Now THIS is something I’ve been waiting to share with you.
I’m making a game!
…a retro remake.
And since “1988’s most over the top game” is the subject of an incredibly detailed new feature in this month’s Retro Gamer magazine, now is the PERFECT time to tell you all about it.
Welcome, to Day 1 of “International Operation Block Week”.
Each day (Monday to Friday) I’ll have a little bit more for you. 🙂
But first, a little history…
- Of a game I loved
- From a genre that hadn’t been remade much before
- That could have accessable controls added, for gamers with a disability*
*Retro Remakes competitions encourage this.
Very early in the piece, I decided that Taito’s 1988 classic Operation Wolf was the game I’d remake. But my lack of graphical prowess would be a big problem, unless I worked out a clever solution.
Plan A was to film/photograph friends in army gear, on location, in the style of Operation Wolf 3 (or the Terminator 2 gun game). I’d then edit Creative Commons licensed photographs to create the backdrops. Of course, doing the former would require movie-style equipment, lighting and makeup… so plan A was abandoned.
At the time, I’d been playing with the (then freeware beta) of the Lego-esque online game Blockland. It allowed you to explore & build in 3D using Lego-esque characters and building blocks. This would be a clever way to get around my inability to pixel!
Plan B: Build & photograph (screenshot) the characters, vehicles and “sets” within Blockland. I went as far as building a few of level 1’s buildings before realising that my ability to customise or animate the characters would be limited. Also – the “filming” would require another person to “flim” the characters Machinema-style. As I wanted to work solo, this was no good. (BTW: Take note of the upper right building below… you’ll see why in a minute.)
I liked the idea of using Lego characters, as I thought they looked charming. I googled for any other programs that might help me. It was then that I found the answer! Ldraw. It’s a collection of free software tools for modeling Lego creations in 3D.
Plan C: Use LDraw & the associated programs that interface with it. The LDraw parts library is amazing. It’s got virtually every piece of “real” Lego you’ve ever seen, and plenty more you haven’t. Due to the incredibly flexibility of this system – plan C was the winner.
The steps to create Lego objects for Operation Block are:
You can see below a screenshot of MlCad in action, using the Ldraw parts to design a “green grenade thrower” enemy…
Now, remember that building with the red/brown roof I showed earlier? (It’s the “top right” picture in the “group of 6”.)
OK, here’s my version of it…
I think that looks pretty good. And there’s plenty more where that came from. (Soldiers, vehicles, etc)
Now – I had a programming environment, and a way to make the graphics. And over the next 120 days, I managed to:
- Analyse the original Operation Block to within an inch of its life
- Learn how to use MlCad, L3P & Povray for models
- Use GIMP layers for animation
- Program in Gamemaker
- Remove 99% of the bugs in my programming
But I only had level 1 completed. Levels 2 to 6 were just in the planning stages. And as the RR competition required games to be “at least 80% complete”, I simply couldn’t enter.
I did a bit more work on Operation Block over the next 12 months, but by mid 2007, the project was resting. There it sat, on my external drive.
Operation Block is a freeware, fan tribute game being developed for Windows PCs. There’s no connection whatsoever to Taito, Lego or Traveller’s Tales. And it won’t be ready till Christmas 2010. At the earliest.
Hope you enjoyed Day 1 of “International Operation Block Week”.
- Tuesday’s post is… “Operation Wolf: Dissecting a classic“
- Wednesday… “L***w: M****g b****s o***a n*****g a* a**“
- Thursday… “G**e M***r – G**e B*****r“
- Friday… “O*******n B***k ***“
…well, I can’t give away everything at once. 😉