This is part of a planned series of notes on the development of Gold Leader, currently being shopped around to game portals.
There are really three inspirations for Gold Leader. One is somewhat obviously mid-90s shooters like Raptor: Call of the Shadows and Tyrian, both of which I played a lot of as a kid. For what it’s worth, I am more of a Raptor guy. It just felt like a much more realized universe; I loved flying over forest clearings and riverbanks discovering little roads, buildings, trucks, and so on.
More immediately, I randomly came across a really good spritesheet on a stock art website. That’s almost entirely what you’re seeing when you play Gold Leader. I hadn’t seen anybody else use it, there were just enough components to make a full game, and I really loved the look of it so I started thinking about building a game around it.
Finally, my wife started reading Ender’s Game. I am actually not a fan of the book in practice. It’s immensely popular for precisely the reasons I dislike it:
- The characters and their interactions are all fairly simple and predictable. There’s a reason good young adult fiction is so popular with adults: Just complex enough to be engaging, not complex enough to really require thinking.
- It’s power pornography, a fantasy for every downtrodden nerd out there. The repeated narrative of the story is: Ender encounters some insurmountable problem. Ender whines about how insurmountable the problem is. Ender applies his limitless abilities to surmount the problem. Wash, rinse, repeat…
So, I think most of the actual text is boring and annoying. But many of the concepts are great, and I really like it in theory. **SPOILER ALERT** I’m particularly fascinated by Ender’s closing realization that he’s been consigning real people to their deaths the whole time, let alone just wiped out a whole civilization. The brief moment he spends at the end pondering the faith and duty of the ships and crew that have been blindly following his often counter-intuitive and suicidal orders largely redeems the whole book for me. **END SPOILER ALERT**
Those three just happened to impact together in my head, and I started thinking about a narrative and backstory driven by some of those themes, and slowly started working on Gold Leader. Looking back it’s almost kind of funny: I’ve got a great spritesheet featuring a little gold player spaceship, I see a book laying around the house with a little gold spaceship on it, next thing you know we’ve got a game!