Written by Sándor Moldán, Creative Lead.
First things first, hello and welcome to our new blog. Here, we'll be sharing a whole variety of things about Six Times Nothing's debut game title – Dawn Of The Tyrant, with regular posts from a number of different team members including myself, each with their own unique perspective on the game that we're busily working on. Plus this is the place where you can keep up to date with all the latest news on the game, see what we're working on, check out screenshots, videos, even the chance to get your hands on the beta.
To get the ball rolling, I thought I'd share something about the background and original inspiration for the game we're making. The reason being that while much of the game's actualisation has been very much a recent endeavour, the true inception of the dark and brutal world that Dawn Of The Tyrant takes place in goes all the way back to my final year of university in 2002 at COFA in Sydney.
This was in the heyday of such wondrous things as Macromedia Director (Lingo!), and my first serious attempt at a game was the end product of our Interactive Design class. The only limitation in the brief to the class was that our projects (they didn't have to be games), must be designed for a mobile device. This was impressively before its time, seeing as the much vaunted year of mobile was in fact, as we all know, every consecutive year between 2008 and 2013. Put simply, we had a teeny tiny canvas of 248 x 188 pixels to work with.
Above: Fond memories of Lingo... It's almost like writing code in English, right...?
I think the game that had always stuck with me the most as a kid was The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the original Game Boy. Despite the small screen and 4 shades of green, I felt a huge rush of adventure. The game's scope and the world within seemed immense to me at the time. So it was little surprise that I drew my initial inspiration from here. The original Game Boy had delivered all that with a whopping resolution of 160 x 144, so I really had nothing at all to complain about.
Above: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Image courtesy of Nintendo)
So I set to work on what turned out to be a very simplistic Zelda clone. It didn't really have much of a world to adventure in, but there was one level with two looped screens that you could walk between and shoot enemies with arrows until you either died or just got bored. The levels, screens and enemies were all dynamically created from text files, which was pretty fancy though.
We were asked to present the final projects to the class. One of my classmates pointed out, quite correctly, that while the game was impressively functional and looked like it could well have been made for the Game Boy, it had no story. No artistic purpose. No raison d'etre. I was at an art college after all.
Above: Where it all began... I can't get the old executable to run anymore, but I did find a screenshot in an old file archive...
After leaving high school, I had quickly started to diverge from the musical tastes of my immediate friends. It was a actually a long and steady downward spiral that began with the mid-nineties indie rock explosion, hit a slight and somewhat forgettable roadbump in the 1996 britpop thing, got suckered into a Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails goth phase, then discovered real metal in the likes of Slayer and Sepultura and finally bottomed out in the murky world of the underground black and death metal scene.
I was working an almost full-time ad agency job whilst working on this game and then in my final year of uni. My Mac laptop had been recently stolen, so I was stuck in a pattern of working 9 to 6, then staying back at work late to use their computers to do my uni work, often packing up to go home at 3am. I literally did this for 6 months of my life.
The area I worked in was pretty much a dead zone after 6pm, and the Singapore Noodles from the local asian takeaway joint was pretty much the best of the food available nearby in the middle of the night. The ability of music to leave a lasting impression on the brain has been well documented, and I still have this weird thing where any time I eat Singapore Noodles, I get vivid flashbacks that take me instantly back to sitting in that office at midnight, alone, eating noodles and plugging though countless lines of Lingo with the buzzing chords of Mayhem's Freezing Moon droning in the background.
Above: Mayhem & Darkthrone. Looking all evil and stuff back in '91.
To be honest, in one's early twenties, you're still every bit as young, dumb and impressionable as you were whilst a teen^. And so therefore a large and disproportionate amount of inspiration for my creative work during my university years came from the iconic early 90's black metal bands such as Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone, and so on. So the thematic direction for the game – and my plans to remake it properly after leaving uni – were drawn inexorably towards this dark and macabre world.
^ Note: I am dissing myself there, not the BM scene, of which I am still an avid fan to this day.
Using the Creative Writing class in my final semester as a handy excuse, I started penning the backstory to the game. The initial piece that I submitted was a vaguely Tolkeinesque creation story – which is ironic, given a game that focuses so much on a world on the verge of ending. It did however contain some key fixtures: a fiery and tyrannical sun-god, a war raging across heaven, angels cast down unto a lifeless earth, the planting of the seeds of hatred against the rise of a new religious order, and the burning need for vengeance.
The idea had a forebearer, however. Egyptology had featured quite prominently both in my final high school studies and again in my Art History classes while at uni. I had long been intrigued by the story of the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhenaten. During his reign, he ordered the temples of the lesser gods to be torn down and established the Cult of the Aten, the Sun Disk, and commanded the worship of this one, true god. It's debatable and oft dismissed out of hand, being a somewhat sensitive topic, but it may well be that Amenhotep IV was the true inventor of modern religion. Either way, he was summarily assassinated for daring to do so.
Above: Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti hangin' out with the sun.
Rather than the human side of the story, I had taken a more literal route for the game's backstory, and coupled Egypt's brief flirtation with monotheism with the events as told in the Bible's Book of Revelation.
I envisaged Heaven torn asunder by a bloody coup d'état. A civil war sparked by a brutal god's grasping for ultimate and singular power. A pantheon of deities forced to choose sides, then crushed underfoot as the new order exacts its toll. An ancient race divided into two and the defeated side cast down from the stars.
And thus Dawn Of The Tyrant was born.
So, it's like Zelda meets Mayhem meets Akhenaten... well kinda. Enjoy.
Follow us on Twitter for more: @dawnofthetyrant