Picture the scene: it’s the 10th of May 2005, at roughly half past eight in the morning. To pass the time before going to school, a half-asleep 18-year-old named Graham Humphrey (that would be me then) brightly decides to start writing an Amiga game. “I’ll make it a horizontally-scrolling shoot-em-up”, he says. “It’ll be for AGA machines only, and it will be one of the best, most polished games of its kind for our favourite computer. I’ll also stop talking out loud to myself.”
So, armed only with an Amiga 1200 and a half-functioning brain, I fired up Blitz Basic and started coding. A couple of days (and much crashing, cursing and anything else beginning with ‘c’) later, I had a decent scrolling engine in place. Fast forward a few months and I had most of the game engine completed; power-ups, waves of enemies, end-of-level bosses… you name it, it was in there (possibly excluding the kitchen sink). Granted, the code was slightly untidy and there was the odd bug cropping up here and there, but it was all going reasonably smoothly. I named the game Annihilation.
I even managed a cliché-ridden plot (aliens destroying planet, blah, waffle, etc) and seven (count ‘em) themed levels: space, a strange alien forest, a strange alien desert, arctic, a ruined city (and not a strange alien in sight), a volcano and finally, the base (a strange alien one, natch). All of which would make more sense if I ever bother to describe the storyline.
Now, though, I had a couple of major problems: namely my artistic and musical ability. I was still using the graphics I knocked up in five minutes before I even wrote a line of code, and frankly a four-year-old would be embarrassed by them. When it comes to putting a tune or two together, I’m even worse. I’ve messed about with ProTracker and OctaMed a couple of times, but the end results sound uncannily like a distressed bee stuck in a tin can. “Now what do I do?” I thought to myself.
And then it struck me (ouch): ask the people who reside on our friendly neighbourhood Amiga forum, EAB. There were bound to be talented people on there who were willing to help out with such a big project. And lo and behold, there were. Soon enough, some guy named Marco Pedrana (hey, he has the same name as the bloke running this site) knocked up some stunning backgrounds for the levels, and a rather neat main sprite too. And thanks to the musical talents of Jason Hill, head-bangingly good tunes now accompany the action. At last Annihilation was gaining momentum.
Left, an early mock-up of the first level, in the depths of space.
Down here, two backgrounds of advanced levels. The backgrounds would scroll continuously, their left and right borders being seamlessly compatible.
But then, disaster; Marco said he wasn’t that comfortable drawing sprites and things, so we needed a new artist. On top of that, some new sound effects were required to replace the shambolically weak ones I used purely for testing purposes. So again, I asked around for suitably skilled people. This time there wasn’t much of answer. So the project has stalled somewhat since about last April, and I haven’t even written or edited a line of code in Annihilation since. There’s been the odd bit of interest here and there from people, but nothing tangible as yet.
(We interrupt this programme to bring you details of Tank Wars, a fabby little 2-5 player game, which I have written since then. It scored 85% in Retro Gamer and GamesTM magazines. Admittedly they both printed the same review, but who’s complaining? Check it out on Aminet now, it runs on pretty much any Amiga setup. Oh, go on. And send me a nice e-mail when you‘ve tried it.)
Ahem, sorry about that. Back to the scheduled programme.
Where was I? Oh yeah. Basically the game’s been on hold for nearly a year, and it’s getting incredibly frustrating watching it gathering virtual dust on my Amiga’s hard drive, especially as I‘m quite a way through it - three levels have been completely designed and programmed, bar the end-of-level bosses for two of them. So it’s time for another plea for help (not of the mental variety, mind). If anyone would be interested in coming up with some enemy sprites, map tiles and the like (you don’t even need an Amiga - you can put them together on a PC, Mac, I’ll even accept stuff drawn on an Atari ST I’m that desperate), or has some decent sound effects, or would be interested in play testing at some point, check out the Annihilation thread on EAB, send me a PM via said forum or send me a mail of the electronic variety.
You can also get an early demo of the game on Aminet; give me a shout if you would like a newer one (and state if you would like an ADF or a bog-standard LHA archive).
Thanks for listening and good night.
written by Graham Humphrey