Nothing to see here

Ah, isn’t it always the way? You start a development diary then have to spend the day doing a million and one other things instead? Just me then? Ah, typical.

I must admit I’m at that stage with the game where whats left to be done is pretty tedious and aside from getting to play through it yet again (which despite the length of time I’ve been working on this – I do still enjoy playing it immensely) to check that I haven’t made any major boo boo’s, most of the work now is just cutting and pasting level data across. As you can imagine, there’s not a great deal of satisfaction in this as its plotting co-ordinates a go go. Throw in a child biting at your ankles and the usual array of household chores to be done during the day and by the time you finally get to sit down and do something useful, you’re just too damn tired to want to open any code up.

Its also a problem with being more of a “creative” person than a coder. The fun bits for me are getting to sprite myself senseless, creating the explosion effects or toying with sound effects. Its always the code that holds me up!

Its not that I don’t enjoy coding, although I’m nowhere near a low level coder (hence I use GM) nor do I understand as much as I’d like -there is still something incredibly rewarding about being able to sit back and say “I just made that happen. I did that”

The initial problem comes not long after the rush, you have the idea – you’ve got the scribbles and so you eagerly get it all up and running and it works, and thats exciting. You know where you’re going to head with it and you splurge everything out from the depths of your brain into it, then once it works – you spend an age playing with the darn thing and congratulating yourself on getting something working again. Then you get the graphics together and start throwing them into the mix, and its all still fresh and exciting. You get to watch a few lines of code turn into a fully blown game over time, but once you’ve got all that – there’s nothing but variable tweaking and level building left to do – and I’m sure a lot of people out there really enjoy these things, but I always find them the absolute worst part of making a game.

Now, in the past – I’ve had a very careless attitude towards these things and eventually just let go before I tweak something beyond my original plan – but VI has been very different as I’ve a very clear goal of where I want the game to end up, always have done. Its the game I originally began making games to make, if you will. I’m ultimately not too bothered if I’m the only person on the planet who ever gets to play it when all is said and done as I’m writing it primarily for myself. After all, if someone else won’t make the game in your head, then that only leaves you to do it. However, the tweaking… well, its very easy to become obsessive over it in pursuit of perfection and hence I try and throw myself away from it for a while. Go off and play some games for a week instead, go and make some pretty wallpapers or write a tune – anything but open that window with all the game code in it again so that I don’t spend 4/5 hours endlessly tweaking the speed of a bullet or the timers on the enemy movement, or the blending on a sprite… I’m kinda inbetween this stage and wanting to go back and finish it all off at the moment. I know I need to play some stuff and just chill or I’ll end up frustrated and possibly break some of the hard work I’ve put in up to now, but there’s something nagging at me to just go and open the game up and work on it.

Ah, the omnipresent dilemma of making games.

I’m erring towards hammering at least a good percentage of the final bits and bobs over the next few days so all that is left is playtesting from my crowd of beta testing folks before release… wether life allows me that time at the moment, is a different matter, but fingers crossed.

VI – The Story So Far

Christ on a bike, its been a long time since I first began work on this. The first entry on my hidden beta board is from the 29th September last year and within a few days I’d managed to get a pretty good prototype of how the game was going to play up and running. All well and good, but this is my first real approach at something completely written from scratch so I should have known it wouldn’t all be so simple.

The original plan for the game was to create a vectorised homage to Robotron, pulling together all the things that make me grin like a lunatic into one package.

Glowing vectors? Check.

Yak influenced eye monging effects? Check.

Abstract use of sound? Check.

And all was going well. I went through an insane phase of coding like an utter lunatic for months, whacking new things in, throwing everything at the game I possibly could to see what would stick. I suppose you could call it completely off the cuff development. And it worked. Up until a point.

After 3 months, it was becoming quite clear that I’d backed myself into a corner codewise. The backend of the game was a sprawling near incomprehensible mess, everything was bound together so tightly that the slightest adjustment could tip the entire balance of the game right off the scale. So, I backtracked. And began to contemplate how to take the bits I’d gotten working and liked out of the old code and turn them into something that would work not just as a game, but as a readable and editable mass for my own sanity.

