first games I ever released publicly ran in DOS, which you're not
likely to get working nowadays without the help of tools like DOS Box.
This was perhaps the most prolific period of my career, where the
creation of games was measured in weeks rather than months! Although it
was a case of quantity over quality, many concepts were introduced that
live on in my work to this day...
Online: September Edition (2001)
My fledgling wrestling simulator went on to receive
several monthly updates over the summer of 2001 - each offering more and more
new features. By the final
installment, it was almost an entirely different game!
There were new characters, new moves, and even new concepts
such as building arena improvements. More importantly, the gameplay continued to
improve - boasting a new system that allowed for all 12 wrestlers to participate
in a match. Given that the game already had a generous selection of managers,
referees, and intruders - that made for some crazy scenes! Unfortunately, like
all the DIV games, it looks woefully
crude compared to the sequel that would follow a year later, and is relatively
countless breakthroughs that were made seal its place in history as the
blueprint for every 2D game followed...
September Edition can be downloaded here! (3.5mb)
Online (June 2001)
As Big Bumps
to a close, I realised that a decent wrestling simulator was finally
possible and began contemplating what form it would take. I awoke one
night with the title "Fed On" racing through my head, which was to be
an abbreviation of "Federation Online". I was making such headway with
my website at this point that my instict was to make an "online"
wrestling federation. Not in the same sense that we understand "online"
multiplayer today, but more of an e-fed where my fans submitted their
own characters, which I would dutifully put in the game to create the
illusion of them playing against each other! Suffice to say, it turned
out to be an impractical nightmare that I swiftly abandoned - but the
title remained as I settled back into making the best wrestling sim
I could. It had the most sophiscated combat and wildest action of any
game yet, along with a handful of other innovations that we take for
granted now - such as a real in-game referee and entrance music loaded
in from your actual CD collection! The basic concept of booking was
even in evidence, where lasting damage was done to the roster you had
to work with.
Big Bumps (February
had been my flagship game since day one (only THAT Love Triangle
came close to dethroning it), and there had been talk of a sequel within
weeks of its release. As it happened, that sequel didn't
arrive until 6 months later -
when the gameplay was repackaged under the catchier title
hardcore legend Mick Foley now leading the way, the
new Stunt Challenge
took the old concept in a wild new direction.
The more sophisticated health-based
gameplay - supported
by a multitude of new stages, characters, and
weapons - ensured Big
Bumps surpassed the first game
in every possible way.
It was also a much more refined production, boasting saved high scores
and a challenging Story Mode. Incidentally, this was also the first
project I ever got paid for - as I accepted a replica WCW United States championship for promoting a merchandise website! Winning the title proved that my work had value in more ways that one...
Format Magazine (February 2001)
Just a few
months after it was born, MDickie.com became PC Format's
"Site Of The Month" for February. It was
treated to a whole page of exposure in the UK's
leading PC magazine, which
brought more traffic to my site than ever before!
The journalist happened to be a huge wrestling fan, so it was favourable
coverage too. There was even talk of my games appearing on the cover disc -
but they were still infringing WWF copyright at this point, so it wasn't
Family Christmas (December
I ended my first year as a known game developer with a "Christmas Special", which would be spent at the McMahon household!
basic premise featured each member of the clan running around the
living room attacking each other with their unwanted gifts (which were
different each time). I was hoping this would be the first of many
seasonal specials, but as my games got bigger and more demanding I
couldn't afford any wasted energy...
Sure Shot (December
This was the very first incarnation of an enduring concept that would pop up numerous times throughout my career.
It was a unique take on the shoot 'em-up genre, which simply challenged
2 soldiers to trap enemies in their crossfire WITHOUT hitting each
other! This was just a crude prototype of what would follow, but it
gave me the confidence to experiment. Even though I was carving out my
niche as a wrestling specialist, it was important to prove to myself
that I was a well-rounded developer who could make games of all kinds.
Vs Boxing (December 2000)
Triangle was a leap forward in gameplay and got people suggesting
that I finally make a proper wrestling simulator. I knew that was still some
off, but I decided to go as far as I could. I staged a
contest between just
two characters: the wrestler "Rocky Maivia" and the boxer
Inspired by the Rocky movies, it was to be the ultimate test to see who
was the better athlete. My new website played its role well, as
the features of the game were
gradually introduced through little cartoons
and spoof interviews! This generated more hype than usual, which the game managed to live up to.
