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Caverns of Khron release!


My biggest game project to date has been released! I finally feel like I have something with an amount of polish and fairly large scale out there, and that's like the realization of a childhood dream.

I'm pretty proud of it. I've been working on it (sometimes with more dedication than others) for almost 11 months now. I'm about to embark on another project with a group of hobbyist developers at Waseda University (I think), so I'm eager to start on something new.

I have this website and a lot of its greater surrounding community to thank for getting me back into game making. Thanks for giving me a place to work out game ideas and exchange my little bursts of creativity.

If you're interested, please download it here.

John D. Moore

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JDM games plot inventory

This is every game I've ever released to the Internet in any capacity in mostly chronological order. Asterisks mark collaborations.

UFO Invasion: Escape an alien spaceship*
Bob: The Adventure: (I don't remember)
Bob 2: A New Adventure: (I don't remember)
Ancient Castle of the Dogs: Escape the castle
Redcoats: Revolt*
Jack O'Lantern: Destroy an ancient evil

Night Conjure: Destroy an ancient evil
The Punctuation People: Kill an oppressive overlord
Parallel Universe: Escape a parallel universe
Zem!: Guide a lemming to an exit
Zem! 2: Guide a lemming to an exit

Zem! 2 Level Pack: Guide a lemming to an exit*
The Grand Mage: Destroy the evil Brotherhood

Darkwing Duck RPG: Defeat your nemesis

Uncle Frank's Barn of Happiness: Talk to Uncle Frank*

Zem! X: Catch a lemming

AdversiTurtle: Cause the most adversity*
Tetrovny!: Escape and make love*

About a Ball: Get to the portal

Watch Ducks: Watch ducks
Cat vs. Mice: Eat the mice
World Shmup: Defeat the soccer players and then defeat yourself with soccer balls
Portcullis: Don't kill the knights or the king
I Enjoy Being a Whale: Discover the world's secret after you've eaten what you want

Fall Free: Fall skillfully
Vector the Crocodile Walks Through Great Art: Walk through great art
Vector the Crocodile Is Chased by the Sun: Run away from the Sun
Vector the Crocodile Wants a Lot of Rings: Get a lot of rings
Vector Bros. the Crocodiles Escape the Warehouse: Escape the warehouse
Hammer Bro.!: Get to the castle
Devil Disco Dancer!: Get to the demon portal
Fank Sinatra in "River, Stay Away from My Door": Ascend the level to keep the river away from your door
Holiday Penguin Mania X: Get all the coins

The Adventures of Bulb Boy: Kill all the vermin
Demon Forest: Find the portal and escape
Wizard Forest: Betray and kill the wizards
Grizzly Golf: Put the ball in the hole
Watch Ducks II: Watch Ducks
ChickenFall: Land in a nest
Blondie: Dagwood's Spin-Off: Spin until your boss can't take it anymore
Koi Puncher: Punch koi
Demon Forest II: Escape
Catch the Bus: Catch the bus
Koi Puncher: Championship Edition: Punch more koi than the other guy
Owl Forest: Listen to owls
Fuck the Sun: Kill the Sun
Fuck the Sun II: Sun Lover: Die in the Sun
Watch Ducks HD Remix: Watch ducks
ChickenFall: ChickenCatch: Put chickens in the nests
Watch Ducks CGA: Watch ducks
Ghost Witch: Get to the exit
My Pet Thing: Take care of your pet thing
Andrew W.K.'s Passage: Live forever
101-in-1 Amaze-o-Kart: Get to the exit or get all the coins
ChickenFall: ChickenCatch: Friend's Edition: Put chickens in the nests with a friend
Witch Sisters in Lava Dungeon Rescue: Escape together
Tales of Whales: Get stars
Boulder Defender: Defend your tower
Duel in Concert: Piano Man X Tambourine Man: Appease a fickle audience
Bulb Boy Infinity: Survive and kill
Utter Nonsense Factor: Combat Pipe Game: Put the gels in the buckets
Super Sister-Finding Adventure World: Find your sister
Death-Defying Princess Groove: Dance
ZZInfiltré: Steal the documents
Super Dig Site Madness: Get to the peace flag
Shellmar's Shellulous Journey: Get a diamond
Jill of the City in Wrangler Denim and Shoes Enslavement Escape Adventure: Escape
Village Vampire Feast: Kill and surive
Pick a Political Winner: Decide which object grew the most
Caverns of Khron: Go through the caverns

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Moore-Tech 2000: a look at my 1996-99 game design folder

Cross-posted at JDM, my personal blog.


