The Adventures of Fred Earwigian
The Adventures of Fred Earwigian is the nadir of my character-based design process. By this point I had been hammering that character button for a couple of years, expecting my game concepts to magically present themselves at the last moment and allowing the full projects to take form. In this case, that didn’t happen. Why not? Well, let’s see.
Fred Earwigian was not so much a character as a wacky name. I have no memory of its origin; just that the name arose somewhere before high school, and thenceforth again whenever life called for a nom de guerre. Around my third year of high school, the name crossed paths with a domestic catch phrase and inanity was born.
On one return from Russia, my mother imparted a story of crossed communications. One of her hosts had advised her on departure not to forget, as she heard it, her hair. In reality he was speaking of a stuffed rabbit, a gift from one of her Russian friends. The misunderstanding delighted her enough to turn “Don’t forget your hair!” into a common goodbye in my household.
By 1994, my well of ready ideas was dry. I began The Adventures of Fred Earwigian with nothing but the name, and eventually a title screen, expecting intuition to steamroll the rest into existence.
Based on the title graphic, I figured that Fred was rather slow — both physically and mentally. In physique and mannerisms, I envisioned him as a vaudevillian yokel with bits of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx. In personality, my mind went to Steinbeck’s Lennie, from Of Mice and Men. I wasn’t trying to be obscure; these were honestly my cultural references as a teenager. I didn’t get out much.
When one thinks of Lennie, one thinks of rabbits on the farm. When I thought of rabbits, I thought of Fred singing “Don’t fergetcha, don’t fergetcha hare / Ba-dum, ba-dum”.
That became the basis of my game: a bumbling, slow-moving, dim-witted fellow looking for a lost hare. I couldn’t make it work. I couldn’t find the game. I couldn’t find a point to it.
I drew and animated Fred’s sprite, and I recorded him some voice samples. I drew up half a dozen scenarios, none of which fit. The game was stalled.
I threw the character sprite and title screen together with a map and background tiles from Sample, and uploaded the mess to the Frontline BBS in Rockport. With the files I included a document pitching Fred Earwigian as a design contest. Whoever made the best game out of the available materials would win something or other. No one bothered. Quite understandable.
You’d think that my experience with Fred Earwigian would have taught me something, but any wisdom was a good decade off yet. In the meanwhile I had mistakes to burn.
Fred Earwigian is a REALLY boring guy. He's lost his only interest, his pet hare, Myran. Fred left him someplace, and can't find him.
Fred likes avacado juice and mushrooms. These would be good items. A suggested method of attack is throwing certain mushrooms. Others could be eaten.
These are pieces of gameware put out to you by A-J Games for use in making a game based on the enclosed material. Please do not modify the character set, character blocks, or .voc files. You may edit the sound set by adding additional sounds and may edit the title screen by adding your name or converting it to another palette. What you are to do is make background blocks, monsters, maps, items, challenges, and all that stuff for Fred to go through, write your own interpretation of the storyline, and add a good ending, instructions, and credits. The game must have at least two levels.
When you think you are done, and have done the best job you can, please upload your finished product onto the Game-Maker BBS. The one with the best game will get a free copy of our entire library, including the never-before-released Return of A-J.
Note: This is just a "contest", seeing who can do the best with the supplied materials, and the game will not be released unless the winner requests it to be. In that case, he will have full credit to it, as long as he mentions in the credits that Fred Earwigian is a copyright of A-J Games and has the A-J Games logo somewhere in the GMTITLE.GIF screen.
Character, Concept, Sound, Animation: Aderack
Game Engine: Recreational Software Designs
Everything Else: Your Name Here
During the early 1990s this game was available for download from GameLynk's Frontline BBS.
Fred Earwigian was retained as part of the archive from the game's inception.