I had created a bunch of incomplete prototypes of games that I unfortunately don’t have with The Games Factory. But times were changing, I lost interest in game making, and started messing with other avenues during my highschool days.
Programming classes weren’t really interesting me, and I wanted to find other avenues to be able to express myself creatively.
I looked elsewhere, maybe there were other skills I could learn. After all, I always drew stick figures in my notebooks and characters that looked like they were from Bill Amend’s newspaper comic FoxTrot
My “OC” comic strip that’s not a ripoff of Foxtrot, copyrighted by me, do not steal.
I would browse the internet, which that in and of itself was an exciting time. There I would discover flash animation. During this time, I’d spend hours going to websites like crazymonkeygames, armorgames and newgrounds playing flash games and watching stick figures punch each other. Animation was always interesting to me as I loved watching saturday morning cartoons. So I looked into an animation program called Macromedia Flash 8 (which evolved into Adobe Flash and then just Adobe Animate).
There was even a particular animation done by an Australian guy who went by the alias “Ryanide“ who made this one animation called Dendyn Dynasties that just got me super stoked. (“Ryanide” by the way has been a huge inspiration for me as an artist to this day)
Dendyn Dynasties was a Flash Animation by Matt “Ryanide” Hilton. Not me, Copyrighted by him, do not steal.
But compared to that, what I made paled in comparison.
This is painful for me to share, you’re welcome.
So while animation was one of the things I’d have fun messing with, even though I didn’t get anywhere with it, music making was another aspect that interested me.
As a middle schooler, I played the violin up until high school. (I’m not even sure why I chose the violin, I probably just thought it looked cool). But while I stopped pursuing playing violin, I’d look into maybe trying my hand at the idea of putting notes together to make songs.
What started it for me was when my brother used a program called TabIt, a simple music composing program intended for writing guitar tablatures (notation for guitar players). I would always see him using it and so I thought I would give it a shot.
TabIt’s Interface, each number was a MIDI note programmed in.
Here are some…great…songs…I composed…
But let’s be super raw and brutally honest, my attempts at both avenues were pretty amateur. I didn’t really get very far in either, this was a pretty big struggle for me at this time. I also didn’t enjoy school and the safety of being at home playing video games was far more appealing. Heck even my ability to draw wasn’t really that great (even though I really wanted to draw like “Ryanide” did)
my old cringey art but…it does show that I really wanted to get good at drawing animal characters. I always thought it was impressive someone could have their own art style that they were comfortable with and good at.
But while I was always held back by my artistic skill, I still really wanted to get better and create awesome art pieces no matter what avenue I went towards. It’s funny because even today, I still struggle with this.
So now what? It seemed kind of hopeless, I wasn’t particularly good at anything. And while people would just snidely say stuff like what I did isn’t impressive and whatnot, I still really wanted to create something that looked incredible.
It was in my later years in high-school that I would discover working with computers to create animations, digital art as well as create maps for unreal 2004
And the best part, was that as I got a little older, my skills were improving…
Our game is called Day of the Dad which you can check out here!
Survive for as long as you can! Feed hungry kids outside your house before you get overwhelmed!
Speaking of games…if you check out the homepage, you may notice a downsizing of games being listed. This is because I now moved a chunk of game jam games and other projects to the new “Game Jam Games/Misc.” section.This was simply done to clean up the page a bit and organize things a little.
When I arrived home with my new game making book, I was very eager to learn to finally make something. I opened the book, I could smell the crisp oily pages from which thousands of people had touched this book. I glanced through looking at the pictures, and then installing The Games Factory onto my Windows XP computer.
I followed the tutorials, making something as simple as a square move on screen. I’d learn to work with their grid like coding system to add features like score and lives. This was drastically more promising than my previous attempts at making games. On occasion, I would look at the demos that came with the CD, and look at the code that the developers provided, and play some pretty amazing games.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any images of the games they had, but some of the assets were VERY early 2000s esq. stuff like pre-rendered 3D characters were all the rage, and I vaguely remember playing a game where you shoot these green 3D cartoon faces (they kind of looked like Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street) and after you shot them it would say “DOOD YA GOT ME!”. Good times.
This was truly an exciting time, I finally felt like I was gaining momentum, and now I could feel a surge of inspiration to make any game I wanted. Well, that was until I actually started to try and make games with the games factory.
