Phone Box Thursday: More Pixel Fun

Mum and Dad revisited the Port of Tyne phone box this morning! Dad had hoped to take a slightly clearer picture of the box this time round, but it wasn’t to be – so I had a bit of fun with the zoomed-in picture instead. Behold, the 8-bit Port of Tyne phone box! Maybe this will show up in one of my illustrated text adventure games someday.

Red phone box
(Somewhat artistically altered) red phone box, Port of Tyne International Passenger Terminal, North Shields, 29th June 2023.

Adventures In Coding: The Return

After a couple of weeks off I’m excited to get back into game creation this week. I’ll be playing with various experimental stuff and also returning to my work on Marie.

Cecil doesn’t have a world to explore yet… but he will.

Part of the reason I’ve been doing my new ‘Screengrabs From Games That Don’t Exist’ series on Saturdays is that I have a ridiculous number of game ideas and not enough time to implement them. I’ve got a few pinned down for working on during the rest of the summer, but there are so many others that will have to stay in the parallel universe for now. One day!

Adventures In Coding: Not My First Rodeo

Way back in August/September 2019, when I was learning Adventuron for the first time with the aim of entering the first Adventuron jam, I spent about three weeks making a game called The Cave of Ponies.

With about five days to go before the jam deadline, I realised that there was no way I was going to get The Cave of Ponies finished in time, and so I immediately switched to a much shorter game that took place in a small subsection of the Ponies map. This shorter game was The Cave of Hoarding – a far worse title and a much less ambitious game, but something I was able to finish and polish enough that it was releasable within the deadline.

This has been a bit of a theme during my two years of game creation.

There have only been two Adventuron jams (out of six) where I have entered the game I originally planned for the jam. Those were jam 2 (Hallowe’en: Night of the Misty Manor) and jam 6 (Barry Basic and the Quick Escape), and in both cases I (a) absolutely killed myself getting the game finished and (b) would never have been able to do so had there not been an extension to the jam deadline. For jam 3 I originally planned to enter a game called Goblin Quest but instead went with Goblin Decathlon due to an athletics obsession moment (I did eventually finish Goblin Quest a couple of months later!). For jam 4 I originally planned a much bigger game based around the character of the Champagne Lady, but very soon realised it wasn’t feasible and instead had her as a mysterious antagonist in One Last Thing… (I did manage to release three different versions of the game as well as Barry Basic and the Quest for the Perfect Port before the jam period was up, but I’m still certain I wouldn’t have had enough time for the originally planned game!). Jam 5 saw the complete planning out of a fun North Pole adventure for Christmas, but that was too big as well (which was for the best as it would have had a similar theme to about four of the other games in the jam!), and I ended up going with Day of the Sleigh, with the hope of making the original game idea in time for Christmas 2021 instead (50% chance I reckon).

As you’ll be aware if you’ve been following these sporadic Monday game creation updates, since the end of the last Adventuron jam I’ve been working on a big game called Marie. This has been planned as the expansion and continuation of the game excerpt Pre-Marie, which I entered into IntroComp last year. The aim was to finish and release it as an entry into ParserComp, as the deadline is the end of June and you’re allowed to enter completed IntroComp games. I thought three months would be plenty of time to get everything finished. However, it’s a really big game, and in the last week or so, I’ve come to the realisation that rushing to get the game finished in time for the deadline would mean that I wouldn’t be doing the game justice. I’ve put a lot of work into it, and I want it to be perfect before release, so I’m going to take my time finishing it and hold it back for a future competition instead. Although it’s now likely that Pre-Marie will form a prequel to the game rather than its first chapter, having emailed the organisers of IFComp it sounds like the two games would be a bit too closely related for Marie to be eligible for that competition, so I may well end up holding it back for Spring Thing, or ParserComp 2022 if it runs again.

I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be getting it finished this month (or possibly not even this year), but I know the game will be much better and meet its potential if I take my time over it. In the meantime, I’m still entering ParserComp! I’ve made a short game that I’m really excited about, and I’ve still got over a week to finish polishing and playtesting it, so I feel more relaxed about it than I’ve felt about any competition or jam game since… possibly ever. It’s a very nice feeling to have!

The night is a different world.

(I still have the code for The Cave of Ponies. The aim is to finish and release it… one day.)

Phone Box Thursday: Barry Basic and the Quick Escape

I’m out of real-life phone boxes, so here’s the interior of the one I drew for my game Barry Basic and the Quick Escape.

Red phone box
Red phone box, a small village somewhere in England, summer 1969.

I based it on an image of a mid-century phone box interior I found online, as the game is set in 1969. The A and B mechanisms were to do with coin return (explained here under ‘Coin Boxes’).

Most of my planned games for the next year have phone boxes in. I think I’ve just been missing seeing real-life examples!

Adventures in Coding: The Halfway Point

So the reason that I’m taking a hiatus from my running vlog is because, fun though it is to make videos, the editing process does take a lot of time – and I need to prioritise other fun things at the moment, namely the frighteningly large text adventure game that I’m making for the next big competition. As such, in lieu of my Monday vlog share, I’ll be doing a weekly update on here about the game project.

Last year, I made the first section of this game – an excerpt called Pre-Marie that I entered into IntroComp. The full game is called, perhaps unsurprisingly, Marie, and it has turned out to be an absolute behemoth. All my games start out as behemoths but most of them get ruthlessly hacked down to size due to the time constraints of the game jams I make them for. I had three months to make Marie, starting from the beginning of April when I finished Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and believe me I have found I need every spare minute of those three months. It’s an ambitious project, but I’m so determined to get it finished.

It all starts in an attic on a rainy night.

I’m halfway through the project now. I spent April planning out the game, am spending May coding, and will be spending June making the bells and whistles (graphics and music) and doing as much playtesting as possible. I expect it will get a bit tight at the end (game projects always do!) but I’m so invested in this game and it will be so worth it when it’s complete.

I’ve been getting a lot of very good reception for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, which has been really lovely and encouraging and has spurred me on to keep working really hard on my game creation! The game came second in the jam, which meant that as a top five game it was entered into the ‘Scott’s Choice’ award shortlist, judged by adventure game legend Scott Adams. I’m thrilled to say that I won the Scott’s Choice award, and will soon be the proud wearer of the prize t-shirt!

The halfway point feels a bit scary as I’ve still got so much to do, but I know I can do it!

July will most definitely be a month spent playing other people’s games instead…