Mat@MDickie.com
2005 Retrospective














 


"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
- Albert Einstein

Towards the end of 2004, I had become a victim of my own success. The only thing wrong with being the "best" independent developer on the scene is that you inherently become the "worst" mainstream developer! By the time 2005 rolled around, I was regularly being judged as such - and it proved to be a frustrating state of affairs through which I would struggle to survive. As the projects grew in size and spectacle, so too did the expectations. Fortunately, by the year's end those most unreasonable of expectations would be miraculously satisfied...


Wrecked
~
February 2005
Despite the poor reception to Sure Shot 3D, I persevered with life outside of the ring and continued to make the strange concepts I had always wanted to see. The next to try its luck was a desert island survival game called Wrecked, which was originally conceived as a 2D adventure game way back in 2000. I was slowly becoming more comfortable with 3D environments and decided to do the concept justice as a modern RPG. It wasn't easy though because I been focusing entirely on wrestlers and wrestling arenas, which meant outdoor scenery was new to me! So too were the animals that had to inhabit it, which ended up looking rather crude. I did my best and ushered in countless innovations that we hadn't seen until now - including fully interactive 3D terrain, particle effects, and even a split-screen multiplayer mode. The presentation, too, was infinitely superior - featuring the most interesting theme song yet and unprecedented attention to detail throughout. However, all these experiments ultimately resulted in a project that was too crude to enjoy meaningful success. Although people were captivated by the concept, and curiosity alone made it one of the most popular independent releases at Download.com, many people were disappointed by what loaded up before them. Coincidentally enough, the massively popular TV show Lost aired at the very same time and altered what people expect from a desert island concept! My humble little game was neither here nor there and fell between the cracks. It did, however, introduce a spiritual theme to my work that would go on to be increasingly prominent...
Wrecked can be downloaded here! (6mb)


Popcorn
~
June 2005
Wrecked and Sure Shot 3D were supposed to herald the arrival of whole year of genre-bending action games, but their twin troubles were like a bicycle with no wheels! There was no choice but to decamp and return to the sanctuary of tried and tested ideas. Nonetheless, there's only one rule here at MDickie.com - and that is to innovate at all times. It's with that bold ambition that I dived into a concept that hadn't been successfully simulated in over 20 years of game development! Ever since Popscene swaggered onto the scene in the Summer of 2004, there had been calls for a movie version of the game - and with the predictably titled Popcorn, I duly obliged. It was yet another case of making the impossible look easy - as I took on the insurmountable task of turning an art form into a playable formula, and emerged with something surprisingly coherent. But again, there were to be no points for effort or innovation. All players cared about was the end result, and many found the game's symbolic nature difficult to love. Not least because Peter Molyneux's The Movies had done a better job of the concept around the same time. Popcorn sat well with Popscene's existing fanbase though, and firmly established the management genre as my most successful outside of wrestling...
Popcorn can be downloaded here! (18mb)


The Gift & The Curse
~
August 2005
Popcorn brought my eventful little detour full circle, and the lessons learned paved the way for a triumphant return to wrestling. However, halfway through Wrestling Encore's production the entire project was jeopardised by an unwelcome setback (occurring, for the 5th year in a row, in the month of August?!). It was the familiar story of a broken computer that needed to be replaced, but this year's twist was that even that couldn't go through without incident. As if emptying my bank account to buy a new computer wasn't painful enough, the company I ordered from duly went out of business between taking my money and failing to deliver the goods. In short, I was left with no money AND no computer to show for it - which doesn't bode well for a gaming entrepreneur! Although I would eventually hustle together enough resources to get back on track, by that time the sorry state of affairs had put me out of action for a good 2 months - and it's a miracle that it didn't claim my entire career...


Tour Of Duty
~
September 2005
In amongst those shady deals and broken computers, my 2nd compilation was fighting to secure a release. Last year's Evolution Of The MPire had been a surprisingly popular way of acquiring a whole series of games, so I decided to make it a tradition with this season's follow-up. The appropriately titled Tour Of Duty would chronicle my break from the wrestling genre - featuring all 4 of the games that emerged during that hiatus. Their individual legacies are of course documented on these very pages, but as with Evolution Of The MPire it's the combined efforts that define these belated compilations. Provided as they were on one great value disc, it gave many bargain hunters a chance to appreciate overlooked games like Wrecked and Sure Shot 3D at their best. The latter, in particular, struggled to justify a solo release - but found a more favourable audience as part of a compilation. This win-win situation is the beauty of the format, and ensures that it'll be a staple of my empire for as long as it reigns...


Wrestling Encore
~
December 2005
My long awaited remake of Wrestling MPire limped over the finish line just in time for Christmas. Chronologically, it took 6 months to make - but only 4 of those were spent working on the game (2 prior to the broken computer debacle and 2 after). Fortunately, all the setbacks in the world couldn't stop it from meeting its destiny as one of the best wrestling games (and independent releases) of all time! The one and only complaint people ever had about my games - the graphics - was becoming less of a concern in this improved instalment, which convinced many players to put down their X-Box's and Playstations. It was obviously crude compared to what would follow in 2008, but it was worth getting excited about at the time. A trio of improved modelling, texturing, and animation came together to produce my most aesthetically pleasing game yet - and a sonic boom of improved sound made the transition all the more complete. Thankfully, the gameplay raised the bar too - as a barrage of new features complimented the existing ones that had been tightened up. Recent experience had taught me that none of the above was guaranteed to be appreciated, but the tide seemed to finally turn with this project. It took the humble contributions of Wrecked and Popcorn and made them shine in a package that would go on to enjoy the best reception of any game yet. Within 24 hours of its release, I had regained practically every fan that ever doubted me - and they were soon to be joined by an army of newcomers that had just been woken up...
Wrestling Encore can be downloaded here! (25mb)


Independence Day
~
December 2005
The only people that didn't like Wrestling Encore were the judges of the Independent Games Festival. I had long since reached the limits of "underground" success, and resolved to step into the spotlight for 2006. My springboard was to be a revelatory performance at the IGF, which would see my work documented in every gaming magazine and website in the Western world. And with Wrestlemania taking place within a week of the event, what project could be more appropriate than the best PC wrestling game on the scene? But alas, nothing is that simple in the backward world of game development. In their infinite wisdom, the judges decreed that they didn't like wrestling and neglected to honour the genre in any category. I had always suspected that I didn't belong in the games industry, but deep down I knew it could only be paranoia. Here, however, I was absolutely astonished to find that it always was (and always will be) 100% true. If single-handedly making a game like Wrestling Encore in a matter of months was nothing to celebrate, I truly was living in a parallel universe. There's great liberation to be had from such a profound revelation though! Upon filing for divorce from the games industry in time for 2006, I would soon be free to concentrate on becoming a force of nature in my own right...

                    

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