Public Domain Jam – Kalevipoeg and the Base Code

In the next few hours, the game jam that I’ve been the most excited about this year is about to start. It’s the Public Domain Jam.

The idea for the PD Jam is to make a game based on existing stories or characters that are so old that they are no longer gripped by the chains of copyright. There are so many wonderful stories to choose from – Dracula, Odysseus, The Phantom of the Opera… well lets just say there are tons.

When the PD Jam was first announced I had planned to make a Frankenstein game. The main idea of the game would feature you playing as the main character robbing graves to cobble together different parts of different people to make a “monster”. The resulting monster would have had different stats and skills depending on which parts of which people you stitched together. Along with some compatibility issues too.

With this idea in mind I started reading Frankenstein (for the first time). I had watched the Bobby De Niro version a long time ago but my memory of it is very foggy. After getting around half way through the book (which is excellent by the way) I realised that most of what I had planned for my game never took place in the book at all. Frankenstein didn’t go grave robbing – he got his body parts using his medical connections.

Before long – with a little encouragement from Estonian friends on Twitter – I decided to switch my game to be about Kalevipoeg, the epic Estonian poem. That same day I took the English translation of the book out of the Tartu library and started to read it. It’s a fascinating tale though the eponymous Kalevipoeg doesn’t really come across as much of a hero.

Anyway, I decided that I would make an RPG style game – not too dissimilar in style to what you would play in RPG Maker – based around one or two tales from Kalevipoeg.

I have created a base for the game that uses bits of code that I’ve used for previous games. This will be my base that I will build the main mechanics (whatever they may be!) for my Kalevipoeg game.

The base code is 100% web based (HTML5/CSS/JavaScript/Canvas) and is able to import Tiled JSON files for quick level generation.

I’m fairly sure no one will have a use for it, but in spirit of the competition I have put it on Github so anyone is welcome to use it. Though really if you have experience with any other tool like GameMaker or Construct 2 you’re probably best sticking to what you know!

The plan is to keep updating it and use it as base code for future projects. It’s nowhere near as good as I want it to be but maybe one day I’ll be happy with it. 😉

If you want to use it, the code is available on Github. You can also try the live demo of the base code here. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact me on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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Hello and welcome!

So I finally took the plunge and started a blog. Whenever I plan to run a blog I spend way too long deciding on how it’s going to look – usually so long that I end up never having a blog at all. This time it’s different. This time I’m just installing a base version of WordPress and will update the visuals one day in the future.

After all, a blog is really about the words, not the visuals.

I decided to focus my first post on a little introduction to me and why I gamedev.

Ever since the day my parents unveiled their recently acquired ZX Spectrum (complete with rubber keyboard and external tape deck) I’ve been a gamer.

My earliest memories of gaming involved time spent with Manic Miner, Horace and the Spiders and the wonderful Dizzy. My family soon moved onto console gaming with the Sega Master System. Alex Kidd, Mickey Mouse’s Castle of Illusion and Wonder Boy 3 being my main influences there.

Then it was Super Nintendo, PC (Windows 3.1), Playstation, Playstation 2, Game Cube then Wii all the while still mostly gaming on the PC.

Due to my love of computers I eventually learnt how to build websites which is what got me where I am today as a frontend web developer. I had always wanted to make games but never really knew where to start. I messed around with Klik & Play a LOT in my youth but nothing serious ever came of it.

It was only after I started hearing about One Game a Month that I really started to think it was possible to put my skills towards making games. The #1gam project opened up my eyes to the fact that with a lot of hard work and persistence it is actually a reasonable goal to finish a game. I took part in the One Game a Month for the first time in June 2013.

Not long after completing my first #1gam game, I started work on my second game. An educational game where you play as a zoo keeper giving talks about animals. I got about half way through that project when my daughter learnt to walk, thus gleefully taking all spare time away from me. Not that I’m complaining, my daughter is the most important thing in my life!

Fast forward six months or so and I decided to have another go at the #1gam thing, hoping to get something done every month from January onwards.

During those few months I’ve met a lot of wonderful people on Twitter who have really helped motivate me and have given me a hell of a lot more confidence to call myself a game dev.

My main project currently is a turn based football game called Turnstile Football. I’ll be sure to write a post about it soon enough.

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