After a few weeks of coding both at work and at home, I finally finished my pet project: Crossroads DX. I started it three weeks ago, finished it last week, and it plays great! The ultimate way to experience the game is on a Windows box with a USB version of the classic Competition Pro joystick (see video). It also runs great on Macs as well as iPhone and Android with touchscreen controls.

To be clear, Crossroads DX is my personal tribute to Crossroads & Crossroads 2, which are wonderful games written by Steve Harter for the Compute!'s Gazette magazine back in 1987. I had a blast programming the whole thing from scratch. The original games were written in 6502 assembly language, and I marvel at how blazing fast they run on the Commodore 64. My version is written in "high level" C/C++, makes about a zillion and a half unnecessary calls to the 3d hardware, is totally unoptimized, and it still runs incredibly fast on the slowest of iPhone hardware. Hardware has come a long way in 26 years, but the frenzied fun that you get from a game like Crossroads is eternal. It's a true classic in my book.

My personal goal for 2013 is to make a game every week or two, just to gear up my programming and game design skills for the new Scorched Tanks project. The first game I wrote was a Snake game back in January. Next I finished up Crossroads DX in February. Now I'm working on a Megamania tribute game and I have plans to write a River Raid game after that. (FYI - these are just side projects - an excuse to write new technology needed for Scorched Tanks) To keep up this pace, I have come up with a 'plan'. The plan starts off with me taking an hour and a half and writing a One Page Game Design Document. Here's the Crossroads DX One Page:

It's a simple format, and I borrowed the idea from Stonetronix Designs, Inc. who has an excellent PowerPoint presentation on the topic of One Page Designs. I find that getting your ideas down on 'paper' as quickly as possible with lots of fun pictures and stirring text really gets me motivated to actually program the game. And when it comes to leading a team, I've found that pictures work best in those situations as well. Believe me, I've tried talking lots, waving my hands all around, and jumping about the office excitedly... but nothing works better than drawing a few pictures to get everyone rowing in the the same direction.

After the document is made, I simply use the Pomodoro Technique to get my daily tasks organized and with the twist of the tomato-shaped egg timer I am off and coding in no time. Let me tell you, this is really working for me. And I'd like to thank Christer Kaitila for writing the book The Game Jam Survival Guide. That book is a great inspiration for all my 2013 efforts. (speedy tips for motivating, organizing, and finishing games quickly)

Back to Crossroads DX...

Here are a few cool pictures. The first is a screenshot from my top secret prototyping system... it's a game browser that keeps all my game demos and graphic demos in one convenient location. The second is a screenshot of Crossroads DX running on my iPhone4s with the touchscreen joystick. (just tap anywhere on the right side of the screen to fire)

I've programmed every single monster type, except for one. I left out the Brown Dog because 1) I loathe shooting a creature that never attacks or hurts you, and 2) the Brown Dog gets super powers at level 20 and I'm simply not good enough at Crossroads 2 to even get to level 20! But everything else is in there, and I must admit that the White Skull monster that gets faster every time they pick-up a spar is simply ridiculous! (it's like a boss monster... maybe I should slow them down a bit to make it fair. NOT A CHANCE!!! hehe)

So enjoy the video for now, and perhaps I'll get around to releasing some of these demo/tribute games over the coming months. I know that Nate and Ben have played Crossroads DX a little bit here at the office, and my 3 year old Andy thinks the 'monster' game is super fun to play on the C64 and on the PC. Andy can't tell the difference between the original version and my version... it's all just good fun for him. I'm super glad that people are trying the game out and giving me feedback, even with it being an in-house only game. Making something that people play is truly the best part of being a game developer.

Next Up: Megamania!
(for the Atari 2600... the best Space Invaders inspired game from that era that I have ever played. It's genius, and it's only a 4k game. Amazing! Steve Cartwright is an impressive game developer, both in the 80's and right up to today.)