Sunday, October 25, 2009

Its Econapo, Not 3d

The 'Econapo' Project

Originally consider for a competition and then I realized I don't have that kind of time. Now its a slow cook but progressing project. Shield Breaker is on hold due to creative block.

Code named Econapo, for lack of a good title, is a simple Game Maker project that simulates effects I've played with in Freebasic. The freebasic experiment was a simulation of voxels(3d pixels) but used flat planes and a fixed perspective. Econapo simulates a voxel like effect through panning of 20 individual tile layers at various speeds, creating an illusion of 3d depth. Another feature is that the world map exist as a perceived 3d space, as you can go the four main directions (north, south, east and west) at the ends of a map or at alleys and crosswalks.

Each city block usually consists of 4 directional views, maps are labeled as such: 'o_south00x00', with o standing for outside, and the coordinates loosely based on a drawn out map. Effects like fog, rain and snow benefit from the multi-layer approach to create nice effects.

Basic Concept and Plans

Simulating a 3d world in a low-res form, the actual rendering view is 160x120, projected to 400x300, with full screen and stretching working just fine. I used views to keep the pixelation from being dithered, as expanding the view in GM's option tends to add a blur over the pixelation. The blocky look is key to making the panning look nice and keep a general classic look to it.

Levels are based of a sample map and some concept drawings of buildings, positions are placed with objects in the map(deleted after processing) and then tiles painted to the layers with offset depending on the start position of the view.

The current concept of the story involves the player arriving to a city left near deserted by economic collapse. Some drifters, squatters and residents lurk with the city while wild creatures have begun to take over the vacant streets. Your vehicle is out of gas, and of course the station is closed and possibly bone dry.

There will be simple combat in the form of melee weaponry against the wild animals, fighting is not always the best option as there will be no firearms at hand, and you must find your first weapon. Running and darting down street or entering buildings may be your only escape. However not all animals encountered will be hostile, some will just watch you, but others may chase you if you're running by. You can use food items to distract or gain the trust of some animals.

Items will have multiple uses, some can be combined with others, some act as containers for fluids. You will need to consume food and water from time to time to surive and heal. You can also get sick, so you may need to find some kinds of medicine.

Humans you meet in the city will have impression values that change depending on your interaction with them, some may dislike you from the start or simply not trust you.

Navigation is pretty straight forward, you can walk/run/crouch/crawl. No plans on jumping really. No gravity or friction is being used, nor are there any blocker objects.

Possible Future Development

I would eventually like to break from GM to produce the project on a different code base. Currently leaning towards Java and possible Android developement, which may be feasable due to low color usage of the images(tile map total under 200 unique colors) and thus small png files, additionally tools be Kevin Silverman to further optimize and shrink said files. The major challenge would be to project the image pixelated like the gm version, and have Android handle 20 layers of 674x180 sized maps. Grant it not all space will be used. So resource size shouldn't be an issue, but graphical techniques will be a little tricky.

Additionally, using one of those dandy GM port to web, not the Yoyogames one, I do plan to imbed a playable version of the final.

Screenshots and Video Captures

Early development stage

Interior design testing w/ unlimited FPS rate.

The rain man stress test
Object on screen stress test on a Acer with Intel Atom, stopped once FPS hit 30 from an unlimited setting.

Snow effects
Snow testing, still kind of bogs down things.

Samples of raining.

Run around the block.

Snow test in action, even though its has a live recorder sucking up cpu, the FPS loss is due to over population of tile sprites from the snow...needs some kind of trick to speed it up.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Computer art, a style in its own.

Long time ago, art was always a tangible entity, made of materials, touchable, created through tireless effort and passion. Then computers came around. No big change to art really occurred in the beginning, but we were introduced to the concept of the pixel. A single block of on a projected screen with(at the time) limited color capability.

The kids of the 70-80s era played with these new video games with focus on the game play and not always so much on the art. But in reality, even if resolutions were low and color capability was little to none, a sort of style was created from limitation.

Consider ASCII art, composed of predefined characters, with a large enough space you could create a vista, portrait or any type of image. Sure there were limits, but consider the best of art is self limiting.

