Orb: The Derelict Planet
This is, basically, Metroid. An amateur Metroid, granted. And with a rather baffling protagonist; basically an eye inside a glass orb. Still, hey. Perhaps the most distinctive element of Samus is her morph ball ability. And the most expressive Metroid game is the second one, in which you spend half of your time in ball form, rolling around the walls and ceilings.
Joshua Turcotte did a good job here; Orb is one of the more complex and fully-featured Game-Maker games out there, and also employs one of the most comprehensive storylines. Even the credits are uncommonly verbose.
The visuals are clean and attractive. The level design is actually pretty good, if about as confusing as the original Metroid. Unfortunately, the full game is lost to time, hardware obsolescence, and narrow distribution. Yet what remains glows with ambition.
|(Overview)||Orb: The Derelict Planet||Orb 2|
Some day in the future
The silence was broken vividly by loud static, and then a low voice.
- "Chara 4........"
Someone sat erect and began to listen.
- "Chara 4.....Chara 4.......Is anyone there? Hello.......... I'm hailing the planet Chara 4 .......Is anyone there?"
- "This is Chara 4. Who hails the planet Charanaphan?"
- "I need to speak with someone in charge of your military..."
Quiet hysteria hung over the mechanical world of Chara 4. A nervousness hung about each and every one of the world's intelligent machines. In one particular place, one large group of Orb's, as they are popularly described by their alien allies, waited with the most acute panic anywhere to be found. Many beings talked or whispered, pretended to joke, or just hung about the hall in silence.
It was then that a fairly important Orb rolled into the hall and collected the silent attention of the entire group which waited. Another Orb followed behind and waited to one side.
- "One of you will be selected to either save our world or debunk a hoax. Either way, it will be one of you, who have been noticed for some personal valor or special strengths."
The Orb paused.
- "Apparently, some scavenger alien has found himself on a abandoned world where the old machines seem to still be in operation. According to he, the old mainframe computer has selected us (for some unknown reason) as a threat to those who no longer live there."
- "It, again according to he, is constructing, by process of energy-to-matter conversion, weaponry to launch at us, and while we are confident we could fend off such a strike, the computer could send more. We need to strike this system down at its heart and end this threat."
The Orb swiveled to regard the second Orb who had entered with him. He turned back to the crowd.
- "Our scientist fellow here, a researcher of our aggressor, has received some information from a probe he sent there, as well as depositing some of our most potent weaponry. This information has been placed in the ship that will transport you to the planet, but the weapons have been noticed and captured by the enemy. When you land, you'll need to find them to use 'em, fighting your way, apparently, through many multitudes of small creatures and large and trained or bred creatures. In the cities you will meet more advanced automated adversaries, and traps, no doubt, as well."
After several weeks of tests one Orb had been selected to penetrate the defenses of the derelict world. He is You! Your ship will proceed to a home-made transport warp and within a minute you will be closing in on the enemy world below. Good Luck.
Planetary Report # 1
This information has been made with the help of the broadcast from a probe we sent to the Aggressor world. This probe had also dropped ten weapons in various places on the world for your use. This probe also observed several creatures who were close to the landing site we have chosen for you. Below are a few descriptions of what we found and some advise given in light of said observations.
Unfortunately, the weapons are no longer where we left them. We beleive the computers can control some of the creatures and as a result the weapons have been misplaced.
From observations of creatures on, or in, the planet, we have determined what we call the HP scale. This is used to find out what weapon will kill what creatures or destroy what devices. These are the results. The description of the weapons follows.
- Orb of Water..............25HP
- Orb of Fire...............45HP
- Orb of Magma..............65HP
- Orb of Lightning..........85HP
- Orb of Stone..............65HP
- Orb of Harm..............105HP
- Orb of Defence...........125HP
- Orb of Destruction.......125HP
- Orb of Apocalypse........145HP
- Orb of Antimatter........165HP
The Orb of Water fires a small but deadly bubble killing any creature of below 25HP. The Orb of Fire fires a small bolt of flame. The Orb of Magma is able to fire a ball of Magma. The Orb of Lightning fires out a bolt of electrical energy. The Orb of Stone creates stone in the air used more for aide in climbing rather than as a weapon. The Orb of Harm fires a small bomb. A small ball of ambiplasma is fired when the Orb of Defense is used, but it does not act as a missile but as a force that stays close to you for a short period of time often getting in the way of attacking creatures. When used the Orb of Destruction propels a small missile that kills any below 125HP. The Orb of Apocalypse fires a larger one killing any creature below 145 HP. The Orb of Antimatter is the most potent killing below 165HP with a small pellet of antimatter, which reacts with harm anything made of our matter.
