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Stalin's Dilemma

Recently I was asked about what strategy games I have enjoyed and I remembered playing this one in my High School years (During my very brief Socialist period, I blame reading Animal Farm).

Stalin's Dilemma is a turn-based economic strategy game. Beginning in the 1920s, you, as Joseph Stalin(!) have to lay out three five-year plans to turn around the backwards Soviet economy, end starvation, improve standard of living and resist the pending German invasion.

You have direct control over the various sectors of the Soviet economy. Agriculture is needed to keep your workers fed. Energy produces fuel for all the other sectors. Mining produces metal for Industry. Industry produces tractors, trucks, oil rigs, mining equipment, weapons, consumer goods and additional factories, though these can also be purchased with surplus food, fuel and metal through foreign exchange. Transport is needed to shift items between the sectors.  Finally, the military is needed to protect the USSR from Operation Barbarossa.

I'll note that even though the game may possibly be advocating planned economies, it does not advocate Stalinism. The very goal of the game is to do a better job then Stalin did, by turning the USSR into a superpower without the associated barbaric loss of life (The lack of a 'purge dissidents' button or a 'Gulag' sector are conspicuous by their absence).

Each game lasts for only three turns, making this the only historically based strategy game I know of that can easily be played through in a single coffee break. The game is free to download from The Home of the Underdogs. Anyone who has an interest in history, economics, politics, socialism or dictators should definitely spend a few minutes checking this one out.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun interviews Ragnar Tornquist

Rock, Paper, Shotgun did an interview with Ragnar Tornquist, the developer of adventure games 'The Longest Journey' and 'Dreamfall', about the games he developed as well as his storytelling techniques.

The Escapist on Sidhe Interactive

Shockingly, the Escapist is more then just Zero Punctuation. A few weeks ago they did an article on Sidhe Interactive, New Zealand's biggest gaming company (and probably the only ones to have released titles on XBox, Xbox360, PSP, Wii, PS2 and PS3).

Release of "Enemy"

Quick update, Kristie Addison has released the final version of "Enemy", the theme song for Derelict. It will eventually be available for purchase on both Amplifier and iTunes. You can have a listen to it here http://www.transitofvenusproject.com/enemy/. This version of the song will appear in the credits in a later version of Derelict, as well as Derelict's sequel, Desolate, and Derelict's prequel, at this point titled Operation Stormbreaker. Both will be available for download "When its done"

Game Dev's Block

Sorry for the lack of updates. I'll post some brief news about whats happening with my game development.

First of all, there is an updated version of Derelict out on the games page. This includes a bug-fixed version of the speedfix patch, and includes a cool new feature - autosaving. This still isn't the "definitive" Derelict though, in a fortnight to a month or so I will release yet another edition, this will include the Commercial release version of Derelict's theme song, "Enemy" (soon to be available for purchase on iTunes and Amplifier, congrats Kristie).

I may also update the levels and story as well. And of course, this will also include the level editor. At the start of this month I began work on Mobile Warfare, my idea for an ultra simple action game playable over the Internet. I didn't get that far before I started to lose motivation to work on it. Below is a screengrab I've released of a very very early test edition, which I thought looked pretty good, if a little "too realistic" for the type of game it was going to be.

Part of the reason why I lost motivation to work on it was because at the Auckland Game Works meetup this month, I was informed about yet another game development competition. This one is a "Demakes" competition, the idea of which is to remake a new game to look like it was developed for an older system (the example they gave was "Cogs of Conflict" for Atari 2600).

The first idea I got was Ultra Plumber Universe, a 2D sidescrolling remake of Super Mario Galaxy, and I had some good ideas how to make the game fun and interesting. Unfortunately I discovered that not only has someone else in the competition has got the same idea, but someone else has been remaking Super Mario Galaxy with SNES graphics and it looks damned good. Incidently, this is what my version looked like before I gave up on it:

After thinking about it some more I started working on a C64-like adaption of Duke Nukem 3D called Princess Plutonium 2D, with gameplay inspired by Metal Slug and Robocop but levels that look almost exactly like sidescrolling versions of the Duke3D shareware episodes, but even that project is going nowhere fast and time is rapidly running out for the competition.

So, yeah, I haven't really felt motivated to work away on games like I normally do. Its, strange, it feels like years since I last made so little progress working on game projects. I may just forget about this competition as well as mobile warfare until next month, when the Retro Remakes competition starts... stay tuned

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New website!

I finally have a website to call my own. Nothing special at the moment. I originally installed Joomla to be a CMS for the site but decided it was too full of junk, so I installed Wordpress on it to just manage the blog and everything else is being hand coded. After I update the games pages i'm going to look at installing PHPBB as well so I can have an in-site forum. Stay tuned.

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Should I enter the Retro Remakes 2008 competition?

I've decided that, out of my shortlist of game projects I posted earlier, Mobile Warfare is definitely the one I want to do first. Being a multiplayer project it wouldn't be the easiest game in the world to develop, but pulled off right it could be a great multiplayer experience that appeals to both casual and hardcore players alike.