Of course breaking limits became a focus of the computers evolution. Even though they were originally designed for writing and data storage, computer games began to steer the evolution of systems. Memory, audio, visual and input became a factor. The consumer was always amazed at each new generation of game that worked upon the evolution of computers.

Yet for a long time pixel art was the norm. Some works were done in vector, defining points to create lines and ultimately images. Asteroids being the most memorable, and later on flight simulations and their likes.

Consoles highly depended on pixel artwork to evolve, Nintendo and Sega both assisted their developers with newer systems with more colors and memory, allowing more elaborate works do be done. In the early 90s, pixel art had become far more mature than its Atari days. Even the first generations of first person shooters relied on pixel art as they rendered their environments.

Polygons were around for awhile, but largely unused. Their abilities in the early days did no catch up to pixel art's quality until much more recently. We began to see the return of inferior or ugly looking games do to limitations in polygons. It was really a slow climb back to quality after that. While 3d was...3d, it still did not have the developed style that pixel art had. Characters were now blockly and spiky, color usage was low, gradient usage was high and levels and areas seemed vacant and bland.

Another big issue, in my opinion at least, was game areas got too large. Were in the past you may of found yourself crammed in a hall way, or even having to go from one block to another(Metroid), now you found yourself walking into concert sized living rooms, hallways you could drive a truck through and in general, no real scale between objects.

Of course I could be critical of pixel based art's past, but its a different story there. When polygon based 3d engines started popping up, focus was put on the fact that it was 3d, not that it looked any good. There were games that did manage to use 3d when it was young and weak, but the best quality 3d game of the mid to late 90s didn't always hold a torch to either pre-rendered(which is unfair to compare) and pixel based artwork.

There were some exceptions, some were able to meld a polygon system and sprite system to create a decent harmony of the two. Two older games used vectors to create smooth animated characters and impressive cut scenes for its time, Flashback and Out of this World. While they made use of solid colors and no shading, the visuals were impressive and the animation was smooth.

However memory was always an issue, but polygons required complex calculations, demanding more of CPUs, so video cards have become a mandatory aspect of game playing. Complex games tend to suck up CPU with basic unseen routines, take the Sims games, lots of stuff goes on in them, now throw in 3d graphics and you've killed your pc.

A third system was also devised, in the late 90s we had a game called Outcast(never played it sadly..) which used a new style of creating 3d, voxel. A 3d pixel cube which allowed the artist to create, in a sense, a more organic look. Some flight sims used it for height maps as well. Ken Silverman, creator of Duke3d's base engine, the Build engine, started to work on a voxel engine around or before 2000 was coming about. Unfortunately theres been no big takers in the industry, now that polygon based engines have near movie quality looks.

Its unfortunate because of the power that a voxel system has over polygons. If we ever see more of voxel based engines, we can look forward to a resurrection of pixel art, in a 3d form without the sacrifices and excessive reprocessing that current 3d polygon engines have today.

Personally I'd like to see, and have been interested by the big industries renewed interest in voxel visuals, Id software seems to be coming up with something using it, but I do like the classic look of old games. Realism can sometimes make a game hard to play. In real life, most things tend to blend together, picking out people in a 3d fps from the background is sometimes impossible. Another downfall is games start looking the same, improvements become less noticeable.

So in conclusion, we may keep seeing all styles stay in existence. Pixels will always be part of screens, until we devise a newer systems. And like classic music, movies and other stuff of old, what people enjoy tends to stick. Mozart made his music centuries ago, but people in this day still love it. Likewise people love Tetris, a game that looks good in near any form and most likely will survive the test of time as well.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Organize for ease. Part 1 - Coding

One of the main reason I prefer game makers is the ability to organize your resources. Resources pile up, I look at my old projects and am always suprised at how many resources are in it. From graphics(majority) to sound effects, it all ads up and it all can belong to different catagories. Of course even with a handy program to sort the stuff in your application, the original resources need a home too.

Now I can't quite say I have an exact system, its more an evolving one really. So let me break it down into a few catagories, for now on coding...

