Articles by Alex Kearns

John Cooney

Armor Games' head of game development John Cooney - or jmtb02, as he is better known - is one of the most prolific and imaginative game developers around.

When John Cooney returns home after a busy day of coding and designing at Armor Games, he immediately checks that the curtains are closed. Once he has ensured there are no gaps through which he might be spied, he allows himself to relax for the first time since he left for the office in the morning. It is hard work maintaining a unified appearance, and he sighs with relief as he separates into his constituent parts.

You see, John is not one man. He is an amalgam of five different people who, somehow, are able to reside in the same physical space at the same time. There's Mark, the code wizard, who can concoct a fancy game engine in the time it takes most of us to pop to the shops and back. Tim is the design genius, effortlessly creating beautifully animated sprites and swanky game environments. Bob is the holistic thinker, dreaming up ever more weird and wonderful ideas for games. Then there's 02, a baby elephant with a propensity for raving who is the primary tester for most of John's games. She ensures that the games are fun to play. And finally, there is John himself, who has the task of assembling this disparate group into a single coherent being.

Published by Alex Kearns on 2nd October 2010
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The Best 30 HTML5 games

HTML5 is set to revolutionise the creation of online games over coming years. Here, we present you with the longest list of HTML5 games available on the internet.

We love Flash. Until recently, it has provided the easiest and most powerful way of creating the online games that we showcase on this blog. It is not going too far to say that Flash spawned the online casual gaming industry. Without it, game studios would have found it almost impossible to provide online the slick animations, vector graphics and lightning fast interactivity that gamers demand.

They would have been forced to resort to the old way of doing things, painstakingly creating games using difficult-to-learn operating system specific technologies. These games would be expensive to develop, would only work on one operating system (so if you were on a Mac, you would have a problem) and users would be forced to download the games to play them.

Published by Alex Kearns on 10th September 2010
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Top ten war games that won't ruin your life

Indulge your military fantasies with our selection of modern-warfare games that can be completed in an afternoon.

My friends and I have an agreement. We will never play THAT multiplayer online war game again. I am not going to share with you what THAT is, because I'd feel very guilty if you then went off and got as addicted to playing it as we did. All you need to know is that the game is pure, unadulterated evil, and that if you start playing it, it will rob you of every minute of spare time you have. That's one of the biggest problems with many multiplayer online war games - they are so huge that you pretty much have to invest every waking moment in them to succeed. So how then can you indulge in your passion for online war games without sacrificing your life?

The answer, we hope, is our list of Top ten war games that won't ruin your life. These games, like most games we write about on this site, are casual games that can be played in your browser for free. They can be completed in a couple of hours or less. And yet they are packed full of all the war strategy and action goodness that any self-respecting military commander could want. For this list, we have focused on games with a modern warfare theme (ie, guns, tanks and planes rather than arrows, cavalry and swords or lasers, quantum canon and light sabers). Historical and futuristic war games will be covered in upcoming lists. We hope you enjoy the games.

Published by Alex Kearns on 18th August 2010
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Evan Miller

In ImmorTall, indie developer Evan Miller created one of the most emotionally moving games to grace the internet. We speak to him about his gaming philosophy and plans for the future.

Regular visitors to this site may have noticed that we have given one game a disproportionate amount of coverage in recent months. We reviewed the game here, we placed the game at the top of our "Games that make you think about life" list here and we reddited about it here. The reason why we have lavished such attention on ImmorTall - an arty side-scroller - is that quite simply we love it. ImmorTall is one of the most emotionally moving games we have ever played. It is up there in the league of gaming tear-jerkers with Jason Rohrer's legendary Passage.

For the game's developer, Evan Miller, the game could have had him crying for entirely different reasons. As he explains later in the article, developing arty games like ImmorTall is a big risk. It can be very difficult to find a sponsor for such games, and he could quite easily have been left out-of-pocket as a result. Thankfuilly, that was not the case - ImmorTall has received widespread acclaim across the internet.

Published by Alex Kearns on 29th July 2010
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Top 20 online zombie games

You don't need to turn on your console to get your fix of zombie games. Some of the best such games can be played right here in your browser.

