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Truly classic games never die. The original Jumpman game still has fans, and now, we're updating it while sticking to it's core!
Truly classic games never die. The original Jumpman game still has fans, and now, we're updating it while sticking to it's core!
Truly classic games never die. The original Jumpman game still has fans, and now, we're updating it while sticking to it's core!
236 backers pledged $20,472 to help bring this project to life.

Screenshots of the Work In Progress version of Jumpman Forever

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Beyond a quick glimpse of Jumpman and Red, there's not a whole lot of content of Jumpman Forever that's been shown yet.  Partially, that's planned - I wanted to dribble out screenshots and information over time, though I've been REALLY behind on that plan.

The second reason is Jumpman Forever is a work in progress - just because I've got a Kickstarter campaign going on doesn't mean I'm not working on it (and two other projects, too - though, those are non-game related).  I'm a bit of a perfectionist.  I'd like to show it when it's PERFECT.  Of course, nothing is ever really perfect :-)  So, how about a couple of screenshots?

First, let's preface it with a little bit of history:  this is the first level of Jumpman, "Easy Does It":

Jumpman, 1981, running on Commodore 64
Jumpman, 1981, running on Commodore 64

 If you're a Jumpman fan, you know that level all too well.  So, let's show something a little new.  This is one of the "workbench" levels.  Workbench levels aren't something that will be shipping with the final game, and I don't bother with the HUD - this is strictly an area to play around and make sure Jumpman Forever perfectly replicates the actions of Jumpman: jumping, running, climbing ladders and ropes, interacting with girders, etc.  

Jumpman Forever, "workbench" level 1
Jumpman Forever, "workbench" level 1

 So, a couple things you can see right off the bat:

For the original Jumpman & Jumpman, Jr, the standard screen ratio was 4:3 - TV's weren't as wide as they are today.  The new Jumpman Forever is 16:9, standard HDTV ratio, along with being the standard for most mobile and desktop devices (though, not quite perfectly standard: for other ratios, we auto adjust the screen.)  This means we've got a little extra space to work with :-)

Jumpman's world isn't quite as flat as the original - there's just a bit of shading and texture to it.  

Jumpman is slightly taller, proportionally, than he was in the original, being about three girder units tall as opposed to two girder units tall.  It was both an artistic and a technical choice.

"Easy Does It", slapped together as a Jumpman Forever level
"Easy Does It", slapped together as a Jumpman Forever level

 This is a remake of Easy Does It, quickly slapped together a while back to use as a workbench level - you'll notice it's not aligned very well in some areas, and at the time I didn't care: I needed a level to test against that allowed me to play sort of side by side to compare the physics of the game.  

No, there aren't really two Jumpmen - the bottom one is a marker used for testing the spawnpoints.  In the real game, it's invisible, of course.

Neither of the workbench levels have backgrounds - and I'm still on the fence about the backgrounds.  It's possible for them to take away from the simple visibility of the black background (or the slightly gradated backgrounds of the current workbenches).  

Now, let me show you why I'm not a fan of the backgrounds: Easy Does It with the background enabled:

Jumpman Forever: Easy Does It workbench, with ugly background enabled
Jumpman Forever: Easy Does It workbench, with ugly background enabled

 First, you can see some errors in the background, but I'm going to ignore that for the moment - those are easily fixed.  The problem I have is that the gameplay becomes less visible.  I can improve that considerably by further darkening the backgrounds, allowing the player to get a better view of what's going on while still keeping the "industrial artwork" sort of design here.

Things I DO like about it though:  they're really big and chunky, more so than I had originally planned on when I developed them.  They end up feeling a bit like the old Duke Nuke'em (pre-3D) and Commander Keen sort of games.  

For the moment, the background design isn't the priority, but it's something to keep hacking on over time.  And, there's a couple of sketched out levels where the background comes into play:  "Hull breach", for instance, is planned to have an interactive background that keeps Red moving non-stop - there's no time to think about it, you just have to keep her in motion as the background begins collapsing, sucking her into space.

