Friday, November 23, 2012

A faint recollection of my history

I've decided to tell the story of my history in the world of making games...

It all began that fateful day when I saw my brother on his computer... I saw him editing a level on the platform tutorial for Game Maker. He was actually able to make changes to the game... which was fascinatingly new to me at the time. How old was I? I don't know... I'm thinking some time between age 8 and age 11 maybe? I've been using Game Maker for at least 4 years now, anyway. The first year or so I wasn't that into it. Then I started learning and getting very in-depth.

The Platform Game Maker Tutorial

My first games... oh how I wish I still had them. One of them was my sisters face going around eating carrots... one of them was this weird dude who would search for the exits to the levels whilst dodging birds that pooped and dinosaurs that... stood still? I tried to duplicate Chip's Challenge in different ways several times. I've definitely come a long way since then. I remember my first "big" project.

"The Last Jengoran" was my first "big" project. It was pretty decent. It had a good movement engine, some okay weapons, some nicely designed levels. The graphics were rather meshed however... some were slightly out of place. It was still pretty fun, though. The final boss is surprisingly good for how much of a novice I was back then.

Not long after I made "The Last Jengoran" I decided to make another "big" project. "Super-Cyborg"... I remember I became inspired to make it after I saw some screenshots of Exterminator by Chad Chisholm(this was long before Exterminator was released). In my mind it was Halo, Iji, and Exterminator put into a blender. I remember I took a 3 month break from the game, but eventually finished it anyway. It was a platform shooter about a cyborg... the cyborg was supposed to fight against the "globs"(green blobs xD) that were coming out of the earth. Additionally there were "Mocodins", the equivalent of the Covenant on halo... except in my game they ended up being the good guys. The Mocodins were accused of letting the globs loose from the inside of the earth... eventually, after you battle your way through the game, killing globs and mocodins, you find out you're actually a human that was a victim of brain control treatments. It turns out the government is planning to control the minds of all humans on the earth. Naturally you want to stop it... so you kill some scientists and guards and stuff. And you blow up this mind control facility, which destroys your robot suit. In the end you join up with the Mocodins, the Mocodins use their ship to destroy a desert which contains all of the mind control grains that were going to be used. The End! Boring, cliche, and dumb. There were some pretty sweet boss fights in the game, though. Also a crowbar weapon that was hidden. And a boss who attacks you with his crowbar... and a ninja Mocodin! It was pretty epic stuff even though it was very poorly made.

Eventually I realized how crappy "Super-Cyborg" was. But by then, some genius decided to put it in the GMC Cage Match(An event that used to happen every week or so on the GMC where people vote between 2 GM games for which one is the best). Super-Cyborg was put up against Adrenaline(epic multiplayer top down shooter). Obviously, Adrenaline won by a landslide. I got several "pity votes" as makerofthegames called them, though.

Sometime after all this, I got on the Zerosoft forums. Zerosoft was started by this cool guy named Jess Horton. I met a couple of really cool guys on Zerosoft, including Jess. ThatSnail, Flankattack, Fuzion Creative, Bugaham Games, Desert Dweller, TD Games, Andrew Brophy, Chainsawkitten... there were definitely some others, but those are the main ones I remember.

Jess, shortly after I joined, hosted a retro game competition on Zerosoft. Each sprite in the game could only have 4 colors(the transparent color didn't count). I had fun making a game called Unicycle. It wasn't epic or anything. But it was still a pretty nice adventure. After I took it down from YYG(I felt it was too terrible) I got a random PM from someone who wanted me to upload it again so they could let their 2 young cousins play it(how random is that?).

Unicycle didn't place in the top 3. It did place in the top 5, though... and Jess was feeling generous, so I ended up getting $20 (along with the others in the top 5) in prize money. I gave the money to Flankattack since I was too young to have a paypal account and since he had beta tested the game for me and given some really helpful advice for it before I released it.

Jess had to close down Zerosoft due to being busy or something... which is how GameCog got started. GameCog eventually died too, anyway... but the basic site is still there.

I made some more games after all this... Apple Tree, a game where you shot apples off a tree at people passing by. You had to be careful to make sure to get the guy with the chainsaw. Apple Tree was actually featured on Yoyogames, for at least 3 hours, before I informed NessXX(ex-Yoyogames moderator) that my game was too crappy for such a high honor.

Later I made a game called Jumper Men which was very decent. It was a platform arcade game in which you could double jump. There was a 2 player mode... lots of nice features. Tons of enemies. A mostly consistent graphical style. These days when I play it, I'm somewhat disgusted, but people still like the game. Andrew Brophy featured it on his "Wow You Lose" game reviewing website(which is now dead)... and some dude from YYG uploaded a video of himself beating all the bosses in the boss mode. If you crouch for long enough, green vapors will begin coming out of  the place where the player's behind would be if he had one. Enemies can actually be killed by it, but you don't get any points that way.

After all this I felt competent enough to make a Chip's Challenge clone. I had much difficulty with the force floors and ice and pushable blocks... but I actually managed to do it... which is incredible... The game will remain forever unfinished with 25 levels.

After I abanonded TTT(Tim's Titanic Test), I started working on another project which was destined to be abandoned. Super Jumper Man was a spinoff of Jumper Men where you could also double jump. Lots of enemies would come, gradually it would get more difficult with more and more enemies. Originally I was thinking the game would be playable on a PSP or something since Yoyogames was headed in that direction with their 5th and 6th competitions. I got a nice combo system where you keep getting more points as long as you don't touch the ground.


Sometime around there the GMC Jam got started up by Shelby (back then he was called Theophilus, though). The first jam theme was "Pancakes" (due to popular vote). I chose to wait out the first jam. The theme was very unappealing to me, needless to say.

On the 2nd GMC Jam, I'm pretty sure I made a game called Ocean Insane... which got 5th place... not too shabby. It was a platform view game about a guy with limited oxygen time in the depths of the ocean. Each underwater level was procedurally generated... which was pretty sweet... lots of fish and stuff. A big fish was the final boss. Since the theme was "insanity" I naturally had to have some sort of tie in. So in the end It's said that the dude managed to get out of the ocean in time, onto an island... where he went insane from boredom or something.

On the 3rd GMC Jam, with the theme "live" I think what I made was "The Statues Live" and also a second entry "Rocket Leaper". The Statues Live, which was a platform view puzzle game where you could swap between controlling 2 characters, got 2nd place. Rocket Leaper, a platform view game where you could freeze rockets and then use them as platforms to get higher to escape from rising electricity... wasn't so fortunate... but was destined to later glory.

Later on I began remaking Rocket Leaper from scratch. I got some testers who helped incredibly. ThatSnail, Robert3DG, Andy, DarkMatter, Twee (also known as Fyaopo). The release of Rocket Leaper would have been like 4 months sooner if the composer Dean Harris didn't take so long to make the music xD. It was worth it, though. The track is freakin incredible. I consider the game to be one of my greatest creations, now. Which, I guess, doesn't mean too much.

On GameJolt things were pretty active... I uploaded a WIP there... A platform Ninja game-thing that was massively inspired by Assassin Blue. It was freakin epic. 3 Sword combo and I have no FREAKIN CLUE how I made the slash animation looks so nice(way better than everything else looks)... so sad it ended up being abandoned... I'm such a lazy slob.

Zack Banack started a thing called Jolt Kombat on GameJolt shortly after all this. I got in on it up against this dude named Electron... we were supposed to bash eachother in our games which we would make over a month-long period. Believe me, I bashed him. I bashed him hard... maybe not quite as hard as I should have, though. My game was called "Fruity Adventure"(I was informed later that Fruity means "gay"). Since Electron was a smelly loser he didn't finish his game on time (he didn't finish it later, either) and I won "by default".

Later on GameJolt one of their most beloved moderators was leaving, a guy named KniteBlargh. They hosted a competition in his honor where you were supposed to make a game somehow related to him. I won "by default" with Sun Restoration. A (you guessed it!) platform view game where you control a knight on a horse who will collect all the scattered pieces of the sun to restore light to the earth.

I soon began delving into making RPG text (text that shows up adding one letter at a time), on one day I thought I had made the perfect text engine(which I hadn't, really). So I made Saga Of The Ugly to celebrate. Everything was made on the spot, so I didn't really know what I had made until it was finished. It ended up being a platform view game about an "ugly" who encounters mean people in the world... there are 5 different endings for the game.

It wasn't that long until I noticed a competition on 64Digits called "Scary 4 Digits". I got the idea of making a sequel to Saga Of The Ugly with more of an emphasis on darkness and horror. It ended up that I collaborated with Bret Hudson on the game... I couldn't have done it without him. The game turned out very nicely. Even though it didn't place in the competition, it still got a lot of attention and I consider it as being one of my best creations thus far.

On some of the later GMC Jams (which have happened quite recently), I made "Water, water, water"(which I think got 5th place), "Sleepshooter"(which got 3rd place), and "Morph Worlds"(which got 2nd place).

Water, water, water was a "video interactive entertainment" game as raocow described it in his LP.
Sleepshooter was a platform puzzle game with some nice smooth visuals and epic music by Twee (aka Fyaopo). Morph Worlds was an Isometric puzzle game.

Undoubtedly I've left some of my minor little games and stuff out... I've definitely mixed up the order of some of this stuff... But this post will serve the basic purpose to tell a lot of my history.

TL;DR. I used game maker to make some crappy games and now I'm making some not-quite crappy games.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Birthday ThatSnail!

Today, we celebrate the birth of a legendary independent game designer. This mollusk has given his all in the line of duty for the cause of the indie game movement. Whether by giving expert programming advice or simply giving support and words of encouragement, this shelled creature has earned his high rank in our world.

Happy Birthday, ThatSnail!

May you have many more, my friend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Sound Of Murder project announced

I've been working on a new project for a couple of days that is currently entitled "The Sound Of Murder"(which may be subject to change later).

It's a stealth game involving an insane guy who kills smokers.
I post screenshots occasionally on Twitter, so you can follow me there to get first looks at how the game shapes up.