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Tailgate Party

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The Development of Tailgate Party
Now that Tailgate Party is released and arriving into the hands of many buyers today, I would like to share some of my thoughts and stories about the game as the developer. This game is super fun and corny (oh the puns in this game)! I had a lot of fun making it, testing it, playing it, and showing it off to friends, family, and strangers. With most games, the developers are pretty sick of playing their game and they can play it blindfolded. Not with this game. I still enjoy firing it up and slinging bags at my Power Pad, especailly when friends come over. It is a unique challenge each and every time you play it, even when playing the computer in Single Player Mode. Each character has their own special logic and two difficulty modes. These are a few of the reasons why Tailgate Party is still entertaining for myself even though I have spent countless hours playing it. I still lose to people that are playing it for the first time!

Early in the development process, most of the time was spent with testers experimenting with corn bags and the Power Pad. I wanted to know its limits before even attempting to write a game. What would be the point of writing the game if concept was flawed from the start? From day one, the goal has always been quality of play. I really enjoy quality when it comes to NES Homebrews, so I wanted anything that I wrote to meet my expectations. These early tests were pretty rudimentary considering most didn't have actual corn bags. One tester used a sealable bag full of cat food, another filled a bag with corn. At the 2016 NESathon, they even made use of plastic water bottles to play the game! I do not condone the use of water bottles, things got a bit messy... You can check out the Power Pad Test ROM in my signature below. It's a great ROM to have on your flash cart if you ever need to test Power Pad buttons.

Once initial tests proved that this project could be successful, I started the process of writing the game. I had no idea where I was going with this and no vision of what the end product would look like. I honestly thought I would write a 2-player party game on NROM and be done in less than a year. Boy was I wrong. I started work on the 2 player mode before anything else and started to develop ideas for different games. The first 5 were developed pretty quick and I was feeling like a rockstar. I soon ran out of space on NROM and had to switch to a new mapper and learn bankswitching. I experimented with MMC1 and UNROM and in the end, UNROM won out. Soon I started developing a title screen, pause screen, credits screen, and a character select\game select screen. As soon as I finished all of this and had five different game modes up and running, I gutted everything I just worked on and overhauled every screen! The reason for this was I was starting to test on real hardware and I was not happy with how everything looked. Testing on real hardware also allowed me to discover flaws in the game, such as accidental throws recorded. This was excellent feeback and I developed a process to undo errant throws but only in two player mode as this was this most likely to have mistakes happen. Once I had all of this in place, I had thought of my final two games and implemented them into the game as well.

At this time, spring of 2016, I decided that I now had a ton of space and this game needed much more. Enter single-player mode! Initially, this was just going to be a Mega Man style menu screen where you picked your opponent and the game you wanted to play. Each opponent would have different AI logic and difficulty. However, I was fresh off of testing The Incident for KHAN Games and was inspired by his story development in a puzzle game. It was at this time that I came up with the idea for the protagonist to attend his first game day and work his way through the parking lot as the story culminates to the main antagonist. Again, I had no vision for the script or character development. I had already developed the characters, the script sort of morphed around each character as I got to each of them. I probably wrote the dialog script in about a week. Also during this time, each and every one of the characters got a much needed facelift to match their personality and the character graphics were improved ten fold. I also took advantage of the script to incorporate an additional character. After a few weeks, I had a functional cut scene with the script fully written into the game. Again, I ran into limitations with the mapper I was using, UNROM, and had to upgrade to UNROM-512. This opened the door for Tailgate Party to be played on Membler Industry's GT-ROM board with just some slight code changes. I was finally starting to feel that this game was becoming something special. Also around this time, I worked on developing the rules screens for each game.

I next turned my efforts towards the character AI. A lot of thought and attention went into writing this script. It is fairly long and complicated and has a number of randomized tables to randomly pull throw data from. I spent a lot of time thinking of situations and how a real player would react to that situation. Did Player 1 bust? Yup, throw misses. Is the CPU within 4 points of winning the game? Yup, start throwing conservative to reduce the chance of busting. Since there are 7 different game modes, the logic for each character is unique to each of their respective games. I also built almost 2 dozen randomized tables that have different percentages of hitting each button on the Power Pad or missed throws. The one thing that I wanted to make sure was to incorporate all four possible outcomes on each throwing attempt, miss, 1 points, 2 points, or 3 points. Depending on the situation in the game, the CPU will randomly pull from the selected randomized table to produce the artificial throw. That's right, double random! The script will pull at random number between 0 and 15 (or 0 and 31 if it is Battle Bags and Lucky 13) and then that number pulls a value from a randomized table. That value is either a miss or one of the numbers on the Power Pad. Then the value is ran through the normal point scoring routines and the result is output to the screen. Pretty friggin' cool, huh?