There are many different languages out there to code in. C, Python, Ruby, basic, and so on. They can be similar and different in the way code blocks are structured. Some require ending with ; or containing blocks with {} and the worst off is how some use different symbols to control arrays. That always gets me when jumping from one to the other.

Since I'm no expert coder, just a decent one, I can't give advice on making your code faster, more powerful and the likes, but organizing it will make bug fixing and upgrading much easier.

1) Indents - Without it it would be a wall of gibberish, with it you can seperate your routines, statements and all that junk. Normally editor have indents set to 4 spaces, which I think is twice as much as it needs to be.

2) Comments - Commenting is not just good for other coders to learn from your code, but also a good reference when you get lost in the thick of it. Commenting your predefined variables always helps, as sometimes you may use short names or coded names for them. Routines should also be commented as to seperate them from the rest of the code. Using a comment as a page break is also nice, simply creating a line of * or = or - to split up different sections of the code like start, looping, routines.

3) Sub Routines and Includes - These are your best friends, breaking up commonly used code into subroutines and packaged in include files saves your main program of a lot of unnesscary characters.

4) Folders - If using a more traditional language, or doing it old-school with notepad and a compiler, making folders in your project directory to sort your code and resources is a must. The more complicated and more content, the harder it will be to sift through it.

A generic folder structure I use:

(.. representing prior folder name, * meaning all sub folders)

..\..\Working (for multi-layered/editable graphics)
..\..\RAW (for processing images into textures)
..\..\Done (completed graphics)
..\..\*\System (UI, mouse, ect.)
..\..\*\Game (Items, portriats, ect.)
..\Archive (for old builds)

So thats how I organize my files and coding, next time I'll cover my graphical procedures.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Game is Art.

Coding is a crucial part of making a game, but at esence theres alot of engines already made. Engines that are better than those who try to make their own, at least when the majority is concerned. Theres a lot of elements in code that make up a game, graphic handling, audio managament, data resources, ect.

Even though the code(the engine) is what sets a game apart from a slideshow, it is ultimately the visuals and audio that wins over the player. However it is not how realistic a game is, but how well it fits. A common problem with indie games(the majority not the minority) is a lack of consitancy in art style and audio. A consistant art style and fitting audio(if needed) can make a buggy game more attractive than a well coded but horribly slapped together with clip art and different art of different styles.

I'm not trying to short change the coders though. Its not easy work. I've had a few attempts, but when it comes down the graphical and audio handling I'd rather leave it to the more experienced. I'm more of a creative type, but I do enjoy coding the game itself.

I focus on the visuals because to me a game is a piece of art. At root its art, it can also become a story, lesson or challange. Unfortunatly high demand has made First person shooters the dominate game of todays consoles and pcs, kind of killing the art aspect when everyone is trying to do realism. The alternative? Usually top-down or 3rd person games. The 2d world is almost forsaken by big industry.

Nintendo has thankfully not gone against its art style. Which to state they even handled the transition better than most. 3d graphics were all the rage when they began to grow, but if we really look back some of the transition some games made or even new ones provided a crappy use of 3d, showing its limits. We now need computers far faster than ever to come close to decent. Even emulating cartoons is more work on the computer than displaying frames.

Focus on making the game a game was begining to fade the more advanced visuals and audio got. The industry began to forget how to make games and just how to clone them. As a result you get games like Oblivion, who had to be aided by user content and lacked the most features of all the Elder Scroll series. Sure you can buy a house(very few) and ride a horse, but sacrafices for graphics cost a lot for that title. Another good example is the much forgotten DeusX 2 and Thief 3. Both originally were very great games but sacrafice a lot due to the 'realism' wars amongst game companies.

While I don't hate realism, I do enjoy it, its just if every game looks real then isn't every game the same?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Shield Breaker, making something sellable.

