The months pass quickly! Having not written this yet, I feel like my hands are somewhat tied on writing other things for my blog. This last installment isn’t as detailed as my previous installments, I’m afraid, but nevertheless, it was fun to reminisce about some of these games, some of which I’d almost forgotten I’d made.
Watch this space in the next few days as I announce where a few other, larger game projects are in development, and in the near future where I recommend a host of other people’s Pirate Kart games.
This is the game I probably spent the least or second least amount of time on. This was another request from the Kickstarter funders, and the request was this:
a game about taking care of a virtual pet and dressing it up and decorating its home
A virtual pet game! I haven’t thought much about virtual pets since I had a little dog in a watch I kept on my nightstand in junior high. My original ambitions were a bit lofty, but once I had the drawing of the thing (drawn directly into Game Maker’s sprite editor by mouse), I knew the tone this thing would take. There aren’t that many things to click on, and your pet can never die (though it can sit in its own filth for a while), but I had fun putting this senseless, silly thing together.
Parodies of Jason Rohrer’s Passage are a Glorious Trainwrecks and Pirate Kart tradition by now, with numerous “sequels” and retoolings populating the fifth Pirate Kart alone. Some have you playing 8 Passages at the same time, turn the slow aging mechanic of the game into a race to death, or make the player character into a literal piece of shit. Sergio Cornaga put out one of the best Pirate Kart games in Passagebalt, injecting Passage into Canabalt.
Mine amounts to a pretty simple joke in the titular lyric from Andrew W.K.’s “We’re Not Gunna Get Old.” It was fun rendering Andrew W.K. (whose music I listened to constantly throughout the Kart) in Rohrerized pixel form.
Stemming from an IRC chatroom conversation with Effbee and others, I wanted to make a multi-kart to stuff into the multi-kart, upping the total number of Pirate Kart games by 100. Effbee had done something similar for the second Pirate Kart with his 999,998-in-1 cart, the product of actual randomization, I believe. For this one, I built a handful of quick, basic levels and made all the objects reskin by certain variables set in the multicart menu. I recycled most of the game graphics and mechanics from elsewhere (getting enemies from games like Holiday Penguin Mania X, bringing in the player characters of Ghost Witch and Bulb Boy, and borrowing the levers from the in development Caverns of Khron), but this took forever. Most of what took forever was coming up with 101 unique names for the games in the cart, and then setting the 4 variables that differentiated them.
All for a little joke. But in making the joke, I made the closest thing to a Donkey Kong ’94-style platformer, which was something I’d been aiming for all throughout.
If only I’d come up with another game in the ChickenFall franchise, we could’ve had titles four layers deep!
Basically, this was a quickly put together game to up the total game count. I didn’t change much from the way the first game worked, save for inputs. I think I even left the phase progression alone.
That said, turning this into a two-player game (like Koi Puncher before it) may actually make this a more interesting game. It’s always fun to play with your friends!
For the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about multiplayer games where the players have different abilities. I knew I wanted to make a game like that in the weeks following the Pirate Kart V weekend. My initial concept was a Space Invaders-inspired game where players had to keep each other alive, one controlling a gun turret shooting airborne threats with the mouse, and the other protecting the turret from earthbound enemies with melee attacks. But then I had the two witch sprites from the 101-in-1 Amaze-o-Kart, and, with Solomon’s Key 2: Fire ‘n’ Ice in mind, thought I had what could be a real interesting game, one where one player can shoot missiles, and the other can create blocks.
I’d also been wanting to make another splitscreen co-op platformer, after my Vector the Crocodile fangame, Vector Bros. the Crocodiles Escape the Warehouse. I used a lot of what I learned from that game in this.
It’s not a bad idea, but it’s one that deserves more attention and better level design than I gave it here. This is something of an awkward failure, I’m afraid. But it’s one I’m often thinking about how to retool and make better.
Some time during the Pirate Kart festivities, I went crazy over Nintendo’s Game & Watch Gallery series, which had been the primary occupants of my Game Boy Color back in high school. I became interested in doing more survival score attack games, and wanted to try my hand at a simple platformer. I took my aesthetic cues from one of my favorite visual designs for an NES stage, world 4-2 of Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA). The game may get too difficult too quickly, and I wonder if having the seagulls running into the player being instant death was really the correct choice, but I think I balanced the whale motions pretty well, and succeeded in creating a game that’s fairly charming to look at.
I really enjoyed the visual style I employed for Tales of Whales, and the next day, I played a fair bit of Tim Rogers and company’s Ziggurat. This was the result. It plays like a simplified Zigguart mashed up with a tower defense game. The game originally had an old West theme, but a medieval setting just made that much more sense. One of my favorite things about doing it was that as the game progresses and the player makes mistakes, the tower’s shape changes and the player has to adjust his or her perspective. Which is surprisingly intuitive.
This is on my list of games to return to to polish up, retool, and possibly try to get some attention for. If I could get this onto mobile platforms and tweak some things like enemy types, I think it might not be a half bad diversion.
Some days you walk into your apartment, find yourself singing Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” and then 90 minutes later, this appears. I actually built this on top of Boulder Defender and Tales of Whales in ways other than the visuals, but that’s probably basically invisible. I don’t do a lot of games with mouse control, so that was fun to play with.
This game. It’s really silly.
I was racing to make this the thousandth game in the Pirate Kart, but at 50 megs, it just took too long to upload. Alas.
I was watching the live stream of people playing the Pirate Kart on the floor at GDC with only a few minutes left before GDC Play closed. I realized I had just enough time to slap together one final game. I did a quick edit of my The Adventures of Bulb Boy platformer to make it a survival score attack game. It’s not a terrible idea, but the hasty schedule resulted in a level that’s far from ideal for what this game is.
Still, I got to watch Glorious Trainwrecks founder Jeremy “SpindleyQ” Penner play it as the last Kart game finished during GDC. That was a pretty satisfying end to a wonderful journey into creative experimentation and, as it turned out, relative exhaustion.
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