The History of Asteroid Storm
Asteroid Storm is the first game I made and released to the public.
My very first games, I made using FileMaker scripts. But I really wanted to learn how to code. Unfortunately, I did not have access to a command line environment, or understand the concept. So for me, step one of making a program was to create a GUI window, which is a pretty complicated thing in those old C APIs! I remember summers spent poring over books on C, never really getting anywhere.
Then I found REALbasic, a Visual Basic type IDE for Macs. This had a visual editor that let me create windows and add buttons, and I could start writing some simple code. Still, I had no idea of the basics of software development. I remember the day I figured out the idea of data structures. I'd been writing code that kept each value of a complex object like a spaceship in a separate array. One array for all the x-positions, one for all the y-positions, and so on. Lots of code was needed to keep all the indexes in sync. So being able to bundle values together like that was a revelation.
Eventually, in 2002, I made Asteroid Storm, heavily inspired by Ambrosia Software's Maelstrom, itself a clone of Asteroids. I struggled with the tediousness of the asteroid-shooting gameplay. I used Bryce 3D to make some pretty nice-looking pre-rendered graphics for ships, asteroids, space junk, and flying saucers. With the saucers, I dabbled in AI programming: the saucers would advance, fire, retreat. They would dodge your shots. The big ones fired whole salvoes. I spent maybe a year on the game, working on it after school.
I put it on game magazine CDs, collecting each copy with my game in a magazine as a trophy. I put it online, on MacUpdate, VersionTracker, and so on, carefully monitoring the downloads as they happened. I also updated it, fixing bugs, redesigning the player's spaceship.
It got downloaded about 50000 times, a very pleasing number. I started work on future game projects, but those were now too ambitious, and did not click. Then university happened and there was no more time for such massive side-projects.
The game is still playable if you have a PowerPC Mac running Mac OS 9, or an emulator for such an environment. It's nothing special, but I'm pleased it's been preserved.
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