Metal Bat dot com

William Van Hecke is me.

I try to make software look presentable and behave politely.
Usually in Seattle, but also in Tokyo whenever possible.
It is lovely to have you here!

@fet is my Twitter thing.
Heta no Yokozuki Sekai 5 is a blog of varying merit.
Microcosmographia is a newsletter thing about honestly trying to understand design and humanity.

I looove: Huge Books!Esoteric Video Games!Earnest Music!Miscellaneous Wonderful Things!


Dramatickers dot com is an unofficial English-language fan site for the Japanese band Clammbon. I’ve translated many of their songs from Japanese and subtitled both of their films.

Streaming games. Usually visual novels in Japanese with live interpretation. As I get more tired, the narration and translation get sillier.

Quiet Contemplation. A podcast about video games, Japanese 2D culture, musical discovery, and miscellaneous geekery.

Creative writing. I have a long-running secret fiction writing project which is not linked from anywhere and which you will never see! But it is out there. And I’m taking credit for it right here.

Feminism for Nerds is a collection of educational articles.


Mental health year. Turned the experience of shipping four more huge app releases on external deadlines into several happy projects about taking care of your brain.

Design Play. 23 creative people from around the world, selected from hand-written letters, all intimidated by the others’ accomplishments, gathered for a weekend and made friends for life.

(out of context) is a lo-fi photo-journal that begins in Tokyo in 2002 and ends in Seattle in 2014. My own personal Instagram, a decade too early.

Carefree is a tiny custom CSS file you can add to your web browser to make Twitter less of a popularity contest. It hides counts of followers, retweets, faves, et cetera. Version 0.0.2.


Heck year part 2. This is the year that really taught me to get things done. Somehow successfully balanced finishing grad school, finishing my book, writing a rush update to my book for iOS 7, shipping four hugely redesigned apps, multiple personal tragedies, and the longest stay in Tokyo since 2002.

Grad school. I got me a master’s degree in Human-Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington.

Project Metafalica. A bunch of us fans created an all-new English version of the PS2 game Ar tonelico 2. I worked on the style guide and translated Chroche’s Cosmosphere and Frelia’s Binary Field from the Japanese script.

Solarized theme for Dwarf Fortress, based on the Solarized color scheme by Ethan Schoonover, is for aesthetics nerds who want highly refined inscrutable ascii landscapes. It looks like this.

3D modeling. Every few years I come back, to see if it has become a sane pursuit. Cinema 4D, then Blender, and most recently Modo. Maybe again when we’re hand-sculpting in VR environments.


Heck year. Grad school continues. Agreed to write a book for some reason. Finished bringing our whole suite of five apps to iPad.

Hardcore Gaming 101: Sakura Taisen. 15,000 words on a truly extraordinary video game series.

HOXA. A rock and roll band with @optshiftk, @zroundbls, and @frozendevil. It revived my interest in playing live music.


Build build build. Started grad school, kept building iPad and Mac apps, tried to figure out public speaking now that lots more people wanted to hear about what we were doing.

Designing Graceful, Gracious Interfaces for iPad is a purple talk I gave at Voices That Matter Autumn 2010 and Spring 2011, and Øredev 2011.

From Mac to iPhone to iPad and Back is a red-orange talk that I gave at Voices That Matter Autumn 2011 and Øredev 2011.


iPad. Setting everything else aside and building two huge apps for iPad in the three months between its announcement and its launch was surreal and thrilling. Suddenly we were very much multi-platform, desgining for the good old Mac and for something truly brand-new. Suddenly people wanted to hear me speak about how to design for this thing.

Paraplu was a cute arena shooter I made with Julian Lancaster. It was tremendously educational and fun to build a really sophisticated game engine and level editor.

Momo Pax. From 2003 to 2010, Julian Lancaster and I were a game studio. Nowadays we just use the site as a place to post pixel art.

Button Trance is a column about infatuating games. It began at Heisei Democracy, a site I administered back in its heyday, but has since moved to my own blog.


App Store. I was there, man. WWDC 2008 in particular was a heck of an inspiring and creative time. OmniFocus for Mac and then OmniFocus for iPhone, which even won an Apple Design Award. Japan trips VIII and IX.

Helpify. A tool for turning OmniOutliner documents into Apple Help Books.

I built an arcade stick controller for playing fighting games.

Soft Landing was a cute space shooter / visual novel hybrid I made from scratch with Julian Lancaster.

Bass tabs. Sometimes I try to figure out how to play obscure songs on the bass, and document my findings.

I ran half of a two-DM 4th Edition D&D campaign in an original setting, played in a theater with projected digital maps. In the other half, I played Cross, a Tiefling paladin with monarchial aspirations.


Build build build. Accidentally fell into my dream job as UX Lead at the Omni Group. Shipped some Mac apps. Learned a lot about making software. Went to WWDCs and Macworlds. Blogged a lot, wrote a lot of code, failed at NaNoWriMo, passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 2, saw a Stevenote in person. Japan visits V, VI, and VII.

I ran a 3rd Edition D&D campaign using adapted 2nd Edition rules from the wonderfully surreal Spelljammer setting.

Greeneyes. From 2002 to 2005, I wrote and published a webcomic about genetically-modified kids living on Mars in the 23rd century.

Someone tried to sell me fake video games on eBay.


Seattle. Moved across the country at a moment’s notice in an attempt to get hired by The Omni Group. It worked! We shipped OmniWeb 5.

You Are Drawing! From 1999 to 2004, I ran the online comic-creators community URD Collaborative Manga, which eventually overtook the whole URD name. It was really fun to hand-code a huge community site with reputation systems and studio affiliations and a comic-reading interface… and I am glad I never have to do it again!

Badass Name Generator. It is remarkable how many names in marketing and fiction could have been created by it.


Nocturnal year. Worked the night shift monitoring batch processes and mainframes. Stayed sane by replacing all my Perl knowledge with Python and pretended I was still in Japan by playing lots of imported Dreamcast games.


Life in Japan. I lived in Tokyo for most of 2002, and it hasn’t let go of me since.

Sakura Taisen essay. I always liked video games. But when I discovered Sakura Taisen it turned me into a whole new kind of geek.

Xenosaga Madness Project. A complete translation and gameplay guide to the PS2 game Xenosaga Episode I. You can also hop straight to the guide, which in retrospect is kind of an impressive document.

(out of context) is a lo-fi photo-journal that begins in Tokyo in 2002 and ends in Seattle in 2014. My own personal Instagram, a decade too early.

I played Ashtray Wilkinson, a bumbling dhampir and my first long-running RP character, in a freeform urban fantasy roleplaying campaign run by @CulturalGeek wherever we could find space to sit around Shinjuku.


Played in a punk rock band around Chicago. Built my first website. Joined a close-knit online artists’ community that still chats every day. Built websites and databases at a dot-com-bubble electronic trading company and other companies on the Chicago Board of Trade. Little from this era survives on the web today… thankfully.

Now you’re at the bottom of my web site.