Oldies part 1: Magebane 1


The coming year marks the 12th year of my game development hobby/career, so I thought I'd have a look at some of my older games, maybe I'll learn something.

In year 1998 I released my very first game Magebane 1. It was a mixture of comic book and turn based rpg. My absolute indie favourite from the time was a Finnish game called Areena, and I pretty much copied the combat from it. As I recall I used Visual Studio 3 for the programming, so the game worked in Windows 3.1 which still did exist at the time. I think I wanted to make the game because I wanted to show off my paintings. Magebane 1 took about half a year to make, and I was 15 years old for the best part of that.

Basically it works like this: You read a part of a dialogue explaining why you're going to fight someone, then you arm your two warriors and one mage, and after that there's a turn based combat sequence. There's a ton of menus before you get to the good stuff. The combat is tediously slow and requires careful optimization even in the easiest levels. Arming your characters means going to the smith screen which is way too complex for me to understand anymore. But I still like the game for the story parts. They're obviously written by someone with a very good sense of humor.

What did I learn from replaying Magebane 1?

  • Make your games in English. That's a given these days.
  • Focus on the actual gameplay. Magebane 1 uses many complex menus and text screens that distract from the actual combat and story.
  • I nearly didn't finish Magebane 1 because it was pretty complex, and I had never programmed anything real before. If you're working on your first game, make it a simple game. You don't have to impress.
If you're interested in history, you can try the game: Download Magebane 1. It works from Windows 3.1 up to at least XP. Microsoft dropped support for 16 bit applications after that, so I'll just have to keep an old XP hanging around the house. And be warned, this is in Finnish only, so you probably won't understand a thing.

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