Free T Shirts at Windows 10 Three Thing Game

We've just about finalised the itinerary for the Windows 10 Game Jam/Three Thing Game we are holding next month. If you're a developer in the Humberside region you really should come along. We've got sessions about MonoGame, Unity and Marmalade, a room full of Windows 10 machines for you to play with. And Free T Shirts:


Find out the schedule, and sign up, here.


Windows 10 Game Development Event: June 11th-12th

What better way to celebrate the end of the semester than a bit of game creation? Plus a chance to have a play with the latest operating system and development tools.

I'm very pleased to be able to announce a Three Thing Game that we are organising in conjunction with Microsoft. We'll have all kinds of interesting people coming along from Microsoft, local games companies and software houses.

The event is open to any developers who fancy coming along and having a go.

Folks from Hull University are of course welcome, but if you are in a company and want to get hands-on experience working with Windows 10, plus support from Microsoft expertise, then you should come along.

We are working on setting up a lab full of Windows 10 machines for you to work on, so all you have to bring along is yourself and a winning smile. Plus you get to join in our "Summer Bash", with lashing of pizza, video games and perhaps even a game of Werewolf.

It all happens over 11th-12th of June. We've got some presentations on Thursday morning, followed by an afternoon of coding, then the Summer Bash, some late night development and judging and presentations on Friday. With prizes.

If you've never done a game jam before, come along and find out what they are all about. If  you're a Three Thing Game veteran we'd love to see you back in Hull.

You can find out more here: (but don't worry about bringing your own machine - we are sorting that out at the moment)

You can sign up here:

If you've no idea what Three Thing Game is all about, take a look at

This is going to be such fun.

Three Thing Game Finals

Hardy survivors...

Hardy survivors...

We had our Three Thing Game competition over this weekend. Just in case I wasn't busy enough writing poetry and whatnot. Anyhoo, great fun was had. A team of stalwart judges, including developers from Smashed Crab Studios, went through the final 17 teams and found us 6 finalists. As is the way of the competition, we had each team present their game at the aptly named finalist presentations. And here they are in no particular order.

Team: "I hope my friends don't bail on me"

Team: "I hope my friends don't bail on me"

Team "I hope my Friends don't bail on me", AKA Jason Powney, showed off the mayhem he had created from "chainsaw", "penguin" and "water". "Penguin Chainsaw Massacre" had tons of bloodthirsty action, with underwater mine hazards and even a sunken wreck. A very polished production.

Team: //TODO

Team: //TODO

Team //TODO, aka Daniel Masterson, had started of with "ASCII art", "sanctuary" and "error" and built, to our amazement, a 3D rendered graphical game displayed in a console window using text graphics. Something of an awesome technical achievement we reckoned. And the game looked fun to play too.



Team "Another Bad Idea", aka Robert Chisholm and Adam Thornes had crafted a very neat top down fighting game from "Toilet Plunger", "Small Mammals" and, not surprisingly, "fighting". The game had frantic one on one action as the players acted out the eternal struggle between fox and rabbit using toilet plunger weapons.

Team: You Will Lose

Team: You Will Lose

Team "You will Lose", aka Joseph Edwards and Tomasz Kope,c had turned up the particle generators to the max and produced an atmospheric game based on "square", "random" and "shooter". Some nice coloured effects and randomly generated play areas made for good looking gameplay.

Team: One Musketeer

Team: One Musketeer

 Team "Four Musketeers" was down to one musketeer by Saturday lunchtime, but that didn't stop them producing a very neat four player shooter game from "Scrapper", "Wombat" and "Hull". The action was fast and smooth, with multiple weapons and you could even use the gun to jump. Can you spot how the thing "Hull" was used?

Team: Bad Computer Pun

Team: Bad Computer Pun

Another technical tour-de-force from team "Bad Computer Pun, aka Nick Ross. We advise our students to use Three Thing Game as a place to test out hew game engines and Nick had certainly done that. Matlab is a serious mathematical package designed for serious mathematical stuff. Not for writing games. But the power of Three Thing Game compelled Nick to go against this and craft what is probably the first ever computer game written in Matlab. It is definitely the first ever Matlab game that involves "ostrich", "oasis" and "escape". And it looked pretty good too.

