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Game Design Scrapheap #3: NaziKill 3D

Since I have been a bit slack on blog updates recently and also since I am not likely to have access to a computer for the next few days I decided that I would do two blog updates in a row.

Like many other people, the very first FPS game I ever experienced was the original Wolfenstein 3D. Having never before seen a game viewed from the first person perspective (outside of the simulator genre) I was utterly blown away by its immersion. Wolfenstein not only started the FPS genre, but also the ever popular sub-genre of WW2 FPS games where the player becomes a heroic patriotic American trying to save the world from the Nazis and their mastery of black magic, frankenstein science and S&M costumes.

Over a decade later I decided to have a go at programming an FPS in Blitz Basic 3D, and I thought a great way to start would be to make a game that was a parody, remake and tribute to the one that started it all.
NaziKill 3D


Uberchefnazi, the first boss


Both the title and concept of the game were conceived in my mind in mid 2005. The game was to be the cut down, single episoded 'shareware version' of the non-existant 'registered version' of NaziKill 3D (the backstory behind the fictional game development company is that they were forced into bankruptcy after the release of DooM, and since NaziKill sold no copies it faded into obscurity). The game would bug the player to buy the 'registered version' if he were to perform certain actions, such as pick up a weapon that is only available in the full game. The plot, if I recall correctly, went something like this:

You are Joe Joey "JJ" Jackson, an All American member of the All American Nazi Killing team of America. Deep in the Nazi homeland of Nazireichlande, you were captured in an attempt to shave the moustache of the Nazi king. Can you survive the horrors of Castle Nazisteinditz and escape to freedom?



One of the levels in the "Castle" was a car park


I started the game by first developing a basic level designer and then building functions in it to test the level. I kept developing the level editor and eventually built the game into it instead of creating it as a seperate program. Since I am a pretty hopeless artist, just about all of the enemy art comes from Majik Monkees Image world, a place dealing with Wolfenstein 3D mod art.

What went wrong

The ending screen of the game was a very obscure reference to a secret level in Rise of the Triad.

There were three major problems I had with NaziKill 3D which prompted me to abandon the project and start a new one (I think it was Raid Over Moscow)

1# It was simply poorly programmed because of my (then) lack of experience with Blitz Basic 3D. Compare with where Derelict is at now - Derelict has acceptable AI pathfinding, smooth framerate on most computers, a very short loading time, lighting effects, non-flat walls and 3D objects whereas NaziKill had none of that. NaziKill was also a whole lot more buggy.

2# The title. Although I liked the title a great deal undoubtably there would be those who would be offended by it simply because the name had the word 'Nazi' and so it made me uncomfortable. Campy B-movie 'Surf Nazis must die' had its name changed from simply 'Surf Nazis' for similar reasons.

3# Humour, or lack thereof, while my original vision was to have a game that made light of Wolfenstein 3D and classic Shareware at every corner, NaziKill 3D was looking increasingly like a clone rather then a parody.

The moral of the story

There isn't really a moral this time, I don't regret making NaziKill 3D as I learned a great deal of Blitz programming techniques from it and I think the concept is still a good idea. I guess the morals can be 'don't risk offending anyone unneccessarily' and 'stay true to your original vision'



I briefly restarted the project last year with the new title Luger Me Now (one of the actual working titles for Wolfenstein 3D) but, asides from some concept art, there isn't anything to show for it. Luger Me Now is on a list of projects I may start after Derelict finishes production so who knows, it may still see the light of day, perhaps even before the end of the year.

Derelict Dev Post #22

I haven't had access to Blitz Basic for about a week but I have done some minor changes since the last update, check it out:


Two new features are demonstrated in this screenshot. One is the eight directional pathfinding, making it easier for AI marines (and aliens!) to find their way around the ship. The second is context sensitive menus with two options, selectable with either the left or right click. I have been making an attempt to give the player more flexibility with AI commands (here the player can easily choose to make one marine follow another marine) while keeping the interface simple. In short, giving the player more control without more complication.

