"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...
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)
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 ~
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 ~
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 ~
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...
Encore can be
downloaded here! (25mb)
Independence Day ~
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
Copyright © MDickie 2000 - 2010