Developing this game was a nightmare. I brought it on myself when a guy from the
Swedish radio network Radio City contacted
me about creating a Java game for an ad campaign. The theme would be radio and
Toyota cars. He suggested something simple
first -- a "Breakout" clone. Unfortunately, I considered that beneath my dignity
as a serious game developer (to no small extent because there simply isn't any
logical connection between Breakout and cars/radio) and wanted something that would
be both unique and a challenging project. I should have kept my mouth shut.
We agreed on a game concept derived from the classic
Rally X. In our case,
the player would drive a Radio City company car, collecting certain items and
bonus objects, while avoiding hitting pedestrians and other cars. It sounded
simple enough. If I kept the graphics slightly primitive and cartoony, I figured,
it shouldn't take long and I budgeted 60 work hours for the project. After all, I'd
done a 4-way scrolling top view before, in Urbanoids.
I'm not sure where things went wrong. The game has lots of cool stuff in it
(even hints of artificial intelligence when other cars stop at crossings and
honk at slow pedestrians),
but somehow it't not all that fun to play. Controlling the car at high speeds
is way too difficult and downright annoying at times. I guess part of the problem
was that I insisted early on to try a "realistic" approach to the car and the
streets. The car had to turn smoothly and actually rotate instead of just
flipping 90 degrees when you turned the wheel. That eventually led to a whole bunch
of feature requests (at one point there was an airplane dragging an ad banner
across the screen during the ambulance sequence, but I have mercifully excluded
it from the version I keep on my site) and many awkward technical solutions.
I stopped keeping count of my work hours towards the end, but I think I went at
least 100% over budget. The result definitely wasn't worth all the trouble.