Alex Houghton

Custom Web Development and Design.

An Old Blog

Russian Shark Roulette

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

A board game where players control a giant whirlpool with a shark in it.

A few months ago, I saw some people play a video game called Venture Street. It was like Monopoly, but the board was dynamic.

I made a board game inspired by that. The main idea behind this game was that the entire board was made of rotatable tiles. Players would rotate them each turn to gain positional advantages over the other players. The rules, if anyone wants to try them out, are right here.

House Hoarders

Having play-tested that for a bit, I went on to think about other ways these tiles could be put to use…

And came up with Russian Shark Roulette.

The idea here is that, using the tiles, we have a whirlpool where the players are trapped and must try to survive the man-eating-shark.

I’ve been working on this in my spare time for the past ~3 months. It’s been a fun ride and a lot of people really like what I’ve made so far! Good feelings all around.

Here are the rules: Shark Roulette Rules

Don’t be afraid to read that! It’s like 2 pages. Anyways, the tldr is:

  • On a player’s turn, he first rotates (almost) any tile on the board. Generally, he’s going to try to rotate it so that anyone but him will be in the path of the shark.
  • Then he rolls a die and his swimmer follows the tiles in that many spaces.
  • He rolls another die and the shark follows the tiles in that many spaces.
  • If the shark passes by or lands on a player, Bad Things happen.

And that’s the gist of it! I’ll be presenting this at Plattecon at the end of the month. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

The pieces used in this game were handcrafted by Print & Play Productions! I heartily recommend them; customer service was fantastic and the price I paid was very cheap.

The shark was molded by my sister. It’s so cute.


A lot of time was spent tweaking the rules to this game. Questions had to be answered, like how easy should it be for the shark to eat a player? What part of a player’s turn should they be allowed to rotate a tile? What should they be allowed to rotate? Where do players start? etc…

I’ll do another post about that in the future, if people are interested.


If you want to print your own version of this game, feel free. I have yet to really look into merchandising this, but people keep saying I should, haha.

And thanks for reading! The next time I post here, it will probably be about Chocolate Box, an RPG system influenced by games like Battleship and FTL.

A Combined Login/Registration Form

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Disclaimer: if you want to make this login form for your website, but have users whose usernames are not accessible publicly, do not use this.

And with that out of the way, check this out:

See the Pen Combined Login Form by houghtona (@houghtona) on CodePen.

Story Game

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

I have been reworking Story Game. It’s a game that lets people tell interesting stories with other people.

There have been 3 big changes…

  1. Focus
  2. Interface
  3. Backend


Story Game is still about collaborating with other people and creating stories that are unique and interesting. The change here is that Story Game is now catered towards a much smaller audience.

Before, you could only make stories if there were other players online. It was all live and so there was no helping it. Now, anyone can hop into a story at any time. There’s less in the way if someone wants to just tell a story.

I will have the old real-time story making back up soon, but that will no longer be a focus.


I don’t think flat design is any real big deal, and anyways, this isn’t totally flat. There are elements of the page that break the simple “one-tone” design and the user is meant to be drawn to them. Shadows and animations are the primary effects.

Font sizes are also larger and expand for larger viewing. The site is responsive. It can be played on a handheld device, but the one-column design doesn’t work as well as I’d like, so I might futz with that. Measurements, font sizes, etc. are all done in em’s, making it very easy to change the relative size of everything on a page.

Colors were chosen to be light or vibrant and inviting. I want people excited to play this game, and I hope the colors reflect that.

My favorite part of the new design is the login form. Try it out! I will likely make next week’s post about it, if I have time to make a CodePen for it or something.


Much of the same technologies used in the old Story Game are used in the new, but here are a couple notes on the update.

I think the major change is the switch from mysqli to PDO. It made creating functions that updated or changed the database in any way much easier.

The functions used for implementing Ajax were changed as well, and for the better. Only one global variable is used for Ajax handles, but I’ve created a buffer system that mitigates any issues that would normally (and has in the past) cause. This also helps reduce the potential load on browser and server, since Ajax calls can be made only every tenth of a second.

That’s all I have to say on it for now, but if folks have suggestions on making the site better, contact me and I’ll try to get back to you!


Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

I’ll be updating this blog once a week, every Wednesday this year. They will be short and succinct, and no one will read them, but that’s fine. I just really want to start updating this thing.

I’ve removed all previous posts, as I’d like these 53 to stand alone.

I don’t have much to say right now, but next week’s post will be about Story Game, and the changes made to it. (I’ve been reworking Story Game from scratch, in case you haven’t heard!)

Email me at [email protected].

Hi there!
I am a web developer from Platteville Wi, doing freelance contract work and a whole lot of side projects. I spend my free time with my boardgame-making hobby and talking about Star Wars. Did you know that John Boyega saves lives?

On Twitter:

Website Development Résumé

Current Web Projects

Story Game

Story Game is an online app that lets you create stories with your friends (or play anonymously) in real time.

I wrote the code, designed the site, and did pretty much everything there. I hope for it to be completely finished sometime this year, but there's currently no schedule.

The Platteville Gaming Association

The Platteville Gaming Association needed a way to easily organize their many different games sessions for Plattecon, so I worked with them to create a scheduling system full of useful options. Then I redesigned their website. This is ongoing!

Check out the Plattecon gaming convention, from March 4th to 6th in 2016 at UW Platteville, Wisconsin.

Boardgame/RPG Projects

Shark Roulette

You've all been trapped in a whirlpool with a ravenous shark! Rotate tiles to change the current and get the shark to eat your friends instead of you...


A 3-minute family-friendly party game where players work together to create ridiculous stories in the form of conspiracies.

Chocolate Box

An RPG system with the world's only 3d paper mache character sheet.

Last Draw

A card game where you can mix-and-match pre-built magical characters and weapons to fight with them. The unique timeline system makes this a downtime-free game.