the blog

updates, ramblings and musings from dr syntax and his minions...

Published on December 8, 2011 in Games. 157 Comments

Hi there!

Thanks for coming, I’m guessing you’re here to hear my tale of adventure and true love, which I’ve been asked by the Robot / Lizard chaps to document for the “benefit of future adventurers” whatever that means. Before I begin though, I’ll just cover some basics.

If you click anywhere on the screen I’ll do my best to go there, unless something’s blocking my way. Anything that is of interest to me has a tooltip and the cursor changes a bit when you roll over it. There are two main ways of playing, LOOK and USE.

LOOK makes me (surprise, surprise) look at something, I’ll try my best to describe it and how it can be used, or at least provide an hilariously witty comment. Sometimes it makes me look at things a lot closer up and spot stuff I might have missed otherwise.

USE makes me use or pick up something. If I pick something up, it goes into my INVENTORY (that cardboard box icon). If a person is clicked on, use mode makes me talk to them.

I have an INVENTORY of items I’ve picked up, from which I can look at and use items. Using an item here changes the cursor into the item, allowing me to close the inventory and use the item on other things. I can even combine items by using one item on another. If I want to use an item on myself I can click on the picture of me in the inventory panel (don’t I look handsome?).


It all started at home when my Super Genesis 64 blew up and I wanted to repair it. I opened my INVENTORY and decided to USE my KEYS on the console to prod around and see what the problem was. I could have also picked up and used the SCREWDRIVER, PLIERS, SCISSORS, or pretty much any metallic object in the room. The result was pretty shocking.

When I came to in hospital all I could smell was burning bacon. I called for help by using the red CALL BUTTON next to me. In walked the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen and I fell in love instantly, which explains my completely stupid conversation. No matter what I said I sounded like an idiot. The lovely Nurse Julia then asked me to call the doctor, so I used the CALL BUTTON again.

Level 1: Animals

My best friend STEVE picked me up from the hospital and drove me home – I’ve never been allowed to drive since that incident with the monster truck in the glass factory. We chatted for a bit, it doesn’t matter what we said, but we hit upon the best idea ever: I’d have to hurt myself to get re-admitted to hospital so I could see nurse Julia again! Genius!
We hatched a fiendish plan involving getting mauled by the rabid creature in Heather and Andy’s flat next door, and then Steve left. Since next door is – well – next door, I used my FRONT DOOR to go onto the landing outside. I used HEATHER AND ANDY’S FRONT DOOR on the opposite side of the landing to knock, but there was no-one home. I’d have to find another way into their flat. There was nothing else to do on the landing so I went back into my flat.

The only other way in was across the balconies outside, so I used the BALCONY DOOR but the bolt had seized, I needed to grease it. The most greasy place in my flat is INSIDE the MICROWAVE, to get it I picked up a LEAF from the DEAD PLANT by the kitchen window and used it on the open microwave. That turned the leaf into a GREASY LEAF and I used it on the balcony door, which fixed the seized bolt. I still couldn’t go outside though because I didn’t want the door blowing shut on me while I was outside! I needed something to tie it back onto. I took that wonderful PICTURE of me off the wall and used my BELT on the balcony door to tie the door to the picture hook. Finally I could go outside!

Out on the balcony I could see next door’s balcony but I could not walk to it. The only useful thing I could see was the FLAG POLE in-between, if only I could make some kind of rope to swing between the two? I thought back to the contents of my flat and went back indoors. In the bookcase next to the balcony door I picked up the BOX OF GAME CONTROLLERS. This tangled mess could make a good rope, if only it were longer, so I opened the cupboard in the kitchen under the microwave and picked up the CONTROLLERS IN CUPBOARD. When I combined both sets of controllers in the inventory it made the CONTROLLER ‘ROPE’. As quick as Sonic after a red boot pickup, I rushed out to the landing and used the controller rope on the flag pole. Doing my best copyrighted adventure archaeologist impression I used the rope to swing across the balconies.

