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.