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Sin or Win

Monthiversary Sale


Sin or Win has been out for a month! Amazing. So I decided to throw a “monthiversary” sale. Now, for a limited time, Sin or Win is $0.99.

I’m throwing this sale to thank everyone for their patience while I work on making an awesome version 1.1. Sin or Win is currently running smoothly on my 3rd generation iPod Touch, and I’m currently making tweaks to the UI. Game Center is also proving fun to bring into the experience. I’m also throwing a few awesome tweaks into the coming update - and a few surprises.

While working on 1.1 I’ve also had some really fun ideas for future versions of Sin or Win. I’ve also had ideas for new games as well. Once 1.1 is complete I’m going to spend roughly 20% of my time developing an interesting side project. I have a number of ideas in mind and will likely do quick prototypes of a few before settling on the final idea. Stay tuned!

Sin or Win, the first three weeks


Sin or Win has now been out for a few weeks, and wow, what weeks they’ve been! I’ve been amazed and thrilled by all the wonderful response and feedback I’ve had.

Prior to starting Toxic Blob and embarking on making Sin or Win I had no prior experience with game design or game programming. So when I saw Sin or Win hanging out with Angry Birds on iTunes I was absolutely thrilled. I had actually made a game! I’d finished it. It was out in the world with other games for all to enjoy. It’s a dream come true.

The reception I’ve had from players and the media has also been thrilling. Sin or Win is currently averaging a 5 star rating on the App Store and I’ve had a wonderful reception from the gaming press as well! Below is a sampling of the media reviews I’ve received.

Games Day Podcast




Hobby iPad

I’m not resting here. I have a lot of really exciting ideas for future updates. Below is an image of one of the little things I’ve been working on.

Also, for those that attended my Unite11 talk, Artists as Programmers, I haven’t forgotten you - I’ve just been a little busy. I am hoping to set aside some time over the coming weeks to put the extended talk online. Watch this space.

Sin or Win for iPad, and... iPod & iPhone?


Sin or Win, Thursday December 15th


Sin or Win has a release date! Thursday, December 15th.

It’s been a wonderful journey. Last year, waiting to board a flight home, my wife and I had a germ of an idea - use the iPad’s wonderfully large touch screen to create an experience that could only be played with fingers. No mice, no trackpads. Something tactile and engaging. Something that paid homage to games I loved as a child, but something that was a new experience. Over the months I worked to realise my vision, continuously making small adjustments in response to player feedback.

It’s been a lot of very rewarding hard work. At times the going got very tough, part of me just wanted to abandon the effort. Game development, I learned, is tough. Especially while working solo. Continuously pushing me forward was the wonderful support of my wife, my family and the game community. It’s been incredible meeting so many supportive new friends in the game community.

Version one is complete. Version one point one starts tomorrow. I truly hope Sin or Win is just the start of a fantastic new journey.

See the release date announcement on

Our DIG Experience


It’s been an exciting couple of weeks as I rev up to the release of Sin or Win. Last week I attended the DIG conference to present the game. The evening was fascinating and there was a lot of buzz going around about Sin or Win. Great feedback too, which was very positive. Toxic Blob's booth was in the middle of the exhibition space, so I had my two big posters showing both the sinning and winning game-play in action. Before long my space was thronged with people milling round (luckily we were right by the bar!), asking questions and most importantly playing the game with anticipation. Players were really getting into the fast paced action and loving the “sin" or “win" aspect of the game. The mayor of London played.  At the conference dinner speech later he shared with everyone that he, like most politicians, was a sinner! Which got a few chortles. He got the highest sinner score of the evening, incidentally. Since then I’ve been fine tuning details and polishing the interface. I can’t believe Sin or Win is soon to be released.

With all the excitement of baby sitters and blue-tack for posters, I forgot my camera. So these are the posters on the floor at Toxic Blob HQ.

We'll be at DIG London!

DIG 2011

I’m super excited to be bringing Sin or Win to DIG this year. We’ll be there with a playable preview on Wednesday 16th from 5pm to 7pm. So come hang out and get hands-on with Sin or Win. And if you’re interested in game design, development or the Unity game engine please stop by with your questions. I’ll try to help.

I would have loved to attend the whole conference as there looks to be some great speakers and events, but someone has to stay back and finish up Sin or Win.

I also had two posters printed up for the event. And I’m very pleased with how they turned out. I don’t tend to work in print, so was astonished to see how big 24”x36” really is. That’s 5574cm2 of Sin or Win glossy goodness!


Thanks to Greg Picken of Gamer Pops for inviting me to DIG.


Not all PVRTC are created equal

PVRTC compression comparision (side by side)
PVRTexTool version 3.23 vs. Unity version 3.4.2. . . click to view comparison QuickTime

This post is of a technical nature. If you’re not a game developer, please do be patient. Sin or Win is coming, soon!

There are three options for textures when developing for iOS in Unity: True colour, 16-bit* and PVRTC compressed images. True colour & 16-bit images are great for image fidelity, but swallow lots of memory. On a limited platform like iOS one can’t have many of them without running into memory issues. So most developers crush their images into PVRTC which tends to have a fraction of the memory requirements. I have avoided using PVRTC because the results were horribly poor. However, this week I’ve been optimising Sin or Win and investigating my texture options led to this PVRTexTool discovery.

Typically, Unity’s built-in PVRTC compression results in unacceptably blurred and smudgy results. Then I stumbled across a reference in Unity’s Optimising iOS Graphics Performance documentation on PVRTexTool from Imagination Tech - creators of the PVRT format. Use another tool, Unity suggests, if your PVRTC is poor quality. Doing so result in the image above. Click on the image for a QuickTime comparison.