I tried the BALCONY DOOR on next door’s balcony, only to find it was locked. Remembering my MacGyver training I went back to my flat to make a lock pick. I used the SOFA-BED by the front door to take a cushion off, then picked up the HANGER. On the floor by the table I found my PLIERS. Combining them in the inventory made the WIGGLY WIRE, very similar to a lock pick. I returned to next door’s balcony and used the wiggly wire on the door which did the trick.

Inside Heather and Andy’s flat I walked to the right to find the vicious creature. There it was in it’s cage, a vicious – hamster! Using the cage, the little critter seemed too sleepy to move, I needed to wake him up a bit. I soon sorted that out, by rifling through Heather and Andy’s fridge to pick up some COFFEE. Adding that to the water bottle on the hamster’s cage woke him up, but he still didn’t want to bite. To tempt him I went to the kitchen and picked up the JAR OF PEANUT BUTTER. Using the peanut butter on the cage did the trick. It turns out Hamster bites are more painful than you might think, and also that Heather and Andy weren’t out but ‘doing stuff’ in the bedroom. That led me to PANIC, and I’m not about to go into what happened next.

Next thing I knew I was in hospital in a compromising position. Julia arrived and no matter how I tried to explain it didn’t sound too good, but I think she still liked me. She told me about her thing for bikers.

Level 2: Bikers

Steve took me home again and we came up with a new plan, this time involving ending up in hospital looking like an heroic biker. This plan needed a bike, so I’d have to find my boss Darren in the local biker bar. I left my flat and went down the STAIRWAY TO THE STREET. Outside I went left past Steve’s amazingly beautiful car and up the ALLEY-WAY. I continued left past HELEN WHEELZ (geddit?) and went into THE SLAUGHTERED MONK.

Inside I talked to Darren, who was less than enthusiastic about lending me his bike. I walked around the pub and looked at the LOVE DOLL hanging behind the bar. I talked to KYLE the barman about the love doll and he dished the dirt about it being Darren’s. Armed with compromising knowledge I went back to Darren and laughed at him – a lot. I then pitched a new idea – that I should dress up as his girlfriend to impress his mates! All I needed now was some women’s clothes and a little imagination. Luck would be a lady tonight, and so would I.

I remembered seeing some clothes on the balcony at Heather and Andy’s so I went back there and picked up the T-SHIRT and JEANS. For some reason they hadn’t bothered locking their door so I went back through the balcony door into their flat and rummaged around the BASKET OF LAUNDRY, striking lucky with one of Heather’s BRAs. The t-shirt looked good but the jeans were Andy’s and too long, so I picked up the SCISSORS from the table back in my flat and used them on the jeans to get a striking pair of SHORT-SHORTS. Now I needed something to fill out the bra.

I went back to The Slaughtered Monk and in the toilets used my LOOSE CHANGE on the CONDOM MACHINE to get a packet of three condoms. I also picked up the MOP and BUCKET, since I have a habit of picking up everything which isn’t nailed down. If I could inflate the condoms, they’d made perfect substitute breasts!

Heading back outside I dropped by Helen Wheelz. The lady there, Sarah, not Helen, seemed in a bad mood which stopped me from being able to take anything. Looking around for any clues, I looked at the calendar and found out it was Sarah’s birthday that day, though she didn’t want to talk about it. Seeing as she repaired bikes I headed back to the pub to find out what the problem was. Talking to Kyle the barman, it turns out she’s his girlfriend, so I asked him about the calendar and it seems he’d forgotten her birthday. Not only that; he had the cheek to suggest that I get her a present! He was bigger than me though so I agreed. I don’t know if you’ve ever been over to the far right of the street before, but there’s a park beyond my block of flats. By the park gate is a bin, in the bin is a BUNCH OF FLOWERS. I went and got them and gave them to Kyle. He then left to give them to Sarah, so I went back to Helen Wheelz only to find Sarah gone, obviously to patch things up with Kyle.
With Sarah gone I could use the PACK OF CONDOMS with the AIR HOSE at least twice to get BALLOONS. When I used a balloon with the bra in the inventory I got a FAKE BOOB. I used another balloon with the fake boob to get a lovely pair of FAKE BOOBS. I then combined the fake boobs and t-shirt to get the busty, sexy BOOBY SHIRT. Finished with the air hose, I looked around the rest of the garage and picked up the SPRAY PAINT and SAW. The mop head from the toilet could make a good wig if it were the right colour, so I combined the saw with it to separate it from the mop and then combined the spray paint with the mop head to create the BRUNETTE MOP HEAD. I combined that with the booby shirt to create the TOP HALF OF THE COSTUME – halfway there!