Once I was happy with both the Single Player and Multiplayer mode, I started to polish the game and adding the bells and whistles around December of 2016. Game save and erase feature, unlockables, achievements, screen transitions, a coin flip for starting honors, I rewrote the credits screen to be animated, I added some Play Again screens, more graphics and animations, more music and a jukebox function, etc. This is when I realized that this game was actually going to get a proper release. Around January of 2017, I began work on the starting a business and drawing up the printed materials. My testers were in full debug mode as my ROM was nearing final version. We spent next 3-4 month working out all of the bugs and pounding out all of the details and spelling errors on the printed materials. Finally, around the first of April, most everything was finished just in time for the debut at the Midwest Gaming Classic! Being done before then was a huge goal mine and to accomplish that was a giant weight lifted from my shoulders.

I certainly had my ups and downs while developing Tailgate Party but the ups completely made up for the downs. I really tried to focus a lot of attention into the small details of the game. Truth be told, this game was 100% playable and could have been sold last year about this time, it just wouldn't have been polished and missing a ton of extra features that it has today. I wouldn't have been happy with it. To me, making this game perfect was more important than getting it to market. I truly wanted a game that I could be proud of and a game that you would be proud to have in your collection. I sought out some of the best in the biz when it came to hardware, materials, technical assistance, and music to ensure quality from beginning to end. I also wanted this game to feel and play like an interactive video game and not just some novelty electronic scoreboard. I feel that this goal was accomplished and I think that anyone that has seen the end product would agree with that statement. Features such as the single-player CPU AI, unlockable characters and music, a built in rules screen, achievements, undo errant throws, and even the ability to save or delete your progress really gives this game a ton of replayability. It's a very innovative use for the Power Pad that doesn't involve collapsing on the floor huffing and puffing with legs of fire!

I also wanted to make a unique and usable Limited Edition. Since the game is interactive, it only felt right to make the LE interactive as well. This is evident from the corn bags to the playable cornhole game right on the physical cartridge! Many hours were spent and a few carts and boxes didn't survive the modification process but the end result was totally worth the effort! The custom character idea came to me probably around May 1st. I really felt that the LE needed more for those that love having something very unique. What better way than personalizing their LE. To pull this off, I had to rewrite a lot more of code than I had planned and I had move some code to other banks to free up the space that I needed. I spent around 3 or 4 days rewriting and testing this code, twice! Why twice? Well, as soon as I finished the custom character code, I lost my flash drive before I could back up the data. I spent the next couple days rewriting the code I lost from a backup copy only to find my drive buried at the bottom of the center console in my car. I thought I had lost it while running errands out of town. Oh well, it all worked out! I also recommend to use waterproof flash drives as mine also took a trip through the washing machine during this project...

Just a few more things that I will mention about Tailgate Party. I tried to put a few things about my life into the game. First off, the names of the 2 protagonists, Andy Jones and Ellie Mays. Andy Jones is a play off of mine and my wife's middle names. Ellie Mays is a play off of my kids' middle names. Ellie's image is base off of my beautiful wife. Ace Cornado's, the main antagonist, real name is based of a nickname of a friend. You'll learn it later in the game, no spoilers.   I am a huge Nebraska Cornhusker fan, I literally bleed red! The Shuckers are a play off the word Huskers. I also make a couple jabs at Husker rivals. The weakest opponent in the game is from Iowa, Granny Schott. Boo Haweyes! And in the manual, another opponent played for the Miami....well, you'll have to read the manual to figure out the mascot.   Speaking of Granny, she does make an awesome potato salad, just like my grandma.   That's all I can think of at the moment. I probably forgot something.

That's the story of the development of Tailgate Party. I'm very happy to be able to share this with everyone. I'm excited to hear people's reactions and stories from Tailgate Party!

6/1/2017 - Tailgate Party Is Released!

Watch for the sales post in the Seller's Forum later today. Some of you know this by solving the cryptic message in the Coming Soon screenshot that I posted directly below this message.   This also coincides with the Homebrew calendar game of the month of June! This is mostly a coincidence, but as it got closer to June, I started to get the idea of just releasing the game on June 1.

A couple of notes that I would like to make before the start of the sales thread.
1. The LEs will NOT be auctioned. Instead they will be for sale right along side the Regular Edition for a fixed cost.
2. For the LEs only, for an additional $50, I will create 1 additional customized character into your personalized copy of the LE. I will work directly with each buyer on their specific character. This is mostly to use for adding yourself into the game a playable character. This feature was a late addition to the LE and I had to rewite a lot of code just to make it work. (Twice acutally! I lost my jump drive soon after I finished the code! Long story short, it was found the next day in my car after I rewote the code, actually wrote it more effiecient the second time.) Please be patient if you go this route as I will have to draw each photo and personalize each copy of the game.

