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Smedis2's picture

Dissecting the games I made when I was 12-14

Hi! I'm alive. I know, right? It's only been like, literally over half a decade since I made anything on this website, or even acknowledged its existence. Sorry.

If you've wondered where the hell I've been, well... my situation's honestly been kinda the same since I last left on that passive-aggressive note all of those years ago. The only difference now is I'm attending college, I've jumped game engines twice (MMF2 to Construct 2 and now am currently experimenting with Godot), and I've developed a taste for those V8 Sparkling Energy drinks.

Oh yeah, I'm also 21 now. My last game was posted when I was 15. I am legally an adult to the point of being allowed to drink in the US and everything. Wild, right?

I still visit this site every now and then just to reminisce on all of the weird shit I put out back then. I kinda miss being able to churn out like 10 games in a week. Mind you, they were more spur-of-the-moment ideas than deliberately crafted out games (for the most part), so it makes sense, but still. But holy mother of GOD there is an insane amount of "author appeal" in these games, even when it makes very little sense. Mega Man MIDIs, the same few .MODs and .XMs over and over again, and, most of all, the fact that quite a lot of the games I made adhered to this "arcade standard".

There's always gotta be some sort of player-induced violence, there's always gotta be action, even when it makes very little sense. Forever Alone (Pictured Above) is a really good example. A sort of weird minimalist self-proclaimed "art game" (to me, an "art game" was something with a sort of ethereal, pretentious attitude back then), where you kick around a ball and have the narrator lambast you for not going outside. It's a cute and weird thing, but then it just suddenly becomes a quasi-SHMUP game where you SHOOT at the door! Because of course you do. You always do. It's not a game without hardcore action-based gameplay, right!?

(Also SWEET JESUS I named games after rage comic memes?!)

There's also the fact that a lot of my games lacked any sort of good difficulty curve. They plateaued between "Piss Easy" to "FUCK YOU". However, there's kind of a good reason for that, a dirty little secret about a lot of my old games. They kinda were like that so I could have an excuse to stim the fuck out while "testing" them. That's not self-deprecation or me calling my self "lol autistic!!11!!" either. I'm dead serious when I say this. My dad had built me a MAME cabinet (yes, really. I actually have another smaller bartop Raspberry Pi based one lying around too!) with an X-Arcade stick (pictured above) and dear god mashing that middle-left button felt so good to 12 year old me (the tank stick was pre-mapped to keyboard keys so it was Shift). Obviously, they were still made with an intent to convey... something, but from a game design standpoint I figured "we're making dumbass deliberately stupid games, why care that much anyways?".

Nowadays, I care about actually making coherent video games. I still wear my inspirations on my sleeve, but I'd like to think I've progressed since slapping random MIDIs and sprites into my games without forethought. Even if it does mean I made a game based on a meme that was considered dead at the time of the game's inception. This is a bit of a double-edged sword, however, since I find myself actually trying even in projects where random stupidity is the name of the game. I've kind of lost that sense of fun slap-dashed-ness nowadays. I find myself trying to "prove" myself, trying to push the envelope, making games that... resemble games, for lack of a better term. If I have an interesting idea, there's gotta be a full playable game around it, and it leads to me dropping projects and ideas more and more by the day.

As for why I left the site so abruptly? Easy. Peer pressure and being an angsty teen. I hung out with a few people who at the time were hardcore "Anti-SJW™®" types, and it kinda rubbed off on me a bit too hard. Even to this day, I have a really bad tendency to bottle up emotions and let them loose, and that's basically what happened there. You may remember a certain Twine-based piece of interactive fiction I wrote.

That's as far as I will talk about it, because thinking about that any longer makes me want to swallow my own eyeballs.