I didn't envy the judges their job as they went out to pick the winners. Thanks go to Warren Viant, Derek Wills, Lindsay West, Jon Purdy, David Parker and the Smashed Crab crew for giving up a Saturday afternoon to help out. Anyhoo, after much detailed discussion they come up with a first and second places, plus a technical achievement award.

Pic1 (17 of 25).jpg

First place went to "I hope my friends don't bail on me". The game was commended for the high quality of gameplay, completeness and the way it had stuck very well to the three things.

In second place we had"Another Bad Idea". Their game was singled out for the fun multi-player action and great looking graphics.

Pic1 (25 of 25).jpg

The award for Technical Achievement goes to //TODO. You just don't expect people to use shaders in ASCII art games. Awesome stuff.

I'm going to be chasing the teams for videos of their games and I'll update this post with more details when I get them.

Thanks to all the judges, to Lee Stott from Microsoft and Simon Jackson from MonoGame for dropping by and taking a look. And thanks to David Glover for making the Fenner Lab work so well and allowing us all in.

The next step for the teams is to get their game published. I'm going to be running some sessions about game publishing, keep an eye out for them.

Three Thing Game Auction List

If you are looking for the things we are going to auction tomorrow, you can find them here. Enjoy.

Chainsaws, Bottle, Kitchen, sphere, Leonard Nimoy, Hot dates, Bouncing, random, Crew, Chasing, Circuit Diagrams, Small Mammal, Turret, Friendly Fire, Hack, Zombie, Water, The End, Cornflower Blue, Road, Penguins, Dancing, custard, Rail Grinding, Shifty, A sweater that once had sleeves but now does not., Toilet Plunger, Sanctuary, Chess, Parody, Ferrero Rocher, Ninja, Soaring, Skeletor, Base, The King, Castle, Collision, Spooky Skeletons, BiPolarBear, Why-Wolves, Giant Spiders, Errors, Soldier, Chivas, Three Things, fighting, Yeast, Crippling debt, cloak, Rollercoaster, Captain, evolution, growing, Touch, Laser, Fruit, chicken, Something, Euphoria, Scout Salute, Penguin, Fire, Screenshake, , Cardgame, Railway, 2D, Doge, Oasis, Scratch, Badgers, Triangles, Tycoon, Communism, A man standing on a chair yelling wildly about marsupials., Joke, War, snakes, Beards, Platform, Disembodied Beards that Kill People, Alchemical Horrors and Fun, monkey, Bubble, Space, Sea, Baddie, Flying, The Fanta Gang, Colour, Pinball, Cat girls, A Bitcoin-Based Serial Killer, Queue, Spanking, The One Ring, ManBearPig, LegendFace, Uncommented Code, Balls, Ostrich, Beer, cooking, Escape, boomerang, Gore, Nerd, lasers n stuff, Mechanical Gears, shooter, 404 Error, dragon, Skeletons, spacehopper, Road, Solar Eclipse, Bandit, Obama, cactus, pixel, Fox, Shark, Cars, Ice, Arcade, Sword, Cool, N/A, Dragons, Horror, Jam, square, Grey, Wildcard, Burger King, Power-ups, 400 Tiny Bears, ASCII art graphics, Chairs, Fish, nothing, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Pirate, Robot, Cue, log stove, pies, Magic, Black hole, Defense, copious amounts of food, XNA, Death, Hull, Scrapper, Wombat, Bees, Badminton, Clouds

Making a Three Thing Game Auction Timer Unversal App

We are having the Three Thing Game thing auction next Monday. This is always a giggle. Teams bid "Bank of Thingland" money for things that they want to add to their games. This year all the things are student suggestions. What could possibly go wrong?

