When you were growing up, how often did you wish a game did something a little differently? I had that urge a ridiculous amount of times. To an extent, it was probably because I grew up with a Commodore 64 for a long time and those games were frequently delightful, yet also extremely limited compared to the options we have now. Throw in a lack of money and I was simply grateful for whatever came along, but that didn’t stop me dreaming of how I wanted games to play out.
The dream was an RPG where you played a footballer working their way up to glory. I tried coding it in BASIC, mostly by writing it down in a notepad rather than actually sitting in front of the Commodore 64. Predictably, it was not a huge success, but I liked thinking it through. It was a similar case for many an adventure game, too. I think I realised at that young age that graphics weren’t going to be my forte so I focused on storytelling and the text-based side of things. I just wanted to make something. Anything.
This was the opening for the Shoot-Em-Up Construction Kit. Sure, it wasn’t about storytelling but it was about creating your own levels, creating enemy bullet patterns, changing the behaviour of enemies, and essentially setting yourself up for a spectacularly tricky bullet-hell experience. You could even export your games for others to play and yup, they did. Commodore 64 magazine, Zzap!, showcased many SEUCK (as it was affectionately referred to) games on its cover tapes.