I am a part time programmer and digital artist from Alberta ,Canada. I got into this after a lifetime of being just a gamer. I started out as just a map maker at the Warlords Keep making maps for Warlords Battlecry 2. I built a huge MOD for Warlords Battlecry 3 and now I just released my first indie title "Amazing Ants"
In my last blog I talked about the beginning of the project and in my final blog on this subject I will wrap it up
I decided at the start of fall 2011 the game need more mazes so I began work on the Red Ant Story which is 100 mazes leading the antagonist Red Ants. These mazes were a lot fun to make because I got to model some neat stuff. On of the coolest mazes were the "Cross The Pond" mazes these I modeled two of my favorite bugs growing up the Giant Water Bug and Diving Beetle. Other mazes featured the Red Ants hunting caterpillars, raiding eggs from black ant hills, and having their home destroyed by a black bear.
When spring rolled around I had complete another 100 mazes and it was time to look at music and sound. And so it was by July I had chosen some really good music and sound for the project. The game at that point came alive and so I decided to release it to the public.
So it was that Amazing Ants a game that started as a childhood game, board game and finally a computer game was completed. Recently I completed a Browser Demo of my game using Game Maker Studio and you can try it at www.belowzerogames.index.html
In my last blog I talked about how modding help me develop the ability to make Amazing Ants. In this blog I will talk about the beginning of the project.
Working on the 1035 Mod I got a case of modders block where I couldn't think of anything to add to my mod and I lacked the ambition to work on anything relating to it. So it was I got myself a copy of Game Maker and began work on what was to be a remake of the original board game.
But rather than go the difficult route I decided to make something a little easier to begin with so I started a maze game. At first I just tinkered around with it my sprites were not so great the midi music I had was horrible at one point I had a midi of Alice Deejays "Better Off Alone" in the background.
The game was originally called Ant Warfare but I realized it wasn't the original so I thought of Mazing Ants then I kind of imagined a southerner saying "those ants there are a mazing" so I added the A with a hyphen.
But by March of 2011 though I removed all midi music and improved the sprites and completed the Black Ant Story which is the original mazes. So when playing through the game you are doing as I did you see I just had a starting point. I would add stuff as I went and increased the difficulty of the mazes as I went.
When the snow melted I shelved work till October of 2011 at that point I wasn't sure I would even release this game.
Thank you for reading my blog as the next blog I will wrap this series up.
In my last blog I talked about the influence board games in particular the creation of the Ant Warfare board game. In This blog I will tell what allowed me to make Amazing Ants in the first place. The 90's were the emergence of PC gaming over console gaming. My Ant Warfare board game lived in the loft of my garden shed. I got a series of Tandy computers the first a CoCo3 which was short for color computer and I upgraded to better PC's as I could afford it as at the time computers were a luxury item.
I was introduced to world of shareware where you could play the first levels of games before you could decide to purchase the game. I got a copy of a turn-based game Warlords where you played 30 turns as Elvallie (elf race). The game was very good so I got the full version and discovered it's almost narcotic qualities. It also had a very good editor which I used to design whole army sets and maps so my first taste of modding. I followed the series into the new millenium often going to work baggy eyed because I had to play just one more turn. When they released the Battlecry game I switched to playing that.
In 2008 I got an opportunity to really work on a mod so I started work on what would end up as the 1035 Mod. In making the mod I had to learn to compile code as well I took the route of doing my own sprites which was very difficult. After 1 year I had released the Mod with 3 additional playable races which was quite an accomplishment. At that point I focused on improving the art so the next two years of the project I would mod stuff so that I could develop that skill.
At nearly the 3 year point in the project I got to the point where I wasn't having fun anymore and it was time to start something new. One day while uploading an update for the mod one my friends said "Andy why don't you just make your own game''.
From Modder to Game Maker
And so it was I started work on what would be Amazing Ants. Without being a modder first I wouldn't have had a clue where to start.
The 90's were the emergence of PC gaming over console gaming. My Ant Warfare board game lived in the loft of my garden shed. I got a series of Tandy computers the first a CoCo3 which was short for color computer and I upgraded to better PC's as I could afford it as at the time computers were a luxury item.
