Thursday, 7 March 2013

Once Upon A Time.

I can remember clear as day sitting in my Maths class bored as hell, not doing maths. Maths/Math was whatever you call it it was boring, but it did mean I could have graph paper on my desk. Graph paper meant squares, squares meant pixels, pixels meant games and I would quite happily ignore the teacher and draw characters. I love Maths now though.

This is what POGO looked liked albeit with 
far less colour on the ZX Spectrum.

One of the characters I created was "POGO". I loved "POGO" I made so many "games" with him in it. I say games they were more like move a character around the screen and that was it. I was around 14 at the time I had just borrowed a friends ZX Spectrum as I had let him borrow my NES, he was happy, I was happier. I can remember tearing through all the manuals and old magazines learning BASIC, actually programming the graphics with 1's and 0's in DATA statements.

"POGO" was inspired by Garfield the lovable grumpy cartoon/comic cat I had been reading for several years previously, I can see his eyes and nose and mouth in the design of "POGO". But what is even stranger is that I can see how OCARBOT was in part inspired by "POGO" the idea of collecting a key, pushing blocks and getting to the exit. "POGO" went on to "POGO 2" and eventually on to "POGOs 16-bit Adventure" which was released as a PD-DISK on the Amiga 500 so it might still be out there somewhere. By the time "POGO" reached the Amiga I had even learned how to do basic bad guy AI. "POGO" disappeared for a while, but he was always there in my character sketches, and when I was teaching kids to draw he would occassionally pop up.

I've had some time this week before the release of CROSS-SIDE to tinker, doodle and try out a few ideas. So I started sketching.

And there he was again, it wasn't him, he wasn't a blue bear it was just his head a bit more tinkering and shazam there he was. As a bee.

A few "situations" have popped up recently where I have had either the opportunity or the possibility of fulfilling some of my childhood dreams. Things that I wanted to do as a child but didn't have the money, time or know how. Mostly making things or working with certain people.

I am big fan of Randy Pausch although I never had the chance to meet him, I think/hope we would have gotten on as we share a few common goals. Fulfilling your childhood dreams and helping others achieve theirs. I have been working with a lot of kids recently helping them make their games now while they still are children, getting them to realise that "yes, you can make games, and you can make them now" and you can make them about whatever you want.

So I allowed myself some time in the evening after teaching them, time to see where this game goes. I had no grand plan, but everything fell into place and worked first try, all the code worked first try. My friend came round and saw me while I was coding it and I was coding entire classes in one go, hitting compile and everything worked, first try.

I was so pleased I have spent the past three nights building this crazy "BEE BEE THE BEE" game it is a "Endless Running/Flying" game were the levels are self-generative. Instead of making him in hi-res I just doubled the image size so the blocks are even bigger. The game looks beautiful on the iPad with huge chunky pixels and bright bold colours, which makes it even easier to work on. The game will probably be out in a few weeks. I have tried to pitch it at a 7-10 year old age range, so it is fun dynamic, but not too complicated and certainly no IAPs. Have a look and see what you think. You collect pollen, upgrade your bee, unlock new levels and so on.

I tried to make it look a feel like a NES game because that is what was what I was playing at the time of coming up with POGO and what I had hoped to make "POGO" on eventually. Although this is not strictly a "real" "POGO" game, it is certainly made up of parts of him. Who know maybe "POGO" will be made into a game eventually. Fortunately you won't have to wait too long for "BEE BEE THE BEE" it should be done and out on iOS, Android, osX and PC in a couple of weeks.

It is strange this game came out of nowhere and yet I feel it has been with me for a very long time.