Ludum Dare 13: Iron Roads

I went on a old hard drive adventure this evening. My quest was to recover my code and executable from Ludum Dare 13 – Roads, from way back in December of 2008! It wasn’t easy but I was successful. I’ve posted the code to github: and the executable to This entry was incomplete, but it had a lot of great comments and words of encouragement from the reviewers. You can see all the old posts and judging results on the legacy Ludum Dare site:

The art below was made by Francis Andrew Acupan a few years later.

PAX East!

PAX East board games

I went to PAX East!  My first PAX.  It was overwhelming and I had a great time.  I was so busy going to panels and meeting people I didn’t really do much else.  I meet a lot of awesome indie developers including Michael Carriere from Boston Indies.  DC’s own, the wonderful, Miellyn Fitzwater Barrows the writer behind Strange Loves: Vampire Boyfriends was on the panel Foreplay: Romance in Games.


Twitter encouragement

I pitched Iron Roads to a lot of people and the feedback helped me evolved my vision for the game.  I even made my pitched to the Pitch Panel the last day:  Here I am pitching the game to Kris Straub, Jeff Kalles and Eric Neustadter at PAX East 2013.  They didn’t like the idea but several people emailed me and Tweeted that they thought the idea was grand.  That gave me a lot of encouragement and a small prod to start a Facebook page for the game

[Yes, I know this post is HORRIBLY late, but once I catch up it’ll all make sense, stay tuned.]


Iron Roads Goes to New Orleans

Iron Roads Progress 1/23/2012
Iron Roads Progress 1/23/2012

– Figured out how to drawn lines using sprites, Thank you to XNA wiki
– Rail links between cities drawn
– Added a bunch of cities: Springfield, Memphis, Little Rock, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans
– Cleaned up the map some, including better lakes around New Orleans: Lake Maurepus, Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne

XNA SpriteFonts

While working on Iron Roads today, I tried to use the custom font Radius (a free font from Urban Fonts.)   I like how the letters look like curving tracks you might see on a draftsman’s drawing or surveying map.  It has potential for the Iron Roads logo.  Anyway, I ran into a tricky problem that stumped me for a long while.

Iron Roads with Radius Font

I followed the normal procedure as Microsoft describes in Drawing Text with a Sprite:

  1. Right-click your Content project in Solution Explorer, click Add, and then click New Item.
  2. In the Add New Item dialog box, click Sprite Font. You may find it convenient at this point to change the name of the new file from “SpriteFont1” to the friendly name of the font you intend to load (keeping the .spritefont file extension).  The friendly name identifies the font once it is installed on your computer, for example, “Courier New” or “Times New Roman.” When you reference the font in your code, you must use the friendly name you have assigned it. XNA Game Studio creates a new .spritefont file for your font and opens it.

At this point I had what I needed, but alas, it wouldn’t compile, complaining:

The font family “Radius” could not be found. Please ensure the requested font is installed, and is a TrueType or OpenType font.

Took me a long while to figure it out, but it’s actually quite simple. Install new fonts before starting up Visual Studio! So, all I had to do was shut VS2010 down and start her up again, an Voila! New beautiful font displaying in my game!!!

Iron Roads Title Screen Draft Peek

Please note, this is a concept piece, not art assets are my original and I don’t claim copyright to them.

Iron Roads Retargeted to SilverLight 3.0

The big news today is that Silverlight 3.0 has been released. This is means a change for Iron Roads. I’ve been working with Silverlight 2.0 and could probably finish it just fine without upgrading to 3.0. There is, however, one feature in particular that compels me to retarget to Silverlight 3.0: Out of Browser Support. This allows users to install Iron Roads as a typical desktop or downloadable game. The real killer part? It doesn’t require any extra downloading. Once they install the Silverlight 3.0 plug-in for the browser nothing new is required to run the desktop version.
So if someone plays Iron Roads in the browsers, they can install the desktop version without needing some prerequisites aka long boring downloads. I’m very exited about this feature, and I will probably put together a prototype demonstrating it this weekend.
You might have noticed I didn’t post anything more about the Mini Ludum Dare weekend. That’s because I ended up throwing the towel in. The theme was just too hard for me to make fun. It was an interesting challenge. The lesson I learned is not to take things in such a serious light. Even the most important or serious topic has a lighter side, and that is where games are meant to live.

No Progress on Iron Roads

It has been a while since I’m made any posts because I’ve been so busy with the move.  On April 1st (no fooling) I drove a U-Haul with all my possessions to my new home in Northern Virignia (that’s part of the Washington, DC Metro Area.)  The hardest part is now over and I’m about halfway through the unpacking the boxes.  Soon my computer will be back in action and I’ll be able to continue work on Iron Roads.


PS Notice the new blog tool?  You can comment now! 

More wiggly coasts

A screen shot of the new map with wiggly coasts
Iron Roads Map (Updated)
Screen shot of Iron Roads as submitted to Ludum Dare
Iron Roads screen shot submit to Ludum Dare

The top image is an older screen shot so you can better see my progress and the second one I took today.  You have to look hard to see the progress I’ve made lately but it is there! I’ve been working on the map editor so I can more easily add cities and adjust thier position.  If you look closely you can see a lot more city dots on the map than before.  I also updated the map so the coast lines and borders are more detailed and therefore more wiggly.

Sorry, this post is such a mess. I’m planning to move to a better platform soon.

New Project: Iron Roads


The holidays have kept me so busy I haven’t talked any about my new project. Another Ludum Dare 48 Hour game development contest occurred the weekend of December 5th. It was my fourth time to play and the 13th contest to date. This time the theme was “Roads.” Roads turned out to be a very difficult theme. I brainstormed all night Friday before bed (the contests started at 11 pm my time) and then again in the morning for a total of two to three hours. I couldn’t come up with anything I liked and also seemed simple enough to finish in the 48 hour time limit. So I went with the idea I liked the most, a Railroad Tycoon type business simulator. I confidently and correctly judge I would not finish it in time, but I’ve got a wonderful start on a game I’m really excited about. I call it Iron Roads. You can read the few and short posts I made during the contest on the Ludum Dare website: MrPhil’s Iron Roads.