All I needed now was a pair of shoes to go with my short shorts. I’d seen a rather drunk looking lady called KIRSTY by the bar who’d taken her shoes off, maybe she’d lend them to me? I tried to pick up her shoes, but my moral conscious told me I should ask her first. She didn’t want to talk to me unless I proved I was a devil-may-care biker. The only devil-may-care biker I could see in the pub was the picture of Steve McClean on the wall, so I picked it up and used the picture of me from my flat on the space it left. Talking to Kirsty again the picture convinced her I was a crazy biker, but she wouldn’t lend me her shoes unless I provided her with some comfy alternatives.
Not a lot of people know this, but if you keep going left past The Slaughtered Monk you eventually come to a dead end with rubbish bags everywhere. Hanging up on the telephone wires above are a pair of shoes which may or may not have belonged to Steve in a previous life. I used the MOP HANDLE on them and got the TRAINERS. I gave these to Kirsty and she gave me her HIGH HEELS. Combine these with the short shorts and hey presto, I got myself the BOTTOM HALF OF THE COSTUME. I combined both halves of my costume to get my TRANS-GENDER COSTUME! Excited by the prospect of becoming a lady I immediately used the costume on myself but modesty meant I had to find somewhere quiet, so I slipped into the toilet, tried again and finally became a woman. Sexy.

Heading back out into the pub I made immediately for Darren and worked my charms. I was a hit with the bikers, especially Diego would seemed to like hairy ladies, so I headed outside. The nearest bike fit Darren’s description of his, so I used it. Then things went a little awry…

When I regained consciousness in hospital I felt a little sore and was wearing a pair of ladies knickers which I’d never had on in the first place. Still, they felt nice. I once again had to explain my way out the predicament to Julia, and I think I did a good job of it too; all my answers were equally excellent. She in turn shared her passion for uniforms with me.

Level 3: Fireman

Steve gave a ride home once again and then told me Darren wanted to meet me at Wilco’s, the shop I work in. I went left to the shop and went in. He asked me about Julia and I described the wonderful woman, though I didn’t notice Rachel eavesdropping in the corner. Darren gave me some ‘helpful’ advice – He really is a man’s man. Once Darren left Rachel invited me over to her house to do some handy work. In exchange for this I could borrow her husband’s fireman uniform, with which I could impress Julia! Leaving the shop I headed right until I finally came to Rachel’s house. Inside Rachel asked me to do a couple of tasks in exchange for the uniform.

The first task was to unblock the sink. I needed to empty the sink first but when I used the BUCKET in my inventory on it, I found it had a hole in it. I searched around the house for something to plug the hole, and in the lounge I searched the COUCH to find the BUTT PLUG. I combined this with the bucket to get the ‘PLUGGED’ BUCKET which worked a treat when I used it on the sink. I opened the cupboard below the sink and removed the BLOCKED PIPE. To fix it, the only thing that sprang to mind was the SILICONE HOSE back at Helen Wheelz, which meant a long walk for me unless I’d conveniently half-inched it in the last level. Using the silicone pipe on the cupboard fixed the problem.