Some time next month, I'm going to release Caverns of Khron, my biggest game project to date.  A few months ago, I found a folder in my filing cabinet titled "Miscellaneous Game Development," containing dozens of pages I wrote and drew between 1996 and 1999.  Until I'd found this, I'd basically forgotten about all the games I'd made and planned before I started making ZZT games in 1997.  I'd actually been designing games on paper since about 1990, though I didn't have any kind of computer till 1994.  I never learned C++ or any other "real" programming languages save for a very rudimentary knowledge of QBASIC that only equipped me for the simplest text adventures.  So, if you're interested, you're welcome to join me on a nostalgic, navel-gazing trip through what I thought about making video games before I even knew how.

My cousin Steven introduced me to QBASIC in the mid-nineties, and it was simple enough that I thought I could write a couple small programs.  I never actually spent much time with text adventures like Zork (I loved Return to Zork, but couldn't get my hands on an actual copy of the Zork trilogy until like 1998), but I was in love with the idea, and had played around with a couple MOOs and MUDs, more interested in the promise than any execution of the idea I'd actually seen.  Before long, I'd programmed a virtual room-by-room tour of my house--called "My House"--which forever cemented in my mind the cardinal directional layout of Pocatello, Idaho.  This and other games would be "published" under a "label" called "Moore-Tech 2000," and I'd hang this sign on my door:

Please note that this sign only ever hung on my bedroom door.  The prices listed were the fees I wanted to charge my two younger sisters to give them copies of these games on their own floppy disks.  It was an evolution of when I tried to sell my sisters and cousins the Nintendo fanfiction I'd write and illustrate, bound in construction paper when I was about nine-years-old.  I also offered customized games for the low price of only 75 cents to $1.75.  I don't believe I ever made a cent from any of my games, and rightly so.  Eventually, I just tried to get my sisters to play them.

Of the games listed, very few without the checkboxes ever were finished.  "Text Color" simply changed the color of the MS-DOS text interface.  "Pilgrim Hunter" was a text game where the player searched a square field square by square for a turkey to shoot, like a festive, unchallenging "Hunt the Wumpus." I also apparently finished something called "J.C.," but I have no idea what that might have been.  I seem to have been planning something called "Aquaria," and considering my then-interests, it surely involved mermaids.

Sadly, I finally disposed of my 486 PC last year, which had what I'm sure were the only remaining copies of all the games I worked on, including the first game I ever published, "UFO Invasion," a QBASIC text adventure uploaded to AOL and co-written with my friend Caleb.  I also once had extensive pages of planning for the sequel, which I intended to be a Wolfenstein-like FPS.  Also there was another collaboration with Caleb, a Christmas-themed game called "The Reindeer Riots," though I can't remember for the life of me what actually happened in it.

"Magic Learner" is the one for which I have the most documents still and was the first game I intended to be released in the world of "Khron," a text adventure with a magic casting system and a fair amount of open exploration, to be later paired with a game called "Power Quest" which would be a text adventure with an action and strength orientation.  I'd written some amount of lore for the games' story world, and even drew maps.  Below is a map of the game world and a modified one broken up into a navigable grid for use in the game.


Of course, these papers are what inspired me to name my current game "Caverns of Khron" (before that, it was called "Ruins of Bufannei," a contraction of "Bullshit Fantasy Name").  If you're worried about Khron canon, understand that the game actually takes place in Greschden Caverns, but the game doesn't bear that name because it sounds stupid.

Note the copyright date on the map.  The world of Khron existed contemporarily with our own, but with a 1,960 year date offset.  P.D., I assume, once meant something.

I'd begun a Halloween-themed horror adventure game called "Mansion," where the player explores a large mansion during a Halloween party to discover dark secrets.

