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6 years ago

Reminiscence, Part 1

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Reminiscence
I've been making games in some form or another for a long time now, and I've only ever released a small fraction of them. I've only ever even talked about less than half of them, probably, though most of the other half were samey and amateurish.

MARDEK was the first RPG that I ever released, but it was the result of several years of playing around with making RPG engines in Flash.
One of the things that time period produced was Deliverance, but there were similar projects that preceded it, which I never have and never will release because they're short and highly embarrassing.

They were made when I was a lonely teenager, and it shows. They're awful to look at, harsh on the ears with my early attempts at composing, and the writing makes me cringe.

But even so, I look back on them sort of fondly and with curiosity, since it's interesting how far I've come since then.

While I'm not going to upload any of them (really, I'm not, regardless of whether people want me to or not), I do at least want to show off some aspects of them, just for the sake of interest, really. I'll probably write a few blog posts like this!

MARDEK was full of references and in-jokes that nobody but me could possibly get, because they related to these secret, abandoned early forays into game making. It's obvious that ideas made their way from Deliverance to MARDEK 3 in more refined forms, but you'll see here that some ideas from MARDEK go even further back.

This time, I'll focus on a game I was making back in 2005 or 2006, I think (so I must have been around 16 or 17). It uses a version of the engine that Deliverance would eventually use, but it wasn't the first to use it. It was very roughly-built, unrefined, crude. It didn't even have a title!

It had a plot, where you played as some male 'Commoner' avenging his parents' death for some reason, which I'll get to later, but it also had a testing feature which let you build a party of three characters, using any of the creatures or people that appeared in the game, or some that never would. Here's the 'character select' screen:

You may spot some familiar faces there.
Some of them are generic NPC sprites I later reused in Deliverance or MARDEK (often in improved forms). Others are actual characters who got roles in new projects. Some of them you may not recognise at all, but all of them have some emotional history for me, and this game isn't the first appearance of any of them.
I bet I could write about their origins all day, but that would be dull!

Interestingly, each and every one of them had a 'painted' portrait like the one on the right there, done in Photoshop (the one there is for the bald, middle-aged NPC, the first on the third row). I'm surprised by them, looking back, because they're not as bad as I would have expected, considering how old they are.
I've been using tutorials recently to learn better how to draw faces, to improve my drawing in general (since it really needs improving), and now I understand the way that the proportions work in the head, etc... I'm surprised to see that, despite never having done any tutorials back then, the proportions aren't completely off. The eyes are at about the right level, the ear is almost right, the mouth isn't too far off...
It's interesting to me as an artist anyway. Even though I'd not say that any of the portraits are 'good' in any way, they do surprise me... though it's a bit disheartening to realise that I've barely improved at all since then in terms of drawing, or may have even gone backwards!

Anyway, I chose a party. I think this is reasonable:

'Lone Wolf' is a character who precedes this game by quite a long way, and that's how he looked originally. I've probably talked about him elsewhere before. There wasn't much to him other than an appearance, though; he had no personality to speak of, and no backstory. He never spoke in anything I included him in. I just tended to use him as a placeholder character to represent a generic 'hardened adventurer' or something.
'Lone Wolf' appears in MARDEK 3 as a greatsword-wielding adventurer in green armour as a reference to this old 'character' of mine, but obviously it means nothing to most people!

The battles had an ugly GUI and a background that left a lot to be desired, but the battle models themselves are probably very similar to the ones in Deliverance:

Lone Wolf sure is a big boy there.

I was obsessed with vagrants and tramps for a while, and used them as an archetype in many of my games because it amused me. I seem to draw on a lot of the things I liked or did as a child when making games. (They appeared in CBC, and looked basically the same as that there!)
Yalortian Cultlings looked like cowled wizards with glowy eyes back then. I wonder if any ideas eventually transferred over to the annunaki?

The field graphics are probably similar (or identical?) to those of Deliverance, but they make me cringe in an amused kind of way compared to what I can do these days:

The reason I was searching through my old folders to find this game in the first place was because I remembered that it had Gruuls in it, though it wasn't their first appearance. Since I'm working on Miasmon, I was curious to see how much their appearance had changed over the years...

Aren't they sexy beasts here?

And this is what they are like in battle:

...accompanied by a Lingon and a wraith, which is reasonable, I think. This game may have been the first and only time I ever included Lingon battle models, which is interesting... unless I'm just forgetting about other times when I've included them.