It started sometime last year during a local competition at, although I can't recall the entire details of the contest, it was to be limited by time and several factors like the inability to regain life, thus play til you drop. This gave me a great idea of making a game were you try and survive as long as possible and rack up points. Within the first day I had already drew up the basic concept on a half-sized piece of note paper and then constructed a simple monotone version. Thus Shield Breaker was born.
The concept was simple, a new spin on BreakOut so to speak, were losing the ball wasn't the problem, but being hit by it was. Blocks were draw in unique ways for a specific reason, pixel-perfect collisions. Throw some rotating and shifting blocks in and you have a very unpredictable field for which your ball will bounce. Bonuses were awarded depending on how long the ball was in play and how many blocks it hit or busted. Technically the game had no end, except on slower computers the frame rate would begin to drop as levels contain blocks equal to the level number *20, take in Game Maker's limits, you can expect to see slowdowns in levels past 50.
After your shield is gone, the game is lost, except for Hardcore mode, you are allowed to restart the current level minus half your score.
The original will remain free, but unsupported.

Now I've began to recreate and improve it, going by Shield Breaker EX, ex standing for extended, I'm going to attempt to create a sellable game. Aside from some basic graphic overhuals, new elements are being added to the game including more bonuses, powerups and the addition of 'Pandora Boxes' which randomly release obsticals that can either trap or destroy your ball, or put offensive projectiles into the playing field. In addition your maximum balls in play is now dependant on your score and the ball launch speed has been increased, although it still isn't quite finalized.
To save some time, I've began using graphics I had made for Rick Jason, a space shooter, but at twice the resolution. Originally I had made the graphics in raw form twice the size of what they were to be in RJ, although not everything will be used like the ships. Mostly just tiles and some background art will be used.

Another concept I am playing with is game created music, to a certain degree. I have yet to fully decide if this is what I shall do, mixing loops between levels and having beats added in by certain blocks. I half like how the experimenting has gone, but may do something slightly different. Recently obtained some mixing software to make some more complex/longer loops. Of course the added stress of audio will have an effect on the speed of the game, so I've resorted to trying out two indie dlls for audio. I'm not quite sure what the authors positions on commercial products are fully, but I strayed away from ones that request license and down payments as I don't have income for making this game.

Keeping in mind that this is a casual game and nothing too advance I'm looking at a maximum of $10 charge for the final version to sell for. I've also been using my Acer Aspire(8.9") laptop to produce the remake so I can use the laptop as a benchmark to keep the frame rate stable and the amount of computers that can play it high. Adding the music mixing has caused some slowdowns but that just bugs and the fact that its using Game Maker's audio system. Luckily GM6.1 has the ability to use a dual-core, as during some test I use an attached monitor to play and the laptops screen to display task manager's CPU and Memory logging, I noticed that it used both cores while running. So as long as I maintain the course on how much the game consumes in processing and memory, any computer as fast as an Atom should run the game fine.
I've had less success testing in the GM8 beta release when audio was involved, and no noticable difference in running speed. Just another reason to stick with what I'm using. There are issues reguarding running GM6 games on Vista but a converter easily fixes this problem.
There are limits of producing this in GM, and thats mostly protability. Although GM is going to Mac, I don't have a lot of faith in the new company that runs Game Maker and may move to recreating the game again in C# or another more portable language.

To see prior versions check my side panel under my shamelessly added ad space(we all need some income) and let me know what you would like to see. Additionally you can ring in your opinions on whether or not this would be something you'd buy for the stated price above.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Black Shadow, ala Castlevania

Castlevania has long time been one of my favorite platform games, from its humble beginings on the first Nintendo, to its unfortunate climax at on Playstation. The Playstion version got it all right, the play, the look, and more story than ever before. Not that there was a very deep story, it was still an improvement over the past. Aside from the PS1 version, Castlevania 2 for original Nintendo, despite its translation issues, was another one that broke the mold for the game, being one of the first of the series to introduce RPG elements and back tracking through the world instead of following a set course.

So sometime a few years back I took it upon myself as a personal challange to attempt and create a castlevania style game entirely in Game Maker, including graphics, but not sounds or music as that is pretty much impossible. To keep it simple and progress quick, I kept color counts low, 2-3 shades of coloring on average, drawing characters as 'shadows' to make animation easy and fluid. Later I outlined the sprites, double drew and tossed in a alpha value to make them pop out more.

