Nathaniel Buck's portfolio


[work in progress] (download)

A party game with a high skill cap. Enjoy the board <-> minigame gameplay of your favorite party board game,
but where the board mechanic is raising up a team of monsters, collecting items and boosting their stats.
Bring a monster to every minigame to help out based on their stats and equipment.
Work in progress. All art is temporary, and everything is subject to change. Please give feedback if you'd like!

Sushi Pit Cephalopod (web, Unity)

Uses two buttons (and eight joysticks) to provide the premiere octopus sushi chef simulation experience.
This one was pleasant to develop since the game was mechanically finished in the first night.
Shoutouts to the Seattle Indies group for awarding me the grand prize for the weekend! Top 20 in Humor and top 50 in Innovation in the LD results as well.
Playable with keyboard and up to 4 XBox360 controllers. Best with all 4 controllers.

Run, Run, Robot! (download, Windows)

My first "fully-developed" game. Based off of the original jam version.
Your RUNR robot must safely deliver its battery pack to an underground generator. But, your input takes longer to reach it the deeper it goes!
Randomly generated floors at multiple difficulty levels ensure a unique challenge every time. Try for a high score!

Minotaur's Lair (web)

A text adventure for the Fantasy-themed Puzzleday. I initially tried Twine but found it too rigid, and I stumbled across Undum, which I think is better for those more familiar with coding.

Fathr: Explain Tumblr to Your Dad Simulator 2017 (download)

A game about explaining Tumblr to your dad. I did most of the non-user facing code and a bit of the UI code as well.
Original submission on

Mage the Architect (web, best in Chrome)

The second game I made with the VGDC, Mage the Architect is one of my own design, inspired by a game someone made for a Ludum Dare. This was my first time in a lead position for a game, albeit for a team of only four, but I still gained a lot of insight from the experience. There are likely still some balancing issues, but that should be expected in a game with so many possible combinations of abilities.
Also, Mage is actually pretty fun, which is definitely nice. I hope you like it!

Seven Lightyears of Bad Luck (web, Unity)

Twin joysticks for shooters: Works great. Twin joysticks plus a button: Not so good. Oops.
The idea of a twin-stick shooter in which your bullets can deflect back at you seemed worth exploring.
The music is decent, at least.

I've Got the World On a String (web, Unity)

Finally did a game in Unity! That said, this didn't turn out quite as well as I'd like, since I got hung up on learning some things. Still pretty fun, though.
This is like a top-down shooter except without and shooting. It was the first game I tried (and failed horribly) to make, and I figured I'd revisit the concept.

Run, Run, Robot (jam version) (web, best in Chrome)

Original game jam version.
I was surprised that I got 103rd in Audio and 220th in Fun (out of ~1500), so I guess I must be getting better, especially since the music was all done in the last 3 hours or so. A bit buggy, mostly due to my insistence on the continued use of my messy engine (really, not going to use it next time), but it's pretty good. An endless runner with a twist, although it seemed that most people lost before reaching the twist. I'll have to make my next game a bit easier, perhaps.

$(SRCROOT)\dungeon (web, best in Chrome)

Admittedly not really within the theme for the jam, $(SRCROOT)\dungeon was my second attempt at making a dungeon generator in a day, and it worked well this time. Collect freed bytes for your cyber-attacks, and defeat the bugs that plague the system.

10.00s...10.00s...10.00s... (web, best in Chrome)

For my fourth Ludum Dare submission, I made a puzzle-platformer in which the player respawns every 10 seconds. It's not the most novel use of the theme, but the design is completely centered around that 10-second timer; for instance, moving a key closer to a door in one life makes it easier to get the key to the door in the next. Hope you like it! I'm told it's pretty hard, so if it's too tricky, there's an easier version here.

Explore, Evolve, Escape! (web)

83rd out of 1006 in Theme, and markedly better than my previous submission in most other categories (namely Fun and Overall).
I wasn't that satisfied with Explore, Evolve, Escape when I finished it, but it grew on me a bit as I watched some friends play it and get hooked on the grinding. Perhaps I was also displeased with using the same HTML5/Javascript libraries for three games in a row; I've begun working in some other libraries for breadth and more comprehensive feature sets.

Hard Work and Drudgery (download, Windows)

This project was an exercise in developing a game engine from scratch for a class, and in working in a larger team than I had ever worked in on a single project before. Both of these presented strong challenges, and several of these proved too great to manage by the time the class ended. There was much learned from the experience, but the actual game is incomplete and very buggy. But, the music and art turned out pretty well.
Controls are WASD to move, Z to interact. There are many things to discover...

Kingdoms!(download, Windows)

Created for a game design class, this multiplayer turn-based strategy game serves as a prototype for a single-player game that I hope to develop once experience and resources allow. A prototypical world generation system served as my Honors thesis, but it is not complete and, as I discovered, doesn't yet contribute to a better game.
Kingdoms! can be played with two players locally. Please send any feedback or comments!

Projectile Ocean (web)

Our initial team of five developed Projectile Ocean as the first longer-term game for the VGDC, which we founded at the start of 2012. Our largest difficulty was, in my opinion, our general lack of organization; we had no long-term schedule, and work was divided up only as needed. We also never established a core design or vision for the game, which I think makes the final product fairly disjunct. Granted, we were all busy with coursework and hadn't ever made a game as a group, so getting the game done was an accomplishment in and of itself, and we will improve our organization going forward.

Glue Galaxy Rescue! (web)

This was my second time participating in Ludum Dare, and I was much more pleased with the outcome than I was the first time. I had to cut my work time short by a few hours because of school work, so the game is a bit buggy, but I placed in the top 15% in audio and humor (out of 1072 entries). I'm glad that the game is actually kind of fun, but there are definitely some UI choices I should have made differently (e.g., controls in-game instead of on the title screen, more prominent display of game progress).

Some games that I made for 3-hour jams:

Other Projects

Written in the Simple and Fast Multimedia Library
  • Boids simulation with cohesion, alignment, and separation forces
  • Robust sprite animation with a variety of actions for each agent
  • Dynamic adjustment of forces, number of agents, flock size

Since the boids are all Kirbies, they have freedom of lateral movement but can only move upwards at fixed velocities and downwards with gravity. This causes interesting flocking behavior; for instance, if a large flock falls towards a small flock that is ascending, both flocks move through each other, as the small flock applies little force compared to the large one but the large flock descends too quickly for the small flock to catch up. The flocks will combine in the reverse case, though.

Written in the Simple and Fast Multimedia Library
  • Path planning with probabilistic roadmap and breadth-first search
  • Animation of agents, obstacles, start and goal with sprites and default shapes
  • Circular and rectangular obstacles, circular agent
  • User interaction - Placing of multiple obstacles

While I have done sprite animation code before, I hadn't planned for it initially, so I had some difficulty in reworking the code to facilitate it. I was somewhat disappointed also in the slow speed from rendering shapes with SFML; it would have been nice to have the path and points actually rendered during the animation of path traversal. Other than that, the basic PRM and BFS were straightforward.

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