Zombie Holiday (RIP)

A retrospective on Zombie Holiday, my abandoned Mac platform game project. You can still download Zombie Holiday Prologue but it only really runs on OSX versions before Mojave. Zombie Holiday’s spiritual successor is Creeping Me Out: Hex Night – currently in development for Amiga computers.

Francis is hanging out at his favourite haunt when he receives a call from a friend. There’s an emergency! Undead creatures and strange animals are getting aggressive around town. Time to find the only person he knows who can deal with this sort of thing, Annabel.. But she’s at her mansion.. And there’s a whole lot of swamp to get through, first.

Tenuously, ZH’s plot..

Back in 2007 – 2008 I produced Zombie Holiday: Prologue A sort of Castlevania meets Shadow Of The Beast platform game with painterly pixel graphics, branching paths and fast action. (and yes, even in prologue there are branching paths, they’re just largely hidden.)

I used Power Game Factory, an engine and editor suite designed for making platform games for PPC Macs. Scripting in PGF is visual, but things like AI and physics are often quite complex to set up. I would spend many hundreds (thousands?) of hours drawing sprites, backdrops, composing music and setting up the gameplay.

The result was a four(ish) level demo that I was aiming to add similarly sized chunks to, releasing every month or so until the game was complete.

The first large level was such an undertaking that I learnt the hard way why platform games use tiled maps. (Honestly, I knew before I started, but thought I knew better) Drawing level maps as single, giant canvases (with parallax scrolling!) might be pretty, but it takes forever. I was never able to polish the stages as much as I’d have like, as I could have embellished them with particles and foreground layers almost indefinitely.

The later levels of the demo used tiles though, and comparatively, these could be produced at an alarming rate. A lot of things conspired to kill ZH’s development; being burnt out, starting my degree, having a lot of RL commitments,  and the uncertain future of the engine, dev tools and target platform. I’d love to undertake a similar (though probably simpler) project with a more flexible engine or programming language, but doing all the assets, scripting, level layouts etc as well as learning a new toolset seems unsurmountable. Enter Scorpion Engine, and my beautiful old Amiga. We’re back on track!

Eventually things came together and Zombie Holiday Prelude was included with PGF commercially, as an example working project. It’s still prominent on the engine’s website.

It makes me happy that it could be of some use to others, and I became a helpful member of the engine’s forums, posting tutorials and encouraging others. I really miss PGF and it’s community!

The demo is available below! Updated 10th August 2020 with some bug fixes. It should work on big cat era Mac OS and YMMV up to around Mojave. Sadly it doesn’t seem to work well in VMWare or Parallels. It was largely developed on a G5 PowerMac. Sheesh. 😅

Download Zombie Holiday OSX

You can still see Zombie Holiday at the Sawblade Software site, where you can buy Power Game Factory – and get the working project files to tinker with. Sadly PGF doesn’t run on intel Macs, making working on it’s games nigh impossible. Zombie Holiday is therefor dead, undead undead. Follow it’s second incarnation here.

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[…] When will it release?No idea. I wouldn’t expect it in 2021, it’ll take a good long while. I’m concentrating on making enough for a “prologue” short game/demo.* That part I’d like to complete in 1st quarter ’21. Then whatever happens there will at least be a short game for the Amiga community to play with. * I took the same approach with Zombie Holiday […]