Anyway, that's just a quick preview: expect more when I post the gameplay videos :-)

Deconstructing a Classic Part 2 Now Up, Thanksgiving Break

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Deconstructing A Classic: Jumpman is a set of articles I'm doing in association with the Jumpman Forever Kickstarter.  If you didn't see the first one, it's a bit of a breakdown of the goal, and discussion of the idea of "game DNA" - what makes a game - and how it's easy for the game's DNA to be diluted.  Most of that one is centered around the Pac-Man franchise, and how it got polluted (and eventually clean again).  You might want to check it out first, if you haven't already.

Part II digs into Jumpman it's self.  This one is all about level design, and I break down eleven levels to show how the game flow works and changes between levels.  I also get into how those level design concepts apply to Jumpman Forever, including at least one level design teaser ("Now you're thinking..."), and some details about how Jumpman Forever breaks down the various levels into "stations", and a bit about how those can affect gameplay.

It's a long read (about 4,200 words), so you might want to grab a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a scone, and get comfortable when you dig into it ;-)  I hope you enjoy Deconstructing A Classic: Jumpman, Part 2!

The Thanksgiving Break

Everyone needs a break from time to time, so I'm taking one tomorrow (er, later today - it's nearly 4 AM.  Thanks, server, for needing a complete overhaul. *SIGH*)  Which is awesome - a good chance to spend some time with my in-laws, eat too much food, laugh too much, talk too much, and enjoy myself way too much.  So, if you email me or leave a comment on here, you might not hear back from me as quickly as usual.  Don't worry - back to normal schedule on Friday! (OK, I'm going to sleep in Friday morning, but otherwise back to normal.)

Adding Press To The Project, and The Story Behind Red

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Adding Press To The Project

I'm honestly very thankful for the various people who've taken a moment to talk about about Jumpman Forever on their blog or news site.  Seriously, it helps a lot!  So, as I see articles about Jumpman Forever show up on Google, I'm going to be tossing a link to them on the main project page at the bottom.  There's still more to come, but, there will be a delay in any more US based gaming sites write about the project:  Thanksgiving is one of those times everyone in the US takes at least a day off, and tries to spend it with family :-)

There's more coming, though: there's a podcast that would like to have me on there, more than one press contact has said "we don't do Kickstarters... but, please, keep me in the loop, I want to know more", and a few that would like to have early access to Jumpman Forever so they can write articles about it before the Kickstarter is over.  

All things considered, not too bad, really.  But, it's still a long way to go - I haven't even managed to get all the way through my target contact list yet!

The Story Behind Red

OK, so, what's the whole deal with having a non-Jumpman character in Jumpman Forever?

Red
Red

First off, let me explain up front:  Red is not a "Princess Peach" character.  No one is going to be rescuing her.  She's also not a love interest of Jumpman or anything like that - she's her own character, independent of what's going on.  In fact, if you want to compare her to some else, she's more like John McClane - she's the wrong girl at in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Originally, the artwork for Red was for a prequel concept I had for a Jumpman game, under the working title of "Control Issues".  I got as far as graphics, and started into the game play, and well... I hated it.  It wanted to be s sort of Jumpman / Doodle Jump hybrid.  She grabbed the jump boots to escape a doomed spacestation she worked in, but, the prototype boots were malfunctioning.  Once she started jumping, she couldn't stop.

Red Jumping
Red Jumping

I shelved the idea, and moved on to other things, and kept considering what to do with it.  When the decision to go forward with Jumpman: 2049 (now titled Jumpman Forever) happened, I was reviewing some of my old content I had laying around from other ideas (it's not uncommon for me to prototype a game, and then toss it.)  Nothing was re-usable, except... well, Red popped up, and I got to thinking.

