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Cute Eggs and Cenobites

“DIZZY AND THE RAVEN’S HEX”

My first full creation of the new year – another PC game, with a theme both retro and Wiccan …

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The Dizzy games were well known to 8-bit computer gamers in the late 80s and early 90s: a series of object-based puzzle platformers following the adventures of the eponymous Dizzy the egg as he solved mysteries, escaped dungeons, and rescued his friends and family in a tongue-in-cheek fairytale world. This is my attempt at a 3D version (compatible with fairly low-end PC hardware but not Mac, sadly).

GAME MANUAL / INSTALLATION

GAME FILES / SETUP

SOUND FILES

STORY

The new factory town of Morgenholt, located deep within ancient fay woodlands, has recently been troubled by a mysterious and baleful haunting. Squire Whateley, leader of the town and owner of its factory, has sent for the most daring and resourceful hero in the kingdom to investigate and put an end to this menace. Which is where a certain familiar ovoid steps into the scene. Has boxing gloves, will travel …

Programming and graphics by me, soundtrack by Lost Radikals.

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“ASSIGNMENT – LAMENT”

An ongoing, though somewhat less family-friendly project is my latest fanfic, this time combining the world of “Sapphire and Steel”, “Hellraiser”, and classic “Doctor Who”. Currently four chapters in (probably aiming for a total length of 5-6), this story features fairly graphic scenes of violence, mental manipulation, and pseudo-domination of beloved TV characters, in case anyone would prefer not to subject themselves to that …

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SUMMARY

The abduction of a journalist by ruthless extra-dimensional forces leads Sapphire and Steel back onto familiar territory. Meanwhile, deep within the Labyrinth, the Cenobite High Priest has a disturbing encounter of his own with an old wartime comrade, leading to a bizarre alliance. Can the operators find a way to successfully infiltrate Leviathan’s domain, sabotage this plan, and rescue the hostage before reality itself becomes a war casualty?

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Geek Girl

Things have been moving forward lately, there is no denying. Cal and I are both out at work, both of our families have accepted or in the few worst cases resigned themselves to the situation, HM Revenue and Customs and Cardiff Council have both changed my details, so all my tax reminders will at least have the right name on them (woohoo), and God willing I will hopefully have a new passport as well before long. I have, at last, been sent consent forms by the GIC, so I am officially a patient of theirs.

Still, it is still a long and grinding process, and each bit of progress seems painfully tiny, moving up the GIC waiting list being as lethargic a business as waiting for my hormones and my laser treatment to have some visible and lasting effects. Dwelling on it would be a mistake unless I want to drive myself mad from impatience and anxiety, so what is my coping strategy to be?

Well, as ever, it will be based on my time-honoured method of losing myself in time-consuming hobbies that demand all of my mental energy and thus save me from having to worry about transition (or building a career, taking care of the flat, having a social life… though I’m sure I’ll get round to those one of these years).

Here are some test screenshots from a possible adventure game I started programming last year and picked up again recently. Since my equipment is mediocre (an old ASUS laptop), my software is ancient (Visual Basic 5), and moreover I am not the whole of BioWare studios, I am keeping it all fairly small and simple, with early PS1 / Sega Saturn style low-poly graphics. Since these meshes are all just raw vectors typed directly into the program (which my mentor, Jack Hoxley, says is a very bad idea, only I was feeling rebellious… and too cheap to invest in a proper mesh-making package), I am still not displeased with them, even if it is all a bit Minecraft-y.

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(1940s style Citroen van driving on some crude but functional randomised terrain, inspired by the planet rover stages in the original “Mass Effect”)

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(Cessna doing some aerobatics in front of a rather blurry backcloth of Burgundy)

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(The game’s female character taking a stroll by a cottage)

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(The game’s male character in a church with a massive spider, because)

Currently, one “transitions” between the two characters with a press of the “G” (for gender) key, but I intend to find some way to make this gender-switching a gameplay feature. The theme will be supernatural / magical, and the two characters will have differing abilities that will become key in solving the various puzzles. When I design games, I nearly always end up making them as arcade object-puzzlers in the style of the old Dizzy games, partly because I find that genre more interesting than combat-heavy games, and also because they are far easier to program (good fighting games usually requiring a ton of animation and physics to both look decent and be playable).

Heaven alone knows how often I shall update on this topic, though. I was well into this hobby last year when a friend persuaded me to get back into writing instead, then after a few months stuck to my manuscript, I realised (through my main character) that my gender dysphoria had resurfaced, and the rest is self-explanatory…

Which is, of course, the problem with creativity: it always seems like a nice, innocent distraction from the cares and concerns of life, but you never quite know into what dark and weird places it will eventually lead you.