I did my first Indie Game Dev Exhibition!

Recently, I did my very FIRST exhibition for a game conference, and I had such a great time! 🙂

It was at Southampton Game Fest 2018, which is right on my doorstep – unfortunately, I only learned about the event a few days before it was happening. At first, I figured I would just rock-up as an attendee (seeing as all I had were a few PICO-8/Jam games) and check out the local Indie Dev scene, of which I was previously unaware even EXISTED! 😮

However, after announcing my guest ticket purchase, I was very kindly “encouraged” by a fellow Indie Developer (Mike Tucker of Bitmap Bureau) to exhibit my PICO-8 games anyway. I’m so glad he did, as this was one of the best “last-minute” decisions I’ve made all year – as I got to meet some great people (and hopefully made some new friends in the process!) 🙂

My setup was VERY basic (I had 2 days people, TWO DAYS… to prepare!), so I went with a very portable setup – most of which I was able to fit into my backpack!

My “booth” setup:

Luckily, quite a few people were attracted to my “Retro/Pixel” style enough to come up and ask about my work. I have to say, it was great to watch complete strangers playing and, more importantly, enjoying my games! A few people even got quite competitive (read: addicted) to getting the highest score – something I’ll definitely be trying to incorporate more in future events 🙂

During quiet periods, I found time to mooch around and check out everyone else’s stands and play some games, including…

This was one of the most valuable take-aways from the event, as I got to chat to some incredibly talented Indie Developers, share stories, and learn lots of useful tips.

After the show, a bunch of us headed over to a local pub and had drinks, dinner, and lots of laughs…

All in all, a VERY good day – hope to do another one soon! 🙂

(Skip to: 40secs, and also 2min 50secs, to catch a brief glimpse of my “stall” and games being played!)

SCUMM-8 is in Print

If you pick up a copy of this month’s The MagPi (or click here) and turn to page 29, you’ll see a lovely little mention of SCUMM-8 in print! 😀

It’s part of a great article (written by K.G. Orphanides) on how to “Make your own Video Games”, and covers a selection of: websites, engines & tools for getting started – including a big feature on the PICO-8 virtual console (which SCUMM-8 was made with).

It was a great feeling to know that other people appreciate and enjoy something that I made – makes the time spent feel even more worth it!

UPDATE:
And would you believe it? SCUMM-8 was also in print in Retro Gamer in the same month (but I only just found out)! 😮

If you’re the owner of lssue 185 (“Space Invaders”) cover, turn to the Page 104 and you’ll see my game “CODE-8” (which was built using my SCUMM-8 engine), along with details of several other great entries to the AdventureJam 2018:

Unfortunately, Retro Gamer forgot to include a link to the jam (and apparently didn’t have room to list the authors), so I’ve decided to include all the ones featured below:

SCUMM-8: One Year Later

Introduction

A year ago today, I released SCUMM-8, a Point+Click adventure game engine for the PICO-8 Fantasy Console.
While this project was started as a bit of a “dare” to myself to see if it could be done (and was partially inspired by this mock-up by PixelArtM) – it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Development

Researching into how the original SCUMM engine worked, what the API offered and how those classic Point+Click adventure games (such as Ron Gilbert’s Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island) were made, was a very informative journey.

After poring over the original SCUMM Manual & Tutorial (courtesy of Aric Wilmunder, ex-Lucasfilm Games developer), I decided I wanted to keep the API as close to the original as PICO-8/Lua would allow.

However, squeezing all the functionality into a single PICO-8 cart (while still leaving SOME space for an actual game), required minifying the code. This was achieved using a function of picotool – created by Dan Sanderson.

While there were some technical challenges along the way (the PICO-8 platform has a deliberately very limited specification), I had so much fun making this engine.

I’ve done a few “demake” projects now (in fact – I’ve just realised that’s almost all I seem to do!), and I always seem to find it fascinating researching and reverse-engineering something that you are passionate about, to figure out how it ticks. I was originally concerned that, revealing the “magic” (or peering “behind the curtain”) so to speak, would ruin my love for these beloved games – but if anything, thankfully, it’s always made me appreciate them even more!

Release

On release, SCUMM-8 was WAY more popular than I’d ever hoped it would be. I would’ve been happy if just a few people liked what I’d done, but the original launch tweet blew up on Day:1, and is close to 1000 likes!

I decided early on that I’d open source the project as I’d always wanted to put something up on GitHub, so this seemed like a good time to do so. But I never imagined that SCUMM-8 would be ported to any other platforms… let alone TWICE!

The first time was by Jesse Freeman, for his impressive Pixel Vision 8 fantasy multi-console.

The second time was by Matteusbeus, who has started porting it to the Mega Drive / Genesis ! (using the SGDK), as part of another open source project delightfully called: SCUMM-8-Plus-8.
(I hope to one day contribute to this one, as making a Mega Drive game has been a long time ambition for me)

Thanks to this project, I’ve had interactions with some wonderful people along the way, many of which are very active in the Point+Click community – some creating their own brand new games in this genre. I was even lucky to get positive feedback and “likes” from legends such as Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and David Fox.

It was also through this project that I was invited to be on my first podcast, by Todd Mitchell of Code Write Play. Todd’s a fan of both PICO-8 and classic Point+Click adventures and has been a great supporter (thanks!)

So, what’s next for SCUMM-8?

Well, although I’m mostly focusing on other projects now… I am planning to use it create my first ever entry to Adventure Jam (#AdvJam2018) this year.

While I have create a couple of small SCUMM-8 games before (most notably Return of the SCUMM and H A L L O W EƎ N), I’m hoping to really push what it can do in terms of visual storytelling and scope (spanning multiple carts) – even if it means finishing it post-jam.

(UPDATE: I *did*, it’s called CODE-8, and it’s the biggest SCUMM-8 game I’ve made to date!)

I’d also still like to (some day) finish off the SCUMM-8 Editor feature that I started last year, in order to make creating games with SCUMM-8 easier, but it would be at the cost of losing the ability to have an entire game self-contained within a single PICO-8 cart, which is a feature that I am still proud of to this day.

Closing

Finally, to everyone who’s ever played, created or shared anything SCUMM-8 related…

– THANK YOU –

I was on a Podcast!

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: “Be on a Podcast!”

I was recently invited by Todd Mitchell to come on his Code Write Play podcast, where I mostly waffled on about games from yesteryear and how I (somehow) keep finding myself re-creating classic games.

This was my first ever podcast experience (listen to loads, never speak), but Todd’s level of professionalism put me at ease and we had a good ol’ chat.

Check it out below and if you have any interest in Games (not necessarily development), then I *seriously* recommend subscribing to the podcast; it’s insightful, well-produced and funny too! 😀

Retro Developer Paul Nicholas

New Website

Hello world!

Finally got around to updating my website. It’s been long overdue a refresh and so far, I’m quite happy with it.

I’ve recently (well, past year or so) been getting much more into Game Development, primarily with the PICO-8 fantasy console. So I wanted to be able to collate my projects in one place.

So… watch this space! 😀