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Baron Lovejoy Game Project Introduction

Turbo Laser Lynx

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*Background:
 
Hi everyone! I wanted to start a blog about my long term game dev project, because sometimes I have a lot to say, but most of the usual social media is not very well suited for that.

I've been working on a flick screen platformer 8-bit project for a while, it's going to be called Baron Lovejoy Travels in Time.
 
My interest in old 8-bit computers (and consoles) has grown exponentially lately and I'm hoping to port the game to more and more old systems. I got this megalomanic idea when I saw a developer called "Misfit" (also from Finland) releasing his game Rodmän for eight old home computers. It's too much fun getting to know some of the classic systems better and trying to learn how to create games for them. :love:
 
The unique "personality" of the graphics is one thing I really like about the old 8-bit computers (and consoles), you can tell right away if a screenshot is from an Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, NES or Commodore 64 game. 16-bit era games were already harder to tell apart between machines.
 
I haven't decided which versions to take beyond pixel mock-ups, but at the moment I have a small working start on the C64, Plus/4 and Vic-20. There's still a lot to do to finish even one of them. The rest are purely pixel mock ups at the moment. For the Atari Lynx version I have the most graphics done so far. (The graphics on the Lynx was the first original version). Atari 8-bit and MSX mock ups planned next in line. For many of the mockups it took longer to find info and understand the different color modes and limitations of the systems than to draw the pixel graphic itself :D Many thanks to all the wonderful people on the different machine specific forums that have been more than kind and helpful!
 
89278497_BaronLovejoyVersions12_10_2019.thumb.png.dee3cd90386773719f29da8acfa34c07.png
 
I have this idea that every other version can have different main character and variations on the graphics if I want, just like it often was back in the day. That's much more fun than having completely identical ports like games nowadays. 😊 
 
*Some thoughts behind the design and the game:
 
Preliminary story synopsis: The main character is a plump rascal, Klaus "Lovejoy" von Kleinschnabel, the world renown painter, astrophysicist, musician and poet extraordinaire. Even though he's a bit of a hedonist his heart is good. He's built a time machine driven by steam which he and Countess Mimi uses to help people in time and space. The notorious time police is after him because his groove of freedom and love threaten those in power. To proclaim himself Baron (free man) was the last drop for the Machinerists who means to own and control every man, they try to hunt him down through space and time.
 
I want the game to have an unapologetically cartoony style that is clear and easy to read. Even when that might be a bit against "convention" on a specific machine. From what I've seen, using a lot of dithering and detail is extremely common in 8-bit graphics, like for example on the c64 and CPC, to the point that it's become THE style of those computers. Breaking style will probably put a few people off (I know I don't always like unconventional graphic styles on the old machines either) but I want to try and do something graphically "clear" and high contrast, like in (old school) cartoons. I don't think my graphics are that far of convention either. 
 
I want to keep the gameplay super simple, kind of like in an archetype platformer style. I've been reading about game design lately, and some complain about "generic platformers" now a days, but I grew up with really basic platformers on the C64, so I love simple platformers. That's why I'm going to create the game I would want to play myself. I'm keeping the scope down with a really simple game. It's more about the fun of exploring different platforms than doing some huge epic game.
 
I can't, and I'm not trying to compete with the recent "AAA" titles released on many retro systems that push the systems to their limits. I'm an artsy fartsy type, so I want to focus on the concepts of feeling(s), fun colorful graphics and a "nice end product as a whole" (for example fun cover art and cover design), that are sometimes forgotten in the technical details. I really do admire it when someone is pushing the old systems to their limits and it's fantastic to see what's been achieved, but I think there's room for simpler games too. 
 
Hoping to release the game on physical media when it's done, somewhere in the far future. Preliminary thoughts is at least C-cassette version for some of the systems and cartridge for the Atari Lynx.
 
Another thought I have is to release a slightly simpler and/or shorter game for the low end machines like the Vic-20 and ZX81. They could be called "Baron Lovejoy - Tropical Trouble" or something like that, and the slightly beefier versions for some of the more high-end machines (high-end in 8-bit measurements that is) could be the "Baron Lovejoy Travels in Time" version with more levels/level graphics. Let's see what the future holds.
 
Level themes that I was thinking of in "Baron Lovejoy Travels in Time" are:
* the Caribbean 1688
* London 1888
* Miami or California 1988
 
*Disclaimer, the whole thing can and will still take a long, long time to finish. I'm extremely busy as I have a family and a day job. I was thinking having this as a constant "side" project, so that whenever I'm not working on a game with my friends I can work on this. Also I was thinking that I could release one version at a time when they're done, and not try the (at the moment) impossible task of releasing many or all versions at the same time. 
 
*Screenshots and Mockups:


936043820_1981BaronLovejoyZX81.png.312b380ae328696dc73f2e302a6a2d19.png
ZX81 (1981) mockup
 
169238510_1981BLJVIC-20.png.c8cd7c3de796f5c2d9a3a256df40d198.png
Commodore VIC-20 (1980/1981) screenshot
 
1197497309_1982BaronLovejoyZXSpectrum.png.d0892c1b1895b2134fc813bfbddf19ed.png
ZX Spectrum (1982) mockup
 
1065666178_1982BLJCommodore64.png.e93de96b373ac9d3d481e3f41cd0d16f.png
Commodore 64 (1982) screenshot
 

1370129116_1984BaronLovejoyCommodorePlus4.thumb.png.87fc6698cb32a7b0dee57fc5fe9e80bf.png

Commodore Plus/4 (1984) screenshot
 
1249587198_1984BaronLovejoyAmstradCPC.thumb.png.fac5ba91575b36e1c4e2e1957d0ca6a7.png
Amstrad CPC (1984) mockup
 
657160147_1989BaronLovejoyGameboy.png.e283c49413d69f699339aadfc511ae50.png
Nintendo Gameboy (1989) mockup
 
1185197334_1989BLJAtariLynx.thumb.png.b9d17a3899f6702635d4c185f26e5013.png
Atari Lynx (1989) mockup
 
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