Posts by Matt Mechtley:
I’ve been with Blurst since before we called ourselves Blurst. I joined two years ago, after finishing my B.S. in Mathematics. At the time, Flashbang Studios was just Matthew and Steve, with Shawn as an intern, and were working out of Matthew’s apartment. I was looking for an interesting challenge, and the notion of making games that WE wanted to play in obscenely short production cycles was a pretty appealing challenge!
When I started, we were working on Splume, which was two weeks away from a contest deadline (The Top DOG contest at Unite 2007). I spent most of the project making the level editor and the survival mode. The short production cycle was all I’d hoped it would be, and we even won the grand prize, netting us a duffel full of cash!
Two years later, and I’ve programmed an eclectic mix of systems in our games — AI for Raptor Safari, Blush, and Crane Wars, the mission system in Jetpack Brontosaurus, Minotaur China Shop’s random layout generator, almost all of Rebolt, and the foundation for Time Donkey’s movement and camera, among others. I’ve also been the Math go-to fellow and, with my brother Adam, the resident science pedant. Raptor Safari’s controversial feathers were spawned after reading Turner et al.’s discovery of quill knobs on the forearms of Velociraptor mongoliensis, and it was a hard-fought compromise that led to an Apatosaurus with the given name “Brontosaurus” being the star of Jetpack Brontosaurus.
I’ve loved almost every minute of it, especially since I’ve worked among awesome friends. But the Universe is full of challenges, and there is another one that’s been nibbling at the corners of my mind even these two years. During the last year of my Bachelor’s, I worked for Rogier Windhorst, an astrophysics professor at Arizona State, creating an interactive simulation of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. This image — the deepest optical light image ever taken — represents 95% of the history of the Universe. Despite covering a tiny patch of sky only 1/10 of the full moon’s width, the HUDF contains over 10,000 visible galaxies, the oldest having emitted their light up to 13 billion years ago!
I was, of course, immediately enthralled. It’s one thing to wonder at the works of Nature that we can see on the Earth — the wispy vortices at the edge of a cloud, canyons carved by a river’s flow, a species of ape whose intelligence has allowed it to build artifice and culture. It’s another kind of wonder entirely to look at an image and see light, far too dim for the naked eye, emitted by a billion fusion reactors only 300 million years after the birth of our Universe. Given the opportunity to probe those depths, to explore that inexhaustible possibility space, I would be completely unable to resist!
Over our post-Crane Wars break, such an opportunity arose. A lunch with my old advisor led to an offer to admit me late as a PhD student for the Fall. I of course could not say no, doubly compounded by the fact that soon after I begin, we will be getting data from observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope’s recently-installed new instruments!
My experience working with Unity and Flashbang/Blurst has given me an invaluable tool for my future research — the ability to program and problem solve at even more ridiculous speeds than when I began. I also plan to continue using Unity, producing more small educational simulations or games, so I can hopefully inspire the next generation of scientists, the way that Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking have inspired me.
More than anything though, I value the myriad other brilliant indie game developers that I’ve met and befriended along the way, my coworkers included. Necessarily generalists who must wear a number of hats, the knowledge that can be synchronized and the recombinant ideas that can be bred in an hour of talking to an indie game dev can be worth weeks of toiling away in solitude. Though I am a scientist at heart and my future holds mostly the marvel of exploration, it has been my honor to have even a small part in creating something wonderful — both games that bring joy and laughter, and an indie games community that declares, in one voice, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!”
I’ll miss you dudes, keep in touch. <3
Our iPhone robot combat game, !Rebolt! has finally made it through approval purgatory and is now available in the App Store for $0.99!
Adam and I began work on the prototype as a weekend-long project for TIGJam 08, but it quickly turned into our most ambitious iPhone project to date! After ten weeks of hard work, we’re happy to finally have it out for folks to play! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Maximize your score, collect data to learn humanity’s ultimate fate, and maybe you’ll even find one of the Bonus Missions!
In case you missed the final trailer, here it is again!
And it’s all thanks to you, dear players! You’ve driven for miles across the plains and through the jungles of the Cretaceous, perpetrating the kind of mass genocide that only a gas-powered off-road vehicle can deliver. You’ve jumped, boosted, and two-wheeled your way to victory against the pre-avian hordes, leaving a carpet of feathers (of modern aspect!) in your wake. You’ve pushed more crates than in the original Tomb Raider. You did a barrel roll! Most importantly, you’ve had fun doing it! When the day is done, that’s what matters most to us — that you folks are having as much fun playing our games as we’ve had making them. Cheers, valiant raptor hunters, and thanks for helping to save the future — one delicious raptor taco at a time!
For your amusement, here are a few more Raptor Safari stats:
Games Completed: 823,661
Scoring Events Recorded: 23,662,398
Number of Players with Over 2,000 Games Played: 7
Raptors Exported: 1,332,188
Pteranodons Killed: 12,208
Pteranodons Exported: 4,247
Most Raptor Kills by One Player: 62,687 (MisplacedMage)
Most Pteranodon Kills by One Player: 217 (MisplacedMage)
Vehicles Destroyed (all doors + hood): 115,054
Most Common Raptor Kill Method:
4,424,412 — Vehicle
169,656 — Raptor on Raptor
159,259 — Clean chain hit
151,085 — Chain clothesline
44,670 — Chain end toss
Heya folks, I’m Matt Mechtley, programmer and resident maths go-to guy here at Flashbang! I program a little bit of everything, but I usually tend to end up doing game systems (like Jetpack Brontosaurus’s mission system), user interfaces, character animation, and anything heavy on linear algebra. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of iPhone programming. More than anything, I enjoy technical challenges — I’ve written code to combine skinned meshes, dynamically create plants on terrain, and load and store user-made levels in Splume. I also made a custom breathalyzer peripheral that interfaced with a pong game!
I joined up with Flashbang a little over a year ago, just as Splume was getting started. I’d just finished my degree in Mathematics, and was finishing up a NASA Space Grant-funded project, making an interactive simulation of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. I’d decided to put off graduate school for a year or two, and the prospect of getting paid to work with my best friends on awesome games I loved was too good to pass up! (Ok so it was a toss-up between awesome games and trying to get a position with the USGS, but I really like maps and rocks)
My favorite part of working for Flashbang is the excellent way that we all play off one another’s ideas, turning things that are funny into things that are patently absurd. Case in point: the genesis of Off-Road Velociraptor Safari. The original idea behind the game was a “vehicle physics test with terrain.” I was having dinner one night with Adam, who told me, “Matt, I have an idea for this vehicle test that we want to do.” I responded, “Wait don’t tell me. You’re driving around an off-road jeep catching raptors with a giant snare?” He grinned and replied, “I was going to say ATV and a net-launcher, but yeah.” My brother and I may have dinosaurs on the brain. It pretty much snowballed once we told everyone else. What if it was a raptor driving the jeep? What if he were wearing a monocle and pith helmet? Then of course there is the infamous feathers issue, which I campaigned for after reading Turner et al.’s article in Science.
I’m excited that we now have a place to keep everyone abreast of our current projects — especially the iPhone ones, which I’m really digging. I’d love to answer anyone’s technical questions, and be a pedantic sod regarding the scientific accuracy of our games! For instance — the text in Minotaur China Shop should really be written in Linear A, the script of the ancient Minoan civilization. It makes little sense for the minotaur of ancient Crete to be writing in Latin characters, after all.
O Hail Eris!
Minotaur China Shop iPad Tease
995 days ago
Minotaur Dance Party
1127 days ago
Visualizing Raptor Safari Data
1150 days ago