Joker Bomb: Bomberman with Cards


I based this game off the classic videogame Bomberman developed by HudsonSoft in 1983 and mashed it up with a mini-game puzzle from Return to Zork, another classic game. It is tons of fun and here are the rules to play in card form.

Requires: 1 deck of cards
# of Players : 2 – 3
Playing time: 2 – 5 minutes


Remove 7, 8, 9, and 10 from a deck of cards.

Take the Jokers out – if they’re different colours, you can use them as your Bomberman. If they’re not different, one person should use a joker and the other the box for the cards. Alternatively you can use miniatures or tokens from a board game.

Shuffle the remaining cards (A to 6, Jacks, Queens, and Kings) and deal out a 5×5 grid of face down card spaces the players can move around on like a game board. This makes the battle arena.

For Two players, deal three cards to each player for their starting hand.
For Three Players, deal two cards to each player for their starting hand.

Put the rest of the cards on the side of the battlefield.


In Joker Bomb, your goal is to blow up the board and trap your opponents so they cannot play a card. As long as you’re playing cards you are in the game. You are invincible to the explosions themselves.


Your Joker starts off the board. When you play your first card you must determine where you are entering the board from. Pretend there is an extra set of spaces around the outside of the board and decide where your Joker was in those spaces and then enter the battle arena.

When it’s your turn, play a card from your hand. If it’s a number you move that many spaces in any direction, even diagonal. If it’s a face card it will explode where you’re standing. There will be more on the explosions later.


If you move, then you must move on top of cards from one adjacent card to the next one. You cannot hop over any holes in the board and players themselves are considered a hole for the sake of movement. You are encouraged to move to new locations unless you have to move back to an old location. This means if you play a six but can only move onto an “island” of one card then you just go 1-2…6! and stay on the one card. The important part is that you played a number card.

When you end your movement, flip over the card you landed on and reveal it to everyone. If it’s a number, put it into your hand. If not, then it is a bomb and it explodes! If there is any deck left, you can draw a card face down from the deck and put it in your hand.

Bombs and Explosions!

Whether you play a bomb from your hand or your step on one on the board, the bombs are treated the same. You look at your Joker and the bomb explodes the spaces next to it in a pattern based on the type of the bomb.

If you explode a Jack Bomb it explodes as an X, removing the four diagonal cards next to your Joker.

If you explode a Queen Bomb it explodes as a Plus +, removing the four orthogonally adjacent cards next to your Joker.

If you explode a King Bomb you have a choice of X or Plus.

  • X: remove all cards in the diagonals extending out to the edge of the board, ignoring holes causing mass destruction!
  • Plus: remove all cards left and right of your Joker and above and below extending out to the edge of the board, ignoring holes and dividing the arena into smaller islands!

Discard the bomb and, if there is any deck left, draw a card face down from the deck.

Reminder: The explosions don’t harm the Jokers but they limit their movement by removing the cards they can move on.

Aces Rebuild!

Aces are a special card that will allow you to bridge your way to safety. Aces allow you to both:

  • Move one space AND
  • Add up to 3 cards from the deck face down back anywhere onto the battle arena

You can do these in any order. If there is no deck, too bad! You only get to move one space.

Ending the Game

Keep playing cards and destroying the battle arena until players cannot play cards. When a player cannot play a card they must pass (i.e. because it’s a number and there are no card spaces to move to or they have no cards in their hand). If it gets back to your turn and all your opponents passed then you win the game!

Example: Joe, Sheila, and Sky are playing. Joe plays a bomb. Sheila passes. Sky passes. Joe wins.

Additional Notes

Played cards go into a discard and the deck is never reshuffled. It is supposed to run out and run out FAST!

If you play a bomb on your first turn, decide where your Joker is just off the board and trigger the bomb from there. Your Joker’s position is now decided and locked until you play your next card and move them out of there. Be careful playing a bomb on your first turn, it is easy for your opponents to quickly trap you so you cannot even enter the arena!

In a three player game, it is possible for a player that has passed to re-enter the game if one of the other players uses an Ace to build a bridge to that player’s Joker. Then if their hand has a legal card to play they can start moving again. This is handy if two beginners are playing against an expert player.

Some Variations

Ranged Attacks
Try swapping out two of the Kings for a 9 and a 10.

9’s are like Jacks except they blow up cards that are two spaces away. but do not touch the card adjacent to the Joker.

10’s are like Queens except they blow up cards that are two spaces away, but do not touch the cards adjacent to the Joker.

4-6 Players on a MEGA-Board

Use two decks and make a 7×7 board. Then you can play with up to 6 players!

Starcatcher Screenshots and Artwork


Here is some artwork and screenshots from my iPhone version of StarCatcher (taken using a PC export as I’m currently upgrading my Unity version to work with iOS 6). Above is the credits screen. You’ll notice a few alterations to make it more compelling. I’ve kept the look and feel of a painting, but for a stronger storyline I’ve added two main characters: a little alien and a little girl. The little girl discovers the alien in his small Jetsetter craft as he gets out of the crater formed by the mothership crashing into the earth. The alien is searching for energy to power the escape pods so they can fly back to the mothership. (So now instead of lighting lamps with stars, you’re powering UFO’s with “star energy”) The two characters help direct the story and where the levels go and I’m not saying anything more on that. Check out the screenshots and also play the original flash game here.

