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.
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.