There were a few other things that paused the development of the game. When I’d set out designing the game I’d not even heard of Geometry Wars other than a few whispers about what a great little hidden game it was. I bit the bullet and picked up a second hand copy of Project Gotham 2 for my trusty Xbox and settled myself down for a game. You know something is wrong when even your good wife turns around and asks “Is that your game?”. Bollocks. Somehow, I’d managed to pull something from my brain that looked uncannily close to someone elses game. Easily done I suppose when you’ve got over 20 years of playing games behind you, but to clone the looks of a game I’d never even seen a screenshot of nor played left me gutted. I’d lost heart in the project completely and lay it to rest whilst I wondered what to do next.

Fast forward a month or so to the PlayBASIC Retro Remakes competition (nowt to do with the site I run btw) and one of Retro Remakes board regulars and moderators comes up with a cracking cross between Jetpak and Defender with some utterly lovely old skool sprites. And my, did it look gorgeous. I’d forgotten just how much I adored that low res style of chunky pixel goodness. Well, that was it then – the solution was there in my hands. Ditch the vectors, crack open ProMotion and get pixelling.

I must have pixelled for England for a few days as although I knew roughly how I wanted to look, pulling it into a coherant whole was going to take some work. Eventually, after toying with pixelling around my old Vector style sprites, experimenting with Tron style backgrounds and Lord knows what else, I hit upon a look I was happy with. Suitably chunky and almost Speedball-y in execution. It looked lovely, and lo – I was a happy bunny.

The next stage was to crack on and get the engine running again, reusing the old bits of code that were still usable and not wrapped up like a spaghetti bondage monster and rewriting some parts that were causing problems for some folks on certain systems. It meant a lot had to go, but after inumerable cups of tea and a lot of support from the chaps in #Remakes IRC I’d got it all back together again and working better than it ever had before. New enemies, new graphics and new effects – yet, thankfully, I’d managed to retain all the gameplay techniques from the old build intact.

Lovely.

And thats where I am today, nearly there at the end of a long and arduous development cycle thats seen me learn more from creating this 1 game than I have in a ruck of remakes. So, for the final stages – I’ll keep everyone posted as to whats going on as I code up the final few parts, drop some exclusive screenshots onto here and maybe, if you’re lucky – even drop some mp3’s of the excellent soundtrack I’ve had produced for it.

But for now, I’m going to cook some food as I’m ravenous.

From the archive #5

Okay, so it wasn’t quite December 18th, but its been a busy time for us at Mersey Remakes – what with Oddbob becoming an admin at Retro Remakes and the preparations for Megatree being put into place – expect some news and a sneak preview on that soon.

In other news: Retroactive, the Retro Remakes magazine is now at its third issue and available to download from the media section. Its fresh, its new – and its superb.

We’ve also contributed some sound FX and levels to TCK’s excellent trippy bulletdodgefest Transversion. Its a fantastic game and with a hotly competed online score table. Go grab it…

Mersey Remakes in new game shocker!

Smila has just completed Aztec Challenge

An absolutely gorgeous remake of…Aztec Challenge! All the levels from the original have been lovingly recreated with some beautiful Smila-fied gfx. Top work indeed that man!

At the moment, Oddbobs working on The Megatree site for the collaborative project between Mersey Remakes and Scottigesoft. As soon as we’ve got all the content together – you can expect that to go live.

In the meantime, why not visit Remakes.org and show us your high score goodness in the Score Leaderboards?

From the archive #4

::23rd SEPTEMBER 2004 – THIS IS THE NEWS::

The Retro Remakes 2004 Competition is drawing to a close now, so I guess its time to get back to the nitty gritty of site updates and useful stuff like that. You’ll be glad to know that we’ve been doing anything but resting on our laurels, despite a few personal setbacks timewise.

We’ve got a few nice games lined up for release for the first few days in October, due as soon as they’ve been uploaded to RR.

We’ve got Curse Of The Aztec Tomb, a remake of the old David Healey type in listing for the zx81 – original(ish) version sourced from the Rev Stu. A remake of Costa Panayi’s first opus – Android1, brought kicking and screaming into 2004. Smila’s also been hard at work with his version of Hawkeye, the C64 classic and yet another Jet Set Willy game: The Trash Of The Universe.

