Mars Templar


At the threshold of the New Year, I was approached to make tiles for some vintage hardware. Specifications required all the art for the project to fit within a single 128x128 image using this lovely palette:

Noting the variety of red, purple, and orange shades, I chose a Burroughs-inspired theme set on Mars. The first color, absolute black, was reserved for sprite transparency, so I selected the darkest desaturated purple for the shadows.

Because the system can mirror sprites, I designed the characters so that flipping them mimics animation.

With an extremely limited number of tiles, I sought to balance flexibility and specificity. Interchangable tiles offered more mileage while distinct tiles added a level of polish. To maximize the variety of environments in the game, I ensured that the floors and walls would work in every combination. Here is the completed tile map.

To showcase the tiles in action (and to inspire the game mechanics), I assembled the following series of mockups. Enjoy!

The overworld map resuses some tiles in an abstract way, like the small structures representing cities.  

Space tigers don't appreciate trespassers.

For more examples of treasure hidden in caves, see every video game ever made.

Our templar will soon discover the terrible secret behind this abandoned city. 

This Yeti couple sublets a room in their cave to a wraith with a high credit score. 

A Sokoban block puzzle repels all but the most curious and well-armed visitors. 

Do you know what's crawling around in your cellar?

Our templar is not the most enthusiastic gladiator the colosseum has seen.

Our templar enters the sanctum in search of the prized Martian Chalice.

Archives: Mount Brainiac


Several years ago I worked on a slew (gaggle, murder?) of games for Sifteo's now defunct cube platform, as mentioned in a previous post.

In 2010, Sifteo contracted me to work on an educational game: Mount Brainiac. Little did I know that it would end up on display in the Museum of Modern Art as part of the "Talk to Me" exhibit, a showcase that examined ways in which humans interact with machines.

The first generation cubes presented hardware limitations such as this palette:

As a result, I had to rely on optical mixing to achieve the colors not represented. Here's some of my favorite artwork from the project.