Business Guys on Planes

I'm a little late with this post (And still annoyed that I never bothered posting about my previous Wizard Jam game, Dot Gobbler), but here's a game I made for Wizard Jam 4:

Download Business Guys on Planes on itch.io!

It's pretty unfinished at the moment; I missed the jam deadline because I was out of the country for the last five days of it, and I failed to upload a build before I left. What's there at the moment is largely the result of a week or so of cramming when I got back, and there's still a lot of stuff I didn't get in. I just figured I should get something up, so I got the essentials in there and pushed it out.

I'll be working on adding more to it over the next couple of weeks, in time for Idle Thumbs streaming all of this Wizard Jam's games towards the end of January, so hopefully I'll post again about what I added, and about the general process of making the game.

Childhood Game Design - Part 4

Foreword: I've been sitting on this post for a while, largely because the sheer number of games I had to describe was daunting. I started it back in November, and only finished it now, 6 months later. I think the fact that all of the games are made from either ASCII characters or ZX81 characters was also a factor, as they're all generally a bit less appealing, visually. However, I've finished it now, and as such I'm done with all of the drawings that I've been able to find. I know for a fact that there are a few that I'm missing; if I ever find them at any point, I'll scan them and post them here.

When I was around 10 or 11, a friend of mine had a VTech Precomputer 1000. I don't think I ever used it at the time, but I knew that it had a simple ASCII display, and a BASIC programming language interpreter built-in, so I jumped to the logical conclusion that you could program games for it. I went on to imagine a large number of games where the graphics were made entirely from ASCII characters. I think I was peripherally aware that the Precomputer 1000 only had a single line display, so none of my games were viable, but I didn't let that dissuade me too much. Most of these drawings will be from 1990-1992.

Some years later, I acquired a Sinclair ZX81 emulator for the Atari ST, and was kind of taken with the fact that the machine had no capacity for sprites, meaning that everything in its games was rendered either using ASCII characters or a number of special characters, which took the form of black and grey squares mostly. This reignited my strange penchant for drawing games within extreme graphical limitations, so at some point my ASCII games changed to include the ZX81 character set also. At some point I stopped drawing games in any other format, for reasons that aren't exactly clear to me, but as a result all of the latest games I drew are ASCII or ZX81 games. These probably ran from around 1993 to 1995.

Nineties Cockpit Freakout is at EGX Rezzed!

It never occurred to me to write a blog post about this fact until I was standing in front of a machine with my game on it and a poster above it:

It's been an interesting month! I originally made Nineties Cockpit Freakout for a game jam last year, mostly as a way of teaching myself 3D modelling, and to make games in UE4. I had no idea what I was doing, and it shows! I had ideas about the kind of controls I wanted in the cockpit, but for a lot of them I had no idea how I was going to make them, and I ran out of time before the jam deadline. Earlier this year, however, David Hayward put out a call for submissions to the Leftfield Collection that he was curating for Rezzed, so I figured I may as well submit it, on the proviso that I would actually go back and finish the game off, using skills that I'd accrued from a year of working in UE4 as half of TriCat Games.

The game was accepted, so that's what I did! I'm really proud of what I've managed to achieve in that time, and in terms of how the game looks and plays, it's way closer to my original vision than the version I submitted to Wizard Jam was. You can download the Rezzed build (Along with the old jam build, if you want to see how far it's come along) from my itch.io page:

https://giraffecat.itch.io/nineties-cockpit-freakout

So it's been really interesting watching so many people play the stupid thing, considering that I'd seen at most three people play it before that. When Rezzed finishes I want to write a post about what I've learned from it, and what I'd like to do about that. There was a load of stuff that I didn't get done in time for the show (A running theme with me), so I'm hoping to finish it off and upload a final (final) build! Look forward to that.

Childhood Game Design - Part 3

As well as finding a large collection of games that I'd drawn, I also found a number of drawings of games by a few other people. The majority of them were made by my sister, and it's interesting to see how her perspective differs from mine, as someone who had less exposure to the kind of games I played. Certainly none of them involve shooting or spaceships. There's another page of drawings that I think is mostly by me, but which also features a drawing by Maria, the daughter of a friend of the family who was several years younger than me. I don't think the drawing was meant to represent a game, but I feel like I added to it in order to make it look like one. My memory is really fuzzy on this, though.

Finally, there are three drawings by a boy I went to school with by the name of Andrew. I'm not sure of the circumstances which lead to him drawing them and giving them to me, but I know he hadn't really played any video games. Perhaps I approached him and asked if he played games, or maybe he'd heard me talking to someone else. At any rate, his drawings show a much better grasp of perspective than mine, and I was always impressed by them.

Click on the images to enlarge them, as usual!

Childhood Game Design - Part 2

As well as drawing made-up games as a child, I also drew a lot of toys and action figures that I'd invented. Usually they were new ideas for existing ranges of toys, like Transformers or M.A.S.K., but occasionally I'd make up my own line of figures. These included Catomeets (humanoid cats that each came with a building or a piece of scenery so you could build a whole town), Seaons (humanoid sea creatures with weapons) and Mosstors (seemingly just moss-textured action figures). I have a vivid recollection of telling my dad that I wanted to be an inventor of toys when I grew up, and him saying something along the lines of, "I don't think that's a real job. You should be a scientist instead." My response to this was, "Okay, I'll be a scientist."

Anyway, in addition to the toy lines, I also invented a new computer for Atari, called the Atari 770XAX, which is where I'm going to pick up in this post. All of these drawings are still pretty early, and there's probably some crossover between this and the previous post, because the chronology isn't completely clear in my head, but I think in general they were drawn slightly later. Say, 1989-1990. As before, click on the images to enlarge them!

Childhood Game Design - Part 1

I was obsessed with video games from a very early age. From the time I first played Spiderman on an Atari 2600, or spent several days coaxing a handful of Dragon 32 cassettes to load on the machine that my dad had borrowed from a workmate (I can't quite remember which came first), what fascinated me about the medium was its potential to deliver wildly varied experiences. I would pore over magazines and game catalogues, looking at screenshots and cover art and wondering what those games would be like. I also also used to draw a lot, in school notebooks and on whatever pieces of paper I could get my hands on, so naturally I ended up drawing games that I'd made up. On a recent trip home, I dug around in my mum's attic for as many of these drawings as I could find, with the intention of posting them and describing them to the best of my memory.

I found a large number of drawings, so I'm going to have to spread them across multiple posts. In this one I'm going to focus on what I assume are some of the earliest drawings, dating back to about 1988, when I would have been 7-8. Click on the drawings to view them at full size!