Platdude. A 16 pixel, 3 color character. Deftly defying the world of 3D models and amazing realism, in favour of good old fashioned gameplay.
Over the years, Platdude has been in plenty of games.. Here's an approximate history of Platdude, along with Downloads where appropriate. (Or skip to the bottom for the latest stuff!)
The Early Years
Due to Windows-system changes, and the fact that a bunch of these require DOS and QBasic and stuff, and also have inexpicably lost data through the years.. How Dare They!!
I might eventually do an old-skool archive thing, and try to fix all these up some day.
That day is not today!
Late 1997 - QBasic
The original game was created whilst I was in college. At first I'd made a little top-down maze game, JNKMaze. The movement was very blocky, but the puzzle designs were fiendish. I then decided to try recreating the game, but instead of making it top down I would add gravity to the world, and use the walls as platforms. That worked really well, and JNKPlat was born.
It featured the classic block-at-a-time jumpy movement, it had no screen scrolling, I made about a dozen or so levels, and the main character was a strange little yellow fellow!
One of the trickiest things I found, though, was that if you were on a ladder you couldn't quite jump off it correctly. So instead of having a "Jump up" button, I instead added two jump buttons. One button would jump you to the left, the other to the right. This simple addition added to the puzzle factor of the game, and became a staple for the JNKPlat series.
Next I wanted an enemy in the game, so I added a small bat that flew randomly around the level. Given that you could control Platdudes speed (quicker keyboard taps moved him quicker) the random movement of the bats lead to some fun level designs, whereby you'd suddenly find yourself running like crazy inside small tunnels and the like.
Pretty quickly, though, it became harder to add new features to the game. All the sprites were being created using pixel data, and it became far too complex to keep track of what everything was! So I built up a small color palette editor, and a sprite designer, and began work on the 2nd JNKPlat.
Early 1998 - QBasic
Things turned out really well, and I spend about an hour each day building up new levels. They weren't the most challenging levels, but I did build 100 of them, so that was ok!
When we started our 2nd year at College, I was mortified to find that the IT staff had decided to wipe all the accounts, meaning I'd lost all 100 of my levels. So, what else could I do but start again!
Late 1998 - QBasic
This time I decided to use even smaller sprites. A 4x4 pixel Platdude was born, and the maps could now get up to a whopping 75x45 blocks in size. Still without any animation at all, the game carried on exactly where things had been left off. Except by now the code was getting much better. It'd started off with 54kb of data for JNKPlat 1, whereas JNKPlat 3 used 7! (Although, of course, that gain soon dissapeared with all the new Level data!)
October 2000 - DarkBasic
The main problem with having all your games made in QBasic, is that they're really hard to get working in Windows 98. So armed with a brand new game-development language, I set about recreating JNKPlat for Windows. Things went pretty smoothly but I soon wanted to attempt something a little more arcade-like, and so the levels never really appeared.
From this point on, we have a completely downloadable collection.
January 2002 - DarkBasic
And so I tried my hand at a classic platform game. At the time I thought that making a better looking game meant I should create a better looking character. I've since learnt that that's not the case, but for this game I shoved in a little half-stickman half-big belly guy. I tried to add mario-style gameplay to the thing, but my collision detection was way off, and it all became a jumbled mess.
Blame DarkBasic for that!! (Note : Darkbasic's a lot better nowadays, this was in 2002!)
September 2002 - BlitzBasic
I started again with BlitzBasic. First of all, Platdude went back into the game. He looked much better! I got my collision routines more or less as good as I could at the time, although there was still a bit of dodgyness if you were trying to jump onto something too high.
Thinking it would help, I added a whole bunch of different play styles into the engine, including Mario, Sonic and even a strange Lemming style, where you had to rescue the little fellows. To a degree it worked, but it became a mismatch of ideas. Furthermore, between fiddling with the different game style, and losing the whole "Blocky" nature of the game, I'd gone and lost the one thing that made Platdude what it was.
I'd lost the Puzzles.
And I really like Puzzles!
September 2002 - BlitzBasic
This edition of the game was also created in 2002, 5 years after the original JNKPlat. The plan was simple. Remake the original as close as I could. It works up to a point. That point was that I never really bothered making that many levels for it, and so it runs out of steam pretty quickly.
Which is a shame, because if I'd have stuck with it, it probably would've gotten better with time.
JNKPlat 3D 2003
December 2003 - BlitzBasic
If you take a 2D game, keep it looking the same, but transfer it to 3D, you're probably going to end up with an Isometric game.
This is that game.
