Autocrazy: History

At the end of August 1996, I was contacted by an alleged software developer who had an idea for a game. He presented it thusly:

Most of the games that I want to develop are small, single user games,
very much like what you are doing right now. Therefore they can be
developed by a single talented programmer. One such game is usally
called car jam:
It's a parking lot game.
The game started out with a grid of A x B squares. Most of the squares
are occupied by a numbers of cars ( each car is between 2 to 4 squares
long of different colors). The goal of the game is to move the cars to
adjacent vacant square either vertically or horizontally ( depending on
the position of the car: it can only move in forward or backward ) to
give room for your own vehicle to move out of the parking lot in as few
moves as possible.
As the degree of difficulty rises, we'll have to make a lot of moves to
get your car out of the parking lot. There is no VRML involved
The game should have a scroll bar for the user to select different
levels of play.I also like the ability to chose different background
colors and colors of cars. One good example can be found at
and asked how much I usually charge for my services. I made a rough estimate of how long it would take to finish the game (not counting the eventual tweaking and tuning that comes from trying to make it work properly on as many platforms as possible), multiplied it by an hourly wage that matched a couple of other offers I'd received, and decided on what I thought a fair figure. He knocked it down a bit, since it was "only a first project and it may lead to many more".

I accepted and started constructing the applet. Since I was working for a fixed price, I didn't spend as much time on the surrounding details as I had done for Iceblox, Warp and Don's Dugout. A simple, car-related logo and a functional gray background would do. But the cars and playing environment would have to look good, because that's where the player's attention would be. The cars I'd have to draw myself to get them the exact size I wanted them, but I could save some time by borrowing ready-made ground textures.

So did I get my hard-earned fee? Nope. When I was done, the guy stopped responding and never called back. Still, I figured it was no great loss. At least I could put it on my site with my other games.

In the early summer of '97 another company suddenly offered to buy the game for... well, let's just say it was considerably higher than the original price. I got to keep it on-line provided I just removed the source code and the links to downloadable parts. So in the end things turned out for the best.

Oh, and I was eventually informed by the CEO of a company called Smart Games that they owned the name "Car Jam". That meant I had to think up something else to call my applet. After searching my English dictionary for words beginning with "auto" (as in "automobile"), I found "autocracy", which of course isn't pronounced anything like "auto crazy", but would be a reasonable pun nonetheless.