A Brief History Of JEOZ

One of my first attempts at making a game was around 1992, a 2-D platformer starring the ASCII Smiley character, using QBasic in MS-DOS. In 1995, I tried to clone Mario’s Picross for GameBoy, as a Windows 3.1 app using Visual Basic 3.0. For a few years I mostly worked with web pages, graphics design, Perl, and Javascript, and didn’t get back into games for a while. Early in 1999 I found a Type Library for Visual Basic 6 to use DirectX hardware acceleration, and made a vertical space shoot-em-up, with help from Ari Feldman’s awesome SpriteLib pack.

I quickly gave up on that when I got a copy of C++ and started learning OpenGL, by making clones of Pong and BreakOut. Then I started on the 3-D platformer I now call JEOZ. It was like Super Mario Bros 3 in 3-D, but not organic like Mario 64. The character was just an orb, and the world was made of blocks, which could be ramps in 4 directions, and could stretch to any size. So it would be a huge stretch to compare it to MineCraft, the only other similarity was that the level editor was built in.

My Quake 2 style console went far enough, I didn’t need to go so far as to make my own Unreal Tournament style GUI, but that shows you my life-long fascination with user interfaces. That obsession got me a job out of high school, which got me out of college. The job burned me out on coding and I moved on to things like video, music, and whatever my excitement led me to.

Gradually, I completely lost interest in playing games at all, and eventually I even “stopped coding forever”. No I didn’t. Following my excitement led me to a children’s book, with a concept so amazing, awesome, and epic, that it brought me back to game development. But now I am armed with a set of skills and knowledge in music and video, things which I pursued on their own, with no intention of using for games.

And now that I’ve finally discovered that compiling executables is actually built into the Dot NET Framework, apparently the possibility of an engine that can be programmed on the fly with a built in compiler is within my grasp. If anything, I want to make the engine scriptable, so entire games could be programmed into it.

As for the name “JEOZ”, it wasn’t until a few years ago I came up with it. In my old game everything was going to be made of simple geo-metry, and the “character” was just a ball. And while “geo-” means “Earth”, the Earth is round, so they’ll be called Jeos: Sentient Orbs with hats and strange abilities, like transforming into quadcopters. So I didn’t entirely name the engine after myself, it just worked out that way.

Anyway, I’m working on a game based around the children’s book series I mentioned, but I’m not ready to show anyone what The Big Game is yet. For now, I’m pulling out the characters and reverting it back to JEOZ, a platformer / quadcopter arcade game. That way I can finish up the engine and get something released. Once the engine is much more polished, I’ll finish The Big Game.

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