BLACK DAWN - 1996
: I am lucky that the first game I ever worked on actually
got published by
to generally positive reviews. It was created by
Black Ops Entertainment
in 1996 for PS1, a brand new console that could
barely do 3D at all. For more on the personnel mess of working for
at Black Ops
I had to align linear textures, like roads or airport runways, along the
polygon axis of a triangle (the edge). Any texture in the middle of a triangle
could get horribly skewed. Nobody wants to land at a runway that warps like
silly putty 10 times a second!
Worse, Sony was not a software company
like Microsoft. So at the time their tools to texture objects or build things
were TERRIBLE. You could not use a mouse to texture objects. The software
texturing tool crashed constantly. Fortunately an error message would be
displayed. Unfortunately that message was in Japanese. If you do not have
a Japanese font on your PC the error message looked like "#()#%)#FJ£§µ L:#Q)
)Q#KLMRF#@ ( £§µ))QW(#RT." Pure gibberish!
The PS1 was pushed to its graphical limit and so a lot of weird grid
based polygonal fog was used to hide the draw distance. This is not present
in the sim below (thank goodness!). Now you can run this game in a web browser
and your computer will barely even notice. How a couple decades does change
hardware requirements! In the opening level (Central Park) I did the cyclorama
buildings in the background, weapon animations and some ground texturing.
I did a lot more, even level design, on later parts of the game. But Black
Dawn does get hard so not many people may have seen those levels. Making
a ground texture transition from green growth to sandy beach to water was
especially challenging. You only had 16 colors so a lot of planning and
hand dithering of texture tiles was required.
game is very high testosterone and brute force: the enemy continues to shoot
you long after you have crashed. Tech limitations were compensated for when,
after work, we would all play a new game called "Quake
not on PS1 but on our more powerful office PCs. It was the first really
true 3D first person shooter. It supported 8 players and we all had something
new in our Windows PCs called a "Voodoo 3D graphics card" by a company called
. It was a literal blast to have fun killing my co-workers! Now
online multiplayer is no big deal, but at the time you needed a business
network just to launch a server. Now graphics cards (GPUs) are everywhere
and standardized. So it was really great to have this gaming experience
years before most consumers did.
Without a gamepad this emulated
version is a bit hard to get into especially without a hardware keyboard.
HOW TO PLAY:
1. Ignore the ad in the sim window
2. Click "Play
3. Press "Enter" when you see the word "Scramble"
4. Press "X"
when you see the "Insertion Points" screen.
5. Press "X" TWICE when you
see the "Loading" screen complete
Arrow keys steer see below for keymaps.