Damian Walker

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Barren Planet: a New DOS Project

The World at Strife: Barren Planet

Saturday, 12th September 2020

October will bring an interesting event: the DOS Games Fall Jam 2020. It's a month-long event, which is plenty of time to develop a game - it's how long Ossuary for DOS took me, as well as the original ZX Spectrum version, if you don't include testing. The Jam organisers are quite relaxed about people starting work early too. So I've decided to join.

Although I have a number of new ideas planned, I've decided to resurrect another old project. The time limit is very generous, but not quite enough for extensive playtesting, so I'm adapting an old game for which I know that the gameplay works. Barren Planet will be a strategy war game, in which you fight a series of battles in the far future. The objective will be to gain control of a lucrative mining planet, over which you and a rival megacorporation are fighting.

Between 2002 and 2008 I developed a similar idea in a series of games for Psion pocket computers which culminated in The World At Strife, a war game creation system. It came with four different campaigns to play, set in widely differing eras to illustrate the versatility of the system. Barren Planet was the sci-fi campaign.

I'll be adopting this setting and adapting the old wargame system for my entry in the DOS game jam. Like Ossuary, I'll be targetting the 8088 with CGA graphics. The Jam is for games inspired by the DOS era, but I note that I'm not the only one intending to release an actual DOS game for it. My game will suit both criteria: the mechanics are very much inspired by the Battle Isle series of games, and the versatility by Wargame Construction Set.

I'll certainly be using and developing the core wargame system for further games in other settings. While I want to develop Barren Planet itself within the official timescale of the Jam, I've already started on the generic wargame library that it'll be using, and plan to release that separately. So my job for September is to get that library in a working state and hopefully even document it for future me and other interested parties.