We’ve also provided graphical joy to a number of other remakes, the main character sprite for Jetmans Dad’s Stop The Express Remake, The title screen logo for Peejay’s The Birds And The Bee’s as well as giving him a head start on the graphics for his remake of Highway Encounter. We’ve sent a few things over to the Retro-Relevance camp for future releases. ( Some stockpiling of sprites ready for when GK’s had some r&r after the competition ) from tiny things like inbetweeny level screen’s for GK & Cheeky’s Potty Pidgeon remake to a tile set for Yars Revenge, a background screen and some other bits and bobs for a remake of Pete Cooke’s excellent Brainstorm and some may/may not be used stuff for an update of Jasons Gem. Scottige has been on the receiving end of some stuff for Moon Cresta and some work’s been done on the Knight Tyme graphics, at the moment – thats in a kind of limbo as neither of us can be bothered finishing it.

And we’d also like to say that we’re proud to contribute to the long overdue return of Space/Time remakes with a tileset for the Ultimate:Play The Game classic Trans Am. Go check it out, so far Darkside’s succeeding where others have failed in bringing this classic to life.

As if all that wasn’t enough to keep you in jollies for a good while, we’ve got some very special remakes planned for the near future – including the fabled Megatree project and the Atlantis classic – Sceptre Of Bagdad. Stay tuned for more information.

::I’VE GOT THE KEY…ERM…SO NERRR::

Mersey Remakes has given a home to Zonkers remake of Solomons Key. I’d hope that the game doesn’t require any explanation – its all blocks,fairies and wands, standard STompy territory really 🙂 If ye like yer remakes, and ye like yer Solomons Key then erm…download this Solomons Key remake! Go on, you won’t feel too bad about it.

::WALLPAPERS::

We’ve also found the time to add a few wallpapers to download in the Mersey Remakes media section. So, if you’re bored of your current desktop design – then why not check ’em out.

::NEW GAMES ADDED::

Well, not so much new, but definitely added. We’ve trawled the old Mersey Remakes Archives to see if there was any previous releases missing from our list and shock horror, we found that we were 2 short. Thanks to Flynn@Retro Remakes for finding one of the missing files for us and thanks to my messy hard drive for keeping the other one hidden. So, if you peek at the release archives, you can now find Bruce Lee2 and Wizball Breakout available to download.

::RETROGAMER::

Once again, you can check out some of the content of this site on the coverdisk of Retro Gamer magazine for those too lazy to be a downloading – so a big shout out to the RG team once again for showing impeccable taste. And besides – I don’t need to tell you this as you buy it anyway don’t you 😉

::AQUARIUS::

Mersey Remakes’ very own Oddbob has just contibuted some sprites for Retro Relevance’s Aquarius, the game is available now from either Retro Relevance or mirrored here. You can download it by clicking on the bit which says “Aquarius” 😉

::SITE FEATURES::

New features on the site include a forum where you can leave comments on Mersey Remakes stuff – feel free to pop along and leave your musings,as well as the Mersey Remakes blog , which hopefully will contain both Oddbob’s personal musings as well as a Mersey Remakes development diary. You can also get in touch with us by the technological joys known as email should you so desire. Feel free to mail us with any queries which you feel can’t be expressed in the forum, but chances are – we’re more likely to reply to a forum post than an email, unless its something really important.

Well, thats enough waffle for now – I shall leave you to try some of our retro remakes and general bumphy things that we have lying around for your pleasure.

Enjoy.

From the archive #3

27-03-04:LONG OVERDUE UPDATE

TIME HASN’T BEEN ON OUR SIDE LATELY

Mersey Remakes have unfortunately been very busy lately with that ol’ real life malarkey so updates have been a bit thin on the ground. But fear not…we’ve got a couple of nice additions care of Mr Smila – the one man remaking machine who never ceases.

First up is FireAnt, a remake of the tough C64 game which should provide a challenge for even the most hardened game player. It plays very much like the original ( as in: its bloody tough ) and most definitely worth a peeksy at.

Next up is a demo of Scramble, an absolutely gorgeous looking version of the arcade classic now rendered into lovely 3d. But fear not – the gameplay hasn’t really changed – its still very much in the spirit of the arcade game. 1 Level finished at the moment, so go and grab it.

