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Dear Friends and Forgers,

Firstly, you’re beautiful. Yep. You. You’ve made our lives better and brighter. Which, is why this is so hard. But, let’s rip off the band-aid. As of July 1st we’ll be closing down the Forge located at 239 Chestnut Street.

For some of you, you may have just become a member. For others, you may have been here for 5 years. No matter how long, you’ve probably had the chance to make some pretty cool friends. We might be closing the Forge, but those people won’t be going anywhere. We’re all friends and we’d like to urge everyone to keep being awesome and keep supporting each other. This has always just been about the people anyway 🙂

You might be wondering about Dev Night. Who would of imagined a few friends hanging out once a week would turn into a 70+ person event. Dev Night has truly become a fantastic gathering point for all us. Sadly, Dev Night will have to move too. But, there seem to be quite a few places that would love to have our badass community. We’ll have more news soon as it comes.

Please feel free to write us with any questions or concerns. This is also a pretty trying time for us too. So, if you have the time to offer any help–we sure could use it!

Thank you all so much!

To our bold future,
Will and Dain

We will be keeping Slack and moving over to a Patreon with a much cheaper membership fee. This money will be used to keep Dev Night running.

If you have any personal belongings in the Forge, please remove them before the End-Of-Day Monday the 20th or get in touch with us about your items. We’ll be selling things in the next week to help offset the shut down cost of the Forge.

Shields Up!

Today, we wanted to give you a little peek behind the curtain of development at Cipher Prime. This is your window into what it’s like to make a game from the ground up. The struggles and surprises of development laid bare. Today we are covering the addition of a game-play element to Tailwind – the shield.

Shields are ever-present in games today. You can ask any child what a forcefield or shield is and they will have a complete answer for you. Not just simply that it stops bullets or lasers, but what it looks like, how it works and how to overcome one. It’s so common modern film doesn’t need to take a break from the action to explain what shielding does for a spaceship or alien. It’s a given!

But in the bullet hell world of Tailwind, one hit is all you can take. This simple mechanic bred super-twitchy game-play and precise movements in seasoned pilots.

To find out more about what the addition of a shield means for Tailwind we turn to Dain (@dainsaint) and Will (@willstall) –

Why add a shield?

Will – The main reason is: don’t nerf the game buff the player.

Dain – Yeah Andy Schatz (@andyschatz) did a talk on buffing the player not making the game easier.

Will – It makes general sense right? You can make the game easier or give the player more power. The player feeling more powerful is fun.

Dain – …and you can challenge the player more.

Will – …and a good game is kinda about that tug of war so it adds agency too. When you don’t have the shield you feel really vulnerable  when you have the shield you can afford to be more risk adverse so it creates this push and pull rather than just be a constant “oh something hits me I’m dead” and we really wanted the game to be a bit easier too.

Dain – It gives the ability to have that danger of anything could kill me at this moment but if I could just get over there and get this thing then I’ll be a little bit safer and that changes the emotional state of the player back and forth.

Once it was in testing what did you discover about it?

Dain – Well we made it so that when you loose the shield it kills enemies in a radius. That made it an offensive weapon. So normally you take a shield as a defensive thing it protects you but now you have a something you can choose to detonate.

Will – Yeah originally we had it so that if you picked up another shield on top of the one you had it wiped the screen. That was OP so we changed it to this more confined space around the player.

Dain – So we made it so you can get the shield out of the big rocks. But you cant hit the rocks by dashing cause that kills you. But you can lightning through them. You can set up the lightning so when it goes off you blow up the rocks. So you can spend a full charge to get a shield. This adds an interesting decision for the player.

Will -What is interesting is that before the shield no one could finish the game. Once we added it just about everyone got through.

Dain – Which doesn’t really have an end screen.

Will – You just blow up…

More power ups in the future?

Will – so yeah pickups will be a thing we’re working on. Cause they’re fun. Going back to the buff the player idea. What I found was that before we added the shield I was bored playing my own game. That shouldn’t happen. The shield added a missing piece.

