When I was a kid growing up, one of my favorite pastimes was going to the arcade and spending an entire Saturday feeding the machines quarters and improving my skills on the latest games. Weather it was defending the earth against a hoard of renegade aliens or drifting around a tight turn in an, overly powered, muscle car. I was the ruler of my little world for as long as I could make that quarter last. Needless to say that, over time, I got very good at crushing my enemies and seeing them driven before me and hearing the lamentations of their women. The end result was that I had to spend less and less money dumping quarters into those hypnotic fun boxes, to the dismay of many an arcade owner.
One of the games that I would go back to again and again was a game called Rip Off, a game released by Cinematronics in 1980. In this game, you are piloting a tank and it is your job to protect these canisters, sitting in the center of the screen, from enemy tanks whose mission it is to carry them off to who knows where. Like a lot of games from this time, the task becomes more difficult with each successive wave until you are completely overwhelmed and die or all of the canisters were stolen. At the time this game was made, there were no real categories but this type of game would later be known as a Top-Down Shooter. This game is unique because it is the first known game to have characters that exhibit flocking behavior.
Another game that I was, very much, into was a game called Bezerk which was released in 1980 by Stern Electronics. Berzerk had you running from killer robots with lasers through an electrified maze before the “Evil Otto”, an indestructible bouncing plasma orb, would come out and bounce you to death like a smiling inflatable sumo wrestler.
The last game which I’m going to reference is a game called Smash TV released by Williams in 1990. In this game, you are on a game show and it is your job to destroy every robot and mutant that comes your way looking for a fight. At the same time, you collect cash and prizes, as well as, power-ups to make it to the next wave. Very much like an early arcade game but with better sound and graphics.
Why do I bring these games up? The answer is that these three games are the inspiration for Boom Bits. My take on the Top-Down Shooter.
In Boom Bits you control a small robot, armed with a laser and you are tasked with escorting a cargo shipment from one end of an island to the other while fighting off roving bands of killer robots tasked with destroying you and taking the cargo that you are, so valiantly, protecting. Along the way you can pick up various weapons and prizes that help you accomplish your task.
So now that I have the inspiration for my game the first thing I do, like with any other project I make, is to do some sketches. Sometimes detailed with full color, if I have the time, but more often than not I’ll just do some simple pencil sketches of the characters and a bit of the interface so I can understand how much work is going to be needed to make this game a reality.
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