For the most-part, the game worked, and with oddball isometric images it was even possible to pull off some crazy optical illusion style levels.
It would've all been great if it actually worked properly, but the annoying 3-axis control thing got in the way.
A shame, for sure, because puzzlewise, this had some real evil possibilities!
December 2004 - BlitzBasic (with Enhanced Sprite Routines)
Another Christmas, Another Platdude game!
By this point I'd decided that there were two completely different brands going on. The JNKPlat games were the Puzzle type, and the Platdude games were more your classic platformer. I then decided to splash the two together, and came up with a great Puzzle idea. If you grab hold of a certain type of sphere, you change into the costume of another platform character, and gain that characters abilities for a few seconds.
The idea worked reasonably well, but with the chunkier graphics, and pixel based nature of the Platdude games, the whole puzzle element didn't work too well. .. Back to the drawing board!
Platdude as a character had officially stuck.
His yellow/orange/blue colour scheme was fast becoming a staple of my games, and even the lovely little Greenstick-styled bats had wedged their way into my collection of favourite characters.
They were going to stay with me for a long long time, so I might as well see what else I could get out of them!
June 2005 - Blitz3D
This started well, but I think I might've overdone the unlocking mechanism a little!
As a result, it's mindbogglingly dull until you've unlocked about 80% of the game.
Still, it's the first real "Platdude, but different" attempt, and manages to keep the retro styled chunkyness, along with the bats. 'cos Bats are awesome!
January 2006 - Blitz3D
Sticking with the "but different" theme, I next decided to try a Lemmings style game, with loads of little Platdudes running amock. The level design was kept in the good old ascii style, and a few skills were attempted, but in the end I gave up.
A nice enough idea, but, much like Lemmings, it all became far too samey, after just a couple of levels.
May 2006 - Blitz3D
This is a vague attempt to bring Platdude kicking and screaming into the realm of 3D. .. And.. Well.. it's not a very good attempt!
For starters, quite a few people have issues running the game. Seems I'm nowhere near as good at all that polygonal work as I'd thought!
Secondly, the game's kinda messed up with all the Back and Forth movement. It gets a little confusing to keep track of all the controls.
But the one thing that hurts it the most is that everythings still Block-at-a-time. When I started it, it had seemed like a great idea. . But Block-at-a-time doesn't work too well in 3D!
The Developers System
In 2006 I finally got hold of a programmable cart for the Nintendo DS. Datel's "Games 'n' Music" allowed me to create a JNKPlat for the DS, and that's exactly what I did. Except there was a problem. Nobody online knew how to work the file system for the Datel cart, and Datel weren't very helpful, either. So, although I could build the game, run the game, and add levels to it myself, I wouldn't be able to let players build their own levels.
Given the fact that that's pretty much one of the draws of JNKPlat, it seemed worthless to make another same-game. So I took time out to rethink the whole project.
If I was going to remove such a huge element of the game, I'd have to add something as big back in. .. Animation! I kept the grid-like gameplay, but added little animation between each tile. This gave the game a whole new flow, whilst keeping the puzzle element intact.. I was amazed that I'd never done it before.
JNKPlat DS aka Dungeon Escape
November 2006 - DevkitPro + PALib
The game proved to be so successful that Datel even popped the game onto a little CD that was included with all of their future Nintendo DS Homebrew cartridges.
JNKPlat in a Shop! ('ish)
The DS's button layout even helped the two button jump system, making it much easier to navigate the levels. I added a nice simple tutorial level, and everything else grew pretty quickly.
But something was wrong.
The bats, with their random flapping around, were no longer the simple enemy they once were. I realised that the new animations for Platdude were slowing him down, and the chance of a bat-attack had increased. I had to remove the bats!
In their place, I added small darts that shoot across the screen at timed intervals. They helped to create a whole new action element to the game, and have since become a staple to the series.
July 2007 - Blitz3D
5 years after the 5th edition of the game, the 10th anniversary 2007 edition took everything that made the DS version so great, added a theme tune, scrolling screens, and finally put a decent level editor in there! (Everything beforehand had been .txt files!)
I also decided to retry the whole "Spheres/Suits" thing, and given the blocky nature of the game, it seems to have worked out quite well.
And it seems to be quite popular, too!
October 2007 - BlitzBasic
Another "Something different" game, seeing a JNKPlat game turned into a slot machine. Spin the reels, wait for them to stop, then watch as Platdude runs around, trying to score as many points as he possibly can.
As a random spur of the moment test game, I was quite happy with the way this game turned out, so happy infact, that it spawned a complete DS Homebrew spinoff, Arcade Slots, with a nice collection of different slot machines.