You may also notice that the Snappers there are probably identical to the ones in Deliverance. I assume I reused the model.

I mentioned earlier that this game had a plot, which it did... You started off by playing as a wraith, exploring this place called the 'Aetherworld', and it was your job to go and collect the souls of recently dead people to guide them to the afterlife.
The two souls that you eventually found belonged to a middle-aged couple who were killed by bandits. The scene then switched to you, their Commoner son, finding them dead, and swearing revenge upon the bandits that he for some reason knew had killed them. It was all very badly-written.

When you left your house, your 'childhood friend', a girl called Emela, said she'd join you on your adventure and hinted she may have emotional reasons for wanting to stay with you rather than seeing you go off alone.

Oh, how often this theme recurred!
I was very lonely, you see, during my teenage years, and girls were mysterious aliens, out of reach completely; I didn't know a single one in any way. No girlfriend, no female friends, no female acquaintances, not even any sisters or young female relatives.
But I so desperately wanted to have some close female friend, so these games became a sort of wish fulfilment, where the main character DID have this close female friend - usually called Emela for no specific reason; it was just a name I came up with randomly one day - who subtly had feelings for him but mainly just supported him and, well, was his friend.
It's embarrassing to look back on, and it's one of the main reasons I'd not want to ever release these games.

Emela in MARDEK is a reference to these 'childhood friends' in name only; her role in the plot and personality are not connected. Originally I considered making her have the role that Deugan ended up taking in Chapter 1, but I thought it might be too embarrassing, since I planned to actually release the game.

Anyway, you and Emela went to go and confront the bandit chief, who had attacked your parents to steal some ancient artefact from them. I don't know what was meant to happen next since I never made beyond that point.

Doesn't this look familiar though?

Making my games is full of reminiscence and emotional connections... It's probably the main reason I'm able to put so much time and passion into it, and it's the main reason why I sort of 'need' to come up with my own plots, dialogue, ideas, etc, and why I'm never really receptive to ideas for such things from others...

I probably have more to say about this game, and certainly about others, but this post is rather long, so I might leave that for some other time. I'll certainly write more of these 'Reminiscence' posts if people are interested, though!

Hmm, I actually felt inspired by this game when I found it again the other day, mainly by the Party Select thing. I wondered what it would be like to make a game where you can built an eclectic party out of all manner of men and monsters, and explore some world in a rather plotless fashion...
I'm not going to drop everything to work on such a thing on a whim, but maybe it's something I could remember again if I ever wanted something relatively mindless to do.
6 years ago

What I have been up to lately...

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
I've been rather quiet and secretive about my game projects lately. This was mainly because of the site transition; I didn't want to post about things here because few people would see them, and I didn't want to post on the old site because it felt so clunky and like there was little point if my posts would be 'lost' soon anyway. I didn't want to post in both places due to the effort involved.

So now I'll try and explain what I've been doing for the last month or two. It'll probably be a long post!

Unfortunately, I've rather been flittering around between several things instead of making solid progress on just one...
It seems that I've spent much of the year thinking about or working on Miasmon, and it was getting rather wearying so I fancied a break.

I think I talked about what I did during that break on the old site somewhat. At first, I started making a text-based adventure game thing, tentatively called 'Marooned', which was inspired by an old game of mine that I dug up. It seemed easy and fun to make, and it would have allowed you to play in a manner of your choosing; you could beat monsters up, or you could befriend them instead, by dancing for them, flirting with them, or whatever you could think of. It had limb-based mechanics, so you could chop off enemies' limbs or lose yours.

I got quite far with it before sort of emotionally 'crashing' and wondering whether I should even be working on it... I mean, a lot of it was sexual - not as a focus, but because I found it amusing and because I wanted to ideally have responses for anything the player might sillily type - and it seemed more and more inappropriate for release... It might be disapproved of by sponsors (what with Americans going into a panic at the sight of a girl's nipple but not batting an eyelid about gorily blowing up heads with rocket launchers), or it might ruin my reputation in some way?
Mainly though I just got tired of working on it, after maybe two weeks or so.

Maybe I'll get back to it one day. Maybe not. I don't know. Here's screenshot to give you an idea of what it was like (that's a man, by the way, holding a damagedly red plank of wood, and wearing a bikini he made for himself out of seashells, coconuts and vines that he found lying around):

After that, I felt compelled to go back to Miasmon, but felt so sick of it that I wasn't making any progress at all. I thought it best to use my time on something else, instead, so I started making a platformer, since they're relatively quick to make and fun to work on.