BUT.. Retro Remakes have just announced their 2008 competition, starting 1st of September. And i'm tempted to enter it. I have a few ideas about what I might do as well. The C64 port of Thunderblade was one of my favourite games on that computer (as well as being based on one of my favourite movies..). My girlfriend is particularly partial to Wonderboy in Monster Land for Master System, and I also enjoyed that during my youth. Blue Max and LightForce were among my favourite shoot-em-ups on C64. I only ever played the C64 version, but I thought a remake of Led Storm would also be cool. I also briefly thought about doing The Last V8, but, you know, make it possible to play.

I'm still leaning towards getting to work on Mobile Warfare in a month or two, but I could always do that later. Should I forget about the competition and focus on my original projects, or should I have a go at bringing an old classic back to life?

Derelict news and speedfix

First of all, I have gotten a few reports that Derelict has been running extremely slow on some machines, including ones with powerful hardware. I've encountered that same problem myself when I got my new Crysis-capable laptop(!!) and so I have spent a bit of time working on a patch. So, yeah, sorry about that!

The updated exe can be downloaded from a temporary download location here. Just extract to the derelict folder and run it, it doesn't overwrite any of the existing files. If the game still runs slowly after trying the patch try dropping the target frame rate back to 30 in the options and restart the game. I will update the full Derelict download later when Iam satisfied that the patch doesn't introduce any new bugs.

Now, Derelict has its own Mobygames page! Special thanks to Guilherme Chirinea for summarizing the story, taking screengrabs and entering the credits. Though I've had a Mobygames profile for some years now this is the first time a game I made has listed on the site. I'm absolutely stoked. The page is here.

By extension it now has it's own forum too, which is also great.

In other news, Derelict has been listed on the Indiegames.com blog as a 'freeware game pick' and got a positive write up. The permalink is here. Also the game got a mention on this site, which reminds me, I still need to sort out the level editor..

Kristie Addison on Derelict

Quick update!

Kristie Addison was the primary audio engineer for Derelict, developing virtually all of the sound effects (including footsteps, doors, gunfire and monster snarls) as well as composing the first two music tracks present in the game.

She has written a couple of blog posts about her efforts. The most recent one is quite interesting because it details how she made a few of the sounds. It can be found here

Edit - Kristie has informed me that she intends to release a remixed version of 'Enemy', the theme song for Derelict as a single. It may even see airplay on local radio stations. I'm really excited about it and I wish her all the best.

What's next?

Even before I finished Derelict I started thinking about other projects and.. I still haven't quite decided. There are just so many game ideas I want to do that i'd never be able to get them all done in a lifetime.

Still, I have decided that I will attempt to produce two more games this year. They'll each be small projects and have relatively short development cycles (two months, being over August-September and October-November). This is my short list of potential projects:

Working title: Airshow!
Genre: Puzzle

A blend of Art and Reflexes, you need to manage an Airshow acrobatic display. Your points increase as you have more planes flying simultaneously, doing different maneuvers, but you lose half your score every time there is a mid air collision (incidently, you get more points for near misses). You can play the game basically any way you want to, you simply have to get the highest score possible within the allocated time limit.

Working title: Blow stuff up xtreme
Genre: First Person Shooter

A sequel/remake to my absurdly pointless game from last year (where you simply had to flatten a Hong Kong type metropolis in a giant robot). This game sees you trashing the whole of New Zealand, from Invercargill to Whangarei, in a mecha piloted by a drunk Aussie. Lots of different weapons and power ups will aid you in your destruction of the nation.

Working title: Luger Me Now!
Genre: First Person Shooter

A restart of my aborted NaziKill 3D project, this is a parody of Wolfenstein 3D and 90's shareware games in general (the game itself will claim to be shareware and will perpetually bug the player to buy the full version - which doesn't exist) Working title: Project Firestart Special Edition Genre: First Person Shooter As well as applying much needed bug fixes to my Retro Remakes competition entry, this will include many other enhancements; such as improved graphics and sound and larger variety of gameplay options (including random placement of objects!). Also I'll put in an effort to make every area of the ship unique and have a purpose, rather than simply have it filling in space.

Working title: Mobile Warfare
Genre: Multiplayer/Action

Atari's "Combat" for the 21st century. You choose from one of four basic vehicle classes (Tank, Anti-Aircraft, Fighter, Bomber) and since each vehicle class has a fatal weakness (Tank beats Anti-Aircraft, Anti-Aircraft beats Fighter, Fighter beats Bomber, Bomber beats Tank) you will need to work closely with your team to be victorious. Hopefully I'll be able to support at least 16, if not 32 players simultaneously.

More then one person has suggested to me that Derelict could easily be modified to be a true Space Hulk remake. One even went as far as remaking one of the original Hulk levels with the Derelict level editor. I'm not at all opposed to such a project however i'd only be willing to make coding changes. All art, sound , levels etc would need to be provided by others. (That said - I'm tempted to see if I can make a utility to convert original Space Hulk levels to the Derelict format)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a screenshot of a tech demo I made of my brother's "Prince Mince" idea. I'm not sure if anything else will happen to that because it's really his project - I'm willing to do the coding but he needs to provide everything else, including story, level design and art. What do you guys think? Are there any of these projects you'd be willing and able to give a helping hand with? If not then, which of these projects would you be willing to play when completed?

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