Blog

Blacktop: Episode 1

2 August, 2019


Introduction

Blacktop was, for years, off and on, the game-dev project that I was working on. I had every intention to make it my breakthrough game and I had big dreams of having it skyrocket in the steam charts.

Dreams being dreams, they never materialized.

However, it wasn't all in vain, and in the years of developing blacktop I learned many a great thing and achieved many a great milestone.

With this series of blog posts I would like to paint a picture of Blacktop's history, and where it brought me. So without much further ado:

Chapter 1: Ancient History

Driver. 1999. Reflections Interactive.

And my parents got me a copy when I was about, say, four years old.

Driver is a racing/driving game where you play as Tanner, undercover cop who's up to some shenanigans or other. You drive cars through 4 open world 3D cities, evading traffic and escaping coppers on your tail. It is (as Blacktop) very very heavily inspired by 1970s car chase films.

The most striking resemblance is struck with "The Driver", from 1978. Both movie and game begin exactly the same: a car driving out of a car park very slowly. From there on out Driver (1999) follow The Driver (1978) almost beat for beat. You race away from cops, you prove your driving skills to a bunch of gang folk, and you lose on average about 6 hubcaps per chase (see also Bullitt, 1968). I'm also fairly very certain that the game straight up ripped sound effects from movies of the era, I have doubts about whether or not licenses were paid for those.

But the best part about Driver was not the setting, not the 70s, nor the wonderful boxy cars that lent itself perfectly for 90s computing power. The best part was physics.

Boxy 1970s cars bounced left and right through San Francisco, cops went flying up and down, and young-year old me was sitting star-eyed at his CRT monitor for every second of it.

This fascination with physics based games (and more importantly, crashing things and/or blowing stuff up led me down a deep dark wonderful path of, in order:

Driver


Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 (as real as it gets)


Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix 4


Need for Speed Underground 2


Boom Blox


Roblox


Wait... Roblox?

R O B L O X

Roblox got me into programming... programming cars... and then applying physics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjfzP7X8FNo

Through Roblox I rolled into C++. And with C++, I again made cars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVHCM8lv7ps

Gearboxz didn’t work out too well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOdgWlIybVE

I was, in 2012, not yet quite at the point where I could program proper physics, but at this point, all the seeds had been planted in all the right places.

I loved cars.

I loved physics.

I knew programming.

What was to come, was quite inevitable.