What, there’s still more?

We’ve had a few requests for a link to one of Smila’s old games – his Into The Eagles Nest, so – if you’re one of the people who want to grab this, then it can be found in the flatlist on www.remakes.org

So, anything else…well Mini Monty and Deviants are in progress as well as Exolon and Exile II but they’re all coming along slowly. So, while you wait – keep yourself occupied with the games above.

11-03-04:THE ODDBLOG

EVERYONE ELSE HAS GOT ONE,SO WHY CAN’T WE?

Mersey Remakes very own Oddbob has started a blog over at blog city. The Oddblog is where you can go and find out on a day to day basis what work he’s actually doing ( if any ) and whats going through his mind. Who knows how many people he’ll upset.

06-03-04:CoTW

NEW SITE SECTION ANNOUNCEMENT

Mersey Remakes are proud to announce their new addition to the website the Cock Of The Week award. Awarded weekly to ( strangely enuff ) the biggest cocks of the week. This week, Mersey Remakes have decided the winner but as of next week we’re gonna throw this open to the public for votes.

01-03-04: YOU LOOKING AT MY MOLE?

MONTY MOLE MAP AVAILABLE

We’ve had this hanging around Oddbob Towers for a few weeks now, just waiting for Mr Smila to give us the okay for release. Yup, in his tireless drive to offer additional content, Mr Smila has put together a map of his remake of Monty On The Run. So, if you fancy some furry help then give this link a clicky clicky.

26-02-04: RETRO GAMER MAGAZINE ISSUE 2

CHUFTIES AND HEFTY DOWNLOADATHONS

First up, Retro Gamer Issue 2 has hit the shops and aside from providing a fantastic read it also features a great interview with Graham from Retrospec and the boys from Ovine and a fantastic collection of remakes on its coverdisk – including a collection of Mersey Remakes stuff. Thanks from Oddbob Towers to Live Publishing, Martyn Carroll and his team for giving the remakes scene some exposure and for appreciating the work we put in to something we absolutely love.

Although,its also now the only place you can get hold of Transfunctioner 1 & 2 ( Should you be so absolutely insane…! ), so if you want to complete your Mersey Remakes collection for some ill apparant reason – then go buy it NOW!!! ( K, I’ll stop plugging it now! ). And in case you didn’t know by now – Transfunctioner 3 is hidden inside BMX Racers – G,K & Y access the different cheats in the game. So get STompyfied !

Also in the Oddbob Towers news at the moment is a big thank you to the absolute ruck of people who are making Monty On The Run our most downloaded game yet – and its only been available for two weeks. Thanks people. ( Yes, readers of Retro Gamer – its finished!! Get Downloading LOL )

20-02-04: THE REMAKES EQUIVALENT OF HEAT MAGAZINE

BLOGGING IT

Got a bit of free time?…glad to hear it. Why not nip on over to Mersey Remakes good friend STompy’s site and get the inside gossip on the remakes world and a few rather fetching pictures too. Features the infamous Rate Your Remakes program. If you’re in the mood for even more blogs, then you could do much worse than The Tokers. All entertaining stuff and highly recommended by Mersey Remakes.

19-02-04: APOLOGIES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

OOPS AND EXILE II

Okay, I know that there’s a lot of broken links at the moment, please bear with us while we attempt to fix this situation. All the downloads are active tho’, just working on getting the info pages up and ready to roll.

Now that the apologies are out the way, Mersey Remakes are proud to announce that Smila and Scottige fresh from the triumph of Monty On The Run have began work on their latest remake EXILE II. There’s a piccy up at the moment with more information on plot and progress as we get it.

19-02-04: REMAKES FOR SALE

DON’T BE A FOOL,THESE GAMES ARE FREE!!!

While picking up some computer gumph at the computer fair in Aintree yesterday Mersey Remakes came across a number of titles up for sale at a bargain price, yes – for a small fee you could buy some remakes bearing the Retro Remakes or Retrospec logo. If you’re tempted by these please don’t buy them – 99% of remakes are FREEWARE and shouldn’t cost you a damn thing – not even the price of a disc. Sadly, short of tearing the gentlemans head off who was selling these disks there’s not a lot we can do other than add a splash screen to our games and hope that if you’ve been bitten once you won’t be bitten again and to make the general public aware that this content shouldn’t be purchased.