Originally I began designing the game in a larger than traditional view screen of 512x384, a resolution that was usable on the Super Nintendo, but rarely(Secret of Mana's stat screen), but I decided to reduce it to 320x240 after some suggestions on GMC. Reducing the size made the game more viewable and saved lesser computers the strain of processing the extra info.

My experiences in creating a side-scroller, however, was kind of limited. Early incarnations were a little touchy, espcially the jumping and its related animation frames. Those issues were later corrected with the help of another's side-scroller example and redoing the sprite.

After awhile I did drop out of the Game Maker only mode and retouched the tile art's color and contrast a little. I added an experience based life up system to give a quasi-rpg feel. Also a sludge tile was added, which made you sink to the bottom before you could jump out.

Enemies had some basic AI, archers would shoot when you're within the same vertical area, melee units would turn to you when you were close enough. The standing enemy would stay posed until you get closer and then he would go into a ready stance, bobbing about until you're in swinging distance. In the forest levels there was a crow that would hurt both the player and other enemies.

The game maps also had a lot of turn over. The first two stages, a cave that turned to ruins and a wilderness that lead to a town and then castle level, and in a few versions a third stage was started in the forest. The latest version only has the first stage and the beginnings of the next.

The story was simple and part of the creation process. You play a knight that has been banished to the world of shadows after confronting a terrible magician. Now doomed as a shadow, he finds himself facing foes that he long ago slew.

The first being refered to as the 'Crimson' Queen, likewise all her related units were red. The second was a duke, unnamed at the time, who's units were green, and had two companion dogs which one was fought alone and the other accompanied the duke. The dogs were completed but the duke still required a bunch of animations before completion.

Although this project is kind of dusty, I may yet one day resume it for the very reason I started it in the first place, I like making tile based maps.

The latest version here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

C.O.W. Prototype concept blurb.

Originally nameless, and then refered to as RPG Tribute(refering to old 2d FPS rpgs), and finally conviently named COW for its slow developement and engine.

The COW RPG prototype was an attempt at creating a 3d rpg with sprite characters, turn-based combat and general RPG system that had evolved from various incarnations of 'The Crawl'.

First started when GM 6.1 was released with new fancy Direct 3d capabilities. Of course it was limited and could not do the special effects of todays near-real engines, but thats not my goal. It did promise to be an easy method of creating my own 3d engine for my own needs. Other 3d engines I had downloaded in the past were too specific to what they were to design or simply to confusing to grasp. I didn't have the patients or time to relearn a whole mess of procedures to get things done.

After playing around with basic object placement and effects. Once I knew my limits I began the design phase for the RPG on paper.

Basics of culture, religion, planetary and regional information was created to give a sort of template for general developement. Additionally I simplified the stat and skill system over previous versions, droping the primary stats from 1-100 range to 1-10. Although stats could increase at fractions, only the rounded down value would display. Combat would be at the scene turn based, were briefed by a transition, you would find yourself facing the opponent, depending on its height you may look down or up.

The general religion of the RPG's world was more of an astral one, Sun being the highest god and the planets representing goddesses, moons as child gods. The culture was divided up into four kingdoms, north(pale, cold), west(pale-tan, cool-warm), middle(dark, hot), island(tan-dark, warm-hot) with different building structures for each. I had only concieved of a single structure for each in my notes, and only a few people sketches for the different cultures.

So simply to say it was a very ambitious project with a lot left to do, but alas it is just a prototype and simply visual reference for me now. Not to say it didn't have some tricks I did like. The day and night system which depended on a variety of changing variables which affected the lighting, fog and tinting of objects. Using translucent polygons to create fake fog effects used in lighted doorways and room borders. Also, despite a bug, I liked how the doors operated, something I have yet to incoorperate into my latest versions.

Textures were either created from scratch or from photos, sometimes a combination of the two using layers and some effects.

What sunk it mostly was the sheer size of the world map I had designed. I had split it up into a grid and began marking off each map that I completed. Certain mountainous areas and water would not be included. I stopped with about 16 or more maps done and NPCs plotted, still not yet active.

