Sunday, 23 October 2011



My uncontrollable, rebellious urges have led me to release a scrapped game. The poorly titled SHPMDBGWL4 Sunshine. If you've been paying attention to my efforts in the last few years, you'll know why it's such a poor title.

There's also an NCFC booth which I dug up. It's here.

Because I favour the readers of Blog Squirrel over everyone else, you get an explanation of why I chose to release this game today. SHP4 Sunshine was a bizarre little project I started working on in the summer of 2010. It stands as the last real "hurrah" for the SHPDMBGWL4 series, of which I'm sure you remember.

I pushed through the summer and by the end of my break I had a game that was roughly 60-65% completed. Then real life got in the way, things broke and the project was effectively scrapped. I don't really regret not finishing it - it's not something I could bring to a job interview as it both fails to demonstrate my skills and spends its days ripping off the works of others, but it's certainly a shame to get this far only for things to fail.

SHP4 Sunshine is a pretty amazing game when compared to its prequels. In fact, I tend to think it's too good, not because it's the greatest video game on the planet (far from it, it still uses broken platform engines), but because the SHPMDBGWL4 series is supposed to terrible both in gameplay and presentation. This one is structured more along the lines of a "real" game, but it isn't a "real" game, and that raises problems.

This is the only entry in the series I don't look back on and cringe for one reason or another, which is probably a good sign. SHP4 Sunshine was designed to be a much smaller beast than previous attempts - three-ish levels, one boss, but each level would have multiple goals. A 2D... Super Mario Sunshine, except with more references to things people won't get.

Unlike previous games I armed myself with Paint.NET and Inkscape for the graphics side of things, and high quality MP3s tweaked with Audacity for the sound. This is contrary to SHP4 3 EX's production, which had me use the built in TGF graphics editor and stock MIDIs from I would hope the result is a much better experience - still tacky because that's the way the SHP4 series operates, but "well made" tackiness, if there is such a thing.

But I'm not overly convinced that it works. I think the themes and general structure of the game are sound, but as a character, Quackers does not lend himself well to good gameplay. Quackers is not meant to be agile - he's like a walking nuclear bomb that destroys things for a living. This is why in previous SHPDMBGWL4 games I gave the complicated platforming tasks to lesser characters - Quackers isn't supposed to be phased by obstacles, and a good designer would note that he takes up far too much of the screen for precision play. But regardless, this entire game is based on Quackers jumping around.

It leads to an experience which is although undoubtedly more polished, lacks that sense of variety that previous entries in the series had. It's a more logical direction to go in had I planned to make something I could sell, but as a SHPDMBGWL4 game, I feel it vastly misses the point.

Nevertheless there are many things I hope you will find interesting. I can't say there'll ever be another SHPDMBGWL4 game to come out of Squirrel HQ - it's a series that in my mind has been and gone. As I have likely mentioned in the past, my plans are to make a more professional mark in the video game industry - I would very much like to see Quackers turn up in some form but you won't be seeing the "Super Hyper Paper Deluxe Mario Bros. Galaxy World Land 4" bit again, and it'll be severely watered down for legal reasons. Watch this space I guess?

If anybody with talent is desperate to conclude the SHPDMBGWL4 Sunshine saga, you can drop me a message somewhere and I might let you continue it. The flaws should be obvious - it struggles with MMFE sprite limits, has short and uninteresting levels and many areas lack polish. There's also various cosmetic changes that could be made - I've never been a huge fan of the title screen music for example. But should this happen I'd also prefer it if you weren't at my door asking for advice every day - the project was scrapped for a reason and I've no desire to work on it again in the near future.

There is but one more scrapped SHPMDBGWL4 game yet to be released, the delightful "SHPDMBGWL4 4", previewed twice on YouTube in years long past. That one is a minefield - masses of space is wasted taking up unorganised music files and very little gameplay is on offer. It's more like a poorly written book, with many stupid ideas and concepts that don't deserve to see the light of day. As it lies on an external harddrive somewhere, I would not expect to see it any time soon, but I won't completely rule out a public viewing if there's support.

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