Here at Mersey Remakes we’re all for enterprising business schemes, but please – if you’re responsible for these disks don’t bother downloading any more MR stuff to sell.

And if you’ve bought one? Go back to the guy you bought it from and give him some hassle over it. If enough people do this, then maybe he’ll stop 😀

19-02-04: NEW WEBSITE DESIGN

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER INNIT

Welcome back to Mersey Remakes, with its brand new blue look. Drastic change innit?

Thanks go out to The Toker & STompy for design help,cheers guys.

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the Interweb we’ve gave MR a glossy new sheen and expanded the games section. Instead of the huge collection of piccy’s that were stored in no particular order we’ve now gave each game its own little section. Just a little home where you can peruse screenshots, information and on occasions additional files such as new music,tiles,maps or cheatmode stuff. Check out the menu to your right and get clicking!

19-02-04: SO WHATS NEW?

RECENT COLLABORATIONS AND NEW GUMPH

Mersey Remakes have been busy as f00k recently, burrowing away on new games as well as the new look website. Ready for you to download is Scottigesoft’s excellent version of Hunchback. Its a damn fine version and Mersey Remakes are proud to have had a hand in its creation. Hopefully, the combination of Scott’s coding skills and Mersey Remakes graphics should produce a few more storming remakes over the coming months.

There’s a collaboration with STompy due soon, but I’m sworn not to mention what the game is. Needless to say, it should be a laff and feature the usual Bob & STomp humour. STomp’s been beavering at the code and there’s already some headway made on the GFX.(Unlike the tragically aborted Seymour game. Maybe someday,eh 😀 ). More news and maybe some piccy’s as they arrive at Oddbob Towers.

~J~ has got a version of the C64 Mastertronic game “Phantom Of The Asteroids” currently in production. How could Mersey Remakes resist slinging a few aliens in his general direction as well as a very “Nodes Of Yesod” style main sprite? Check out his website for more info and some screenies.

You’d think with all this going on Mersey Remakes wouldn’t have time to work on their own stuff. Well, how wrong you are,sir! How wrong you are! Work has already began on what should be the best Mersey Remakes game yet ( “Thats not difficult!”, I hear you cry. ). Exolon the Hewson classic has entered the production stage.. Thanks to Hitm4n for giving us a head start with the gfx.

Also, Jetmans Dad has completed his remake of Spectres which Mersey Remakes have pixelled the sprites for. You can download it from here. Its his first game using Markov’s Gamemaker and its a damn fine first attempt. ( Much better than my first game LOL – ed )

18-02-04: IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM

SOME STUFF THATS LEFT ODDBOB TOWERS RECENTLY

There’s been a few releases on this site since before Xmas that might have escaped your attention, due to the absence of Bob and regular news posts. ( Although, thanks to STomps for looking after the site for the duration of Bobs awayness. ). So, in case they passed you by – here’s a quick recap.

Smila and Scottige have just released their Monty On The Run. The Gremlin Graphics classic has been brought bang up to date by Scottige’ coding skills and Smila’s gfx. Its well worth checking out and Mersey Remakes are proud to host it.

Smila’s also been proudly displaying his Mini Willy for all to peruse. I warn you, you may need a magnifying glass if you’re intending to play with it. I know in all my years, I’ve seen many Willy’s but I’ve never seen one this small before. Matthew Smith would be proud. Anyway, you can grab hold of it and sample it here. Its only a 1 level demo at the moment, as MOTR takes priority. But expect it to expand very soon.

And what of the Bob of Oddness? Has he been silent all this time? As you can probably see elsewhere on this page, there’s BMX Racers available for download. A GM’d up version of the Mastertronic *ahem* classic ( have you gone mad? – Ed ) complete with new features and a little Mini Game tucked inside its latex thighs.

Also available on the Monty page is Monty Mole Xmas, Mersey Remakes Xmas themed Monty Mole Game. So called because its got Monty Mole in it and its set at Xmas. (You can stop now – Ed ). Just download it, its a great little game.