I am starting to run a bit behind schedule with Derelict. The 0.50 version is due out in a month and I am well short of the features I intended to have put in at that time (such as another six levels and a second boss fight) however I am confident I can catch up and get ahead in the next week or so. Stay tuned.


Derelict Dev Post #21

There's not much new to show in this screenshot except this low poly couch. I put it together in a couple of minutes in Cartography Shop, I am definitely going to have to put more furniture and such around the place to make the ship feel more lived in.

I have been mainly tweaking, polishing and bug fixing the game, not a lot graphical has changed (except the alien pods that they spawn from are actually in the game instead of just being invisible). I have changed the game dynamic somewhat - the aliens are more numerous and practically sprint, however they are far more vulnerable to gunfire and will drop in a couple of hits.

I guess this has made the game marginally harder and since it was already far too hard for some I will definitely put in difficulty settings for the next release. So, yeah, nothing too radical since the last couple of updates, just minor improvements to make the game better.

Starting this Saturday I will be on holiday for three weeks, so you can expect the progress of Derelict to slow down, however I will keep up the weekly posts.


Game Design Scrapheap #2: Raid Over Moscow (Remake)

In 1985, one of the most notorious cold-war themed C64 games ever was released. Raid Over Moscow was a game where those 'crazy Ivans' have launched a salvo of Nuclear missiles against cities in the 'land of the free', and as part of a secret American commando force you have to stop them. The game, or at least its pirated versions, was a massive hit in Ruskie-phobic areas of Eastern Europe. It was a favourite of mine in my childhood and back in 2005, its twentieth anniversary, I thought the game was well over due for a remake.

Raid Over Moscow (Remake)

The famous hangar screen. Original on the right, mine on the left. The rather amateurish 3D Stealth Fighter is one of the few 3D objects I have ever made myself.

My remake of Raid Over Moscow was going to be a 3D re-imagining of the levels from the original rather then simply adapt the gameplay with 3D graphics. The original game was a series of unique levels (although some of them repeating) where you have to defeat the soviet attack. My game was to have two separate campaigns, loosely resembling the first and second half of the original. The first campaign was going to focus on destroying Soviet missile bases from the air, so it would be action flight-sim esque. The second campaign was going to focus on invading Soviet high command from the ground and destroy it by sabotaging the generator, so it would be purely FPS (with third person views thrown in for good measure).


Unlike the rather simplistic map screen from the original, which depicted nuclear missiles as single pixelled dots, my space scene left much less to the imagination

ROM was one of my first major Blitz3D projects (after Death Derby Vengeance and NaziKill 3D, both of which will be covered in future editions of game design scrapheap). I had Geg make a title screen for it and also Goatman turned in some really great 3D meshes to be the levels. Despite working fairly hard on it for several months it never even reached Alpha.

What went wrong

One of the really cool map designs done by Goatman, unfortunately, neither this nor the surrounding landscape was ever textured.

There were two main problems with ROM. One, which is fairly obvious is that it fails to capture the -feel- of the original by completely changing a simplistic arcade shooter into a hybrid FPS/Flight Action game. I was thinking of having a classic mode which would be like the original game except with 3D graphics, but in hindsight I should have just made the main game like that.

The second one is the game was just getting too complicated and the focus had strayed too far from the core gameplay. Take these examples -
  1. There are three different sets of controls: For walking on foot, for flying in space and for flying above Moscow.
  2. If you were shot down above Moscow you could bail out proceed to the missile silo on foot (I was planning to have the player able to steal a car) and destroy it with explosives.
  3. Also in the Moscow sequence, instead of simply firing rockets or missiles to destroy the enemy silo, you had to drop a dumb bomb to hit it. It had realistic gravity physics and required switching to a special targeting view to guarantee that you'll hit the target.
  4. Instead of automatically walking towards your craft in the satellite view on the original, you could, rather pointlessly, explore the hangar on foot.
  5. In the satellite sequence you could (if you wanted) jump out of the fighter and be sucked into vacuum and die.
None of these made the game more 'fun' for the player (only more frustrating) and all of them slowed down development of the project.

