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Pseudolonewolf
2 years ago

Reminiscence, Part 1

◊ Posted by A β Pseudolonewolf
Categories: Reminiscence
I've been making games in some form or another for a long time now, and I've only ever released a small fraction of them. I've only ever even talked about less than half of them, probably, though most of the other half were samey and amateurish.

MARDEK was the first RPG that I ever released, but it was the result of several years of playing around with making RPG engines in Flash.
One of the things that time period produced was Deliverance, but there were similar projects that preceded it, which I never have and never will release because they're short and highly embarrassing.

They were made when I was a lonely teenager, and it shows. They're awful to look at, harsh on the ears with my early attempts at composing, and the writing makes me cringe.

But even so, I look back on them sort of fondly and with curiosity, since it's interesting how far I've come since then.

While I'm not going to upload any of them (really, I'm not, regardless of whether people want me to or not), I do at least want to show off some aspects of them, just for the sake of interest, really. I'll probably write a few blog posts like this!

MARDEK was full of references and in-jokes that nobody but me could possibly get, because they related to these secret, abandoned early forays into game making. It's obvious that ideas made their way from Deliverance to MARDEK 3 in more refined forms, but you'll see here that some ideas from MARDEK go even further back.

This time, I'll focus on a game I was making back in 2005 or 2006, I think (so I must have been around 16 or 17). It uses a version of the engine that Deliverance would eventually use, but it wasn't the first to use it. It was very roughly-built, unrefined, crude. It didn't even have a title!

It had a plot, where you played as some male 'Commoner' avenging his parents' death for some reason, which I'll get to later, but it also had a testing feature which let you build a party of three characters, using any of the creatures or people that appeared in the game, or some that never would. Here's the 'character select' screen:



You may spot some familiar faces there.
Some of them are generic NPC sprites I later reused in Deliverance or MARDEK (often in improved forms). Others are actual characters who got roles in new projects. Some of them you may not recognise at all, but all of them have some emotional history for me, and this game isn't the first appearance of any of them.
I bet I could write about their origins all day, but that would be dull!

Interestingly, each and every one of them had a 'painted' portrait like the one on the right there, done in Photoshop (the one there is for the bald, middle-aged NPC, the first on the third row). I'm surprised by them, looking back, because they're not as bad as I would have expected, considering how old they are.
I've been using tutorials recently to learn better how to draw faces, to improve my drawing in general (since it really needs improving), and now I understand the way that the proportions work in the head, etc... I'm surprised to see that, despite never having done any tutorials back then, the proportions aren't completely off. The eyes are at about the right level, the ear is almost right, the mouth isn't too far off...
It's interesting to me as an artist anyway. Even though I'd not say that any of the portraits are 'good' in any way, they do surprise me... though it's a bit disheartening to realise that I've barely improved at all since then in terms of drawing, or may have even gone backwards!

Anyway, I chose a party. I think this is reasonable:



'Lone Wolf' is a character who precedes this game by quite a long way, and that's how he looked originally. I've probably talked about him elsewhere before. There wasn't much to him other than an appearance, though; he had no personality to speak of, and no backstory. He never spoke in anything I included him in. I just tended to use him as a placeholder character to represent a generic 'hardened adventurer' or something.
'Lone Wolf' appears in MARDEK 3 as a greatsword-wielding adventurer in green armour as a reference to this old 'character' of mine, but obviously it means nothing to most people!

The battles had an ugly GUI and a background that left a lot to be desired, but the battle models themselves are probably very similar to the ones in Deliverance:



Lone Wolf sure is a big boy there.

I was obsessed with vagrants and tramps for a while, and used them as an archetype in many of my games because it amused me. I seem to draw on a lot of the things I liked or did as a child when making games. (They appeared in CBC, and looked basically the same as that there!)
Yalortian Cultlings looked like cowled wizards with glowy eyes back then. I wonder if any ideas eventually transferred over to the annunaki?

The field graphics are probably similar (or identical?) to those of Deliverance, but they make me cringe in an amused kind of way compared to what I can do these days:



The reason I was searching through my old folders to find this game in the first place was because I remembered that it had Gruuls in it, though it wasn't their first appearance. Since I'm working on Miasmon, I was curious to see how much their appearance had changed over the years...

Aren't they sexy beasts here?



And this is what they are like in battle:



...accompanied by a Lingon and a wraith, which is reasonable, I think. This game may have been the first and only time I ever included Lingon battle models, which is interesting... unless I'm just forgetting about other times when I've included them.

You may also notice that the Snappers there are probably identical to the ones in Deliverance. I assume I reused the model.

I mentioned earlier that this game had a plot, which it did... You started off by playing as a wraith, exploring this place called the 'Aetherworld', and it was your job to go and collect the souls of recently dead people to guide them to the afterlife.
The two souls that you eventually found belonged to a middle-aged couple who were killed by bandits. The scene then switched to you, their Commoner son, finding them dead, and swearing revenge upon the bandits that he for some reason knew had killed them. It was all very badly-written.

When you left your house, your 'childhood friend', a girl called Emela, said she'd join you on your adventure and hinted she may have emotional reasons for wanting to stay with you rather than seeing you go off alone.

Oh, how often this theme recurred!
I was very lonely, you see, during my teenage years, and girls were mysterious aliens, out of reach completely; I didn't know a single one in any way. No girlfriend, no female friends, no female acquaintances, not even any sisters or young female relatives.
But I so desperately wanted to have some close female friend, so these games became a sort of wish fulfilment, where the main character DID have this close female friend - usually called Emela for no specific reason; it was just a name I came up with randomly one day - who subtly had feelings for him but mainly just supported him and, well, was his friend.
It's embarrassing to look back on, and it's one of the main reasons I'd not want to ever release these games.

Emela in MARDEK is a reference to these 'childhood friends' in name only; her role in the plot and personality are not connected. Originally I considered making her have the role that Deugan ended up taking in Chapter 1, but I thought it might be too embarrassing, since I planned to actually release the game.

Anyway, you and Emela went to go and confront the bandit chief, who had attacked your parents to steal some ancient artefact from them. I don't know what was meant to happen next since I never made beyond that point.

Doesn't this look familiar though?



Making my games is full of reminiscence and emotional connections... It's probably the main reason I'm able to put so much time and passion into it, and it's the main reason why I sort of 'need' to come up with my own plots, dialogue, ideas, etc, and why I'm never really receptive to ideas for such things from others...

I probably have more to say about this game, and certainly about others, but this post is rather long, so I might leave that for some other time. I'll certainly write more of these 'Reminiscence' posts if people are interested, though!

Hmm, I actually felt inspired by this game when I found it again the other day, mainly by the Party Select thing. I wondered what it would be like to make a game where you can built an eclectic party out of all manner of men and monsters, and explore some world in a rather plotless fashion...
I'm not going to drop everything to work on such a thing on a whim, but maybe it's something I could remember again if I ever wanted something relatively mindless to do.
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