Over the past couple of weeks, I added a few more photos on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/fallingpianogames/) of things I've drawn/designed when I was a kid. I thought I'd explain the context of some of them. First up is a drawing I made in Pre-U seminar, when I was a student participant and pretty bored. I even managed to get most of my schoolmates who were also attending to sign on it. The picture itself isn't supposed to mean anything - I just drew whatever came to mind.
That was done in June 1992. I liked the style of the drawing, so I followed it up with a second drawing in December 1992, this time inspired by our History Society trip to Turkey and Israel. Unfortunately, I took so long to complete the drawing (I think it was done almost a year later!) that I hardly got any signatures on it, as I lost touch with many of the other people on the trip (who weren't that close to me to begin with). Nonetheless, I like the strong image of Israel in the middle of the drawing.
In 1992, I also did a water colour of a hypothetical World War III scene, with American M1 Abrams tanks advancing, supported by an A-10A Thunderbolt II Close Air Support jet.
I later used this as the cover art for my first card game, Tactical Armoured Combat.
Sometime when I started working, I made another random doodle on a notepad. I must have been in some kind of seminar or workshop, as the paper indicated that I was at a local hotel. I drew my watch, my car keys, and my favourite phone at the time (and one I still fondly think of), the Nokia 6131. There was something cool about flipping a clamshell phone open before answering it. Unfortunately the clamshell design had a fatal flaw - if not held securely in your hand, the powerful flipping open action could actually cause the phone to spin out of control and fly out of your hand. That's exactly what happened to mine, and the screen glass cracked as a result. Needless to say, I was very upset.
One year, our church decided that it needed a larger space to hold worship services. As such, we rented Max Pavilion (Hall 10) of the Singapore Expo and ended up holding our weekly services there for almost five years. Before the move, to commemorate this event, the church held a T-shirt design contest. My entry didn't win, but I have to say I enjoyed myself immensely designing it. I guess if you can't please others, you should still try to please yourself!
Finally, for our wedding in January 2005, we went with a Lord of the Rings theme. At the time of the wedding planning, we were between The Two Towers and The Return of the King. In fact, the third show came out in December 2004, just a month before the wedding, so everybody was still in "the mood" when it came around. My wife and I dressed up as Arwen and Aragorn (who else!) for the dinner, and a close group of friends and relatives joined us to dress up as well. My best man, a good old friend of mine, even sportingly did his MC duties that evening in a Boromir outfit. In keeping with the theme, we sent out wedding invites to our guests with Middle-Earth fonts and named our dinner dishes according to what you'd expect at a feast in Lothlorien. We even included a "map" of how to get to the dinner location, the Hyatt Hotel along Scotts Road. The map was my favourite part of the wedding invite - we made many copies of them on parchment-like art paper, and even went as far as to soak each and every piece in a bucket of tea, crumpled them, straightened them out again, and dried them in the sun, to give them a "weathered parchment" look.
We figured, if you're gonna put so much work into your wedding planning, you might as well have some fun while you're at it. And make some great memories in the process:
Ok, that's all for now. Will be sharing more about a computer game I designed in 1993, in a later post. Farewell from Middle-Earth, friends!
Having fun playtesting our new game with friends. Scheming and plotting our way to victory!
Ok, so I've been getting a lot of questions from people about the name "Falling Piano Games". One person even asked me, "what do you have against pianos?"
Just to be clear, I don't hate them at all! The name comes from those old cartoons like Tom & Jerry, Popeye, Roadrunner and so on, where for some unexplained reason, a piano would sometimes fall out of the sky and land on some cartoon character. I always thought that was hilarious, and I suppose the cartoon artists thought so too.
At one point, cartoon network even used a falling piano as part of its signature:
So there you have it. I love pianos. I don't push them out of buildings. But sometimes, they just fall from the sky, for no reason at all.
I had the privilege to attend a cohort experience session at Dunman High on Monday afternoon, where every Sec 3 and Sec 4 student got a chance to play Guardians of the City. And I received the ultimate reward for a game designer - I saw the kids enjoying themselves and having a lot of fun playing the game. That's all that anyone can ask for -knowing that you made something that brings joy and laughter into people's lives. I'm really grateful to have been given a chance to walk this journey.
As I mentioned, Lego was always a big part of my growing up years. I'm very grateful that my parents bought me mostly generic sets, forcing me to have to use creative ways to make things. Nowadays, Lego has a bewildering array of specialised pieces, which actually requires less creativity to build stuff, in my opinion, because you can almost always find exactly the right shape you need for what you want to do. I don't blame Lego, it's had to innovate to stay ahead of competition, especially in light of the many Lego clones from China that have sprung up over the years. To continue to appeal to today's kids, who have so much choice of toys and electronic devices, Lego has gone towards doing specialised pieces and tie-ups with movies and comics.
Back when I was a kid, though, you didn't have so many pieces to use. Special pieces were very rare, and you had to think of creative ways to use them to make what you wanted. An example would be the standard Lego "operating handle" that was used to simulate the levers that a worker would grasp when operating heavy machinery.
These were highly sought after pieces, because if used differently, could become laser turrets on a spaceship or anti-aircraft platforms on a naval vessel. In fact, many years later, these appeared on the smaller Lego sets in very much the same fashion.
Lego would be my way of bringing my imagination to life. Whatever I was currently interested in, I would go build it using Lego.
A particularly funny memory for me was when I was about ten years old. I had just watched "The Empire Strikes Back" on TV and fell completely in love with the Rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. I went back and built a complete base that took up a quarter of the floor of my bedroom. There was just one problem - the standard Lego "base plate" was green. So it looked like my Rebel base was located on a nice pasture in the middle of summer. The only thing lacking was for Maria and the Von Trapp children to come waltzing through singing "Doe, a deer, a female deer".
I decided I would not be defeated by the limitations of my small Lego collection. I had a brainwave, and went to my bathroom to fetch a bottle of talcum powder. By the time I was done, I had run out of talcum powder, but my Rebel base now looked like it was properly built into the snowy hillsides of a frigid world. I was ecstatic. I spent several happy days replaying the battle of Hoth in my bedroom.
Until a few days later, my mum happened to walk in and saw talcum powder EVERYWHERE on the floor. She went ballistic and scolded me. I was forced to clean up the mess. But at some level, I think she was also a little impressed.
I never managed to get a photo of that Hoth base, though the memory remains vivid. Just for old times' sake, I did a very small AT-AT walker scene just for this blog, complete with crashed Snowspeeder.
And yes, that's really talcum powder there. Specifically, St. Luke's prickly heat powder, also known as the famous SAF-issued "Snake Brand" powder.
You know, the more I think about it, I was really a pain to raise as a kid. Thanks, mum and dad, I owe you so much, not least for your patience and understanding!
Hey everybody... the first shipment of the official version of Guardians of the City has arrived! If you want a set, just drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I've learnt over the years that I don't have any real skills except the ability to play games. So I guess it makes sense that eventually I would gravitate towards making my own games.