In the last blog I talked about the influence 80's video games had on this project. In this blog I will tell you how board games had an influence as well.
The long winters here seem shorter thanks to board games. Growing up we played all the standards Monopoly, Chess, and Scrabble (what we would call squabble). When I reached high school my social studies teacher introduced us to the Avalon Hill games Diplomacy, Panzer Blitz and Rise And Decline Of The Third Reich. A group of us students formed a War Games club and we got the school to give us our own room that was like an old storage room. Every lunch hour we would go to our room and wage war.
Some of us would bring our own games from home and it was this one occasion that one of my classmates brought this mini table top game. The game consisted on two players one player "The Attacker" and the other player "The Defender". The Attacker had waves of spaceships and would attack the Defender who was just a big space base with turrets that would fire on the space ships. The object of the game was for the Attacker to destroy a power generator that was hidden somewhere on the board and the Defender was to destroy every last spaceship to win.
While playing this game I couldn't help but think of my childhood game of carrying red ants across the yard in an ice cream pale and dumping them on a black ant hill.
So it was I created Ant Warfare a board game with waves of ants attacking an anthill. The Defender no longer had a static defence but a moving army of ants. These ants emerged from what I dubbed Launchers. Ants could build tunnel blocks and the Attackers mission was to kill the Queen Ant.
All the concepts from the board game were applied to Amazing Ants. In Amazing Ants there are Launchers where ants emerge. Your ant can build tunnel blocks strategically and killing the enemies queen ant means victory.
Thank you for reading my blogs make sure to visit my homepage at Belowzerogames.ca
In my last blog I talked about the origins of the concept for Amazing Ants and in this blog I want to talk about the influence of the 80's video games had on this project.
With the 80's came the advent of the video game revolution. As a young person in that era like everyone else I got caught up in it. We got our first system a Coleco Vision game system it came with the classic Donkey Kong and Cosmic Avenger games. I later added Frenzy and Lady Bug to the mix of games.
The games were simple and played with controllers that were very cumbersome with two buttons one on each side of the rectangle. It had a large number pad that resembled those phones you get for short sighted people with the large numbers.
With classic arena rock blaring we would stay up all hours of the night straining our eyes at a black and white TV. One night we decided to see what our highest score in Frenzy would be. Frenzy was a game where your stick man wielding a gun would shot robots then exit the room before the giant ball with a happy face would squish you. You could shoot the ball but he would return faster and have an angry face. Anyway the game went almost 24 hours straight as we took turns you would get a free life after 100,000 points. When we could no longer bend our fingers we just started dying on purpose and the game had to end.
Like classic games of the 80`s Amazing Ants relies on simple game play. But thanks to the modern invention of save game one no longer needs to wait til their fingers are arthritic before you could beat that high score or reach that certain level.
Well your scrolling the web and you come across a game titled Amazing Ants and you ask yourself what is this game about and where did the person who created this game come up with it to begin with.
In this series of blogs I will give you the story of how this game came to be.
Growing up in rural Alberta I didn't spend a lot time transfixed to my television set we had one channel CBC that was dedicated to news and hockey. So most of the time I spent outdoors and as a young person I got interested in all things nature. My brother and I had a trap line and we had all kinds of animal pets and I liked bugs.
I kept aquariums with all kinds of creepy crawlies and of course there were ant hills all over the place. One summer I witnessed a swarm of red ants carrying eggs crossing our driveway. One of things I would do was take a 4 liter ice cream bucket and kick open an old log filled with red ants. I would use the lid to sweep the red ants into the bucket and I tapped the sides to make sure they didn't get out because they would sting you. I would transport the bucket over to the black ant pile and I would dump the bucket on top of the anthill and watch the action.
The red ants would right away begin to do their thing aggressively attacking the black ants who would start emerging from their tunnels inside the nest. The battle would last for a good hour usually the red ants would lose because they didn't have the numbers.
So in this childhood game was the basis idea for Amazing Ants. In the game the same rival forces face off in the battlefield and like my childhood game numbers are the key to victory.
Thank you for reading my first blog Part 2 will be coming soon.