Kevin and I are both proponents of the tradition of carrying around multiple sketchbooks and scraps of paper, to jot down ideas and inspirations for future review.
Evoking an idea often requires a prompt commitment of ink to paper, or text to keyboard, or it can be lost into the noise of modern life.
I’ve found it fun to give whatever sketchbook I’m using at the time to other indie game designers when we’re hanging out together. I’ll usually ask these fine ladies and gentlemen to take a page and draw whatever they want. Here are some of the hidden treasures contained within my current primary sketchbook.
I’ve been hard at work for approximately the last month, creating a game. Space Barnacle is the end result: an ultra-violent pixellated platformer modeled in the 8-bit style.
The project came about as a result of a B-Game Design contest, hosted by the excellent Independent Gaming Source (TIGSource) community, and writing it has been some of the most fun I’ve ever had in game developemt.
I wanted the game to feel like a long-lost budget title, perhaps developed for the NES or Commodore 64 somewhere between 1989 and 1990. Thus, the native resolution is 288×180 pixels, and most of the characters are a mere 16 by 16 pixels square.
My friend Kevin shared pixel art duties with me, and we tried to work from a limited 55 color NES palette. But we took some liberties, taking advantage of additive blending, parallax scrolling, and particle effects for blood and vomit explosions.
The music is composed entirely of chiptunes in Amiga module format, emulating the sound of the Commodore 64’s famed SID chip, and we were lucky to be able to include compositions by Reed Richards, among others.
Coming from a background of Mac OpenGL development, building a game in this environment was quite a shock. It both saved time, and caused endless frustration, as the method for logic control is completely insane.
In the end, I’m pretty pleased with what we came up with. We’re not done working on the title, and I’d really like to come up with a solution for an OS X port. I’ve been trying to hack together a little encapsulated Wine Binary Launcher for the game– sort of a low-rent version of Cider. This would have the added benefit of potentially bringing some other great indie games to the Mac.
Until then, Windows users can play the game natively, and Mac users can play pretty adequately through CrossOver, which has a free 60 day trial.