The moral of the story

Focus on the core gameplay first and don't add complicated features unless it makes the game more enjoyable.


I eventually gave up on the game completely when I heard about the Retro Remakes 2006 competition and made Project Firestart instead. Since then I have lost interest in doing more remakes so it looks unlikely this project will ever see the light of day.

Developing the game wasn't a total waste though, I created several key code libraries and functions that I have been re-using right up until this day, including in Derelict.

Still, the idea of a First Person Shooter/Action Flight-Sim hybrid still interests me, so who knows, maybe I'll start work on another game resembling my original vision sometime.

Derelict Dev Post #20

This is late and I know it. I apologise fully. Also there's no update like I promised. Work has been, well, hectic. I haven't really had time to work on Derelict at all but I did add windows into the game. Take a look:

Looks pretty cool huh. Thanks to 'Nikiu' for the texture. Sorry, not much more to say, but Derelict Dev Post #21 will be more interesting.


Game Design Scrapheap #1: Future War: New Sahara

It has come to my attention recently that I have a ridiculously large number of abandoned game projects. Perhaps not as many as my brother, who had a habit of making "games" with only a title screen, opening cutscene, menu and half of one level, but its still pretty terrible.

Since I have decided to refocus my blog almost exclusively on games and game development, I thought it might be a good idea to discuss my past projects and where they went wrong as a warning to those who are just getting into game development, as well as to give them a proper post-mortem and burial. So, let me present the first issue of "Game Design Scrapheap"

Future War: New Sahara

This level in particular was inspired by River Raid

Future War: New Sahara was a 2D action game that featured flying sequences (1942, Raiden etc) as well as on-foot sequences (Ikari Warriors, Commando etc). Unlike many other shooters it actually had a story - it was about the plight of Shaun Icarus, a pilot in the United States Space Navy, who becomes increasingly trapped by an Invasion on a distant planet gone wrong and a sinister conspiracy seeking to annihilate a vast planetary empire.


An example of an on-foot sequence. Here marines try to defend a captured base from a paratrooper invasion.

Development of the game was done entirely in "The Games Factory" a simple, codeless tool for 2D applications. The idea for the game - a failed futuristic invasion of a desert planet - came to me in a dream, no doubt influenced by the (then) recently started Iraq War. Most graphics were taken from various sprite libraries. I got some MP3 files produced by a work mate to use as the soundtrack.

What went wrong

A tactical mini game included as a bonus with New Sahara. No relevance to the plot at all, just a little bit of fun.

Everything was going well with the project for a time. I was progressing well with developing new levels, new parts of the story and I was occasionally dumping a new release out on the Internet. Reception from a forum that focuses on Games Factory games was fairly positive because of the relatively high production values put into the game (for Games Factory games anyway).

However it all reached a fairly major snag when I was upto around the 9th or so level of the game - the game began crashing when playing those last levels. Games with lots of levels in the Games Factory are normally fine but each level in my game was entirely unique (which included an opening and closing cutscene for each level) increasing content far beyond a regular GF game. I guess the sheer amount of levels and data overloaded the engine and corrupted the executable.

The moral of the story

Game making tools like The Games Factory are fine for small casual games, like remakes of Donkey Kong or Pacman. Unfortunately they are ill-suited for large projects incorporating a lot of unique levels and content. For serious games you need to use a proper game development engine or programming language.


The heartbreak of the Future War debacle made me give up Games Factory game development forever. Instead I moved to 3D game development, working for a short time in Dark Basic before switching to Blitz Basic 3D. I started on a 3D version of Future War New Sahara, intending it to be something like Lylat Wars for the N64, but the development didn't get far at all before I gave up on that too.

