

Platform: Oculus Rift using Unity3D

Malcolm Ryan (Design and Programming)
Rebecca Wiley (Design)
Mei-Ying Boon (Optometry Consult)

Playable at:

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Games: The Road (2015)


The Road is a cooperative table-top card game set in post-apocalyptic outback Australia. It is an exercise in narrative creation through game mechanics. Every game of The Road tells its own unique story based not on any script, but on the desperation of the players and the things they find themselves willing to do in order to survive.

The Road was successfully Kickstarted in April 2015 and will soon be published on

The Road was a finalist in the Best Non-Digital category at the Freeplay Awards in 2015.

For more information, see the game’s Facebook page.

Malcolm Ryan (Game Design)
Anthea Wright (Art)
Leigh Tuckman (Graphic Design & Layout)

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 11:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Games: Möbius (2012)


Möbius was written in 48 hours as an entry for Game Jam Sydney 2012. The game depicts this theme by having the player fly through an Möbius-strip-shaped asteroid field gathering minerals. Every 30 seconds the game returns to the start of the field (flipped left-to-right) and a copy of the player enters the game, repeating everything that the player has done so far. The player must avoid running into past copies of herself as they slowly fill the screen.

Möbius won the Jammer’s Choice and Best Use of Theme awards at Game Jam Sydney 2012.

Platform: Web and Apple iPad using the Unity3D game engine

Malcolm Ryan (Lead Design and Programmer)
Wayne Petzler (Art)
Angus O’Sullivan (Audio)

Playable at:

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Games: Beachcomber (2011)


Beachcomber is a audio-based game designed for visually impaired children. It presents a realistic beach soundscape and challenges players to navigate and find buried treasures using a metal detector. It was play-tested with children from the Royal Blind Society and Guide Dogs Australia and received favourable feedback.

Platform: Apple iPad using the Unity3D game engine

Nathan Ching (Lead Design and Programmer)
Malcolm Ryan (Designer and Programmer)
Melody Wang (Art)
Ralph Stevenson (Art)
Clare Andreallo (Audio)

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Games: Slurp (2010)

Slurp game screenshot

Slurp was developed with the UNSW School of Optometry as a hand-eye coordination game for testing children with amblyopia. The object of the game is to trace along the straw from the milkshake, drawing the drink through as quickly as possible without making mistakes. A variety of levels were created depicting various animals and presenting different levels of difficulty.

Platform: Apple iPad using the Unity3D game engine

Robin Lee (Optometry Researcher)
Malcolm Ryan (Designer and Programmer)
Melody Wang (Art and Level Design)
Dan Graf (Art)

Playable at:

Research publications:

Published in: on September 21, 2015 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Books: Pleasures of Small Motions

The Pleasures of Small Motions
Pleasures of Small Motions: Mastering the Mental Game of Pocket Billiards, by Bob Fancher Ph.D.

Bob Fancher is an avid pool player and a columnist on all things billiards for the Washington Post. He is also a trained philosophy and psychotherapist. In this short book he brings his expertise in psychology to the problem of playing pool. He debunks a lot of popular sports psychology and uses his knowledge of cognitive psychology to explain how the mind works when engaged in playing pool. (more…)

Published in: on August 18, 2014 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  

101 Things I Learned in Game Design?

I recently received a copy of 101 Things I Learned in Film School as a gift from one of my students, having already expressed my enthusiasm for 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School. I really like these little books; they condense a lot of wisdom into a number of key insights. Clearly they lack depth, but they enforce a degree of brevity which requires the author to focus on important ideas.

I’ve been thinking about writing a game design textbook of my own of late. It would be somewhat longer than one of these 101 Things books, but the exercise of trying to write in this format seems to me to be a good way to distill my ideas and work out what I actually have to say. So I’m compiling my own list of 101 things, below.

Published in: on June 14, 2014 at 6:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Saving the Date

Me: So, I did it.

Felicia: What?

Me: I quit the game, like you said.

Felicia: Are you sure? Then why am I still here?

Me: I’m writing my own ending.

Felicia: Oh? How does it turn out?

Me: I’m not sure, I haven’t thought that far ahead.

Felicia: Well what do you want to happen?

Published in: on June 21, 2013 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Narrative-driven Design

In designing my zombie-survival card game, The Road, recently I’ve taken an approach to design that I haven’t really seen discussed before. I’m calling it “narrative-driven” design. The idea is that you choose a particular set of narratives that you want to see emerge from your game and then you design systems to enable and encourage (but not enforce) those narratives.

Published in: on April 8, 2013 at 7:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Design: Visual aesthetics

Owen Doyle has agreed to do graphic design for the game. I am looking for an art style that is realistic, sombre and gritty. I am thinking of something similar to graphic novels The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man.

I also want the setting to be distinctly Australian. I love the recent Wyrmwood short film by Sydney filmmakers Kiah & Tristan Roache-Turner. This clip captures some of the feeling I want to get in my game:

Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment