17th Jul 2009
While digging through a huge stack of old Atari ST disks I found one which contained a bunch of my first ever ST games and demos. Created with STOS these are extremely primitive pieces (even by the standards of the late 1980s!) but I found it amusing watching and playing them all the same.
My very first real game was called Octopod. It involved shooting octopus, which for no sane reason would drop a gold coin after they exploded in red meaty chunks. Shoot the coin and you got points. Don’t shoot the octopus fast enough and you lost a life. Playing the game back tonight I found it insanely hard! Either my reflexes are vastly reduced now, or it doesn’t run quite the same under emulation 😉
Eitherway I present you a video of Octopod (sans music, as Camtasia was being a dick re: recording inputs)
At the start you will see it’s inside the STOS editor. At the time this was a quite nice place to work, and reasonably well featured. You could have memory resident programs loaded into membanks, so you could switch between say the compiler or sprite editor at the press of a few keys. The block across the top is where you’d assign a sequence of key commands to function keys. The nasty salmon colour scheme is my fault, the default was white text on black. Remember back then most of us coded using TV sets, so this could be quite painful after extended periods of time!
I do a “list” at the start so you can view the source code and have a giggle. Oh and yes, you had to use line numbers! Only with AMOS on the Amiga did they drop that restriction. You can find out loads more about STOS at the STOS Time Tunnel web site.
I’m now considering re-coding it in Flash as part of the GYM Board 30 minute challenge
17th Jul 2009
This is a sweet piece of work indeed! Using the power of the gnuboy Gameboy Emulator combined with Alchemy, fishf has created a fully playable Gameboy Color emulator in Flash.
While my initial tests don’t show it to be as fast as the real thing (or the gnuboy emulator it is derived from) it’s still a mighty fine piece of work indeed!
So here is Contra: Alien Wars (Gameboy classic version) fully playable in your browser:
Download fgnuboy from here.
25th May 2009
I was digging through some boxes in our attic when I came across an old folder. It contained computer magazines and comics I had made back in the mid 1980s, aged around 10 years old. I used to sit there and literally draw my own magazines. I’d draw the covers, the layout, even screen shots for the games I was reviewing. One such magazine I called Arcade & Software. Very much inspired by Computer + Video Games (C+VG) of the mid 80s:
Here is the cover of issue 1. I only ever made 2 issues. The two games I’ve drawn on the cover are Knight Tyme (on the left) and Alien 8 on the right. Not that the robot looks a thing like the robot in Alien 8 mind you.
While flicking through Arcade & Software what caught my eye however was the inclusion of the Turbo Stripe Sofware Catalogue. This catalogue contained a list of games that as a 10 year old I really wanted to be making myself, complete with box cover artwork, short descriptions and even prices and ordering instructions.
These games never existed, I didn’t actually code them back then. I simply wasn’t capable of doing so at that age. It would be a couple more years before I started programming for myself. Reading through this fictitious catalogue there was something captivating about knowing that several decades ago this is what I really wanted to be doing. And these were the sorts of games a 10 year old me wanted to making.
So you know what? It’s time to fulfil a small part of that childhood dream and actually make one of those games. But which one? To decide let’s push embarrassment aside for a moment and dive right in …
… I present to you, in all its time-warped yellow-sellotaped glory the Turbo Stripe Software Catalogue (1987). Please excuse the horrendous spelling. And I claim no responsibility for copyright infringement re: the game ideas shown.
So here’s the front cover. The first thing to explain is that as a child I owned a Toshiba MSX 8-bit computer. In hindsight this was an incredible machine. It had a built-in cartridge port for which you could get some amazing games from the likes of Capcom and Konami. Games such as Nemesis (Gradius), Road Fighter, Sky Jaguar and Castlevania. It also had a tape recorder for the cheap tape-based games from Mastertronic, Ocean, Gremlin and other software houses of the day.
It was a great computer, even if virtually no-one else owned one (which made acquiring games in the school playgroup extremely difficult).
Obviously the kid playing on the MSX on this front cover is doing so with some kind of advanced invisible Wiimote. Turning the page …
And here we have the first two games. I’ll give you no clues as to what Hoppin Harry was going to be a clone of. As you can see collecting the “lady frog” would net you “bounes points” [sic]. I think the 00010 number is the ordering code. Obviously leaving room for another 99,000 or so titles of similar quality.
Turbo Driver was my version of the bastard child of Spy Hunter and Super Sprint. Needless to say this would have incredible graphics too (at least I managed to spell that correctly this time). I’m not entirely sure how this game would play or look, I think it’s just filling space to be honest
Ahh the classic Lock In Man. No, it has nothing to do with after-hours at a pub/bar. Instead you are trapped in a maze with “pellets” to eat and ghosts to avoid. I’m not sure why I didn’t just call it Pacman and be done with it. The one thing I remember most about my plans for this game, and which is alluded to in the description, is that it would ship with a level editor. I always got bored of the single level layout of Pacman and figured it’d be fun to create your own. I still think there is a shred of inspiration in that idea. Perhaps the maze could literally change around you as you play? So it becomes not so much about reflex based survival as it does puzzle solving.
The final game in the catalogue is Chalic. That’s my 10 year olds spelling of chalice (i.e. a cup/goblet). This was going to be a hybrid Gauntlet / Rogue game with more fantasy RPG overtones. As you can read in the description you’d be trapped in an ever-changing maze, and are trying to rescue a chalice before the Wizards monster does. I’ve no idea on earth why a chalice would need “rescuing”. I mean it’s just a bloody cup. But obviously it was in danger. Maybe if the Wizard drank from it, the world would be forever enslaved and “Prince Hugh” would wither and die? Who knows. I wrote the damned thing and even my mind is still reeling.
It’s worth noting that “Chalic” was only going to have “good” graphics rather than “excellent”. I find it interesting that I wrote it would have a “good title page”. Obviously game title pages were very important to me at the time. And the more I reflect on that I realise that actually they still are important to me today. I will often spend a disproportionate amount of time on the title pages for my games.
Coming soon was SOS North Sea and Ship-T11. SOS North Sea was a blatant rip of Chop Lifter. Ship-T11 was just going to be a shmup, the T11 part being the name of my calculate I had at the time. I’m not including these two games as being eligible for creation.
Which of these four gems do I feel is worth of being converted to Flash? It’s a tough choice.. personally I’m favouring “Chalic”, but I’ll open this up to the couple of you insane enough to have read this far. Which would you like to play?
14th Apr 2009
The interwebs are exploding with this already (as can be seen by the massive slow-down of the Scarygirl web site!) but the awesome Scarygirl game is now available to play
This is a truly gorgeous and incredibly well designed Flash platformer. There are hours of gameplay, even more if you stop once in a while to gasp at the beauty of it.
I urge you to check it out: http://www.scarygirl.com
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