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Farewell 2015! Two short stories and new challenges

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The year 2015 is already gone and it left me a lot of experiences and memories.

On a personal level, it was mainly about our baby daughter, Sami, who was born by the end of 2014. It was a pretty fun year, having both my 4 years old kid and the baby growing quickly while trying to imitate everything that the older brother did. I really enjoyed paternity during 2015, among a party of diapers, bottles and some not so nice midnight wake ups.

On the professional side, it was also an amazing year because I was fortunate to be part of the teams that developed the latest two Behaviour Chile great games. The first game quickly became one of the most successful games of the year, and we were super proud when all the specialized press was speaking and writing about it.

The second game, Snoopy’s Grand Adventure, also received pretty nice reviews. The team worked very carefully with this beloved license, paying a lot of attention to details, especially on the characters, and many critics and users appreciated that. It’s also worth noting that the game was developed simultaneously for five platform, which was no less challenging.

Pantallazo de Snoopy's Gran Adventure, 2015
Snoopy’s Grand Adventure (PS4 / Xbox360 / XboxOne / WiiU / 3DS, 2015). Another great game developed in Chile by the Behaviour team, and published by Activision Games.

And just to make things nicer, just a few days ago the annual Video Games Chile Awards ceremony was held, in which local companies that are part of the local Videogame Developer Association (official Videogames Chile website) voted for the best Chilean games in 2015. On the occasion our two games received many compliments and, even better, three awards, putting the icing on the cake to a great year for the company (more details about the awards, in Spanish).

Every project, every challenge, every milestone, every memory, can give us something: a small lesson, a clever idea, a new challenge or just a precious memory.

During 2015, I wrote a lot of those stories here at Papa Game Dev, but there were two anecdotes which I did not had the chance to tell and I feel it’s worth sharing them before I forget.

An unexpected finding

At the beginning of 1998 (when I was half my current age) I worked in one of my favorite personal projects. It was called JPacman (JP + Pacman), my own version of the classic Pacman for PC. The game took the main design essence from the version I played several years before on the Atari, and I also added some innovative touches that were actually pretty fun.

Why did I make a Pacman? It’s true that developing own versions of popular games is a nice challenge and also a good exercise for those who are learning.

But on this particular occasion, my main goal was to make a gift to my mother, a tremendous fan of Pacman. My mother was one of those people who stayed all night playing Atari Pacman while all of us were sleeping.

Developing JPacman meant a lot of work for several months. During that period, I made all the code, art and music of the game, but it was totally worth the effort: not only my mom enjoyed the game, but all my brothers and even my dad spent several hours playing and competing for the high scores.

Pantallazo de JPacman
JPacman (1998, PC), my own version of the classic Pacman. In the screenshot you can see how I tried to give some kind of volume to the objects, in an attempt to make it feel like an “evolution” of the original version.

As I was very proud of what I had made, I backed up both the source code and the binary package. At a time when there was no (easy) access to cloud storage, the reasonable alternative was to use CDs, and I remember that I recorded several CDs with this and other projects.

But then life took its course, I moved a couple of times to another place, the kids were born, and my job and other events made me forget about those CDs. Some years ago I actually remembered those projects but I had no luck finding them and I finally realized that I had lost them. I felt sad and a bit angry at myself for being so careless with something that meant a lot to me.

But it’s true what they say:

“The best way to find something is to stop looking for it”

A couple of months ago, when 2015 was about to end, one of my brothers remembered a melody that I transcribed around the same time I developed JPacman. After we talked, I kept thinking that at the end of the 90s I recorded a lot of discs with .MP3 music. I downloaded the tunes with Napster or similar apps, and then I recorded them on CDs because they filled my hard drive.

I knew I had recorded many discs and that I had put them together on a big case that helped me bringing the music to my friend’s place. I did remember where that case was, so I looked for it with the intention of listening that old melody, knowing it would bring a lot of memories and nostalgia.

But then something unexpected happened. The case did not only contain the music discs, but also the backup CDs with all the projects I had already given up on!


Estuche de CDs
And I so was sure I would never use any of the CDs in that old and abandoned case. Surprise!

The first thing I did after the unexpected finding was to test JPacman and check if it could still be played. It worked!

Just after that, I backed up all the projects on a cloud server because of course I did not want to lose them again.

And then I started checking the JPacman project source code. I remembered that I did it in C++ language and I realized that it was quite messy (I was only 18!) and that all the project files were set up to use tools that got outdated 15 years ago.

So I made a decision and I set a new challenge: I will revive JPacman. During this year, I will try to publish a version for mobile or PC or at least I’ll share it in Papa Game Dev. It will be a good exercise and, perhaps, I will be able to give my mom another fun gift.

(continues on next page…)

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Juan Pablo Lastra

Juan Pablo makes videogames since he was 8 and he is a father since 2004. Today, he has three children and he has worked in more than 20 videogames. He got interested on how paternity and the videogame industry are related and he decided to write about it, founding "Papa Game Dev"

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