With the end of the Prototype, another game got the 'Cow' title, except for it was actually fitting. I started an rpg earlier this year in hopes of completing it in a few months. Based on an old comic I did in 1998-99, it was on a fast track to completion until -everyone- in the home came down with horrible sickness. So it kind of sits in storage, 65% done, 100's of graphics and 10's more needed to be done.

Next time I'll either go on about Black Shadow, my castlevania inspired platform or where I may be headed in 'The Crawl' developement, or some other third thing.

Last version here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

About 'The Crawl'

The Crawl is probably one of my most ambitious projects. Originally it was made to be like old 2D FPS RPG. Eye of the Beholder, Lands of Lore and Stone Keep. You can learn all about them on wikipedia for a better explanation.

The most succesful version have all been created entirely in Game Maker 6.1, the last version used Ultimate3d a DLL providing some much needed 3d features. Additionally the very first Game Maker version was actually in version 5.0, one of my first creations using that engine.

[2d version download here]

Other attempts were made on VERGE 2.0 and Visual Basic, but didn't develope and I moved on to other projects.

After losing -all- of the data for the 2D version (the version I have left was kind of in the middle of the total progress), I created a proto type called C.O.W RPG, which means nothing really. Except maybe that it was kind of slow. Levels were created with objects in Game Maker's room editor and rendered from GM 6.1's native 3d functions. A large map was used as a reference for rooms with pre-created heighmaps, mostly shorelines and rivers. Forest and field areas generated random height and texture coloring maps for a nice effect. Wanted to break away from flat land whenever possible. Quite abit of rooms were created, NPCs were setup, combat introduced, working stat and leveling, inventory system. However a lot is unfished like the character creation at start up. I'll go into details about the developemental ideas on this one some other time, though.

[prototype download here]

Reguardless of the positive aspects of that project, like ease of creation, it was seriously in need of speed and memory improvements. So I decided to create a map editor and eventually all around game editor. This later had me going to the direction of making a 3d dungeon crawl game game maker. When you think about it, its kind of funny, but I won't be the first person to do it. It also isn't my first attempt at creating an RPG Maker. In the past I made one, ironicly called 'Game Maker', in visual basic. I hadn't known what RPG Maker was at the time, but the concepts and catagories of data were similar.

Still using GM 6.1's native 3d features, which uses DirectX, I created a small engine that would translate a 3-d matrix with several flags for textures, texture layering types and some other third thing. Still going the way of a grid like the old 2d FPS's made it easy to control the enviroment and keep the old style.
To make things less flat I created all objects with routines that put together polygons with colored vertexes. Additionally centers of walls and floors were raised slightly to truelly create dimension. I don't have the editor packaged with the demo. It got pretty far as an engine, more than the previous version. It had its own collision system(buggy), gravity system(water included), some overlay effects, interface compass, day and night cycles, and shaded vertexs based on neighbor.

[demo here for gm3d version]

Speed was pretty good and the effects were nice. Then I came across several 3d dlls for game maker. Irrlict, Ultimate3d, and Xtreme3d. After looking through examples, docs and playing around with things, I ended up going with Ultimate3d mostly because I liked how some things fared over the others. That and Irrlict was abit complex for me. I wanted to keep things simple for two reasons. Lack of time and keeping bugs down. If code gets too complicated it leads to bugs and slow downs. Of course to get more speed you complicate things.
I played around with the new features, but due to the new system I could no longer create my on tile objects in-editor. So began using anim8tor to create some basic objects. With no ability to color vertexs without creating some kind of complex routine, I utilized a new feature at my disposal, multi-layered textures. This opened the door for a variety of possibilities. Aside from applying a shade layer, it also allowed me to create overlays of textures to have things like grass growing over dirt or leaves up walls. The engine is less developed though. This version has the editor and a bunch of resources to play with.

[u3d version demo download]

Next time I'll eleborate about the C.O.W prototype's story, world and general concepts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kind of how it begins.

Sometimes you just need to start over, and with the seeming loss of my once frequented website ( I have decided to move elsewere to drop my blurbs of game developement. So I shall start from the begining. The very begining.

I've largely studied game design on my own since I was about 12 or so. Starting with the very basics...basic the language in its line based form. Although I can program, I'm just not that in depth into languages like C++ and the various other forms.