As it turns out, The Games Factory was actually super limited with it’s features, you had to be REALLY creative and wrestle with the program itself to get what you wanted. But even then, there were a lot of missing features that today’s game making programs have spoiled us with. Things like not having layers, having a limited number of animations per object, and other rudimentary limitations that really held you back from making your dream game.
I think you can already see where I’m going with this. I wasn’t really able to make many games if any with the Games factory, but I did have a lot of crazy ideas. For the rest of this post, I think it would be fun to talk about some of the prototype concepts I had when I was young and full of energy.
I unfortunately don’t have the actual game files or any assets from them, so these pictures below are simply my attempts at re-creating how I remember the games looked back then.
A cartoon ninja game where it would have had awesome slow-motion moments of you punching other ninjas and doing flips and so on.
A vague re-creation of what the game looked like, there was a severe animation limit, but I remember trying to have him throw stars and performing a super smooth somersault into the air.
He even had a tediously animated run animation, one that was animated frame by frame constantly, the most painstaking way possible.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t really go far with the AI limitations of the games factory…and it didn’t really let me do different attacks.
TANKS, an epic game where you shoot other tanks causing huge explosions while listening to rock music. 8 directional tank driving action!
My brother made an awesome song that honestly out shined the game itself. But that didn’t hold me back, I worked super hard to still make the menu screen match the level of epicness in this song.
The game used some of the Games Factory’s explosion assets, obviously I don’t have them, imagine that explosion being replaced by a pre-rendered 3d explosion.
It was a pretty hilarious game, simply because the menu would have hundreds of explosions and an endless epic battle of tanks constantly re-spawning and shooting each other while the music played. But as soon as you hit start, the music would abruptly cut and go to silent sound effects only gameplay. This was because there was a limitation where you could only have ONE sound channel, so only sounds or music, not both.
A mysterious, sci-fi themed game which had these pixelated stick figures shoot each other. You would play as a black stick figure shooting red stick figures. I think I imagined a cool futuristic element to it, but with an oddly nostalgic aesthetic to it.
I think I even drew the characters at a larger scale by hand, so no programming scaling up features.
Bubble dude was an attempt at making a fun lighthearted platformer. My brother struck back again and composed some goofy tracks for it. It was going to have a quirky character jumping on other goofy enemies. A Cartoon aesthetic like Kirby while having fun platforming akin to Mario and so on.
I vaguely remember an enemy that wasn’t fully drawn, which is why that “top with an eye” looks like that.
You played as a super cool and tough futuristic soldier called Laser Warrior, a master at espionage, high-tech weapons and all forms of hand to hand combat. The guy could jump, crawl and while The Games Factory couldn’t really handle that many things like punches and so on, he was able to fire a laser out of his high-tech glove.
There was a quirk where you could hold lasers down in the air and he would shoot a machine gun of them in a arc like above
Some hard work went into animating him, he was the most realistically proportioned human character I had ever worked with, unfortunately the most tragic event had happened…
…I forgot to save, and then the power went out. The animations were gone and all that was left was a rectangle that could only move left and right.
Calling back to the 90s mascot platformers, my middle school friend Greg came up with this rabbit like character who wore blue overalls. The platforming was designed to be crisp and responsive while the animations were some of the most fluid that I had ever made.
This was a pretty great time, we’d go to each other’s houses, I’d install the games factory on his father’s computer and we’d just mess with the game for hours and just marvel at even the smallest amounts progress that was made. Things like getting the character to move, jump and throw carrots. These were some golden memories.
Jack would collect carrots as ammo, and then throw them to attack.
There were some hilarious exploits to the game too, where you could keep holding the movement key into the wall, jump and then repress the movement key into the wall, allowing you to infinitely climb up vertical walls.
The most memorable part was when my friend Greg said to me,”When the player beats the game, Jack will walk away and then an old lady will ask him ‘Who are you’ and then he’ll look back and say,’I’m Jackalope Jack!’ Then it would end with him walking to the sunset”.
Funny thing is, I was recently able to find the floppy disk (a translucent neon green one that held about 2MB) that contained the project. Unfortunately, when I tried getting a copy of the games factory, it didn’t want to work. I’ll have to find a super old computer someday to unearth this gem of a game.
So now what? The truth is that the program was just so limiting and my ability to concentrate on a project for a long time was non-existent. So I eventually dropped The Games Factory and moved on to my high school years, to a new chapter of my life. There I wouldn’t touch game making ever, but I would soon discover other interests that would shape my skill set for the rest of my life…