I am not at Stanford anymore. I just have my web pages here because I have an alumni account at Stanford. Thank you, Computer Science Department! I’m now at Red Blob Games, helping people make games, and making some of my own.
I was a Ph.D. student at Stanford University studying programming languages. My thesis work was about Obstacl, an object extension to Standard ML. I also worked on a web proxy server that alters Java applets to make them more safe. Since I have Java applets turned off in my browser, I decided to add some features to this proxy that would be more useful to me: filtering banner advertisements, reporting and blocking cookies, mangling URL redirects, spotting web bugs, removing pop-up windows, and generally reformatting web pages so that I can read them better). I have more about my school-related projects on my other home page.
I’ve been working on games and other software in my free time. I generally like to release the software (including source) for free. While writing games, I research topics that are related to games I’m working on or want to write in the future. I have collected some information about these topics in a web page about programming topics for computer games. I also write tools for games and web pages, and I’ve put up some of my Python libraries, including Yapps (yet another python parser system).
In 1990, I wrote a game called Solar Realms Elite (SRE). It was a multiplayer text game that ran on electronic bulletin board systems (BBSes), and the last version (from 1994) is still available for download. You can also download flavors like Animaniacs SRE. (A “flavor” was a theme/skin that let you change the text and colors.) This game spawned a family of somewhat popular “Solar Realms” games, including SRE’s sequel, Barren Realms Elite (BRE). Curiously, some unrelated door games and BBS systems supported the
DOORFILE.SR format I wrote for SRE to get information from the BBS software. In 1996, I lost both my SRE source code and my backup copies, due to a hard disk disaster. Since then, several people have asked if I would release the source. Alas, I would but I can’t! (I also can’t produce registration codes anymore; I recommend getting a crack for the game, like this one.) I am encouraging everyone to write a clone of SRE, and at least eight people have been interested in writing SRE clones.
If you’re interested in cloning SRE, please let me know! I’ve collected some of the notes about SRE’s design. One thing that I agonized over was winning: the original design of SRE allowed the first player to win, rather than the best player. This seems to be an accepted dot-com wisdom. The problem is that this sort of game isn’t necessarily fun.
Believe it or not, someone has written a strange sci-fi story that mentions the characters waiting for their SRE turns! And there are other stories about SRE too.
I also worked on a multithreaded strategy game called SimBlob, but I never completed this project. I wanted to bring environmental simulation (water, soil, air, fire, and so on) to a strategy game, and explore the strategies that would be possible when the player could build dams, fight erosion, deal with deforestation and forest fires, build canals and reservoirs, and provide irrigation systems for farmers. The source code to SimBlob is available, but it’s not actively being developed.