Most of this world's wildlife lives below ground in large and vast caverns. The people who used to live here, though, left behind several cities, some ancient, some new, some wartorn, while others mostly undamaged. Some structures have even been detected below the surface. There seems to be two classes of life. One is very large, usually trained and dangerous, and usually guarding keys. Many of these attack by breathing fire. It is suggested that you can stop them from breathing fire by getting right in their face. They should temporarily lose some of the gas they breath that they use to blow fire and so can no longer fire. But if you don't do this, they may leave you with a few parting shots when they are killed. Other than these big monsters, there are countless, usually smaller, creatures that would hinder your progess. Pay particular attention to spiked fliers that with follow and attack, and deadly burrowing worms. In the cities, you should watch out for more automated foes, some of which can deliver immediately fatal blows.
The Alien who contacted us is in one of the cities, and has collected three of the most potent weapons we sent down. From what we could tell, he was a miner who found that this world was rich in energy producing crystals, and was caught here when the computer suddenly decided to go on alert when detecting us. He needs four varieties of gems to power his craft, but can no longer leave his hideout. He had lost many shovels and hammers in the caverns, which you could use to get these gems for him. He hinted that he may not be willing to let go of those three weapons if you do not, so collect all you can.
There are also energy capsules down there in the shape of hearts. We beleive they may have been left behind by the prior inhabitants of the world probably after they fled the world when the malfunctioning defense system began harming its creators. We may never know, but nevertheless, your mission is clear. Take out the computer mainframe for the defense-offense systems.
Music: Thankfully supplied by Game-Maker
Everything Else: Josh Turcotte
This game wouldn't be possible without my computer and a half ruined Microcassette recorder, a few good tapes, an excellent SoundBlaster system, a few new pens, a lot of graphpaper, and my very fat Norwegian Elkhound named Thor who was for most of the monsters in this game, and for a few of the sounds in the game, my inspiration. The rest of the monsters Merry, Pippin, and Isis... in order two loud parakeets and a pest of a cat, are responsible for. GAMEMAKER is, however, more responsible than any other for this master piece, and deserves due thanks from I as well as from any who enjoy playing this game.
Turcotte completed Orb during his sophomore year of high school, following a lengthy period of intense planning.
I know I used a lot of graph paper to map out the entire project, even down to goals, benchmarks, etc, and used these to deliver the product in pretty much exactly 10 months. Thereafter I started working on a sequel which I abandoned after the first level... Minus embellishment and maybe corrections along the way, I had the whole thing laid out and a series of goals that I met in about 10 months. Worked out rather well.
Although its influence is clear, Metroid was not an obvious game for Turcotte to draw from.
I did have Metroid for the Game Boy (I don’t recall if it was II or not, but the opening scene with the ship on the ground seems awfully familiar to me. I do also recall the music for the ending sequence of the game was kind of haunting… wish I had it kicking around.) Other than that, I don’t identify with Metroid really… The influence had to be rather immediate. I had to have played that game somewhere in the same ballpark of time… or maybe not. I seem to recall having bought the Game Boy back when I still lived in the Bangor area, which would be 1991 or previous. But Orb would have gone underway in 1993.
Otherwise the game's design seems to have arisen at a whim, in response to the engine's limitations.
I don’t recall why the eyeball; Probably came from frustration with the size of sprites in the game. Roots may have been either planned for in some spots or added later when the game physics just wouldn’t allow someone to make a crucial jump. I recall somewhere in the later levels there was one spot that really gave me a haaaard time when playing it. It was possible, but it took a lot of tries to get the jump just right.
Although only the shareware portion is known to exist, Turcotte did finish the full, registered game.
The whole thing was made. Pretty sure it ended up with 12 levels. The last boss was some giant computer thing with conveyors pulling the character one way or another, and clamps and spikes and such so that you had to concentrate as much on staying alive as you did on having to hit just the right part of the machine that would set off my little ‘chain-reaction’ large-(multisprite)-monster solution.
After developing the game, Turcotte submitted Orb to a shovelware CD maker called "Night Owl" for distribution. That, however, didn't go as planned. After the CD maker "vanished off the face of the earth," all calls finding their way to an abandoned dorm room, Turcotte "rather quickly" suffered a massive computer failure and lost his files. The game survives now thanks to some earlier correspondence with RSD.
I recall [RSD] asking if they could use my game, I just did not know how that turned out. Better than I thought, it seems... I sorta wish now that I’d handed the whole thing over to them as freeware instead. I don’t recall [how the topic came up]; I know they asked, but I’m not sure if it was after I’d contacted them about something else, or maybe even submitted it unsolicited or based on a general printed invite (if you’d like to ____ send it to ____ sort of thing.)
In 1995 the surviving portion of Orb was published in a shareware directory of the Game-Maker 3.0 CD release.
This game is distributed in the shareware directory of the Game-Maker 3.0 CD-ROM.
Orb was introduced to the archive with the upgrade to Game-Maker 3.0 in late 1994.