Platdude's Retro Collection
December 2007 - DevkitPro + PALib
Having achieved vague success with his own platform game, I decided to make a random collection of minigames for Nintendo DS Homebrew, and gather it all together under Platdude's brand.
The collection's fantastic, and has a whole bunch of varied little games, although whether Platdude adds anything to the collection, or is simply used as a brand, is yet to be decided ;)
Platdude Turns on Xmas
December 2007 - DevkitPro + PALib
Since Platdude was doing so well, I decided to tackle the DrunkenCoder's Christmas Competition, with a brand new 12 level challenge.
The game turned out GREAT, and I'm really happy with everything, from insanely difficult puzzles, to the 3-life deathspan!!
.. The DrunkenCoders must've been VERY drunk, because they ranked JNKPlat Xmas a very very very low mark.
Apparently it was far too hard for them! *wah!!*
JNKPlat DS 08
September 2008 - DevkitPro + PALib
A rebuild was in order, and this new DS edition finally included a level editor, a few new features from the 07 edition, and it's own little batch of new blocks, too. It's all neatly bundled with a whole bunch of levels, a lot of which were supplied by fans of the game, and there's even music thrown in there, too!
March 2009 - Blitz3D
After running around on the ground so much, it was time for Platdude to return to his little rocket ship, and shoot a few more Bats.
This time I attempted to leave things open from the start.
That killed the point of it, and rendered the whole game pointless.
Live and Learn!
JNKPlat 3D 09 Trial
June 2009 - Blitz3D
Speaking of learning, two previous games have taught us that Platdude with 3D controls is an utter shambles!
This time around, I kept the 3D stuff in there, but opted to make the entire game using only 2D gameplay..
Taking the first levels from the DS08 collection, (literally the same ones, notice how the screenshots are of the same point in the same level!!) and bundling them into a lovely 3D engine, JNKPlat never looked so good.
Personally I thought the whole thing looked, and played marvellously.
Others complained about the control scheme, because apparently 2 jump buttons is too much for people to cope with.
Geeze, Platdude really struggles sometimes..
Still, the DS one was popular, and, like they say.. Try, Try Again!
April 2010 - BlitzMax
Stripping the game back to it's pure 2D classic gameplay, and instead, making everything nice and big and chunky and fuzzy!
This edition looks FANTASTIC in HD. Open it up, pump up the Resolution to the Max, stick it on Fullscreen, then sit back and play it for ages.
There's over 100 levels to this version, and the editor's nice, too!
On the Audience Appreciation scale, this got a fair way to making JNKPlat about as popular as the DS08 edition.
Having tried out this version, people seemed to be strangely willing to see how far I could push the previous 3D trial.
Their loss :P
The NeonPlat Difference
We all know, by now, what happens if you take Platdude out of his puzzle mechanics, right?
AuthenticKaizen (PixelProspector.com) suggested a brand new type of game to me, and I set about attempting to build it.
It took a while before I decided to attempt the game using Platdude. Platdude didn't appear to fit into a Neon pasted world.
Instead, rather than breaking Platdude's strict puzzle-based rules, I switched/tweaked him a little for a slightly more abstract version.
December 2009 - BlitzBasic
NeonPlat was born, a magical new gameplay mechanic was introduced, and an incredibly addictive single-screen platformer was played to death.
By a LOT of people!!
And given that I'd recently switched to the multiplatform compatible BlitzMax, it seemed inevitable that a quick multiplatform refix would be fairly useful.
.. so.. umm..
June 2010 - BlitzMax
NeonPlat 2 gave you additional players, a few more baddies and some nice new powerups.
And was played even more than the original.
I was getting so used to the new gameplay mechanics that I figured a nice half/half mixup might even work for the DS.
October 2010 - DevkitPro + PALib
hmm.. This game sort of worked, but it wasn't quite as good as what it was trying to be.
I guess, in the end, that NeonPlat doesn't really work very well on such a tiny resolution.
You need the resolution to give the gameplay all the space that it truely deserves, otherwise it all gets a little bit more crowded than it oughta!
November 2011 - BlitzMax
Still a WorkInProgress as I type this, NeonPlat Adventures will be a bigger-better-platformier edition of NeonPlat, switching things from single-screen, to nice long scrolling platform levels.
Whether this proves to be better or worse, will have to be seen.
It's currently slated for a November 13th 2011 release.
So, what's next for Platdude!?
You'll have to wait and see!
I'm probably on schedule to do a great big new 15th anniversary JNKPlat game, some time next year, though.
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18th June, 2007