The next task was to fix the washing machine, which was in the utility room attached to the kitchen. I needed to use the SCREWDRIVER from my flat (found beside the TV) on the WASHING MACHINE to remove the BROKEN CONTROL BOARD. I opened the DISHWASHER next to the washing machine and picked up CLOCKWORK VIBRATOR from it – Rachel has some interesting (and old fashioned) past-times. Inspecting the control board in my inventory told me the timing mechanism was broken, and looking at the vibrator told me it had an excellent timing mechanism. Coincidence? Not likely. Somehow I had to get the mechanism out of the vibrator. How I did this is a stroke of genius. I put the HEAVY LOOKING PICTURE in the hallway back on the wall. I’d noticed that if I used the CASSETTE of ring-tones I’d picked up from the table in my flat with the OLD HI-FI in Rachel’s lounge, it’d play and Rachel would think the phone is ringing. When she hung up in despair and went back to the garage, the slamming door would cause the heavy looking picture to fall down, denting the floor below. I used the vibrator on the WORN CARPET PATCH under the heavy looking picture and used the hi-fi again. Going back out to the hallway I put the heavy looking picture back on the wall and picked up the CLOCKWORK MECHANISM from the smashed vibrator. Combining the mechanism with the broken control board fixed it; it was then a simple matter of using the FIXED CONTROL BOARD on the washing machine to repair it. I went back to the hallway to tell Rachel.

Rachel told me the uniform was in the chest in the lounge and gave me a MANTUMBIAN CODE BOOK to help me unlock it. I looked at it in the inventory and it showed the key to deciphering the mystical numbers of the Mantumbians, that secret tribe who lived in the foothills of Mount Kukundu and revered the an all powerful egg – or something like that. Deciding that bit of back story wasn’t at all helpful, I went to the lounge and tried to use the chest, it had a code on it. I had to discover the secret of the cross, triangle, square and circle (that in no way represented some kind of station you might play at).
The secret of the cross lay on a STICKY NOTE attached to the NOTICE BOARD in the kitchen. ‘X = 4’ it read, but what was the symbol for 4 in Mantumbian? I found the answer by picking up a RECORD SLEEVE by Kraut Werk in the record collection in the lounge. When I looked at the cover in the inventory it showed the symbol for 4.
The secret of the triangle was to be found on the SMALL TREE outside Rachel’s front door. When I used it I picked up a PLASTIC TAG, the tree was Mantumbian, and the tag had a 2 in a triangle, triangle = 2! The code book had the symbol for 2 in it, so no more searching needed.
The secret of the square was unravelled back in the hallway when I looked at the picture of Rachel’s husband (who seemed to wear a lot of uniforms) at the top of the stairs. The number 64 was in a square, square = 64. The code book had the symbol for 64 too.
Finally the circle was the easiest to find, by looking at the middle of the three boats above the chest in the lounge, circle = 128, also in the book.
Using the chest again, I entered the symbols and it opened. I took the fireman’s uniform out, but it was too new and shiny (apart from a suspicious stain) to convince Julia it was authentic, I needed to look dirty, like I’d just come from a towering inferno. To get the right effect I used the BUCKET OF SCUMMY WATER on the FIRE in the lounge to put it out. I could then pick up some GLOOPY SOOT from the fire, which I combined with the Fireman’s uniform to make the DIRTY FIREMAN’S UNIFORM. I used it on myself to put it on and I was ready, not to mention that I looked rugged and hunky.

Rachel had wanted to see me before I left, so I went into the garage. The lights were out and Rachel asked me to fix the fuse. The only thing I could find for a replacement fuse was a pair of NIPPLE CLAMPS, which I’d got by using the SCREWDRIVER on the BLOCKED PIPE. I used the nipple clamps on the FUSE BOX and quite frankly, what greeted my eyes can only be described as abhorrent. I’ll never be the same man again.
Eventually I regained my senses back at the hospital and used the CALL BUTTON again to hopefully see Julia. Instead Doctor Cosby arrived, only to tell me Julia was about to leave for Sudan!