That went well, actually. I came up with a game called 'Chameleon' (or maybe 'Chamaeleon', with the pretentious 'ae' thing), where you played as - surprisingly - a chameleon, which could pick up objects using its long tongue in a very Yoshi-like way, and could eat certain things to change its colour, giving it different abilities. You could only swim if you were blue, for example, or double jump if you were purple, etc, and gameplay involved switching your colour around by finding and eating things in order to progress past obstacles.

I've finished most of it, including the soundtrack, basically all of the engine, etc. The only reason I stopped working on it is because... well, M  Firequill and I were supposed to be working on it together, sort of, because we'd talked about the idea of combining our skills to produce games faster. She's a brilliant artist, and I struggle with the graphics in my games, so it only seems reasonable that she could help me like I helped her with the music in Vulpin Adventure.
I did much of the graphics in this Chameleon thing, but she was doing the tilesets. It seems though that, uh... emotional issues have come up between us, making her unwilling and/or unable to finish her contributions, so I'm putting it on hold now until we are in better moods or something... It'd probably have been released by now if we were emotionless robots, though.

Anyway, here are some screenshots of that, to show you what it looks like:

I might add a page for it to the Games section soon.

That game was interesting for technical reasons.
Usually when I make a new game, I start the engine from scratch, using similar concepts that I've used on previous games, but never actually directly copy any old code. This is because I usually learn and improve in a way that makes my old code seem sloppy and obsolete, especially now that I've switched from ActionScript 2 to 3.

However, I find myself writing the same bits of code again and again anyway, especially recently since it seems I'm now familiar enough with AS3 to not still be in a 'learning stage' where I use dodgy techniques and stuff.

So with this Chameleon game, I tried making a 'generic platformer engine' alongside it, which it used, with the intention of using that same engine for other future games, to significantly speed up their development.
I've planned this for a while; it was on that 'The Plan' thing at the bottom of the old Games page for at least a year. (Speaking of which, I should add that to this new site at some point...)

Once I decided to leave Chameleon alone for now, I felt very much in the mood to work on Miasmon again, and I still am in the mood.
But when I returned to it, I found that much of the structural stuff was poorly done, especially compared to this generic platformer engine I'd just made...

I wanted to make a generic RPG engine to reuse for multiple games, and was considering doing it after Miasmon was finished... But instead, I just decided to do it now, using Miasmon as the first game. This means that Miasmon has required 'recoding', but thankfully it's not been nearly as major as the recoding of MARDEK 3. It's only set me back a week or two rather than months, since I've been able to salvage a lot of the code; the battle stuff has been kept exactly as it was, for example; really the only difference is in how explorable areas are handled...

Here's surely the most orgasmic screenshot I could possibly have taken of the newest version of the game:

So anyway, I'm now working on Miasmon again, 'recoding' it and sort of trying to get back up to the point where I was before, while making many structural improvements in the process.

To keep me motivated, I'm working by a timetable; this is something I've tried before, but it seems to be working better this time than it usually does. Other lifestyle changes that I'm making are helping too.

So yes, Miasmon. I originally meant to divide the game into three parts, but I'll divide it into four instead, allowing me to release them quicker, especially the first one. It'll probably end up being as long as MARDEK 1; an introduction of sorts to the characters and setting.
Many of the monster species that I've revealed so far probably won't even be in the first part, as a result; they'll be in the second chapter instead.

I'm enjoying working on Miasmon at the moment, and hope to have it ready to play relatively soon. I can't give an idea of a release date, but I'm aiming for about a month away. That doesn't seem too unrealistic... though you should really multiply it by like six so as not to be disappointed. o_O

Excitingly, after Miasmon is done, I'm sort of interested in getting back to MARDEK 4... It too would use this new engine (each game that uses it would be customised to the point where it wouldn't really be apparent; they'd have different battle systems and menu graphics and stuff).
There are technical problems to deal with if I'm to continue the series, though, and I don't know yet how to get around them... I don't want to talk about it right now though; I'll write other blog posts specifically about it when the time is right.

So yes, that's what I've been up to! Now that everyone's here on the new site, I'll update this blog regularly with my progress and thoughts. I've already got some things in mind that I want to write about over the next few days.
6 years ago

Image Test

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Testing
I want to be able to add images in my blog posts, so I'm testing it here to get it working right...

Good, it works! Please be aware though that you won't be able to use images yourself; only I can. I dread to think of the abuse otherwise, either of shock images or inane memes.