My love of programming began with "making" video games for the Commodore Amiga


Re-post from previous Wordpress blog:

Although I am a full-time web developer now, I got my start with programming on the Commodore Amiga computer system.  What is the Amiga you may ask?  It was a stellar computer that had its day in the light in the 80's and early-mid 90's, quickly being usurped by the PC and Mac.  Remember years ago when the Mac was this fledgling computer that only a small portion of the populace owned?  The Amiga was even less than that! :)

Here is a photo of the Amiga 1000 that I received as a gift in 1991.  It included two disk drives (a luxury) and no hard drive.  Ouch!

I also had a nifty 1200 baud modem (look it up, kids).

It was a pretty amazing gaming machine and was kicking out graphics and 3D techniques that were far superior (IMHO) to anything that the PC and Mac were releasing.  I grew up on this machine and used it primarily for playing games, making games and surfing Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

While I will divulge more on the BBS portion on a future blog, this one is dedicated to games. 

Having owned hundreds of games myself, I always wanted to make my own, as I had some fun and original ideas that I wanted to see in production.  I bought a copy of AMOS Professional, a pretty powerful programming platform on the Amiga.  This was back in about 1993, so I was all of 14 years old.

Around that time, I started at a new high school and within the first couple days, met Ben Brosdahl and Mike Ness, two fellow Amiga fans like myself!  We all hit it off, especially since Mike was also an AMOS programmer and Ben was a phenomenal graphic artist.  Because Ben and I lived so close to each other, we started collaborating on some games together (me = programming, him = graphics).

I would like to highlight on two of them that I think COULD have been successful if we had ever released them.



We never named the first one; we just gave it a working title, "Ball".  Creative, eh?  It was a Breakout/Arkanoid style brick braking game with a twist.  Similar to the popular Dr. Mario on the NES, this game was a simultaneous 2 player game, where each player could perform well enough to hinder the other player's progress.


Although the game code is long lost, Ben recently sent me some graphics he managed to save from years ago!

Here are some player background screens:



Note:  the graphics look pixel-ly because resolutions back then were roughly 320 x 240!  Much different than the 1920 x 1080 we have come to know and love today.  Also, the Amiga in the early 90's could only support a limited number of colors per screen, so we did our best.

Here are some of our level layouts displayed on one screen.  Each one of these layouts could be grabbed and utilized in AMOS Professional, so it made it easy to add and update in one master file:


Here is an actual snapshot of game play.  As you can see, player one is on the left with player two on the right.  The player's remaining lives are shown below the paddle. Each player can advance onto their own unique level series to move past the other player, resulting in penalties being placed on the losing player. 

We had the rough game play working, but got stuck on getting into the complex mathematics required for dynamic ball movement on varied angles.  So, we abandoned the game...




This was by far the project we spent the most time on.  We all enjoy playing the classic Bomberman multi-player game, using a simple concept but providing a great deal of in-game upgrades and a focus on skill and game-play.  We played varied versions of the game and were determined to make our own take on the game.  As Ben and myself were fans of Steve Taylor in the early 90's, we took his song title "Meltdown" and used it for this title;  it seemed fitting as the whole premise of the game is to strategically place bombs that result in blowing up your opponent.

Here is our glorious title screen.  You were able to select the game settings here and within seconds, begin game play.  We had created an instrumental version of Steve Taylor's Meltdown to be playing during this screen:


Ben and Mike had been working on some games before using the moniker Apocalypse Productions, so we used that for this game too (even though it was not released):


Meltdown worked heavily on items and bonuses that could be either purchased at the store or picked up during game play.  Here is the help screen detailing them:


Here was the simple instructions screen.  Before the days of 10 different button combinations, we relied on "old faithful" and did our singular button mashing:


All objects in the game were created as unique blocks on a file and then referenced based on their x,y coordinates.  These were called BOBs, or Sprites.  Here are all of our wall / obstacle / bomb / icon / fire / money sprites:


Ben worked very hard on the player animations so it wouldn't appear to be waddling little cartoons.  In fact, we modeled the four player options after myself, Ben, my sister and my uncle, so we had a lifelike object to fashion them after.  Here they are, listed in that order.  Also, notice the funny death animation at the top:  :)


Although I do not have any game-play screens to show you, here is a level template, indicating the four player's respective scores / money and life allocations.  All game play exists in the inner frame, with randomly generated walls / bricks / bonuses to give each player a strategic point of shelter at the beginning. Each player then slowly blows their way out and tries to kill the other players.


After every round, all players enter into the store where they can use the money they picked up in the previous round to stock up on upgrades for the next round.  Notice the lovely black & white digitized faces of myself and Ben representing players 1 and 2. :)


Finally, here is our credit screen upon exiting the game... To this day, I am not sure why we didn't release this game and the core function of the game worked quite well.  It was a fun learning experience and I am just happy to have acquired some of these old screenshots.