Nearly 10 years ago when I was a young video game artist working for Software Creations in Manchester I firmly believed that I could set the world of gaming alight. Back then we were developing fairly average GameBoy Advance games for Acclaim so a number of us had side projects.

area51 title screen Area51 screenshot

A coder friend and I had read with interest that the original plans for DOOM were to have military scenarios over-run with mutants and all manner of toxic monstrosities, and you as the hero had to dispatch them to escape. Carmack had put the kibosh on the idea claiming it was far too stereotyped and predictable – far better to have hell crawling out from some otherworldy place and eventually finding its way back to Earth. That story is the stuff of video gaming legend.
But we were fairly intrigued by the initial idea and I started coming up with some artwork and animations. Fortunately I kept the artwork from back then on CDs and having just moved house found them all in a box. So I dug them out, restructured them and started building a game. I call it Area 51 just now since a decent title hasn’t struck me yet :-)

The premise is fairly simple, the crap hits the fan deep inside a secret military installation and all the “projects” are released in to the corridors. You start with a pistol and shoot your way out finding more complex experimental weapons as you go. Naturally the monsters become more complex and deadly and there in itself is a game.

But I want to add a bit more to it. I want the played to deal with mutants in waves. At the end of each wave the player finds the exit and is presented with a choice – left, right or straight ahead. I construct the map up front and the player picks his route. There’s no keys to find or passcodes for unlocking doors – it’s all just run, gun and get out.

I intend to have shootable powerups and other such goodies but for now it’s all about getting the feel of the action right. To that end I’ve successfully managed to scale the mutants and render appropriately sized blood droplets. I’ve also managed to jolt the gun and plan on firing off empty shells with each round. The gun is controlled from the green touch area at the base of the game. With every stroke of the finger the crosshair moves in the main game area and shoots. If a mutant is in the way it is shot, loses HP and ultimately falls defeated.

I’m super excited to be creating a game that isn’t my normal sort of game. I’m also excited to be using some graphics that are from a time I absolutely adored sitting and pixeling in Photoshop. I hope to show quite a bit more in the coming weeks.

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