My focus has been more on the visual, the play and the excecution instead of the bare bones engine. Maybe one reason I decided against going too deep into programing had more to do with wanting to create the actual content. Of course in the early 90's I was pretty much forced to work with quickbasic as the only avaible programing code I could get into. There was a variety of little game creations I made with it, mostly all unfinished and lost in the dust of time forgotten and hard drive failures, diskette decay, whatever you have it has happened. A sad tale that has followed many of my other creations. Always backup if you can.

Of course with the dawn of the internet, other chances to create a game came up with various programmers generously creating engines in hopes that aspiring minds can create greatness which even so few large developers seem to accomplish despites legions of employees and millions of dollars.

In the late 90's I had begun using Visual Basic, but not too much came of that except for some simple mouse based games. One project I fondly recall was somewhat inspired by a browser based game called 'Dragon Court'. It featured click able mini locations, in mine I made the background window display the room you were in. Was a simply RPG like game, you created a character whose stats were both randomly generated and affected by choices like what race, sex and class you chose. Additionally although a turn based game it featured body-part based life instead of traditional hit points. Certain attributes of the character also affected how some things were presented, like a low intelligence would get a brief and sometimes obvious description of room or object. Refered to as DOTD, it was later re-visioned several times in new layouts and styles, using POV-Ray for scene creation. Tons of written and sketch resources are stowed away on this one as I tended to be overly ambitious.

One of the first engines I started to use was VERGE created by Vecna. It was a fairly decent program, using a c similar scripting for basic functions and in-game interaction, map creator with multiple layers and option of animated tiles and sprite creator. I used the default sprite to design a bunch of different characters and sometimes made my own.

I designed several projects with VERGE and VERGE 2.0, finished one. Several concepts were created, one was supposed to be a side scroller game(similar to a game available now called 'The Spirit Engine'), which I think I called 'City of Filth'. I had a couple of maps, interface, characters and a complete original tile set created. Unfortunately it never advanced from the basics and was shelved/lost.

Another concept that didn't fly beyond some tiles, main character art and sketches, I called 'Ryo Devil'. I was really into Anime back then and it has left an impression on my art style and presentation. Based in the underworld, you played a soldier who must stop the overworld invasion. Essentially a demons vs. angels with a role reverse. The main character had to die to be reborn in the midworld(earth type realm) and find the entry point that some rogue angels were using for their assault on the underworld.

Venturing between Visual Basic and VERGE I also attempted a fake 3d game, much like Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore. Those didn't pan out to well do to graphical limitations on both. I would later be more successful using Game Maker which I find out about in '05 or so.

I did complete one game for VERGE, during a 10-days-of-verge contest I managed to complete an entire rpg with all original graphics in that time span. Although having plot holes and some bugs, it was nice to complete it. Called 7th Ring of the 7th Star, it was about an alien bounty hunter who's people are being assaulted by sand people and demons from another world. It contained 6 different endings that were dependant on a few optional quests, like bombing the sand people's home with water or saving a girl you meet later on.

I also played around with RPG Maker some, both windows and emulated Super Nintendo versions. Don't recall much of those...

Once I got a hold of Game Maker, versions 5 and 6. I tried at recreating some of my old ideas. Specifically a shooter game I had made in QuickBasic called 'Rick Jason'. Its a space shooters as they come, but I decided to create a swanky set of new graphics. Its still incomplete to this day but did look rather nice. As the years have passed I've had less and less time to work on my projects. But the flame hasn't died out.

Next was creating the fake 3d game, which was a pretty successful attempt. Unfortunately also lost to hard drive death. Sad too as I had gotten so far in it. It was like a super version of those old school first person rpgs, it had multiple floors visible. Originally it had some hi-resolution pre-rendered scene graphics, but later was reduced to conserve memory and boost speed. As I look back on it, if I had not of lost all the content I would have been able to make it run faster. But alas it is gone. I had called it 'The Crawl', a name I still uses with new incarnations now leaning towards actual 3d engines. In fact it has become more of a 3d dungeon maker rpg project.

And that's the first part to a undetermined length of blogs.