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A short story how I started developing for Android a remake of one of my favorite games from the late eighties and the whole home computer era. Enjoy this first part of the blog series.

Vladimir Ignjatijevic, Blogger

November 28, 2013

5 Min Read


It's been a while since I've made a game for Android; almost four years to be more precise, when Spacetracks was released. The joy, the excitement, the thousand downloads per week, the emails I've got after release, the good and bad reviews... I wanted to experience that again, well, all of that except of the bad reviews. But this time with a different approach. The idea with Spacetracks was to write a dev journal with many screenshots during development and to publish it after the game was released. It turned out that writing a dev journal can be very time consuming, and since I wanted to submit that game for a competition, I had a deadline and tight schedule for all the features. So I cancelled the dev journal, and many features for the game were also left out from the final version. I've learned a lot after that release and during the next four years, so I think I'm ready for my next project.

The different approach?

So what's this different approach anyway? What I had in mind is not really to invent the wheel again. I wanted to have just a simple website where I could write the dev journal for my new game, but this time I wanted to publish posts in real time. Of course, social media is also very important so I set up new accounts for Facebook and Twitter. Since I've done quite a few apps in the last couple of years I could also say something about them or post news on updates on my social media channels.

As far as the game that I had in mind, the goal was to build a community from the very beginning of the development. I thought it could be very interesting for many new wannabe developers to see how a product emerges from an idea; how it should be done when you don't have any deadlines or bosses flying around your head every day. I can't guarantee that this way is the best way, but with several games and many other apps behind me I'm pretty sure that I'm doing the right thing.

So what's this new game all about?

I must admit, and repeat that over and over in my life, I'm pretty happy that I had the opportunity to live in the eighties and witness the whole home computer gaming era. I'm also very happy that from the year 2000, many companies in the game industry returned to this retro-old school type of games only with enhanced graphics and sound. Yes, although I like to play an AAA title, I'm a big fan of old school games and the indie scene in general.

With this in mind, I wanted to make a remake of a game that I was playing in my youth like there's no tomorrow. Since the list of that sort of games was pretty long, I thought about in which direction I would like to go with this game, how to get the community interested and maybe also involved. So, I've made a list what I want to achieve:

  • short game play in single player mode

  • different ways to complete it (great replay ability)

  • usage of leader boards and achievements

  • possibility to easily expand the game

  • releasing a level editor and allow players to expand the game

  • possible multiplayer mode

The list is long but it filtered my remake wish list from dozens of games to only a few. And so, I've made my choice...

Laser Squad

Laser Squad is a game created by Julian Gollop from Target Games in late eighties originally for the 8 bit home computers. It brought a complete new genre to the game industry – turn based strategy. It was a solid base for several other successful games and franchises like "UFO – Enemy Unknown", "Jagged Alliance"... etc.

The goal of the game is to lead a squad through a map and complete objectives given for each scenario by using specific tactics and equipment. Each scenario can be also completed simply by eliminating all enemy units. The game introduced Action Points (AP) which are calculated for every unit on every turn taking into account several parameters like unit’s strength, stamina, encumbrance… The AP’s can be then used every turn to move, fire or interact with other objects on the map. Only if you carefully read the game manual, you’ll realize how detailed the game was and which all parameters are used to calculate every action the unit takes in the game.

You can find the screenshots of the Commodore 64 version of the game on lemon64.com, and here you can read the full game manual.

Project started

I've started the project on October 1st, and I'm writing down everything I do and most of my thoughts into my dev journal in real time. You are all invited to visit my site and my dev journal, and to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. The journal entries are not long, but you'll get the picture where the project is heading.

I didn't wanted to write anything about my new game here on Gamasutra, until I was sure that things are moving in the right direction and that I'm actually have some free time for coding and keeping my dev journal alive. Two months passed, everything is looking good, so I'm publishing my first blog entry here. I hope that in next two months I'll have a lot more to show and write about.

Thanks for reading... until next time.

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