January, the 27th: 2012. The Global Game Jam kicks off today.

I’m writing this post in a state of black depression. January 27th, and no word whatsoever from Cruncher 2012, Sri Lanka‘s largestĀ  game development “fiasco”. The winners were announced in September. Last year. And no word: no prizes, no prize money, no certificates, nothing. The so-called “Institute of Engineers, Sri Lanka” is silent. Nobody answers their phones.

4250, as a team, has also failed. For the record: henceforth, 4250 is me and me alone. My experiments with Down Under have taken me along some interesting directions; strangely enough, it’s being slowly gobbled up by a side project, which I’ll reveal later.

I once worked on a Godfather-style story for a game called Omerta. While the game didn’t get off the ground due to art issues, it brought me into contact with a thoroughly impressive engine by Chronotek called the TDS engine. Basically, it’s an advanced top-down-shooter engine that uses Game Maker and can be handled by anyone from a novice to an advanced user.

The side project was initially a small shooter with this engine. Due to my artistic limitations [I’ll admit – I can draw landcapes in pencil, but I fail spectacularly at important things like player characters], I knocked up a sort of 8-bit arena shooter. This, for better or the worse, is what is merging with Down Under. The 8-bit graphics have gone, but I’ve kept the blocky effect and added a bit of shading here and there. I want to work on something colorful, something loveable, something I can have fun testing. At the same time I’m intent on preserving the fast, scripted shooter action I envisioned for Down Under.

Wow. How far an idea will take us, eh? I’ve always been a bit like this – drawing a cloud and ending up with a Pokemon, for instance. The Maze started out as a zombie arena shooter. But this was a more conscious and sudden choice than the evolution of the Maze: for once, I want to work on something light and cheerful. The world’s ugly enough as it is.