That's a phase of my life I kind of regret a lot, to say the least. That's not to say I'm a perfect squeaky-clean person these days (far from it), but I'd like to think I've grown up just a little from being that unironically venomous. (ABOVE PIC UNRELATED)

I don't fuckin' know, man. Crazy, unbelievable shit has been happening all over the world, I'm cooped up indoors, and I've been dwelling over my life more and more by the day. Sometimes it feels like I don't have much of a future at all. I'm still living with my dad, I have very little in the way of real "adult" responsibilities, and it feels like everything outside of my internet presence has just kinda stagnated.

A lot of my attempts at projects over the past few years have been me trying to "fix" my past in some way, shape or form. I've still been trying to make my "Magnum Opus" game, My Hero 3, which to this day has just stopped and started over again countless times. I keep looking back to the past to dig up old things that I could rework and bring to up my modern gamedev sensibilities. And yes, this includes the ever-fabled Justice Mustache 4. Don't think for a second I've forgotten about that.

Part of the reason I typed this up was to finally get some closure. I did return briefly into the Discord server, but I don't think I had a lot of time to air out my thoughts on everything. I don't really know if anyone's gonna read this, frankly, but I hope someone does. I've been pondering over this for a while now. I sometimes feel like I need to let go of all of this. Most of my current projects and ideas are me trying to capture what I did here and bring them into my new, fancier standards.

That's not to say I hate developing games now or anything, far from it. It's just I feel like I might need to move on with my life. Stop trying to recreate something that's already passed. I have so many original ideas that I want to make, so many original stories I wanna tell, but I'm too afraid of presenting them because I feel like I lack any sort of real talent outside of game development and maybe music. So, I just kinda retreat into trying to make the same game over and over again, but Better™. And it's only worked like, once.

I miss not having any strict codes of design to adhere to. I miss not caring about properly offsetting sprites and aligning floor tiles. I miss being more impulsive and just making a game for the sake of it being funny and not worrying about the game even really working. I miss not feeling completely powerless when I can't get something I want to work exactly as I want it to via some crazy code magic that next to nobody will notice.

And yet, when I make things off-the-cuff, like I used to, it generally seems to prevail the most. But my brain nags me all the way through. "This is hardcoded in so it's bad and everyone will hate you for it!". "You didn't sneak in enough sine wave movement patterns!". "You didn't exactly recreate this one split-second animation from this game that accurately!". That kind of thing. I went from being insanely lax to incredibly anal in the span of 8 years.

I haven't had a very good time in regards to my mental health in these intervening years, if it's not apparent.

Will I ever return to make a new Trainwreck? Will I ever finally make one of my dream games that I've always wanted to? Even though I still have quite a lot of time left before I pass on, I still kind of feel like I've been wasting what time I've had, and I worry I won't be able to accomplish everything I've ever wanted to before I'm dead. A thing I remember is that when I first joined the Discord, someone mentioned that they believed I had "moved onto using Unity" or something to that effect. While it's nice to know that I'm still thought of that highly (somehow), it did make me realize I was still in the same place, using simplified click-on-thing-to-make-thing-happen based programming (I actually had tried Unity before that and absolutely hated it, incidentally).

Most of all, however, I feel alone. One of my only close IRL friends passed away from a battle with cancer in 2016, and ever since then I've felt completely distant from everyone in school and college. I generally found myself conversing with my professors about life more than any fellow student, but that itself has come to a halt for... obvious reasons.

I know this entire segment has been a huge bummer, but I write it because I need validation in my life. Especially now. The story of the starry-eyed kid who wanted to make the funny mustache shooty guy game has now become one of a manchild who has no clue what goals he has set in life aside from what he does on his computer, living with his crazy, borderline verbally abusive dad who doesn't really understand him or see him beyond what I was like when I was 8, and my mom who I'm absolutely sure is only helping me to get back at him (that's a whole different can of worms I will refrain from getting into here). I feel like I've never gonna leave this house...

I hope you've all been doing okay. I don't know how many of the people from the time I was regularly making games are still here, but I hope this message gets to you. God bless.

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