The backstory for Red is she's not a bomb technician - she's just someone trying to escape.  She's a programmer for the company that owns the stations, so she's not trained to defuse bombs.  Heck, she's not even particularly athletic.  But, trapped on a station with no working elevators, she snags a set of prototype jump boots, and trying to escape before the station blows.

Red Climbing
Red Climbing

While she can't disarm the bombs, she does gain at lest one extra ability over Jumpman: she can double jump.  That might seem rather minor, but it's not - that also means she can perform a second jump in mid-air, and change her direction of travel when she does it.  When Jumpman jumps, well, you're stuck on the trajectory you chose.

So, now, I have a way of handling the same game, but with two different set of challenges.  Red and Jumpman aren't going to be sharing the same levels, though - she's going to have her own levels and own station (world) to deal with.  And, in the followup level packs down the road, she'll end up with more of the Die Hard syndrome, being the wrong girl at the wrong place at the wrong time!

Red Dead
Red Dead

Commercial-level Rewards

Someone pointed this out on a comment to one of my updates, so I thought I'd address this now, not later :-)

When I was doing the pre-hype for Jumpman Forever, I cheated:  $20,000 is a lot of money, so rather than going ofter a whole lot of $2, why not see if I could pull in some "big money" first - I created corporate level rewards that involved in-game ads (on a menu item) and splash screen ads, and went about trying to get those slots filled even before the Kickstarter campaign began.  And it sort of worked:  One slot is sold (though, he sort of missed and grabbed the wrong reward level - still counts though), and I've got another slot that's going to be sold soon, and maaayyybeee one more if I'm really lucky.  Which still means it will be short of the target $20,000.

Why the focus on the "big money" ones first?  Like I mentioned - $20,000 is a lot of money to raise.  At $2 per person (that's the lowest level, though right now I'm seeing more $10 backers than $2 backers) that was 10,000 people I had to motive into being interested enough to back the project.  Those numbers didn't look great, to me anyway.  So, I created the corporate level rewards to hopefully cut that number down considerably.

Having said that:  even with two corporate level rewards on the board, I still want to see 10,000 people contribute.  The more people who contribute, the more people who help make a buzz about the game.  The more people who make a buzz about the game, the better it's going to go at launch time.  And, if I were to get enough for the stretch goals to start being real thing, then I'd start posting them.  I'd be a whole lotta excited to have to do that :-)  (I already have them planned out, but, it seems early in the campaign to worry about posting them.)

The Wichita Business Journal asked me why I was using Kickstarter to fund it - previously, I funded all game development out of my pocket (which is good and bad - it means I had to make more compromises about what made the cut, development wise, and what didn't.)  Yes, funding with a Kickstarter does help me extend how much time I can realistically spend developing a game :-)

But, the long term effects of picking Kickstarter didn't make it into the article - in the end, Kickstarter is a great marketing tool, too, that really forces you to put in the effort towards raising the funds.  For me, game development was always about writing the game, then... well, writing the next game, because I really don't care for doing the marketing portion of things :-)  Using Kickstarter forces me to "think different", and I feel it's especially important with Jumpman Forever:  I really want to see it end up with a vibrant, active community, particularly when the level editor phase of the project ships!

A huge thanks to everyone who's already contributed, and to those who are already tweeting and posting about Jumpman Forever - it means a lot, and even with my efforts to get the word out, you help is invaluable!  Thanks!

35% of the way there! And, well, I hate press releases!

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Not bad - less than 5 days in to the Kickstarter, and we're at 35%!  However, it's still quite a ways to the final goal, of course.  Plus, to be honest, I'm really hoping the Kickstarter goes well beyond the $20,000 goal - the more we get, the more pressure it take off having good sales of the game, plus I can get into the stretch goals (which I haven't posted yet - I figure after we pass 50%, I can worry about posting those)

Meanwhile, most of my Jumpman Forever time is spent on PR (keeping in mind I've got other projects I've got to work on - I've got to keep my income going during the Kickstarter, plus I need to get some contract work completed so when the Kickstarter is done I can dedicate myself to Jumpman Forever!)  And, one of the things that goes with Kickstarters and video game projects is Press Releases. I have to write them from time to time, and I always hate writing them.  Heck, I hate reading them - they are always devoid of real content, and instead have a sort of glossy marketing feel to them without saying anything really important about the project.  It's not just my press releases I hate, it's everyone's press releases.

