Introducing the game I always wanted to build | Development Journal Entry 2
Updated: Aug 18
In the 1980’s, I bought my first computer the Atari 520 ST FM (I still have the games and hardware in a cupboard somewhere). With the computer came 20 games. One of these was Pac Mania. This was an attempt to modernise Pacman, the classic arcade game. Using 2.5D graphics, it allowed a slightly bigger playing field and the player frame to zoom in more. This created more urgency in the gameplay as you could not see as much of the game area, but also made it feel 3D. It was hugely addictive and for the younger of us at the time, quite hard. If you want to see more on PacMania go here: https://www.mobygames.com/game/atari-st/pac-mania.
Later other developers latched onto the concept of trying to take the Pacman gameplay and expand on it. Two notable examples are Cloud Kingdoms and Rock’n Roll. Cloud Kingdom looked at including a deeper story into the game focusing on the main character called Terry, a green bouncing sphere with eyes and a big nose. He was pitted against Baron von Bonsai, the antagonist who stole magic crystals across the games Kingdom. The different kingdoms allowed the addition of new elements as holes, obstacles and enemies that gave it a similar feel to Pac Mania, but allowed for more variety. See more on Cloud Kingdoms here: https://www.mobygames.com/game/cloud-kingdoms.
For Rock N Roll, the developer went the other direction vastly expanding the play area and focusing on speed. It has more elements similar to Cloud Kingdoms, but also by featuring a soccer ball (yes a soccer ball, you read that right), they allowed fast motion of the much bigger play environment. They also included a key system and energy. This together with record time being shown and some high energy music gave it more of tense feel, where you were constantly on edge. For more on Rock’n Roll go here: https://www.mobygames.com/game/atari-st/rock-n-roll
And then radio silence, as is no one developed any more games in this genre (as least as far as I could see). Even Pac Man started venturing into becoming a platform game. I personally did not understand this, as there was so much potential in this genre and ways to make it even with new technology. That was 1992.
Fast forward to 2019 and despite a renaissance of pixel games, the flourishing of the Indie community and a massive push to create new platform games, old style RPG’s and even shoot em ups, there is still nothing.
In May 2019, I decided that it made sense to try to build this game myself. Maybe there is no market for it (though Pac Man is still very popular, so….). Maybe there is nothing interesting left to do in the genre or no way to change the genre territory to make it sufficiently different (but again, infinite lives, 60FPS, slowing / speeding up the environment, more interaction elements, a fuller story, so….).
The game I have called Next Earth: The Journey Trilogy. I sought to look to the 1980’s arcade games and Atari ST for inspiration including Pac Mania, Cloud Kingdoms and Rock’n Roll. But also looked at modern day in terms of what has changed in the video game industry. As such I sought to take the best from the past and the present and put a unique spin on it.
I have fused elements together so that the genre is no longer just a puzzle game or an arcade game. Instead I have tried to create a new genre that I call “Real-Time Puzzle Arcade Adventure”.
Why is the genre called “Real-Time Puzzle Arcade Adventure”? I felt this was the best name to describe the elements from the modern era (see below) and the elements from the past (see next below):
Lighting fast - Includes 60 FPS that allows speed of movement and a game world that is lighting fast. This enables the player to focus on quick reaction times to stay alive.
Rage Mechanics - To build on this and create more of an ebb and flow feeling where the player would want to continuously play, I also introducing what some called rage gaming (where the game has infinite lives, simple mechanics, fast reaction times and planning ahead what moves to make in a level).
Speed Morphing - To create more ways to play the game as well as build on being lighting fast with rage mechanics, I looked to include the ability to change the space dimension at the press of a button. When in hyper space, time slows down (buying the player more time to beat the level), but the enemies and obstacles speed several fold ratcheting up the difficulty level significantly. Go to lost space and the game slows down reducing the difficulty significantly, but your timer speeds up its count down and when it hits zero you have to restart the level.
From the 1980 / 1990’s I took the following inspirations:
Collect em up - The core part of the game is to collect all the dots (fuel cells) to beat the level, by opening the hyper gate. With the above new mechanics included this is not a straightforward experience.
Story - I have created a story based on the evacuation of Earth against the protagonists the Octians that Humanity is defenceless against and run away from. This features a cast of characters who each represent the ships that are trying to escape.
Graphics - I tried to keep the retro 80’s feel through the colours and typography used. But also included modern elements like the use of photography and filters.
I would love your feedback on the demo. Come and join our discord community to provide feedback: https://discord.gg/7w7WxqC
Also wish list the game as well as learn more at: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1353660/Next_Earth_The_Journey_Trilogy/