Dain – When we added the shield it made us pissed. And that’s what should happen. You should be upset you didn’t put it in the game sooner.

That’s it for today!. Keep up-to-date with us on Twitter @cipherprime. Learn more about Tailwind at

Monster Want Burger now on iOS!

Remember our silly little mini-game, Monster Want Burger? Well, we’re happy to announce it’s now available on iPhone and iPad!

Monster Want Burger! 720p

IMG_1986Not only that, we’re featured in “Best New Games!” At its core, Monster Want Burger is an extremely cute game where you make burgers for a hungry monster. We’ve added a lot of cool little features, including a custom burger naming algorithm. But probably the most important thing is how many “firsts” we had with this game. Monster Want Burger is:

  • Our first self-published iPhone game!
  • Our first game aimed towards kids!
  • Our first game with a character!
  • The first time we made all our assets inside of Unity3D (using some cool new tools we’ve been working on…)
  • The first time we’ve released a game made for a Dev Night Game Jam
  • The first time we self-published a desktop game as pay-what-you-want through our own distribution method
  • And last but not least, Cipher Prime’s first released mini-game!

Thanks for being with us for so many first time events. Go grab Monster Want Burger now on iPhone or Desktop! And if you can, !



A new player has connected.

connection_foundA few months back, we received an email with a strange request. Admir is a Steam gamer, who described to us an uplifting friendship he’d developed over two years with a fellow gamer, Lina. He spoke wonders of her tirelessly cheerful personality and the positive affect it had on his life. As it turned out, Lina is a fan of Splice — and her birthday was fast approaching. He wondered if there was any way we could help him show his appreciation. The line that did me in was:

“Her name is Lina and she is someone who influenced me and changed me for the better and I couldn’t be more happier that I know her.”

And something about people coming together through games to make each other better people just resonated with me on that particular day. So, feeling inspired, I wrote a small piece of music for Lina, in the style of Splice. (From what I hear, it was very well received)

Within our community, we all know people for whom the unforgiving pressures of life and industry prove to be too much to handle alone. And often, when we need a helping hand or a kind word, we find it altogether too easy to become more withdrawn and isolated, stubbornly maintaining that our problems are ours alone. It is in those moments that we need each other the most.

Games can provide distraction, yes. But they also provide a space to connect. For one of our games to be part of that connection, no matter how small, is an enduring reminder that we all possess the ability to bring joy to each others lives.

Why do I make games? For simple, human moments like this.

Happy birthday, Lina!

Permission, Dedication, and the art of Game Jams.

For over 3 years now I’ve been hosting a weekly event in Philadelphia called Dev Night. The main purpose of this event is to help grow and centralize the gaming community in Philadelphia. One thing above all others accomplishes this task: our Monthly Game Jams.

What is a Game Jam?

For people in the gaming industry, the term “Game Jam” means a ton of things. But what game jams do very well is bring people into the community. So what is a Game Jam? It’s an event where people come together to make games based around a theme in a very short amount of time. Some times you have 1 hour (Zero Hour Game Jam); sometimes you have 48 hrs (Ludum dare). Other times, you don’t know what the hell you’re going to get (Philly Dev Night).

Why do we Jam?

I run a game studio called Cipher Prime, organize events like the Geek Awards, and manage the Philly Game Forge. My day-to-day is always crazy and involves a lot of disciplines. I also have to be quite resourceful with my use of time. Holding back on experimentation helps me finish my goals faster most of the time. But, experimentation in my craft is what makes me better and sharpens my skills. Game Jams are not just something I want to do, they’re a thing I need to do. If I want to get better, I need to take risks and I need to work under pressure.

Why does it work?

We’ve all heard the saying, “Practice Makes Perfect” and a lot of us have also heard,”Perfect Practice Makes Perfect”. We’ve heard Malcolm Gladwell talk about the 10,000 hour principle in Outliers, and we’ve read inspirational books by Tim Ferriss. But, what really helps motivate me and most of the people I know is *proof*.

