Possible new computer game...
Overview: During the early 1980s – pre-internet! – I wrote a game for the Commodore 64 computer and it was distributed freely via a local bulletin board. Next, I bought an Amiga computer and wrote a platform-style game named Baron Baldric. That was distributed commercially, but only locally for PC (very early Windows) and Amiga, and it did ok on a modest scale. The main character, Baron Baldric, seemed worth promoting, so I started writing a sequel, named Mystic Towers. In those days – late 1980s – the 386 PC was the bee‘s-knees, Windows was just starting to appeal to the mass market, and simple computer games were starting to appear for it.
It was an isometric game – basically just like a platformer, except that the characters move in diagonal directions instead of horizontally across the screen – and that was a new idea in those days. The game itself was simple. Walk around a medieval castle tower shooting weird-looking enemies until you cleared them all out... and I thought that was the end of it. I had written a commercially-published computer game distributed internationally. End of project.
HOWEVER... Decades later, cell-phones have evolved to a level that would have seemed unbelievable in the 1980s. Small, hand-held devices with touch-screens like phones and tablets are now common so, in 2015, I started thinking of revisiting computer games, now a giant industry employing large teams of specialists for the many different skills required for writing games. I looked at the tiny artwork I had produced for Mystic Towers and enlarged it. I considered making another sequel game, again using the Baron Baldric character. When I discovered how games were marketed today, though, I quickly lost interest.
Then, in 2021, stuck at home nearly all the time with the Covid-19 Pandemic, I thought about reviving that game idea, but for a FREE downloadable game. Stay away from all that distasteful marketing stuff. It would be mostly for small Android devices like phones and tablets, but maybe also for similar iOS devices if I could find a suitable authoring platform that would allow that. The deciding factor was the screen resolution of my own small Android cell-phone. Not being a phone-dependent person, and never using my phone for any games, I did not realize that my early smart-phone had, by current standards, an incredibly low-resolution screen – only 800 x 640 pixels! That ignorance would prove to be an expensive mistake.
Apart from that early blunder, assuming my own phone would be typical, and spending months making art for game animation that was far too small for modern phone screens, I am now rescaling it all AGAIN – for screens too big for my phone or tablet. I will have to BUY a new tablet for testing purposes when the project reaches that stage! This page is a log of various steps along the way to writing a simple, retro-style game for small hand-held devices with touch-screens. The first step was to decide on a theme, and that is a castle tower like Mystic Towers, this one filled with magically-induced CLICHÉS. All the cliché enemies are silly, ridiculous misinterpretations of the cliché involved. I need five different cliché characters, but this might change as the game grows, or as new ideas occur to me – or are suggested by YOU!.
February ’22: Although I am now well advanced in rescaling all the animation art for this game, all the art is hand-drawn because I am an old-school animator, not experienced with using CGI software and rendering 3D-modelled characters... plus this game will be isometric – that’s a 2D variant, so CGI is not really necessary. BUT, the whole purpose of making this game is to provide me with new challenges and to amuse me... and I WOULD like to dip my toes in the CGI sea. Learn about using CGI for characters and props, even though this particular game doesn’t really need that. Most CGI software is VERY expensive, usually with monthly license fees, so I have never bothered learning about it since my retirement... but I have discovered a Public Domain CGI platform that I can download and use freely. Perhaps not for top-drawer, professional results, but good enough for me to learn the essential differences between creating animation the hand-drawn way and the CGI-rendered way. So this game project is about to take a back seat (yes, again!) while I learn about CGI technology. I expect to take several months to achieve results equal in quality to hand-drawn animation art, but it’s something that any ex-animator would want to do.
January 2022 (—Click the tiny picture, right, for a larger pop-up image at actual game size; [X] to shut image down) First cab off the rank (good cliché there) for rescaling up to a size suitable for a game screen 1600-px wide, was Baron Baldric himself. He has lost his shoulder-bag but retained his diagonal baldric-strap. Items that he collects go to his personal Cloud, where they might be harvested (stolen) by marketeers. The Cloud will be a touch-screen ‘button’ so the player can access or select items.
The first cliché enemy to be developed was the Closet-Skeleton character, for which I first had to design closets and wall alcoves where such a cliché might hide, either at floor-level or at shelf-level, and which all have doors that need keys. Drawing a skeleton at the small size needed for a game was too hard, so I went with a simplified idea similar to a pirate’s skull-and-crossbones flag (another cliché). It ‘jogs’, so is faster than Baldric in a straight line, but it can turn more slowly or other delays can be added to make it easier to target, but those delays will get progressively shorter on higher tower levels. It fires Past-Sins waves and the player must choose a weapon spell that will HIT it instead of firing through the gap between skull and legs. This is silly enough to amuse me...
The next cliché is the 24/7, and this jumping stork-like creature sees only marketing issues, so is one-eyed. After death every cliché will be ‘reborn’ about 4 times, so it will pop out of any adjacent wall in the same way that all characters (including Baldric) traverse doorways or other barriers, so it will appear quickly. It flaps its wings to fire Ad-Nauseum bolts at medium height, and pecks the floor to fire Ground-Swell bolts at floor height. An absurd way for it to disappear when killed was fun to design.
Cliché #3 is the Fall-Foul, and it will fire Foul-Play beams. Obviously, it is a Fall (Autumn) Fowl, because that makes it silly, and because Alister agreed that the pun on the name was too good to resist. Being a small character, it takes small steps, so runs at twice the speed Baldric walks to move at the same speed. I will probably invent a Bottom-Line cliché weapon spell for Baldric to fire, shooting just above the floor (maybe call it a Thanksgiving Spell?). Maybe the turkey could peck at buttons to open doors or trigger other events, so more wall-buttons to design...
Cliché #4 is a Cry-Wolf character firing Fake-Believe shots by punching the air, also punching Baldric at close range. I like the idea of a punchy wolf stomping around on its hind legs. It could also punch at blank walls to magically cause a ‘door’ to appear so it can exit that room to an unknown location, with the doorway fading behind it, inaccessible to the player. Rooms could have one or two wall locations where that could happen, and that is also how it would enter a room (wolf-at-the-door cliché). This now leaves only one more cliché to invent to meet my minimum requirements.
Cliché #5 is a pig! The Whole-Hog blows Pork-Barrel or Fat-Chance waves. It will probably just use standard doorways as it ‘patrols’ a range of rooms, so it always enters from a different room.
After all clichés have been completely subdued there will be some sort of game puzzle to solve using items produced by the destroyed clichés, but the player will have to FIND those items first.