The backstory for Derelict is effectively a new version of the New Sahara universe. Who knows, perhaps there will be a 3D incarnation of New Sahara as either a sequel or a prequel to Derelict some day.

Derelict Dev Post #19

What we have here is a glimpse of the new intro cutscene. I had been wasting time and experimenting with different kinds of intros, including one that mimicked the start of Cloverfield, but none of them could really set the scene like a visual one like this. For the first time we get to see the icy, barren planet Epsilon Eridani E, as well as the exterior of the Atlas (although, yet again, its another stand-in model)

Next week I will be doing a new update, now I know I said the next one would come at Easter with six new levels but I want to refine the current beta release, make it a more refined and enjoyable gaming experience with the levels that are already in there. Also I wanted to do an update since the project will have reached week #20 by then. Stay tuned.


Derelict Dev Post #18

Time for an update!

Okay, since the last screenie there have been two major additions. The first is that the explosives expert no longer carries C4 but instead has a hybrid rifle/grenade launcher instead (kudos for Mark for specifically updating the model for me). I did that because its easier to manage then the somewhat awkward C4 and its also more satisfying to use to blow stuff up.

Secondly, you'll see a list of commands down the right side of the screen (the list isn't finalised yet and will probably be revised or added to) which have been designed to make managing your squad easier. The hold command forces all of your men to stay still until told otherwise (useful if you sense your men are about to walk into a trap, or you want them to wait until all orders have been handed out), the follow command tells the rest of the squad to follow you until told otherwise (extremely useful, saves a lot of mouse clicks if you want everyone to walk to the same place) and the cancel orders command immediately, well, cancels everyones orders. Note that these commands are not meant to replace the existing commands but to complement them.

The demand for the new squad commands came from a post I made on the System Shock 2 forums (here) and, as well as other feedback, has been extremely useful with refining the game. Unfortunately the new changes won't be released this weekend because I will be away in Coromandel, but I am hoping to release a new version of Derelict, with lots of tweaks and updates, in the next week or two. Watch this space.


Derelict Dev Post #17

Well, time for another update!

What we have here in this screenshot is an email terminal, which you can check on just about every level to follow the storyline (though this is completely optional, its not like that pathetic thing in Doom 3 how you had to listen to every PDA to find out the locker codes). I have also done an update to the game, available for download here. Special thanks to the awesome Max Penguin for becoming the official Derelict host.

The new version isn't dramatically different to the last version, but includes a new level and quite a few minor updates to make the game more playable. The next new version will be a major update, including a total of 12 levels and will be released on or about Easter Monday. I also got to see Cloverfield last week and that has given me further inspiration for the game. Stay tuned.


Derelict Dev Post #16

I haven't really been keeping up the pace with Derelict as much as I should have, however I have made a couple of breakthroughs which should make the game more interesting. Check it out.

What we see here is a new type of object in the game - posters. Posters are basically just images attached to walls. This particular poster is special because it's dynamically generated - it is a map of the entire ship (although I haven't finished drawing it yet! Anyone good at doing blueprint type drawings is welcome to do it instead) showing the name and location of the current level. I put that in to make the levels slightly more interesting - and also try to add to the illusion that you're progressing through a ship, rather then simply playing a sequence of levels!

Other posters I have done so far include fairly generic ones like toilet signs and warning labels, however i'll definitely do one that acts as an email terminal - to give the player the option to follow the storyline by reading emails sent from the besieged ships admiral. Basically just in there as a nice touch - if you want a story you can stop to read them, if you don't you can ignore it and move on.

The Auckland Game Works meeting was really good. Joshua Smyth's java-roguelike game is coming along nicely and is rapidly approaching completion. Stephen Knightly has a working demo of his music-driven platformer. After the meeting we had lunch at the Char Grill place just down the road and spent ages just talking about games. I'll definitely inquire about holding future AGW meetings at MAINZ.

Stay tuned next week for another Derelict update, possibly with a new beta!