Those of a nervous disposition are advised to press the back button now. For the inspiration behind today's list of games is one of the most terrifying creatures man has invented: the zombie. You have been warned. If being inundated with slavering human-shells bent on your destruction fills you full of dread, then you best be on your way. Braver souls, however, are in for a treat. We have rounded up all the zombie games on the web, incinerated or decapitated those that were not up to scratch, and are left with what we consider to be the 20 best. Here they are:

As usual, if you think we have missed out any brilliant online zombie games or even if you just want to vent your spleen, then please tell us everything in the comments section below.

Published by Alex Kearns on 23rd July 2010
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Top 30 Online Tower Defense Games

Tower defense games are among the most addictive games around, and we have 30 of the best of them for you to play.

Every so often someone comes up with a game that is so new and innovative that everyone starts copying it and as a result a whole new genre of games is spawned. That is what has happened with tower defense games. Not so long ago, there was no such thing as a tower defense game. Then in 2007, David Scott released Flash Element Tower Defense. The game proved a hit and in almost no time other developers were mimicking the game play that Scott had pioneered.

Now, just three years after Flash Element TD's launch, there are literally hundreds of tower defense games available. Here, we present you with a list of what we consider to be the Top 30 Online Tower Defense Games. All the games can be played in your browser for free. Enjoy!

Published by Alex Kearns on 16th March 2010
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Top 25 online Defend your Castle games

We've scoured the internet and found what we think are the best defend your castle games you can play for free on the web.

Defend-your-castle games are among the most addictive casual games around. The concept is simple. You are the defender of a castle (sometimes it is a base, or a home or even a pub) under attack from an onslaught of enemies. The enemies are usually soliders, zombies or monsters (though they can also be bunnies, for some reason). Your task is to fight them off using any means at your disposal (rocks, bows and arrows, guns, cannon and, in one case, potatoes).

Usually, your enemies come at you in waves. Once you have fended off one wave, it is common for you to have the option of upgrading your weapons or repairing your barricades. Not to be confused with tower defence games (which Casual Girl Gamer will be featuring in an upcoming list), castle-defence games are a great way of wasting away a few minutes (or if you are an addict like me, a few hours).

Published by Alex Kearns on 8th March 2010
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Potion Panic 2

Potion Panic 2 is an unusual but effective take on the defend-your-castle game genre.

I have played loads of defend-your-castle style of games. You know, where your castle (sometimes it is your home) is under attack by hordes of nasty things, usually zombies, monsters of some kind or enemy soldiers, and you have lob rocks at them (or shoot them, or fire arrows at them, etc, etc) to prevent them breaking in and killing you.

Classics in this genre include The Last Stand by Con Artist and xGen's Defend your Castle (the game that started the whole genre off). Some developers have tried to spice up the genre by using unconventional themes (Black Sheep Acres, for example, has you killing cute bunnies rather than vile monsters) or adding innovative game play mechanics. In some games, rather than chucking things at the enemy hordes, you might pick them up and throw them away.

Published by Alex Kearns on 4th March 2010
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Civilisations War

Civilisations War is a beautifully designed new strategy game that achieves the perfect balance between ease-of-play and depth.

Many strategy games fall into the trap of being too complicated. Players are presented with so many options - often through impenetrable menu trees - that they suffer information overload and simply give up. Other games make the opposite mistake: stripping away all complexity in an effort to make the game accessible to everyone. The result is an easy-to-play game but one which lacks replayability.

The best strategy games manage to combine ease-of-use with deep game-play. One game that achieves this balance perfectly is Civilisations War, a beautiful new Flash game that you can play in your browser for free. In this game, you assume the role of the commander of a tribe that is seeking to rediscover a magical power that was lost when an brilliant, ancient civilisation collapsed many aeons before.

Published by Alex Kearns on 23rd February 2010
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Top 30 online physics games

Fans of the physics genre of games are in for a treat. We have scoured the web and found what we think are the top 30 such games.

Don't fret, you don't have to be a physicist - or indeed clever in any way - to play these games. A good understanding of Newton's Laws would certainly come in handy. But if you know in which direction a ball will go if you drop it, then you are more than equipped with the brain power to excel at these games.

If you can think of any more great online physics games, don't forget to tell us all about them in the comments section below.

Published by Alex Kearns on 21st February 2010
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