Friday 23 September 2016


I've occasionally dabbled in game development, having a handful of projects, some completed and some not so completed. I really enjoy the process of making, coding, artwork and music.

Although this is not a development blog, I'd like to include a few details of a game and talk through my choices. The game is a modern take on 90's computer platformers, with inspiration from shareware titles and characters of the era. Computer platform games often lacked the sheen of their console counterparts, but they had an endearing clunkiness and idiosyncratic charm of their own. This has generally been overlooked, with modern indie games typically paying homage to more popular NES, SNES and Sega titles.

Although this will probably a widely unpopular decision, I've tried to capture the stiffness and primitiveness of the system in my game. Being bluntly honest, the 'retro' style for indie games has been done to death. I couldn't see myself making this game with any other way, as the graphic style and control style were essential to the core themes of the game.

Without going into too much detail (for now) the game was inspired by Duke Nukem Forever and the movie 'The Wrestler'.

I enjoyed Duke Nukem Forever (played it to the end) but it wasn't the Duke game that I wanted.

I wanted to explore the idea of a 1990 video game mascot, trying to make it in a 2016 game. The main character is old and withered beyond his days. No longer the macho man world-saver, years of hard living, steroids and substances have taken their toll. There hasn't been an alien invasion in 15 years and he is trying to find his place in a society where his heroics are largely forgotten. There are parallels here to The Wrestler but also generally film, sport and music personalities. It's a little bit about celebrity culture with a knowing wink.

I'd like to share some graphics from the game: two things I worked on yesterday. One is the scores: when you collect an item you get either 100, 500 and 1000 points.

The scores get incrementally taller. The other is a gun pickup, which gives you 10 ammo. 

I settled on the blue gun, rather than have it realistic and grey. Also, there is a lot of grey in the background tiles and I'd like the item to stand out as such. The blue is a colour associated with the main character too. I wanted to have shooting (aliens) in the game to be something of a secondary task, with actual platforming and puzzle solving the main thing. There will be some ammo throughout but not much, and as the main character is now old, his aim will be somewhat wonky. Designing a gun for a game also reminded me of the recent issues with the gun emoji (pistol, raygun, water pistol, etc, depending on your OS) with some being interpreted differently and the backlash from gun people.

Here is my colour palette, taken straight from Deluxe Paint (my tool of choice as a youth). I mentioned briefly before about my hate for pixel games. Most of this comes from pixel art that is not true to source. Scaling pixels, too many frames of animation, colours, shaders, screen size, etc. I wanted to get this right, even down to the basic 32 colours. Also, it's great to be limited some times, it can be both a motivator and inspiration.