Bizarrely, the newly released Unity 3.4.2 comes with an old version of PVRTexTool** (version 3.11). I’ve filed a bug report with Unity, requesting for better compression to come with Unity 3.5 (or Unity 3.4.3!).

In the meantime, here’s how you take advantage of better compression today.

Install PVRTexTool from Imagination Tech:
  1. Download PVRTexTool from Imagination Tech. You’ll have to create a username and password to do so. Once that’s done, Mac users download the PVRTexTool file with the yellow folder icon
  2. Unarchive the file and you’ll get a PVRTexTool folder in your Downloads. Drag this to your Applications folder
  3. Documentation is in the “Documentation” folder
  4. Most interesting is the command line application PVRTexTool. It’s found at /Applications/PVRTexTool/PVRTexToolCL/MacOS_x86/PVRTexTool. There is a GUI version of the tool, but it has an annoying Windows interface and is more time consuming to use. The command line tool can be wrapped into your pipeline tools for seamless integration
Use PVRTexTool to convert an image:
  1. From the Terminal change to the folder where your image is. PVRTexTool takes images in BMP, TGA, JPG, PNG, GIF, DDS. I use PNG
  2. Run /Applications/PVRTexTool/PVRTexToolCL/MacOS_x86/PVRTexTool -fPVRTC4 -pvrtcbest -yflip 1 -square -iPICTURE.PNG replacing the green PICTURE.PNG with the name of your image. PVRTexTool will then take it’s time, but it’ll create PICTURE.PVR, a high quality PVRTC compressed image you can drag to Unity. Also, ensure that you use “-pvrtcbest” otherwise you’ll just create PVRTC images as poorly as Unity already does
I hope this helps fellow Unity users get more texture quality from their images. The only downside to this is that compression takes slightly longer. The resulting images look better and take up the same space as those converted with Unity. Hopefully Unity will add the ability to choose between Fast, Normal, High Quality and Best Quality PVRTC generation.

*Coming from film I was spoilt into thinking of 16-bits as 16-bits per colour channel. Really that’s known as 48-bit colour. 16-bit colour in Unity is a paltry 32,768 colours

**I couldn’t actually get PVRTexTool 3.11 to work, so definitely download the newest version from Imagination Tech

Dwarves ate my Homework


This summer Toxic Blob announced Sin or Win would be released in September. I should have used the more appropriate term “soon”. I don’t want to launch a compromised Sin or Win so today I’m announcing that my new target is to release soon. Towards the end of 2011.

That I’m not releasing in September likely isn’t much of a surprise - September has flown past - so what happened? Why delay?

Toxic Blob exists to make awesome games and to fulfil my passion for cross-disciplinary creativity. But it’s not a day job. Not yet. For the past year, between visual effects projects, I have been self-funding Toxic Blob’s development of Sin or Win.

Some VFX work early in 2011 earned me several frugal months of Sin or Win development. No one noticed the delay because Toxic Blob was still in stealth mode. This summer I was presented with an opportunity to do some modelling, rigging and animation on Tarsem Singh‘s Untitled Snow White film. I needed the money and it was a fantastic opportunity; I’d be working with old friends & talented artists on what’ll be a beautiful sequence. After careful consideration I decided to work on Snow White.

Problem was… Sin or Win was taking slightly longer than expected to polish and I quickly found it impossible to balance family and VFX and Sin or Win development. If I worked insane hours I could work on both the film & Sin or Win, but I’d have to neglect sleep and my family. Years ago I vowed to work smarter, not longer. So I set aside Sin or Win until after I completed my work on Snow White.

The upside of today’s announcement is that my subconscious didn’t stop thinking about the game. When I was in the shower, at my bowl of cereal or waiting for files to download, ideas were germinating. I find taking time from the nitty gritty of development does that. I now have even more great ideas on how to expand Sin or Win! I think you’re really going to enjoy them.

There is a dichotomy when playing Sin or Win; players either play to earn a high winning score, or for a sinning score. The trick is that sinning poorly causes the game to end. Sinning well requires the player to be a damned fine talent. As I’ve had such a superb response from people who have played Sin or Win as it is, I’ve made the decision to release after polishing. Then in the new year I’ll expand the experience.

I want to thank everyone who has been incredibly supportive and for your anticipation of Sin or Win. I’m now focusing solely on Sin or Win and will be keeping you informed of any news and developments here at And, soon, I’ll be announcing the specific release date.

TouchArcade Previews "Sin or Win"

Another wonderful preview, this time from TouchArcade. Having spent months in my bedroom developing Sin or Win it’s wonderful to have such a positive reaction to it. I still have lots of lots of development to finish up, so back to the code I go.


Games Day Podcast Previews "Sin or Win"

The fine folks at the Games Day Podcast have previewed Sin or Win!


Sin or Win Gameplay Trailer

A game of heavenly/devilish consequences. Fast paced and tactical, can you save the cavemen from falling into the pit of doom. Or will you be a sinner? For those who are brave enough...

...Coming soon for the iPad

Sin or Win has a Website


Sin or Win now has a website, will remain the source for development progress and information on our upcoming projects, while will be the “official” website for our first iPad game.


In exciting development news we’re currently adding Game Center integration. I think we’ve got some pretty exciting achievements lined up.

Not all achievements will be visible initially as I’ve seen how excited people get when playing Sin Or Win and they discover something new is possible. Their faces suddenly brighten and realise other ideas could be tried too. People then start playing creatively and experimenting. This past weekend I watched as two teenagers shared one iPad. Both with fingers flying as they took control of a region of the screen each. They’d shout to the other tips on what they’d discovered was possible. Together they got one of the best beta test scores I’ve seen yet, and showed me a play style I hadn’t imagined. Their enthusiasm drew a crowd of other kids who then also had a go. Having spent months crafting this experience it was wonderful to see such a positive reaction. I can’t wait to see how others react.