Christmas Massacre: Behind The Scenes


Time has come for me to talk about one of the most interesting stories i got out here with me. It's the story of Christmas Massacre, with some additional facts, and if i won't get lazy, it will be supplied with screenshots!
EDIT: Apparently i deleted all saved files which featured the deleted content i wanted to show off. So.. no screenshots for you i guess!

How it Began

So, i had finally finished making the god-awful Alien Invasion 3, tried to make a game called Predator but got bored with it and instead went for a Revenge of the Sunfish ripoff. Obviously it was terrible and sucked (just like any other ROTSF rip-off, by the way. Don't make em).
I was working on a screen where you had to select where to go, one of the selections being the North Pole. The north pole level just had a bunch of dead elves and a spider-like Santa in the Middle.
And so, i came up with an idea...which became Christmas Massacre.



Development.. Hell

At the time i didn't have enough knowledge to make it well, so i pretty much learned new things on the go. This game and Junkman were both very important, as i've learned a lot of things in process of making both.

First thing i remember, enemies (who, if you haven't played, just walk from left to right) had to bump into a special hidden object to reverse their movement. This seems like an interesting idea but holy shit, almost a month into development i've found out that it's pure shit! As i tried to record the footage of the game, it froze for a second, and guess what, all enemies teleported out of their designated areas. That is because during the lag spike the collision between enemies & objects somehow does not register or something. Anyway, i replaced that with a timer that reverses their movement, and so, all enemies have different speeds - if i want the enemy to walk around a longer platform, the speed is higher, as example (If you played the game you know what i'm talking about).

Another thing, transitions. I had no idea transitions between levels cause all objects to duplicate. Well, not always, but i had to remove 99% of them to make sure things work the right way. But i forgot to remove the transition from bonus level (or maybe i didn't know that they are glitchy yet) - and so i just removed the entire level. It took me less than a few days to realize that it was the transition that was still there causing glitches. Fucking Hell.

Let's talk about saves too. Initially, the game would save & load using a bad system (the simplest one in Construct Classic), which resulted in saves being corrupted & if there are no saves, pressing the load button resulted in objects being copied from one screen to another. The game was playable though, in case you'd go to from start to finish in one take... But then i decided to update it, and replace the bad system with my own INI-based one. Let's just say this made the game unplayable for 2 years or so. Initially i had 2 "level" variables, i could not remove one of them (not sure why there were two in the first place...) because that would crash the program. I somehow managed to fix that.
Then, months later i found out that going to the shop counts changes the counter of completed levels. Then this, then that. Shit was a mess, but now it's good.

Basic events (code) are all on a single event sheet, and all levels just get linked to it. But amount of enemies, music, etc, is stated on the level itself. Somehow i linked one level's leve sheet to the other and for a long time had no idea why fixing an enemy count on one level fucks up the other one.

Initially i thought the game will have ~45 levels (too much!), will have secret areas, you know, with bonuses & guns and stuff... But somehow i forgot about that and made a really mediocre action platformer or something.
Also it took me ~2 months to make, which is the longest time a game ever took me to make (my previous games never ever took more than 2 weeks). And also, it is done in a very horrid way, each level has 2 layers for the interface, 3 layers for the background, and 2 layers for the game itself. That's 7 fucking layers, way too much. The game also has a ton of objects too, i'm surprised it runs so well.

I'm not sure which section to use for this info, but here goes - the bonuses you collect are completely pointless. The game wouldn't even tell you your score when you'd win (fixed that years later).

The black outline for all objects was added at the very end of development, not sure why, perhaps I thought it looked nice.

If you get to play it, the version you'll get is the newest, which is much better than the original. I balanced the guns, laser weapons now have range, in the past you could just buy a laser and clean the whole level up from the starting position (laser projectiles pass through walls). Bullets fly faster now (you used to be able to outrun them!). Prices got fixed too.



Removed Content

The bonus level featured some of the sprites that didn't make it into the final version of the game.
There was an elf dressed into a white robe with a cone-like hat (hmmm). Also a bunch of unused objects like signs, paintings, gifts, coins, blood stains, etc. All of this was in a house, similar to level 1's, but upside down.
To get to the bonus level you had to shoot down 3 balloons. On some levels, shooting a lever could even cause the balloon to fly away, so you had to be patient to find all of then. Since i removed the bonus level, i removed the balloons too. I used the balloon sprite in a painting instead.

I cut a lot of shit at the very end of development because it wasn't working well. How about the fact, that you actually had to buy ammo for your weapons? All except pistol, of course. Back then the prices were fucked already, i even wanted to add a coin that gives you lots of coins to fix them. But instead, i just cut the ammo system out of the game. It obviously could have been fucking badass if i did it right.

Also, Shooter's eyes were not blue & red initially. They were blue and green.



Other Things

As i said before, i used to record the footage of the game to show off the progress. I had a development diary type of thing on my youtube channel. I think i made around 10 or so videos, and last one was from day 53 or so. I don't remember, this stuff is gone.

Also i used to make "trailers" for my games, and in the trailer for christmas massacre i used the song "Winterdreams" by Accept. The trailer was not very good, but then a friend sent me a voice recording which went like "Merry Christmas and your gift is to fight for your fucking life! And you better appretiate it.. cause you're not getting anything else!" (this is how i remember it). I was thought, oh shit, this is perfect, and together with a sped-up footage of the game and "Fuel" by Metallica playing in the back in became a second trailer. Man, i wish i still had it.
And if you haven't noticed, many level names, mainly and maybe only in chapter 1, are song names/lyrics. Stuff from Kiss, Accept, Pink Floyd too.

What else... the death screen was inspired by doom 3's death screen.



Final Thoughts

Looking back, this game really did have potential. But due to lack of braincells and other small reasons it turned out to be shit.
I felt like quitting the development twice, one time 1-2 weeks in, and then a month in. It could've been a dynamic game, with gore and blood splatter (there are NO particles in the game! what the fuck was i thinking!) and maybe snow falling down. Secret areas just like in games like Quake, with secret weaponry, bonuses. Secret levels too. Better bosses. Man, it really could have been great.

Well, the latest version of the game is much better in comparison to what it was upon initial release. So you better play, or Santa will piss in your eye.

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