Getting out of the crater

Getting out of the crater

Getting out of the crater was the original level 1. It’s a simple question mark made out of stars to collect. It’s simple, but kind of boring. I’ve designed a more exciting hook (but have yet to implement it) where instead of starting after the crash, you’re going to start playing as the crash begins and the player will follow the mothership (trying to collect the fuel/star energy that is spraying out of it) as it careens through the sky and smashes into the Earth. This will be more like 4 levels but will be a much more exciting start to the game and will give the player a sense of importance, urgency, and excitement. Also, you’ll get to hear your commanding officer over the radio giving you tutorial orders and form a bond with that character a bit more. I prefer actual game characters giving you instructions instead of a random narrator.


The beginning of a maze

Black cloud walls need to be avoided as they destroy your stars. Zooming out is useful for seeing the whole maze, but to help navigate carefully staying zoomed in can be quite handy. Balancing looking at the map vs guiding your stars is a tough challenge.

The Invasion of Giant Planet-Eating Bacteria From Outer Space

Click here to play now!

Click the image to play!

Check out the 48 Hour Global Game Jam Game here. (opens in a new window)

This was created by a team of 5 over the course of the 48 hour event. Click on the crown in the game menu for detailed credits of the team involved.

We ran out of time for a tutorial so the quick tutorial I’ll give you here (we told the participants at the jam this).

1. Click to move (you can even hold the mouse button down for a continual flight)

2. Fly into the power ups that the planets release to pick them up (you’ll change colour as long as you hold the power up)

3. Use the power ups on the bacteria by flying into the bacteria.  Each one does different things!

4. Look out though!  The Bacteria are each immune to certain weapons.

5. Protect all 3 of your planets as long as possible!

Good luck!

What we would do next to make it better (these were things we had discussed, but didn’t have time to implement):

1. We were definitely looking at refining any progression in the game so people would be more comfortable with it.  To do that I would look at making the first few “waves” of enemies go through the three different enemies and weapons one by one, followed by giving the player the weapons that the enemies are immune to.  Players can do it on their own now, but making sure it’s clear early on would be a nice gift to the player.

2. Add a scoring system so that players can compare scores, keep track of their progress, and try and do better next time.

3. Refine the feedback to players.  We added a few things such as sounds and visual effect rings to let players know when they flew into bacteria, etc.  but occasional players mentioned they would like more feedback in some regard.  So making the feedback more effective would have been useful.

Project Blue Sky

Project Blue Sky (November 2009 – April 2010)

We were awarded the Coca Cola “Living Positively” Award for this project. It was accepted by Dave Calder on behalf of the team.

My latest project has been helping out the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation (or CSSI) on an Olympic Athlete inspired project called “Project Blue Sky“. The premise is to get people to walk, bike, or use public transit instead of their car to reduce their carbon footprint. By entering their distances into the widget they can see how, if everyone contributes, we can make a difference.

One of the big challenges for me was that I knew a lot of the theory of accessing databases, but only worked with one once before for a two week project. Furthermore, I didn’t have an artist to help me out and have not considered myself much of one. However, given the existing assets I feel I pulled off a decent job of using Adobe Photoshop on an old splash page of theirs to create backgrounds, logos, and buttons. (We removed the splash page as one of our first items of business since it stopped more users than brought them in)

Here is the project before I joined the project (November 2009) :

Project Blue Sky when I arrived

and here is the website currently (February 2010):

My Improvements to Project Blue Sky

Mutiny: The Pirate Party Game

Some friends play-test Mutiny

Some friends play-test Mutiny

Made in 2006

Style: Party Game

Ages: 10+

Inspiration: The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Description: Ever wanted to be a pirate? Well, join the crew of the Lecherous Seagull and find your fortunes! In this party game, crew members are all trying to steal the treasure from the hold while the captain sails the ship and its cargo safely to port. The Captain’s position is a tenuous one though as the crew regularly mutinies against him and try to take control.

The crew’s main challenge is to balance the need for money with the need to make sure the ship gets safely from island to island, successfully overcoming obstacles such as other pirate ships, storms, and the dreaded Kraken!

My biggest challenge has been that while everyone enjoys the mini-game challenges (based off of kid games I learned when growing up). It seems everyone over 18 gets hurt playing them.

Solution: I’m still searching for other active games that aren’t risky and have plans to add a digital element so that digital mini-games could be a part of the fun!

A host is required to guide players through the three phases of each round.

Solution: see the above solution – I’m looking into creating a digital host to lead the game. (i.e. a video)

UBC Fisheries Gulf of Mexico Visualization

UBC Fisheries (January – April 2008)

Spring 2008 a group of 6 students, including myself, created a fish visualization for UBC fisheries that read their models of fish populations depending on fishing limits and predicted the results of fish populations in 50 years based on these limits. I worked in conjunction with their .NET programmers using Python.Net and XML to actually retrieve the information from their models and produce the fish on the screen.