Blog Header Image for Diary of a game that will never be finished - Part 1

Diary of a game that will never be finished - Part 1

My first love of computing was playing games on the exciting old 8-bit computers like the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64 and the Amstrad CPC. Unlike the games of today, they were a much simpler affair, with no multi-levels, no third-person shooting and certainly no loot boxes.

Like the classic arcade machines, these games were meant to be the type you started playing, enjoyed for a while, finish playing and then start again at the beginning the next time, hoping to get further or reach a higher score each time you play. These pick up and play arcade-style games are the type of game I love playing and nowadays I collect and play dozens of these old machines and games.

The one machine which always stood out for me was the Sinclair Spectrum 48K which I owned from 1982 until I upgraded to the Amstrad 6128 around 1985

I loved the Spectrum, for such a simple machine, with 15 glorious colours and a beeper for the sound, the programmers got so much out of it.

I started my programming life straight after leaving school, writing games for the Amstrad CPC and C64 and having a couple of them published by Alternative Software and Players Premier. By the time I had reached 18 years old, I moved out of gaming and into application programming. 

I might have been writing boring applications but I never quite got out of gaming. For example, I wrote a helicopter simulator for the coast guard in Amos 3D for the Amiga in the early 90s and various games for the browser in the early days of the internet using Macromedia Director.

Today, any daily programming I do in my work consists of developing websites, integrations and other applications using Microsoft c# which is a great language because out of the box, it can be used to build the aforementioned websites, but also traditional apps, mobile apps and games for most platforms.

But… I’d love to write a game again and that’s what I have decided to do for fun and as a way to boost my programming knowledge. There’s a games framework for c# called “Unity” which is free for me to develop on and has all the tools I need. Unity has in the past been used to create professional multi-million pound games such as “Among Us” and “Pokemon Go” which I am sure anybody reading not only knows but may have been addicted to at some point in their lives.

Screenshot of 3D deathchase on the zx spectrum

Going back to the spectrum, one of my favourite games published for it really pushed the boundaries of what it was capable of, even though it was only released a couple of years after the launch of the machine. This game was “3D Deathchase” which was a 3D racer that had you hurtling on a motorbike through woods packed with trees, shooting other bikers (Because they were bad people presumably?)

A great thing about this game is that you really got a sense of speed, depth, and horror and most importantly… it was fun!.

I played this game all the time when I was young, so it’s the perfect game to attempt to remake, so that’s what I am going to do!

At this point, I have to give a shout-out to my brother in law Craig Berkeley who, is of a similar age, with similar interests and also loves this game. He has a website called “Lamers Revenge” and he has made a great version of this game in a 2D framework. If my version could at least be as good as his, I will be happy! However, unlike my brother in law, I seem to have less time on my hands and a much shorter attention span so as the title of this blog series suggests, I will start this remake, but will probably never finish it… We’ll see!

The Game

As mentioned before, the game is a motorcycle racing and shooting game which takes place in a forest. My game will hopefully pay homage to this while making the graphical style fully 3D and more modern.

The main elements are:

  • The player is on a motorcycle which moves continuously forward
  • The player can speed up the bike, slow down the bike and move left and right
  • Trees will hurtle towards you, the longer you play, the more trees that will appear
  • At least one other motorcyclist will be in front of you, always at a distance
  • The player can shoot in the direction that they are moving to try to hit the distant motorcyclist.
  • The player starts with three lives and dies when you hit a tree
  • The game continues until the lives are over
  • The player gets a score based on distance travelled and how many motorcyclists you shoot

The Setup

As a c# developer, I use Microsoft Visual Studio 2022 Pro to create websites and applications. Visual Studio comes with unity built in but you have to choose to install that element. So to begin writing my game, all I need to do is fire up the Visual Studio installer and choose the “Game development with unity” option.

A screenshot of the game development option within visual studio installation

This will install the visual studio tools for unity, the unity hub (which is where you manage your unity project) and intellicode for unity so that the visual studio editor will highlight the code properly and give suggestions while typing.

Once installed, you need to register for unity (free and easy), fire up the unity hub and choose to create a project. There are lots of options to choose from but I’m making a simple 3D game so choose “3D Core”

A screenshot of creating a project in the unity hub

I give my project a name, choose a location for it and click “Create Project”

Screenshot of the unity interface

After a few seconds, my project is loaded in the unity interface. It's an empty world, a scary blank canvas so to speak and I’m ready to start actually working out how to create this game. Time for me to watch a lot of youtube and read a lot of articles.

So that's it for this introduction, my aim for the next post is to at least get an object which moves on a forest floor that I can move left and right. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, wish me luck!

If you find this article interesting, could you please do me a favour by sharing it or commenting below, I would love to hear your and other peoples' thoughts on this subject. Thank you

Date: 08 Oct 2022
Author: Craig Pickles (YorkshireTechy)