Loish is one of my favorite digital painters. But she didn’t start off brilliant. She started off with passion, and became amazing through dedication. I recently did a talk on this concept: Dedication over Motivation. The games industry is rather new, so it’s hard to have 100’s of examples of qualified growth. In the BuzzFeed era, we readers and consumers seem to need everything in quick graphs. So here is the growth chart that Loish did, that chronicles her growth from 2003-2014 .

Yeah, it’s awesome. But guess what: Your games can improve like that too. Here is a screenshot of my first game I made in 2004 called BBO. And here’s the remade version called Intake made in 2013.

@willstall - 10 years of game design


Also, Game Jams are about finding the people in your life who are going to inspire you to become better. As you grow, so will those around you. Game Development is a Coop Team Game and you’re going to want those skilled friends once you start tackling some seriously large projects.

Why doesn’t everyone do them?

All the time people come to me and say there is no way they can make a game. It seems like people need permission to even try. For all those people, game jams are my way of saying, “I’m giving you permission to be great.” If you came up to me at Dev Night tonight and told me you couldn’t make a game, I’d ask you if you ever played tag, or checkers, or any other type of game that’s ever existed. Eventually, you’ll say yes. Then, I’d challenge you to make a “house rule” for that game. Most people already have these for their favorite games. Good news folks: you’re already game designers.

The Challenge

For everyone who is interested, I’d like to challenge you to be a better you. Do the thing you love; monthly at the very least. Test yourself regularly and set some goals. If you love making games, I’ll see you at Dev Night. If something else is your poison, I’ll fucking cheer for you. Let’s be awesome together. Let me know how it goes.

What do you do?

It’s Philly Tech Week here, which means lots of events, meetings, and conferences. Many business cards exchanged, many more names told and quickly forgotten because let’s face it, we’re all terrible at names. But more often than not, every new conversation starts with the same four words:

What do you do?

And as someone who makes games for a living, it’s actually kind of hard to answer. Gaming is a young medium, and as you talk to people outside the industry, you realise we have nothing close to the vocabulary needed to describe what we do.

What do I mean? Well, lets look at some other media.


Words: what do you do?
I’m a writer. A poet. A story-teller. A blogger. Author. Editor. Copywriter. Wordsmith.

I write poems. Novels, novellas. Magazine articles. Blogs. Epics. Tall tales and short stories. (I tweet.) Because I know, in my hands, the word is worth a thousand pictures.

Pictures: what do you do?
I’m an artist. Illustrator. Painter. Graphic Designer.

I do fine art, and illustrations. Character design and visual identity. Realism, surrealism; cubism and modernism. I paint “ism” on a wall and dare you to tell me it’s not art.

Sounds: what do you do?
I’m a composer. Singer, song-writer. Performer. Instrumentalist. Musician.

I write songs, and albums. Concertos and scores. Sometimes a jingle; sometimes a ditty. I jam for hours with no clear goal in sight, and come out with rhythms that make you remember when we were naked and free under the ink-black sky.

Video: what do you do?
I’m a film-maker. Director. Auteur, if you’ll allow it. And yes, an editor,

I shoot videos, movies, TV shows. Documentaries and exposés. Vignettes, here and there. I’ve been known to vlog. I show you a window to the past or a glimpse of the future, take you to faraway lands real and imagined — and you don’t even have to lift a finger.

Games: what do you do?
I make games.


Which of course is bullshit. We refer to Cipher Prime’s games as “Arthouse Games”, which needs still more clarification as “Think about the movies at Sundance, but instead of movies it’s games.” Trying to explain the differences between Flower and Mortal Kombat X can be frustrating, because we have to rely on the vocabulary of other media.  Mortal Kombat X is your Hollywood blockbuster; Flower is a collection of poems. But at the end of the day, they are both still considered “games”, in a way that an action movie and a book of poetry would never be called the same thing.

