Chimera: The Home Straight for the Remake

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I hope you enjoyed that little blast from the past. I’ve found the process thus far hugely enjoyable. It’s been therapy.

My day job is demanding and rewarding in equal measure and leaves almost no time for a 46-year old has-been wannabe programmer to make a game, no matter how simple. Well that’s the conventional wisdom. And I say stuff the conventional wisdom. I made the time. I’ve managed to fit in plenty of other stuff too. It’s been a truly extraordinary year. I’ve become reasonably competent at table tennis and lost a load of weight too. It can all be done if you are prepared to focus. That’s the only difference between this year and many years gone by, that I managed to develop focus and let slide that which does not matter. 

So enough of that, what next for Chimera now that a playable version of the game exists? (It can be completed by the way, with all the original rooms and puzzles in place, that’s my definition of a first playable.)

Here’s a partial list:

  • Music
  • Sound effects
  • Disabled enemy animation
  • Player death animation
  • Text system (remember the “event handler” scrolling text? This new system, TBD, will replace that)
  • Energy / Coolant display in bar format
  • Trophies and On-line Leaderboards (OK, that’s a lie)
  • Score handling and display
  • Inventory displayed a bit more neatly
  • Title screen
  • Credits screen
  • Victory sequence
  • Mouse control
  • Co-operative on-line multiplayer (OK, that too, is a lie)
  • Control settings screen
  • Terminal handling with text display
  • Tuning – graphic touches and gameplay tweaks

So not an awful lot to go really – doing the above takes me to beta I think. I will skip alpha. Alpha is meant to be an internal test anyway, and let’s face it, I’m the internal test.

Here’s my deliver schedule:

Sunday 11th November:  2nd Playable

Sunday 18th November: Beta

Sunday 25th November: 1.0

I’ll leave you with some feedback from Twitter and ADN


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First Playable

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At long last, here is a playable (some might call it a pre-alpha, or something modern like that) of Chimera, the game I made in the early part of 1985, when everything changed for me.

For now, there is a link to the use-at-your-own-risk Mac version near the bottom of the post. There’s no installer or anything fancy, so you had better know what you’re doing.

A PC version (without the trademark “Chimera” and “aaarrggh” scream sadly due to a bug) will be made available here shortly too.

I wrote this in C++, with low-level duties provided by the excellent Cinder library. No GameMaker or Unity, I wanted to write in C++ and that’s probably because I’m a stubborn old git. I used my MacBook Air and a Dell laptop. My day job is exceptionally demanding and rewarding, so this took me a long time, working mainly on weekends, with some morning or evening duty.

The graphics are straight from the original, having been unearthed for me by @sokurah, an amazing digital archaeologist if ever there was one. I took the graphics sheet, cut the masks and images, recoloured them and multiplied them by 4 in each axis. The scream and the chimera sample were also unearthed by @sokurah. I edited them to remove some glitches and they went straight in. For some reason, I can’t get them working on the PC version yet, which might be a Cinder issue.

The room data was taken straight from a paper listing I still had of the original data, which I typed in by hand. It was an old listing, so I had to do a fair amount of manual editing to get everything right again, but also wrote a little map editor to make the fixing easier. 

The puzzles are as per the original, inserted by hand.

Major changes from the ZX Spectrum original include:

  • Interactive objects get their own colours
  • Spaceman animation is independent of movement
  • Animation and movement are not hardwired to one another anymore and the player doesn’t have to move a block at a time
  • All movement is directional using the cursor keys
  • I implemented the brilliant collision push system used in Knight Lore to make manoeuvring around blocks and exits easier
  • A screen shake has been added, you might or might not get to see that
  • The spaceman is always in yellow
  • I’ve renamed “bread” and “water” to “energy” and “coolant”

Some notes:

You place a spaceman on the Chimera ghost-ship. You have to destroy it and escape. To do that, you have to solve a series of stupid puzzles, whose logic defies me and will probably defy you too. 

For the first puzzle, you need to find the spanner to disable electric fences before combining the spanner with a bolt to form a warhead. Take the warhead to a blue missile room and arm it by swapping it for the bread. (Don’t ask…)

Once you have armed all the warheads, get the hell off the ship before it self-destructs, heading for the green room.

Remember, this is not even an alpha really, it’s a first playable and no doubt has many bugs. If you want me to keep on working on this, I really could use your feedback and would be grateful. It’s rough around the edges and is still missing a huge amount of polish. The terminals don’t work, there is no real UI or front end. It will all come together.


Cursor keys to move

Space bar to pick up or use

Once you die, and you will probably die often (if you grab something you shouldn’t, or your energy or coolant runs out, or the ship blows up) you will need to load the game again by pressing the ‘L’ key – make it lower-case, I typed it upper case so you didn’t confuse it with a ‘1’, but you’re probably confused already…

You can cheat, really easily in fact, but I’m not going to tell you how. I would prefer it if you didn’t use WASD, but you will anyway, out of reflex, and you will realise what one of the cheats is. Don’t press ‘t’ to get the torch as a cheat either. I’d rather you just found it. Or press ‘m’ to immediately get a missile, because that’s just cheating.

Anyway, please, please, please let me have your feedback. This game will not make much sense to you. I don’t care. It means more to me than you could possibly imagine, and it will only get better. I aim to have a finished version of this remake by the end of the month.

Link to Mac version:

 Link to PC version:

(Thanks to @sokurah, @retroremakes, @kommanderklobb, @eastmad and many more)