Friday 5 June 2020

Turbo Tomato: Killing Darlings

In the previous devlog, I wrote about recovering lost source files, setting up a modern development environment and finally creating the first new Turbo Tomato binary since 1997.

This week, I started making some inital modifications.

The 1990's were a different time, man. Or, at least, I was very different. When I was going through the old hard drives looking for the lost TT source file I found a cache of old emails from 1998-1999 and, honestly, it's like they were written by a different person.

The difference, and my problem now, was that there were features in TT that used obviously copyrighted assets had been copied or downloaded from the internet. That's just young-and-dumbness right there.

There was a "themed" level feature where the graphics, sound effects and so on for a random level in each world would be replaced by versions based around one of several themes. But some of the themed assets were, let's say, copyright dubious. Some were also just rubbish.

Tiles from one Turbo Tomato themed level.
Ripped from a famous Amiga game!

There was also had a special enemy who, upon death, left a portal behind that spirited you away from the level in to one of several simple bonus subgames. Again, some used copyright dubious assets. Again, some were a bit rubbish, and some not fully finished either.

Aside from the copyright issues, themed levels and subgames were features that seemed like good ideas at the time but now, with two decades of hindsight, I have no idea what I was thinking in adding them. They're distractions, really, and don't add much to the experience.

I decided that TT should focus on the core gameplay and anything outside that could be cut, if nothing else then as a means to keep the scope under control and give me a fighting chance of finishing the game this time. These are things I've learned since 1997 (also: be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone).

Themes and subgames had to go.

And they did.

In addition to removing problematic features, I started to make notes on what needs fixed or updated in TT. To start with, sound effects and music will need to be largely redone, graphics need a polish overall, there are a couple of missing static pictures for world transitions, the final boss isn't finished, and there's no game complete sequence at all. That's a beefy to-do list all right, but it should be manageable in time.

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