I had the player moving around a small arena, complete with ring, and
the fighting action was a definite step forward.
The game even boasted a decent format, as each challenge
was unveiled in a backstage confrontation! It was soon overshadowed by its successors, but this project
was a big achievement for its time.
Especially because I was churning these things in a matter of WEEKS at
this point, as this was the first of 3 projects that would be released
in December alone!
period, my games were very topical and closely followed WWF storylines
- often within days of them playing out on TV. At this particular time, there was a "love triangle" brewing between Triple H, Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon. This
helped to elevate the game above the usual mindless fighting, as you
actually had to compete for the lady's affection as she ran around the
scene! Like some sort of human ladder match, you had to incapacitate
your opponent long enough to spend time alone with the girl. To this
end, you could even give her instructions about where to go or what to
do - which were followed quite faithfully thanks to some impressive AI
programming. The combat was also the most sophisticated we had seen
thus far - featuring actual grappling moves, a scrolling game world,
and a satisfying range of items (which even extended to a driveable
car!). It was arguably the most enjoyable game to come out of this era
short of a proper wrestling simulator.
Con-chair-to (October 2000)
As these games
became more popular, there was a brief period where I was literally
taking requests from fans and making entire games on demand! One such
request was this vehicle for Edge & Christian -
who had just gotten over with their chairshot gimmick. It was a kind of
"whack-a-mole" game, where 2 players had to run around the ring
knocking out as many enemies as possible. It was a fun arcade concept,
but didn't have enough substance to push my work forward...
Case 3:16 (September 2000)
I was struggling to follow up on the success of Stunt Challenge and
everybody began to suspect it was a "fluke" that would never be
improved upon. Since I couldn't yet make a legitimate wrestling
simulator, every game needed a "gimmick" that riffed on one aspect of
the sport. It
wasn't until Steve Austin
exploded back onto TV with a hot storyline that I got another chance to
shine! There was a mystery about who had run him over and why, which I
used as the backbone of a simple fighting game. You not only had to
beat opponents but also beat information out of them, en route to
confronting the guilty person (which changed each time to make it a
genuine mystery!). Thanks
to the improved combat and perfect timing, it was considered a
form and my work was worth getting excited about again...
Live On PPV (September 2000)
Before I found my own visual style, I got started by ripping the sprites from existing 16-bit games. First from Fire Pro and then from WWF Wrestlemania for this comical game about Earthquake and Typhoon fighting over
food! It had some interesting moments, but the game itself wasn't well
made at all. It was very much a
step too far for me at this early stage - but a valuable learning process nonetheless. Having 2 characters on
screen at once, interacting with each other, was a significant achievement. Not
least because it was the first to have them traveling around a game world
in all 4 directions instead of side-to-side. That technique
would be honed in later games, but this is where it started...
Promo Cutter (August 2000)
High on the
success of Hardyz Stunt Challenge, I felt obliged to make anything remotely
related to wrestling. By now The Rock was more popular than ever, and his
promos in particular were very entertaining. This led to me making a bizarre
program where you played his
voice like a keyboard - triggering
individual words with each key. It's what we now know as a
"soundboard", but it was a unique concept at the time. It was certainly
a valuable exercise in working with sound. However, its lack of
substance didn't impress. Hoping for another game as good as
Hardyz, the webmaster of Tha Warzone
naturally rejected it and it didn't see a release until my own site
launched several months later...
Challenge (August 2000)
This was the first game I ever released publicly to an enthusiastic audience.
Knowing my novice limitations, I decided to focus on successfully
recreating one aspect of wrestling instead of failing to recreate the
whole thing. The high-flying antics of the Hardy Boyz were popular at
the time, so I simply had them throwing themselves from a great height performing stunts for points. With a handful of different jumps to perform and destructible furniture to land on, it became
a strangely satisfying stress reliever! I was so confident about it that I even
sent it into a wrestling website, where it reached thousands of fans in their newsfeed and
literally became an overnight success. Within 24 hours I had received hundreds
of excited e-mails praising the game, and the positive
reaction convinced me that a hobby was about to become
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