This game eventually evolved into "Jack O'Lantern," which began life as a text adventure, and I distinctly remember drawing this map for it in my ninth grade speech class:

In 1997, I learned about ZZT, and found it a more attractive design platform.  I actually adapted this design pretty faithfully into a ZZT game that I published.

In those days, all my ZZT designs happened on paper before they happened onscreen. I have pages and pages of ZZT-OOP code for games like the unfinished "Bob 3: The Amazon Adventure" and "Zem! X" which I began work on in 1998 and didn't finish until 2002.


With my early ZZT games, I employed a "star" system like Tezuka Osamu's, featuring recurring characters playing different parts in each story.  It was silly, but I was in love with the idea.  In the "Zem! X" paper, I love where I drew a picture explaining to myself what I saw in my mind and how I had to express it with ASCII characters.

My ambition was not limited to what I could conceivably produce at the time, of course.  What I wanted to make followed my interests, which in the mid-nineties became largely focused on real-time strategy games.  I have about a dozen pages of notes for "Medieval" and its expansion "Medieval Quests," featuring a total of five factions, with unique units and campaigns.

I also possessed a strange, obsessed fascination with LCD games, and went as far as to plan the screens for half a dozen games on paper. One of these, "Mythical Commander" (left) was an intended LCD real-time strategy game. "Blif the Blot" (right) was a mascot platformer that had a secret versus mode.


Beginning in my later teenage years, I fell in love with the link cable racing game included in Super Mario Bros. DX for the Game Boy Color, and plotted an intricate expansion of the game called Super Mario Arena, featuring a character roster with different abilities, power-ups, and a greater focus on competitive combat. I possessed some vain hope that Nintendo would somehow find out about my plans and accept my pencil drawings as the design document for a million-seller Game Boy Color game and a long career in making video games.

I continued to make ZZT games and began playing around with Megazeux.  Eventually, I became more interested in filmmaking than my once-intended career of glamorous, professional video game development and programming.  I kept my toes wet, working on a graphic adventure game and an online RPG fighter with my cousin, though neither project came to full fruition, and I only advised design and worked on graphics.  I wonder what would've happened if instead of ZZT, someone had handed me a copy of Klik N' Play (I saw it in software catalogs, and after it I lusted), or if Game Maker had come into my life a decade before it did.

I'm going up to my mother's house in a couple weekends.  I'm hoping to dig up some more of these kinds of papers.  I have a vague dream about picking up one of the other game concepts I know I had once upon a time and seeing if I can't bring it to life with what I know now, just to fulfill my 13-year-old self's dreams on some level.  It's been somewhat inspiring to examine what I used to think about games, see where I'm similar, and see where I'm the same.

And at the very least, the 16-years-in-the-making Khron world of games will finally see the light of day.

Caverns of Khron (2012)

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A Pirate Kart post-mortem


I'm doing a post-mortem on my blog about the 25 games I made for Pirate Kart V, reflecting on them and such, in three installments. Published the first one just barely, covering 9 games from Wizard Forest to Koi Puncher: Championship Edition. If you're interested!

Click here to read. If you're interested!

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Fall Free


This started out as basically a trainwrecky thing for a weekly themed creative jam my friends and I do (or used to do--it's kind of fizzled) a few months ago where the theme was "freefall." After a couple hours, I ended up liking what I was working on quite a bit, so I decided to spend some time polishing the movement and the level design.

I'd like whatever feedback I can get. I'm thinking it's going to be just a one-level game, meaning it's going to run all of about 3 or 4 minutes from start to finish at the longest. I'm debating about whether or not to insert a checkpoint or three.

(I intend to also implement an endless mode, either as an alternate gameplay mode or as a separate release.)

Here's the current version, which isn't yet a complete build (so when you get to the end, there's just endless space). I've made it in Game Maker, so it's a Windows executable.

Fall Free 12/10/2011 (24 MB)

Also, the file's kind of huge, because I've included three samples of the kind of music I'm thinking of using, since I'm also kindasorta hoping I might be able to find some musically inclined person who thinks they might enjoy composing an original track for the BGM! To change the music, press "1, "2," or "3" either at the title screen, or before you restart the level after you die.

Arrow keys to move. X to use your fall-dash power.

Thanks to anyone who checks this out!

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