Anyhoo, one problem with the auction is that we need to get through over 120 lots in around half an hour, so the auction rate has to be frenetic. Last year I thought I'd solved the problem by fixing the auction length at 15 seconds and creating a countdown timer. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, the result of this was that everyone sat waiting until the timer counted down and then tried to snipe with bids at the last minute.

So this time I'm trying something new. A random countdown timer that runs for between five and 15 seconds. Teams won't know when the auction is going to end, so they'd better get their bids in as soon as they can.

Of course this means I'll need a timer. I wrote one this evening and it took around half an hour. And for that I've got Windows Phone and Windows desktop versions.

These are the variables in the program. I use a DispatcherTimer to generate interrupts. I keep a flag to say whether or not the timer is ticking and I have a counter and a limit value which are used to manage the time outs.

This code sets up the timer. It ticks every second. The timer_Tick method is called each time the timer ticks. I also make a copy of the Foreground colour of the text so that I can put the timer digits back to the original colour when the timer is restarted.

This code sets the timer ticking. If the timer is already ticking the method returns straight away. Otherwise the timer is set up, the screen colour put back to normal, a random timeout between 5 and 15 seconds selected and the timer starts.

This is the third method. It runs each time the timer goes tick. If the timer is active we increment the counter and then display it. Next we check to see if we have hit our limit. If we have a sound effect is played and the counter text block is turned red. Then we stop the timer.

All this code is shared between the Windows Phone and Windows Desktop versions and it works a treat. Great stuff.

Red Nose Day + Three Thing Game + Pink Tutu : What could go wrong?

A note for your diaries folks. On Friday 13th of March I'll be doing one of my (in)famous Lectures in Rhyme in aid of Comic Relief. You can find out more (and sponsor me) here. You can also marvel at the strange distortion of my face in the picture. Or perhaps I always look like that. Ugh. 

Anyhoo, after the fun and frivolity of the lecture we'll be embarking on a Red Nose Day themed Three Thing Game. We'll have "rent a thing" events and allow you to exchange your real money for extra "Bank of Thingland" pounds to get more auction winning powers.

My fundraising target is £1,500. If we reach that before the event I will do the lecture wearing a pink tutu. Apparently you can get away with a lot of stuff in the name of charity.....

Making a Universal MonoGame Project

At one of the sessions earlier this week we were talking about game development and I found out something really interesting. Thanks to Giles for passing me the link.

If you want to make a MonoGame solution that contains a Universal Application for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 you can find a build of MonoGame that contains templates that just work here.

You can deploy to phone or pc just by setting the start project. The distribution also contains the new content management stuff. I'm going to make an example application and a little screencast about how to use it when I get back to the UK.

This is completely wonderful. It will make it so much easier to make games which will be rady for both the Windows Phone and the Windows stores.

Halloween Three Thing Game Kicks Off

Three Thing Game is going strong, and I'm sad. We've got over 150 students in the department working on games overnight and I'm not going to see what they have made.

Thanks to the vagaries of airline ticket pricing (who knew it would cost so much to fly on Sunday) I have to head out the MVP Summit on Saturday morning, leaving the event in the capable hands of David.

We started the event with a fantastic presentation from Dean and Dominique about MonoGame. A few things of note from the session:

  • A really good way to make a name for yourself (and get jobs etc etc) is to get involved with the Open Source projects.
  • You should publish what you make. The first one probably won't be an overnight success. But the fifth one might be.
  • MonoGame is all grown up, with versions for pretty much every platform including the PS4 (and I reckon the Xbox One won't be far behind)
  • The new Content Management stuff is awesome

Of course we had pizza. Five hundred pounds worth of pizza.

Lee and Simon building a "pizza fort". 

Lee and Simon building a "pizza fort". 

I think we managed to feed everyone OK. The lass on the phone at Domino's listened with increasing incredulity as the order built up, and they had to send out two pizza packed cars to deliver it.   Thanks so much to Lee from Microsoft for sponsoring all the cheesy goodness.

