TLS PRWR is at SAGE 2002 making "Toolz's First C++ Platform Mover: Text Based" - the oddest sounding Fan Game in the world, possibly. Naturally, that piqued our curiosity, so we managed to find him, sit him down and ask him just what the hell it's all about.
TSS: TLS PRWR, thanks for being here today.
TLS: Glad to be here.
TSS: For those not in the know, what is your Fan Game all about?
TLS: Basically, it's sort of 'classic Sonic' as he was on the Sega Genesis. It's not that good yet, and it doesn't really look much like it, but that's what the engine is based off of.
TSS: When did you first get the idea for 'Toolz's First C++ Platform Mover :Text Based'?
TLS: Well, this semester in college I'm taking a C++ course. I didn't want to learn all the junk we were doing (dumb text based input/output things) and wanted to get into true game programming. After fiddling around for a while and studying a lot, I managed to get a sort of engine running, and it just expanded from there.
TSS: OK, it just has to be asked - why the strange name? I can understand the name, but many people (i.e. me) don't seem to understand the 'Platform Mover: Text Based' part. Can you explain a little bit more on that subject?
TLS: I don't know why I really chose that. I just kinda did. I'll break it down so it makes sense:
"Toolz's" refers to it being mine, and mine alone. "First" shows that it is my first attempt at writing some sort of game in programming languages, so that not much will be expected from the players. "C++" reveals the language it's written in. "Platform" and "Mover" show the basic type of gameplay (based on platforms for movement). The "Text Based" part just shows what kind of graphics it has.
This sort of name can be compared to calling Doom "id Software's First C 3D Shooter: Sprite Based" (Sorry if I mess up that stuff about Doom, I'm just not really a fan, but it was the first thing that popped in my head!).
TSS: What kind of feel are you trying to create with your Fan Game?
TLS: Sort of a retro-80's DOS and retro-Sonic (no relation to the fangame) type feel.
TSS: How different is it to create a platformer in DOS rather than in a Windows program such as The Games Factory?
TLS: Well, once you adjust to it, it's not too different. At least in coding. Making sprites and stuff is a lot different, though - the major dilemma is in laying everything out. You don't have that 'point-and-click' interface for doing the levels. You also have to program the simplest functions to get it to do what you want.
I don't look down on people that use those programs, because I know it's a lot of work. Sometimes getting around CnC/TGF/MMF limits is harder than just coding it to begin with.
TSS: What makes your Fan Game different to the others on show at SAGE?
TLS: Hm... Well, it's the only Text Based one. I think it's the only one fully based in DOS. And it's probably the smallest demo at SAGE.
TSS: How long has development taken so far?
TLS: Well, for the PC version it's been several weeks, probably a month... or even more! Simply because when I started, I wasn't very advanced (not that I am now). But as I went on, I learned different tricks and things to make programming it easier.
The text-based Game Boy version only took a few days to build, because all I really had to do was just convert it so the Game Boy could run it (I actually pretty much rewrote the engine, but I kept referring back to the PC version).
The sprite-based Game Boy version has taken a little longer. I basically wrote it from the ground up, just getting a little help from a tutorial I found for Game Boy sprites. But... geez, the tutorial was made for something totally different, so I had to specify everything and change a TON of stuff around.
It probably took about a week, just experimenting around with Game Boy programming, then another week to get it to work right. On top of all that, it took me about three days to get the Game Boy Color palettes working.
TSS: Can you reveal to us when you expect the game to be finished by?
TLS: Gosh, I don't even know if I plan to finish it! This is just sort of a tutorial for myself for the future, you know? If people want me to actually make it into something more than what it is, then I might. The sprite-based version, though.... Let's just say I've been getting some help with a fellow SFGer and it's possible it will become a very nice game.
TSS: Any major problems you've encountered within development? What's been your biggest development problem to date?
TLS: With the PC version, definitely the input. As some might recall, in the first version, you had to hit enter every time to get it to move! Then you just had to hit a key in the next version. But there's still a problem, because it waits to get input before doing all the functions and things like that. Therefore, unless you press a key, the enemy stands still.
With the Game Boy version, I'd say it was mostly just getting used to programming for the Game Boy and learning different terms to use. For the sprite based one, definitely getting used to the tiles and tile arrangement, and also the palettes. It took me a while to get all those implemented.
TSS: How well do you think TFCPM:TB is progressing?
TLS: It's doing fairly well, I guess. TFCPM:SB has definite potential for becoming a true game.
TSS: How do you see your chances winning the booth polling, against other games you've seen at SAGE so far?
TLS: Um, probably zilch to none. There isn't really a TFCPM series fanbase. And up against such things as Diablo's SV2, Blaze's TFH/TD2/Sonic Legends, Rob's Sonic Epoch, and Taxman's RetroSonic... I just don't think I stand a chance.
TSS: Finally, what's the best looking game you've seen at this year's SAGE?
TLS: That's a hard one. Y'know? SV2 is definitely one of the best, and Epoch's up there, too. I haven't played TFH yet, because the demo isn't out. Same for Sonic Legends. but I think those are some of the best. As for the absolute best, I just don't know. Too hard to choose.
TSS: TLS PRWR, developer of TFCPM:TB, thank you for your time.