Hello everyone! My name is Thomas Deeb, and I’m currently a senior game design student at UC Santa Cruz. I’ll give a brief rundown of my history and how I got into developing games:
I’ve been playing video games since the age of 3, and my first game was Sonic The Hedgehog 3 for the Sega Genesis. As the years went on I became an avid gamer, growing up on classic Nintendo franchises such as Mario and Zelda. I eventually developed my gaming skills and started speedrunning games like Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, discovering new glitches and tricks in the process. I ultimately ended up wanting to design my own games, but I didn’t know how to program them, so I looked up resources online.
In my freshman year of high school I learned about Super Mario World hacking via the Lunar Magic level editor, and I immediately began work on designing my own levels. I gradually learned which designs did and didn’t work and learned how to work under constraints; given the fact that Super Mario World wasn’t meant to be edited, there’s only so much Lunar Magic allows you to do.
A couple of years later, I played an online RPG called Super Mario Online (SMO in short). I have always wanted a Mario MMO, and this was the closest thing to it, so I got hooked. Since I was such a dedicated player, I ended up becoming a moderator for SMO. One GM (Game Master) named Garro liked how I found bugs and errors in the game, and after some time I eventually became a developer. SMO was a tile-based RPG like Pokémon, so mapping was made easy via the engine’s built-in level editor. The first map I ever made was a snowy PvP area off to the side in an ice area. Garro liked the map and assigned me to design the inside of buildings.
After creating maps for about a year and getting no new features to work with since the creator of SMO was losing interest in the game, I left SMO and decided to create my own online RPG with my brother Alex. I was thinking of creating a Nintendo-themed one but soon realized that I knew more about Mario than all of the other Nintendo franchises combined. Thus, Super Mario Bros. Online, one of my major milestones, was created. In short, I worked really hard on the game’s maps while Alex did most of the programming, and we made a stellar team. Our first alpha launched successfully and we were getting several players online at once. Over time, I would go on to develop hundreds of maps, items, and enemies for the game.
Unfortunately, we were about to graduate high school and leave for college, so shortly after the beta version got released we had to close the game down. We wouldn’t start developing it again until we released an update in our sophomore year of college, where we had renewed interest in the game. Overall, it was a very well-received game, and I really enjoyed working on it and gained invaluable experience designing levels. The game is still up to this day, but sadly it’s dead.
However, I also got my first real programming experience in my sophomore year of college in a class titled CMPS 20: Game Design Experience. In this class, we made a game in a team of four in C# using Microsoft Visual Studio and the XNA framework. I learned a great deal about object-oriented programming practices and managing code; it also helped that I was taking CMPS 109, a C++ class, at the same time. I enjoyed working in C# and decided to pursue it further and enhance my fluency in the language.
That summer, I thought of some cool game mechanics to experiment with. I really liked traditional side-scrolling Beat ‘Em Up games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, but I felt they could have done more with the formula, so I thought of implementing status effects in the form of a buff/debuff system. I hoped that these status effects would give me more interesting designs to work with and breathe more life into the genre.
On June 18, 2012, I offically created a project for what would eventually become Streets of Peril (tentative title), the game I consider my best work. I started from scratch, designing my own level and animation system while using placeholder assets since I wasn’t great at pixel art. Since that day, over a year and a half ago, I have been working on the game in my free time, and it has since evolved to include many features previously unheard of in Beat ‘Em Up games, including a fully-fledged status effect system, innovative items such as a temporary health bar, challenge stages, a highly elaborate versus mode, and an unlockable system reminiscent of the Super Smash Bros. series.
Fast forward to today: right now the team consists of me, Nicholas Hoe, Alex’s friend from college, and Bek, Nick’s friend. Nick and Bek do the art and music, respectively, and so far have been very helpful in giving feedback so I can tweak the game to make it better and better. I am aware that I have over-scoped the game since its conception, but I couldn’t be more than happy to have been able to transfer so many ideas from my head to a game and show them to others. If you had told me all of the things I would eventually get done back when I first started working on it, I wouldn’t have believed you in the slightest.
The game is still rather far from done, especially the art, and will need lots of polish and playtesting, but I am willing to accept that fact and release it when it’s ready.
That was a lot to read so I thank you for your time, and I promise the blog will be more interesting from here on out! Next week I will show a comparison of how Streets of Peril looked back when I started creating it and how it looks in the present day!