I took a bunch of pictures before I had to zoom off and pack. Above is a sample. You can find them all here.

Three Thing Game Auction Fun and Games

We had our Three Thing Game auction today. We had around 150 things to auction and around 50 minutes to do it. I had sterling support from Mo and two Caitlins (thanks for coming folks) and I set the timer on each round to 15 seconds per thing. I reckoned we should be OK.  

We weren't. Not sure why, but 45 minutes in we still had a whole slew of things to get rid of. So in the end we just dished out the last lot and ran for the door.

We also noticed that "auction sniping", beloved of eBay, made an appearance for the first time ever. Bidders would wait until the very last second and then shout out a large number. One chap did that and outbid himself massively, which was amusing, but it did make it rather hard to work out what was going on. 

Caitlin suggested that we might make the length of each auction random, say between five and ten seconds. I thing this is a great idea, we'll definitely do that next time. 

Anyway, if you turned up with money and hope, plus a desire to get something which was at the end of the list, I'm sorry that you didn't get what you wanted. There's always next time....

Three Thing Game Starts Monday

Spent a big chunk of today updating spreadsheets and printing and cutting out cash for the Three Thing Game Thing Auction tomorrow. We've got 46 teams and 140 or so folks turning up, which will be great.

If you are in a team we will be auctioning all the things at 2:15 tomorrow (Monday) in Lecture Theatre 1 in the Hardy Building. You can find a list of the things that will be going under the hammer here. We have around 150 things to auction in 50 minutes, so you'll have just 15 seconds per lot to make up your mind....

Halloween Three Thing Game Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for the Halloween Three Thing Game. Scary stuff. 

We've got all kinds of goodness lined up for you, including the MonoGame crew, Microsoft, teams of world beating academic staff (maybe) and some distinguished Three Thing Game alumni who now write games for a living. 

I'm particularly keen that First Year students get involved, even if you are not on a game development course. Just treat the competition as a great way to get experience writing code. This is also true if you've not programmed before coming to university. I'll be releasing a template C# game that will serve as the basis for your gaming ideas and should make it dead easy to take part.

For the first time ever we are also holding a "Thing Lecture" on the Friday night from MonoGame, who will be revealing to the world the latest additions to their wonderful game development platform. 

You can find out more, and download a registration form, from here.

Dates for your Diaries

I've been sorting out dates and stuff for the next few weeks. Here are a couple highlights of the things coming up soon:

Rather Useful Seminars

Rather Useful Seminars start this week with a session about the Arduino device, and why you should buy at least one. You can find details of the seminar program at

Anyone at Hull can come along, they are always at 1:15 on a Wednesday afternoon in Lecture Theatre A on the ground floor of the Robert Blackburn Building. If you fancy giving all, or part of a seminar on something you find interesting and other folk might like to know about, get in touch with me.

Three Thing Game

The date and time for the next Three Thing Game has been set as overnight on Halloween, from 31st of October to 1st November. Microsoft and MonoGame will be coming along to take part and MonoGame will be doing a special, spooky, session about the new features they have added to the framework. You can get extra prizes by using these in the games that you make during the competition.

The itinerary for Three Thing Game is at

Registration for the competition will open next week. 

Flat Out from Smashed Crab Studios

Later this week I'll be doing my talk to the new First Year students. I'm going to mention Three Thing Game. This is our game development hackathon that we hold each semester.  Teams have three "things" that they can use as the basis of a game. We have a 24 hour development session, followed by the judging, followed by sleep.

It is always fun. Last time the team "Rusty Spoons", who have taken part in pretty much every Three Thing Game during their time at Hull, ended up with "Mayhem", "Puzzler" and "of Fun". They made this really neat game which involved linking colours and then flying through them. You can see a rather shaky video of their entry here

Their game has metamorphosed into Flat Out, which is now on sale in the Android and Windows Phone stores. And getting good reviews too. The team have now graduated, which is nice, and formed a game studio, which is even nicer. 