But, attached here is a copy of the press release that's making it's rounds right this minute, just so ya'lls can see what I'm up to :-)  Plus, let's throw a quick little development shot in here:  this is one of the sprite sheets for Jumpman Forever, showing Jumpman in his "revamped" glory.  The sprites are still kept intentionally small, even if we have a lot more pixels to work with than Randy did back in the Commodore 64 era - they'll be stretched on the fly, to give it a retro feel while keeping a lot of the original "charm".  This is only one of the sheets, of course - there's quite a few involved, and more of 'em to go before it's a finished game!

Jumpman sprite-sheet.  Along with being slightly over twice as many pixels high as the original Jumpman, he's gained a little extra detail and shading.  Oh, and a belt :-)
Jumpman sprite-sheet. Along with being slightly over twice as many pixels high as the original Jumpman, he's gained a little extra detail and shading. Oh, and a belt :-)

 And, now, for a boring press release ;-)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Commodore 64 / Atari Era Video Game Classic, Jumpman, to Return Via Kickstarter Campaign

WICHITA, KANSAS - November 24, 2013 - It’s not often that game developers get to resurrect a classic that’s not seen a new commercial release in 30 years, but in the case of Jumpman, game developer Midnight Ryder Technologies is getting their chance with Jumpman Forever.

It’s been 30 years since Randy Glover’s video game classic, Jumpman, saw releases on Atari, Commodore, and ColecoVision platforms, but the game still maintains a small fan base after all those years. “Jumpman is one of those games that’s remained unique enough that is still has a following,” says lead developer of Jumpman Forever, Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr. “It’s impressive to see any game remain in collective gamer memory after all that time.”

In 2000, Randy Glover provided rights to a few game developers to produce officially sanctioned Jumpman follow-up games, though only one developer was given the rights to do a commercial sequel. Originally titled Jumpman: 2049, Midnight Ryder Technologies unveiled the new tile “Jumpman Forever” as part of it’s Kickstarter effort. “Back in 2000, we were to the point where we released screenshots of the game, but, unfortunately, the project was canceled,” says Davis.

Now, 13 years later, Davis still receives emails asking if and when the planned Jumpman sequel would ship. “It’s sort of insane - I’ve been getting emails since 2001 from people who run across references to a new Jumpman game, wondering when we were going to release. With Ouya’s ‘Free The Games Fund’ matching what we raise - up to our goal amount- during our Kickstarer phase, it seemed like it was the right time to re-investigate the idea of doing the game.”

Davis says they’ve already spent quite a lot of effort on exploring what he refers to as the game’s “DNA” to produce a worthy sequel that meshes with the style and gameplay of the original game.

So far, Midnight Ryder Technologies seems to be on the right track - in the first three days of their Kickstarter campaign for Jumpman Forever, they’ve already raised 35% of their total goal.

Midnight Ryder Technologies (www.MidnightRyder.com) began in 1999 with video game development and game development services for PC & Mac platforms, and later expanded to include other platforms including iOS, Android, and now adds Ouya to it’s supported platforms. Since 1999, Midnight Ryder Technologies has has eight self-published video game titles, including it’s most recent, RetroBreaker for iOS, Android, and Mac.

LINKS: Jumpman Forever Kickstarter Campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/920388055/jumpman-forever Ouya Free The Games Fund: http://www.freethegames.com

Contact: Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr press@midnightryder.com Midnight Ryder Technologies 2922 East Conamore Wichita, Kansas, 67216 ph: (316) 290-9048

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