Global Game Jam 2013 Entry


I participated in the 2013 Global Game Jam with many other folks from IGDA-TC. I teamed up with Will Buck and Scott Lembcke to make a game called Operation Party.


Operation Party is a realtime multiplayer party game, inspired heavily by our collective admiration of the incredibly fun game Space Team. Our game was built in HTML5 with reasonable support across desktop, iOS, and Android making it pretty accessible for a large group to play together in a room. The server is written with Node.js, and the networking is done with Socket.IO (a wrapper for WebSockets.)

Will and I focused on the game engine and networking, and Scott put together some really silly and fun interactive widgets (that play best on a touch screen). Barry helped a ton by cranking out the artwork for us. Not too shabby for a weekend's work!

The code is available on GitHub.

Hacking My Way to Trouble at Age 14


I recently shared a personal story with my Facebook friends, and given the response, I thought it would be a good idea to share it on this site as well. I especially hope this story reaches teachers and councilors involved in K-12 (aka primary and secondary) education, but parents and possible future parents will hopefully read this, too.

Sharing this story became important to me after the suicide of Aaron Swartz, particularly after reading Timothy B. Lee's words in the Washington Post: "I worry that … America is gradually losing the sense of humor that has made it the home of the world's innovators and misfits." I realize that Aaron was an adult when he got in legal trouble, but before all that, once upon a time he was a young, bright, bored, troubled young man. That's something I can personally relate to.

And that's where my story begins.

</2012> Year in Review


It's that time again! Time to reflect on the past year and the year ahead. Although, if I'm being perfectly honest, I'm writing this right now over two years later. Turns out 2013 started really busy and got even busier, and I rather neglected to write this post in January 2013, and I'm writing it in January 2014 but post-dating it for posterity.

Anyway, I do like to do these posts for my own benefit. Besides that natural XMas/New Year's seasonally inspired need for self-reflection, it is helpful for me to make a list of things I did in the past year to remind myself that I am actually getting things done. It helps maintain sanity for somebody like me who always has a lot of irons in a lot of fires. It is also a great way to capture some of the non-work-related events and new memories I made in the past year.

Here's some things that happened in 2012!






  • First year anniversary of Zachstronaut LLC

  • Lovely trip to Hawaii with family

  • Made this pixelated animated GIF for Dropbox logo contest

  • Worked on Node.js and based multiplayer game library


  • Melted in Chicago's 100° heat. Visited the fishes in the aquarium.

  • Went camping in Minnesota. Saw a black bear. Fed lots of deer flies.








The year 2012 marked the one year anniversary of my company Zachstronaut LLC, and I had the opportunity to work with some truly awesome clients and collaborators! In particular, there was a high demand for my JavaScript skills in the mobile iOS/Android space. This was pretty much what I predicted for the year.

And 2012 was also a great year for personal creative projects. It started out with an enormous bang when my interactive SOPA Blackout template went viral. It felt pretty amazing to make a political impact with my art and also to reach so many hundreds of thousands of people. I'd say I successfully met my goal of learning more about myself as an artist and doing personally meaningful work!! It's rather interesting that I set that goal for myself in a blog post just six days before making it happen.

I released four video games in 2012, each made in 48 hours, and one of them won a significant competition award! I also began beta testing a second episode for my RPG game The Legend of Equip > Pants. Oh, and I worked on a prototype for a procedural island game, too. That's a ton of game making productivity!

I had a great time hanging out with the IGDA-TC and JavaScriptMN communities in 2012, and I really appreciated the invite to speak to the Code People group at the U of MN.

I think 2012 must have been the peak of my Minecraft addiction. Luckily it was motion sickness that eventually set me free! heh. Probably a good thing for my productivity.

I'd say I was right when I guessed that Node.js and multiplayer/WebSockets stuff would be big in 2012. It wouldn't really be fair for me to now make predictions for 2013 because I'm actually writing this recap in 2014! That'd be cheating.

I hope you all had a wonderful 2012 and 2013. (I've got to recap that year next!)

LD 25 Entry: "You Are The Villain"


Ludum Dare is the thrice annual competition to make a game by yourself from scratch in 48 hours. The December 2012 theme was: "You are the Villain." I made a game that plays like Pipe Dream, but you lay down train tracks trying to maximize the number of goats tied to train tracks that you can run over. Why goats? Well, for the first time LD had a special silly bonus theme modifier, and it was goats.

Game screenshot.

Anyway, why don't you play my game and let me know what you think!

And here are some more Ludum Dare 25 games to check out, also made by people from Minnesota:

LunchLady screenshot.
Feed The Towers screenshot.
Henchmen screenshot.

Narwhal Knights - Multiplayer Game


Narwhal Knights gameplay animated GIF.Node.js Knockout 2012 Award Winner - Utility/Fun Category

Narwhal Knights is a massively multiplayer networked game of jousting, flying narwhals. I made this game in 48 hours with Team Watermelon Sauce for the 2012 Node.js Knockout competition and was awarded winner in the Utility/Fun category. My teammates were Paul Armstrong and Jesse Mullan.

The game is written in JavaScript using the Impact engine. The server and realtime multiplayer component are built with Node.js and WebSockets via

Narwhal Knights is currently offline, but you can watch a gameplay video on YouTube.