I make the point that Three Thing Game can be the start of something big, and that we see the trajectory as one where you start with a silly idea and end with an application in the marketplace. It's great when you actually see that happen. 

Spooky Three Thing Game

We are holding our next Three Thing Game at the end of October. Right at the very end in fact. Over Halloween from Friday 31st October to November 1st. Spooky eh?

Any of our students can take part and with a bit of luck lots of First Year students will sign up and join in. It is a great way to get programming, even if you don't really see yourself as a games programmer. You learn programming best if you are trying to build something and what better way than by trying to make something playable out of "Eiffel Tower, Underwater and Flying Fish"? Indeed.

If you are a Hull graduate and fancy coming back for a dose of Three Thing fun and games please get in touch with me directly and I'll see what I can do. If enough folks want to come back I'll set up a "Three Thing Alumni Tacky Prize" for the best effort from past stars.

One thing to remember though, the event runs from Friday to Saturday, starting Friday evening and then ending on Saturday night. This means that if you are in a job you might have to take some time off if you want to come along. Or tell the boss that you are on an "outreach visit" and dish out a few business cards when you turn up.......

Three Thing Game@School Video

Rob Miles, lecturer at the University of Hull, describes the University's 'Three Thing Game @ School' competition which was held on 15 July 2014. The event involved around sixty school pupils wrestling with Python programming and writing games.

On Tuesday Rachel came round with her posh video camera (and tripod) and took a lovely video of the Three Thine Game@School event, which you can watch if you like. Note how I'm heavily channeling my nerd-power, with a pen in my top pocket...

Three Thing Game@School

Yesterday I went out between the degree ceremonies and bought 16 rubber snakes. The chap in the joke shop thought I'd gone mad. I pretty much cleaned him out of snake stock. He's going to have to reorder them, and the last time he got them was several years ago.  He's thinks they may have gone up in price.....

I had this idea that as part of the welcome pack for our Python based game development event I'd put a snake in each envelope. Python - snake, do you get it?

It seemed to work OK and the teams really took to their mascots. Head over to the Three Thing Game wrap-up if you want to see the best possible way to pose with your snake and read the full report of the event.

It was such fun. If anyone has any doubts about the future, and whether we are going to be OK they really should have have been there. From the way the kids worked I reckon that we are in safe hands and things are going to turn out just fine. 

Three Thing Game Summer 2014 Wrap Up

These are the hardy survivors. Well done folks.

These are the hardy survivors. Well done folks.

We had had a great time yesterday writing our games. I left around 10:30 pm having made a good start on my game. Then I was back developing at 7:00, along with lots of the other teams who seemed to have stayed all night and loved it. I lost a few hours doing academic things around the department, but at the end I've got something that I'm kind of proud of (at least from the outside - the code is horrible) and I'm going to get it into a demonstrable form. 

I'm not sure what the market is like for "Old School" text based adventures, but I'm going to find out. By the end we had 7 teams who finished up with demonstrable games. And by that I mean proper games. With a beginning, middle and end. And artwork and sound effects. Amazing, and in just about a day. Simon and Kevin wandered around judging and I followed with a wobbly camera. You can see the results here:

Top down fighting action here, with a "Bitmap Brothers" feel to the graphics and the things "Butler", "Ninja" and "Attack" being put to good use. Different styles of ninja and a scrollable level system kept the action going, as the hapless butler fends off wave after wave of bad guys.
Highly commended by the judges, this neat space shooter was formed from the things Hand Grenade, Ring of Power and Spacecraft. With two distinct game modes and an awesome looking 3D cityscape this was as good to watch as it was to play.
Another entry that was highly commended by the judges. Start from "Mayhem", "Puzzler" and "Of Fun" they crafted a neat space flying game where the player has to find linked gems in a puzzle in order to keep flying through space. The mayhem mode effects looked a lot like the movie "Gravity", but with more moving bits and bobs.
24 hours to make an Occulus Rift game from scratch. Why not. Or y! Anyhoo, from "Gentleman Thief", "Screwdriver" and" Inventor" the team made an immersive exploration game where you go in search of a screwdriver within a 3d rendered environment. And it worked
With a team name that sounds like three things, but isn't, this bunch had a lot of fun with Anti-aircraft gun, Liner and Zeus. What we got was an action packed sideways scroller with myriads of weapon modes and boss levels. Great fun to play and some lovely graphical touches.
Maze based dungeon bashing with a twist form Floating Goats. From Apocalypse, Downstairs and Locked the team crafted a succession of fighting arenas where the key to moving on is killing everything else. With some neat graphical touches, a splendid piece of work. Oh, and the twist.
This gained first place in the competition, and rightly so. There are some lovely touches, like the way that the tower "dings" when it is hit. The three words that they had, by the way, were Eiffel Tower, Flying Fish and Undersea. And all in around 24 hours. Magic.

The standard was astonishing. The winners were 1.21 Gigabytes,

Great game, well worth worthy prizes. 

Great game, well worth worthy prizes. 

The judges also highly commended these two teams.

BetaJester made not one, but two different and attractive games, both of which stuck closely to their theme.

BetaJester made not one, but two different and attractive games, both of which stuck closely to their theme.

Rusty Spoons ended their TTG career with something rather special that I really hope makes it into the marketplace.

Rusty Spoons ended their TTG career with something rather special that I really hope makes it into the marketplace.

It really was a fantastic occasion. Thanks to Dave for letting us play with his lab, Simon and Kevin for Judging, David, Simon and Martin for running the night shift, John for dropping round from C4DI and kudos to all the folks that took part. And book now for Three Thing Game Autumn, running from 31st October to 1st November. 

There are more team and winner pictures here

Update: Forgot to mention. The voting for the People's Choice award is still open. You can vote until Tuesday morning next week (the 17th June). The survey is here

Adventure, Crying Baby, Dressing Up

We got our things today for Three Thing Game. Most people got one or two things they wanted. The bidding was fast and frantic, although some words that I thought would sell big didn't really go that well. Anyhoo, I ended up with "Adventure", "Dressing Up" and "Crying Baby". 

I really wanted Adventure. It was the first word to be auctioned and so I rather cleverly spent all my money on it. After that I was forced to take whatever was left, which turned out to be the other two. I've got a plan though.....

Three Thing Game Starts Tomorrow

Three Thing Game Summer 2014 starts tomorrow, Thursday 12th of June. We will be holding the Thing Auction in Lecture Theatre A in the Robert Blackburn Building. Doors open at 1:00 pm, when teams can collect their team packs and "Bank of Thingland" money and the auction itself starts at 1:15 pm prompt.

This is a list of all the things in the auction. There may be some "special guest things" in addition to the words on the list. These will be inserted at random during the auction. The things will be auctioned in alphabetical order. And here they are:

Adventure, Alien, Anti-aircraft gun, Apocalypse, Assassin, At the Circus, Attack, Balloon, Banjo, Box of Tricks, Bread, Butler, Cheese Sandwich, Crying Baby, Cube, Diploma, Downstairs, Drainpipe, Dressing Up, Eiffel Tower, Electric, Enormous Hat, Enormous Pie, Fan, Fishing, Flying Fish, Fruit, Frying Pan, Gems, Gentleman Thief, Going Downhill, Gong, Hairy Arms, Hand grenade, Hunting, Inventor, Last Bus Home, Locked, Mayhem, Ninja, Ocean Liner, Of Fun, Pirate, Puzzler, Ring of Power, Robot, Rubber, Screwdriver, Shop, Slippery, Spacecraft, String Vest, Tidal Barrier, Triangles, Undersea, University , Violin of Doom, Wearing a Boiler Suit, Wombat, Yeti, Zeus, Zombie.

Folks can bid for any item that comes up, and spend all their money on the very first word if they like. That's mostly what I'm planning to do. I'm in a one man team called "Alien Robot Adventure". We'll see how that goes.