The Making of Forget-Me-Not
Australian game developer Brandon Williamson grew up in a household that was no stranger to games and technology. The first piece of gaming hardware he spent any considerable time with was a Commodore 64, where he played a wide variety of titles created by developers big and small. His favorite titles included Jumpman, Crossroads 2: Pandemonium, and Revenge of the Mutant Camels. It’s also where he got his first programming experience, toying around with BASIC language. From that small spark Williamson would eventually go on to learning other programming languages and working with better hardware, but his gaming experiences on that Commodore 64 would stick with him.
After doing some freelance work for a company developing some back-end code for an iPhone game, Williamson decided to take a crack at making an iPhone game of his own. He ported over a Nintendo DS homebrew game he had made called Magnetic Shaving Derby, a wild experience where you had to use a magnet and a razor to shave a person’s face. Its bizarre premise and unusual art lent it a certain memorable quality, but it failed to catch on.
Williamson’s next project was inspired by seeing other developers try to create entire games in a single week. He wanted to give it a try himself, but ended up spending four weeks on the game he had in mind. His own personal tastes had tended towards games with procedurally-generated levels and mazes, and indeed many of his earliest programming efforts in his younger years involved trying to create such concepts. He decided to finally see the idea all the way through. From here, the skeleton of Forget-Me-Not was formed. Williamson (by now using the name Nyarlu Labs as a developer name) put together a maze generator. He populated his maze with a player character, a couple of types of enemies, and a few things to collect.
From there, the pieces starting falling in one by one. Williamson liked the way the maze looked when it was filled with flowers, so a collecting goal was built into the game. Memories of Crossroads led to the wide variety of creatures being added to the game, along with the ability to shoot. Williamson was a fan of Pac-Man Championship Edition and really liked the way the wall-grinding mechanic felt, so he added it to his game even before he figured out a purpose for it. A key and door mechanic was added to give the player an extra task, with the idea of the key acting as a shield putting an extra spin on it. A multiplayer mode was included so that players could play together on one device, another artifact of the developer’s love for Crossroads.
Forget-Me-Not had little in the way of marketing behind it, but an indie game website picked up the game’s trailer, giving it at least a little attention ahead of its release in March of 2011. Reviews for the game were strong, and it ended up with a rather high average score as a result. Players were similarly enthused with the game, and forum threads dedicated to Forget-Me-Not tended to run for many pages. While the game wasn’t a major sales hit, its reputation has only grown over the years. It was also surprisingly robust in terms of how well it survived new waves of hardware and iOS updates, ultimately only running into serious trouble when 32-bit support was removed. It was once again updated and made available as part of the GameClub library.