Level 4: Julia

Doctor Cosby dropped me off at the station. I rushed (or rather, walked at my normal pace) onto the platform, only to be stopped at the barrier by the burly ticket inspector RUSSELL. I needed a ticket. The ticket machine was switched off, which I found out was because JON the maintenance man was missing a crimping tool. Feeling the pressure of time I strolled out to find the crimping tool.
Outside the station I found a MYSTERIOUS PIRATE who looked strangely familiar, though thanks to further copyright issues I couldn’t quite place him. He offered to exchanged me an item to help in my quest if I could find find something he was missing. Knowledge of what that object might be requires a knowledge of the game from which the un-named pirate comes from, but luckily I know my retro computer games better than anyone, or at least you, or those Robot / Lizard idiots. Anyway, inside Scar Tissue, the shop next door to The Slaughtered Monk, there was a barrel by door from which I picked up a RUBBER CHICKEN WITH A PULLEY IN THE MIDDLE.

While I was at Scar Tissue I talked to SIMON, and agreed to help him. There was no special trick to winning his seemingly unnecessary game, I just had to be quick at identifying tattoos. In thanks he gave me a FAKE ID KIT that would prove handy later.
Returning to the pirate I gave him the rubber chicken, which was exactly what he needed, and in return he gave me a SMALL KEY. It turned out that the small key fit exactly into one of the lockers in the left luggage room of the station (The second from the left along the top row if you’re really in a hurry). Inside the locker was a TOOLBAG. When I looked at the toolbag in my inventory it opened to reveal a STANLEY KNIFE and a CRIMPING TOOL. Perfect!
I gave the crimping tool to Jon the maintenance man and the ticket machine switched back on. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough money for a ticket, I needed cash – fast. Now I’m not normally a gambling man, but back in The Slaughtered Monk, Tim had been talking about the fruit machine being about to pay out the jackpot. I went back and used it (which I could have done at any point previously if I’d had the forethought) and sure enough I hit the jackpot. Flush with cash I returned to the ticket machine.

Me and machines don’t seem to have a lot of luck, as somehow I ended up with a STUDENT RAIL TICKET, which the ticket inspector wouldn’t let me use without a student ID. I needed to fake one, so I took my LIBRARY CARD that I’d got from the IMPORTANT LOOKING LETTER which had been sitting on my DOORMAT since level 2, and used the Stanley knife on it, cutting out my PASSPORT PHOTO. I combined this with the fake ID kit I’d got from Scar Tissue and made myself a STUDENT ID.
Then I could use the rail ticket to get past Russell at the BARRIER. On the platform I saw Heather and Andy with their hateful hamster, and Darren and his new ‘friend’ Robin having an argument over a lost suitcase. I resolved to find the suitcase as I seemed to have a vested interest in sorting out everyone’s problems. Turns out it had been handed in to lost property, for which I needed a ticket to retrieve it. Inspired by a Tom Hanks movie, I figured out if I unplugged the PLUG SOCKET to the ZOLTAR MACHINE in the station lobby, it would give me a MAGIC TICKET when I used my left-over change on it. I gave this ticket to GILL in lost property and she gave me the SUITCASE. I took the suitcase to Darren and continued along the platform.

Further on there was FRANK, the newspaper vendor, who when I spoke to him was getting annoyed over some pigeons. There was also a wizard who bore no relation on the plot whatsoever, but it turned out he was missing a dead rodent or something.
At the far end of the platform was Rachel with BENJI, now ‘free’ and out for a day trip. She asked me to find something for Benji to drink, but I didn’t have enough money to pay for a can of drink, so instead I decided to help Frank out with his pigeon problem in exchange for one.
I can’t remember if I had this already or not, but in the previous level there had been a SCARY MASK in Rachel’s lounge that broke off a HORN when I tried to use it. If I didn’t have it already, I knew that I could still get the horn as the mask could now be found outside Rachel’s house in the bin.
I used the horn on the pigeons and that scared them off. The next time I talked to Frank he let me have a CAN OF FIZZY POP for free when I used the FRIDGE. Benji wasn’t allowed to drink from the can; I had to use the BIN nearby to get the ASH TRAY, which I combined with the can to get the BOWL OF FIZZY POP. I gave this to Benji which sorted him out.

