Monthly Archives: May 2014

Memory Lane – DeathRace

Now that money was flowing in and I was learning coding methodologies at University of Central Florida (who knew about linear coding – I was so sloppy, I still blush at the mess Eagles was internally), I decided to write another game for SSI, this one from an old board game I’d done a decade earlier through our startup Setheral Simulations. DeathRace was a pretty neat car game. My hope was to combine the clean driving system of Grand Prix with a combat system with a lot of dice. Never got the driving part to work very well, but blasting someone in the trunk with a shotgun was a very satisfying sensation.

I got that game running in its most basic form and was just getting sound effects into it when I sent it to SSI. Sadly they were not interested. I’ll give them that the game probably needed a lot better graphics (I was up to my font tricks again, but I really couldn’t get the sounds to come across well). But the other reason they gave was that the same gaming house that stole our cute little board game idea (after stripping off the good points and introducing crap) also were now producing a computer version of it. So my copyright-violated board game was now being snuffed as a computer game by the same people? What a sad irony.

And you know what? A year later I finally did manage to pick up their game and give it a play on the Atari. And it sucked. It really did. I wouldn’t have minded so much if my hopes had been crushed by a product of merit. But no, this was just a crummy arcade game that didn’t work very well.

Memory Lane – Eagles

So this was the big one. I was working in a Miami lumber yard, I didn’t know anyone. I was pretty much on my own. I needed a playmate. Then one day, while sorting the board stacks, I came up with a neat World War One flying idea.

Planes could have a percentage chance to turn 90 degrees (else they went straight and THEN turned in their next move). Diving increased their chances, climbing decreased it. Same thing for speed – each plane might go one or two squares, based on their speed percentage. Simple yet elegant. I wrote it using a series of fonts to animate the plane movements and, on a lark, sent it to Strategic Simulations Inc, the powerhouse of computer military simulations.

And they bought it.

This was one of the headiest things that ever happened to me. To see my game in magazines and in shops. To get big royalty checks (I took my entire evening computer science class out to pizza). It was really, really cool. Fame is a very intoxicating drug.

I still have the game on the shelf, and the original art hanging in my kitchen. Every now and then I look at it and think, you know, it wouldn’t be any trouble at all to write this grid-based game in Excel, to duplicate what I’d done and advance it further (how about hundreds of planes on various patrols, allowing you to play at a tactical AND strategic level?).

Yes, someday.