I’m genuinely curious about this. I wonder, in a decade, what words we’ll use to describe the experiences we make. And maybe that’s our responsibility, to start creating and using those new words.

But I need some new words *today*. So let’s try this again.

Games: what do you do?
I’m a game maker. Yes, an author. Yes, an artist. Programmer, maybe, but logician certainly. I’m an emotional manipulator. A rule-maker; a rule-breaker.

I make games. I distill dreams; I create universes. Playgrounds, sandboxes, and toy chests. Experiences. I reject your reality and substitute my own.

At the end of my GDC talk, I remarked that I create illusions for a living. The more I think about that, the more I realise it is an absolute truth. We use arcane languages to interact with hidden worlds using forces we can hardly explain to extract an emotional response from our audience. And we’ve done it for so long it’s become mundane to us, but really — have you ever tried to explain what you did at work today to someone outside the games industry?

So what do we do?

We are — all of us — magicians.

Monster Want Burger!

As you may or may not know, every month we host a Game Jam at Dev Night. The scope is small, and the deadlines are tight; we think it’s the best way for everyone in our community to get better at making games.

But making games is only part of making games for a living. I mean, you gotta eat, right? So this month’s sponsor, Flyclops, put on the Profit Jam. The challenge? Make a game in under two weeks, market it for four, and whoever makes the most cash wins!

For the profit jam, we made a decidedly un-CP game called “Monster Want Burger!

screenshot-01 screenshot-03 screenshot-04 screenshot-05

You build burgers to feed an adorable monster. That’s it! We’re pretty proud of it (especially considering we started two days before the deadline…). It’s got an awesome Burger Naming AlgorithmTM, a fun soundtrack, and most importantly? It was a ton of fun to make. Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Halloween Sale! Get our games for 60% off on Steam!


Hey guys! Get your copy of Auditorium, Fractal, Splice, or Intake for the cost of a cup of coffee as a part of Steam’s Halloween sale! Now’s the perfect time to pick up a copy for yourself or a friend. And remember—the full version of Auditorium is still available to play for free online until October 31st!

As always, thanks for supporting us! We couldn’t do this without you!

It’s facelift time. Set your mind on Fire.

We’re at a point now where we’ve seen trends come and pass and we’ve seen different markets rise and fall. It’s a deeply interesting and scary thing to swim in, because we need to constantly reinvent ourselves to stay afloat. And today, we’re unfurling the sails of our new ship.

Welcome to the new home of Cipher Prime. We’re hoping our new site helps people play our games better, faster, harder, and stronger. We find most people who know one of our games have no idea we make others, so we’re hoping we’ve solved that problem! If we didn’t, maybe our homepage can just inspire a few people. In any case, thanks so much for taking a look, and leave us any feedback you can offer!

To celebrate this change, we have decided to make Auditorium ( our first title ) free online for 1 month. If you’d like to play offline, you’ll still need to pony up that sweet $10. Additionally, we’ve added a new page for Auditorium Duet and updated the Splice content to reflect our pending release on PS4 and PS3.  Checkout the new Splice trailer!

Cipher Prime is changing, but we want you to be a part of it. Will is about to embark on a cross-country bicycle trip with some fellow developers. You can follow his development at Dain has a new album coming out called, “Android Soul” that should release within the next few months. As always, you can follow @willstall, @dainsaint, or @cipherprime for more Auditorium Duet and Game Jam footage.

Thanks so much!

Intake Now Updated

We’ve been listening to user feedback and we’ve made some changes to Intake. We’ve been hearing that lots of people are having some problems at level 5. So to fix that, we are giving new players 5,000 mg at the start of the game. Now you can buy a life right off the bat! Also we updated Intake so that special levels start appearing at level 10, rather than level 5.


Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed pills spawning after the death scene
  • Fixed random unlocks while in attract mode

Thanks for playing Intake! We appreciate your love and support, so let us know if you have any problems.