Rachel then spotted Julia at the other end of the station, about to get on a train! I panicked for the last time….
Which pretty much brings me up to date, I’m sure you’ll see how the story ends from there without me telling it to you.

Have fun!

Geoff Jefferson

P.S. If you see someone rifling around the bins in search of nachos, say hi to Steve for me.

Published on August 5, 2011 in Random. 0 Comments

After a long delay of seemingly no activity, we are now just about ready to launch some of our new projects.

More announcements to come soon!

Published on November 2, 2009 in Games, News. 0 Comments

Blimey, It’s been ages since i’ve posted here. I got a load of topics I’ve been meaning to write about, and I’ve managed to get all of none of those actually started.
What I have been doing though is making sure we finally got our latest productions launched.

Beastie Burgers

Beastie Burgers

First up, we have Beastie Burgers, a time management / cooking frenzy style game we’ve been working on in our spare time for the past year and a bit (I can’t believe it’s taken that long). It’s been a lot of fun to build, and roughly marks out the style and direction of the sorts of games and apps we’ll be producing in the future. I’ll have a Hamster & cheese burger with Jalapenos and slime when you’re ready, thanks!

Secondly, we have the social media genius that is, the Beastie Builder, a Facebook app that we built alongside Beastie Burgers. The best way to describe it would be a monster themed dress-up style app. Except, you don’t really dress the monsters so much as assemble them. You can then save them to your photo stream or post them to your news feed (if you feel like it). Just a bit of fun to waste away the hours at work (and help promote Beastie Burgers of course).

I’m planning to write up a bit about the development of these in the future, although quite when I’m not sure yet. Watch this space!

Published on February 20, 2009 in Games, Reviews. 1 Comment

In my book, a good flash game is one that I play more than once. If after I’ve finished playing around with it and then later that day I start thinking, “Oooh, I want to start playing that game again”, then it’s a winner. If I happen to find myself playing this game for a good hour or two each time, then it’s a very good game.

The Space Game” from The Casual Collective is such a game. I’ve nearly worked my way through the main missions, and as I write this I’m thinking that I’ll have another go for 30 mins or so. It’s Friday after all!

The game is descibed as “a single player strategy game that features 18 missions and modes of play. You build structures to create and store energy, you mine asteroids for their minerals, and use both to expand and defend your operation, all while under attack”.

It actually reminds me of Homeworld a bit, which I used to play for hours on the PC when I was at university. I guess you could argue that it’s actually a bit like Desktop Tower Defence, but in Space and with some mining. What would be great is if it had an attacking element to it or even better, multi-player!

I must confess I had been a bit envious of The Casual Collective, thinking that perhaps they’d been a bit too lucky with their success with Desktop Tower Defence, and especially as it allowed them to pursue Flash game development full time. With the release of this game however, I think they are proving their worth as game developers and judging by the game ratings they are getting on sites like Kongregate, I am not the only one. Hats off to you David & Paul.

Overall I’d rate this game as 4.5/5 robots and 3/5 lizards.

Play “The Space Game” here.

Published on January 7, 2009 in Games, Reviews. 0 Comments

A nice flash game that caught my attention recently was The Codex of Alchemical Engineering by Zachtronics Industries.
The basic aim of the game it to move around elements using programmable arms in order to make new elements. I nearly gave up on it initially as the instructions weren’t immediately clear to me, but once I’d got the hang of it I really enjoyed it. The author describes it as a game for engineers, and as a programmer myself, I really enjoyed building my little contraptions to acheive the level goals. I would rate this game 4/5 robots and 1/5 lizards.