Pong Kombat Returns!

Video games have been a big part of my life, to say the least. There’s a photo I have of me playing Frogger on Intellivision when I was just a year old. I’ve always been amazed at what can be done with a computer and a screen. Games are an art form that combines aspects of all of the others.

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Hagatha’s cave in King’s Quest II: Romancing The Throne

I have vivid memories of solving puzzles and going on adventures with my dad and brother through the window of a Tandy Color computer. Getting frightened outside Hagatha’s cave in King’s Quest II, only to be rewarded with the Batmobile easter egg, is one of my fondest.

My dad was very interested in computers and software, which lead me to follow a similar path. I remember programming text-based choose-your-own adventure games in BASIC when he brought me in for the “Bring Your Kid To Work” days.

I took a strong liking to source code and programming in general…creating conditional statements, functional and reusable subroutines, and drawing graphics with shapes, such as an island in the ocean drawing near over time.

I inherited a logical mindset, excelling at math and science, but I was also very creative. I found it easy to get lost in a project, to try things that seemed different or out of the ordinary, and often found myself searching for puzzles to solve in order see what type of reward could be achieved.

In the mid-90’s, Midway was dominating the arcades with games like Mortal Kombat and NBA JAM–all-time classics for me that rank right up there with the greats like Super Mario Bros. 3, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, and The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past.

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Pong Kombat debuted on December 31, 1994

On the last day of the last month of the year 1994, a person named Stefan Gagne, unknowingly inspired me to combine my programmatic, mathematic, and artistic attributes in game development by brilliantly mashing-up Atari’s PONG–the game that started it all–with the fighting craze of Mortal Kombat.

Along with some friends and classmates, Stefan developed a full-fledged video game as a school project, called Pong Kombat. They included all of the classic elements of the notorious fighting game franchise, such as life bars, special moves, fatalities, and a cast of lovable characters, like Yellow Paddle, Green Paddle, and the evil White Paddle.

What made this project so fascinating to me was that it included all of the things you would see in a retail title, such as a single player story, multiplayer mode, splash and title scenes, as well as a fun, easy-to-play (difficult-to-master) game, with lots of parodies and humor sprinkled on top.

I’ve wanted to make a sequel ever since.

Finally, twenty years after Stefan introduced the Internet to Pong Kombat, I’m able make that a reality. When I was graduating high school, game development schools and courses were still relatively new, so I’ve spent a lot of time learning and practicing on my own and in my spare time. Heck, I even have articles I wrote years ago regarding my failed attempts of trying to replicate my mind’s eye.

I used a Pong Kombat prototype as a pet project to learn Java, initially trying to create an Android version for my HTC Hero at the time. After converting to Apple, I used it learn Objective-C and Cocos2D, when I tried creating a version for iOS. I used it to learn C# and the XNA Game Studio library in an attempt to create an Xbox LIVE Arcade Indie Game. However, my real passion is, and always has been, web development.

With the improvements of HTML5 and JavaScript (and a litany of libraries, frameworks, and methodologies), I can now try creating it for the web, encompassing all of those aforementioned devices, and probably making everything exponentially more difficult. It’s a challenge, but it’ll be rewarding.

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Pong Kombat (2014)’s title screen shows off the enhanced visuals.

I’m proud to announce that, after 5 years of practice, Pong Kombat returns to the web! In honor of the 20th anniversary of Stefan’s original, I’m making a demo version of my web-based game available at PongKombat.com.

All of the source code is accessible on my GitHub account, and anyone is welcome to participate. I’ve got a lot of ideas and development ahead of me, but I wanted to get this out there so other people can help shape, mold, and direct it into the best possible project that it can be. More importantly, I want you all to see my vision and, hopefully, get some enjoyment or inspiration of your own.

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