I will bump this thread with a link to the sale when it is posted.


12/7/16 - Save Features
Currently working on getting a save feature implemented for the Story Mode so you can save your progress and unlock features in the multiplayer mode! Once this hurdle is cleared, that will blaze a path for a lot of work to get done! Meanwhile, feel free to try the demo in your favorite flash cart! Demo Attached To This Post!!!

6/27/16 - Demo ROM Available!

I now have included a demo ROM for all to try in the footer of this post! It uses the UNROM mapper, so it should work on all flash carts and on INL's UNROM 128kb Flashable Board using the Kazoo.

In this Demo, you will be able to play the exact game I designed for the Let's Play Gaming Expo. This version of the game will not be on the final release, so this ROM will be truly unique.

First, some legal Mumbo Jumbo. This ROM is free to download and use for your own personal use. I do not authorize the sale of this ROM in its current file format, on a cartridge, or in any other form. Feel free to download it, host it, share it, distribute it, whatever, as long as you don't profit from the sale of it.

2 Player Competition Demo ROM. Every throw scores, the first to reach 21 or more at the end of the round wins.
Player 1 - Blue Targets
Targets 1 & 2 = 3 Points
Targets 5 & 6 = 2 Points
Targets 9 & 10 = 1 Point
Select Key = Miss Targets (If you do not hit any targets on your throw, hit the Select Key to advance to the next player.)

Player 2 - Red Targets
Targets 3 & 4 = 3 Points
Targets 7 & 8 = 2 Points
Targets 11 & 12 = 1 Point
Select Key = Miss Targets (If you do not hit any targets on your throw, hit the Select Key to advance to the next player.)

The flashing Corn Arrows indicate whose throw it is. In the event you screw up during the game, Pause the game and you can either Undo the throw or Restart the Round. You can Undo as many throws as you wish in a row until you are back to throw #1 of the round. The Power Pad is deactivated when the "Clear Bags" animation is on the screen. At this time, it is safe to touch or walk on the Power Pad without activating the targets. Whoever throws the most points in a round gets the honor to go first in the next round. To make the game more challenging, try moving further away from the Power Pad.

For more detailed on the rules, Pause the Game and click on Rules. The Start Button will Exit the Rules Screen and return you to the game in progress.
There is no single player mode in this Demo ROM. It is truly ment to be played as a Party Game! Enjoy!

6/21/16 - Bad News at the Expo
I just got word that the Let's Play Gaming Expo Tailgate Party Tournament did not have anyone sign up. While I am disappointed to hear this news, it is not unexpected as the game is fairly unfamiliar with almost everyone attending. Although the outcome was not what I had hope, there is still some glimmer of light. Tailgate Party did make the local news in Plano to promote the Expo and in the process of getting the game ready for the expo, I was able to finish a bunch of code for the game that I needed to work on.  Also, it did give me a trial run about different ways to promote the game and spread the word a bit. This is by no means a down and out for me, as I still strongly believe this game and it is a ton of fun. I have seen first hand how many people have a blast playing the game, especially on their first experience. I just now know that much more than I knew before about what goes into developing and promoting homebrews.  

On a lighter note, you can catch Tailgate Party at TooManyGames this weekend thanks to Neodolphino. He just recieved the cart in the mail and will be setting up a demo at his booth to help promote the game. The demo is nearly a full version of the game with only some characters stripped out and the single player mode only featuring the first level (mostly because the rest isn't ready, yet.). So stop by and check it out!

6/10/16 - Shipping!
It's starting to get very exciting! I finally have shipped my first batch of games ever for the Let's Play Gaming Expo!

6/7/16 - Labels!
Labels have been printed and applied to the competition carts. Just waiting on some final details from the testing phase and then it will be time to flash the ROM and mail the carts to the competition!

Great progress has been made on the actual game as well. The story mode is nearly completetion, the credits screen is working like I want it to, I'm implementing some fading transition feature, sound effects have been added, and I just recieved some new tunes from zi!! On top of all of this, I have introduced 1 more character to the story and I have completed all of the CPU throw logic in Tournament Mode (single player)!

On top of all of this awesomeness, Tailgate Party made its public debut during the NESathon 2k16, which is for a great cause and lot of fun to join, so I hope you didn't miss out.  

A few more little nuggets. Tailgate Party will be making its way to Too Many Games this year thanks to neodolphino. Find him and he will let you check out Tailgate Party! I've also been in talks with some production people about materials for the LEs and REs. Not too much to get excited about yet as that is still a ways out. Just getting my feet wet.  

5/27/16 - Hardware Mode
Shells and boards are in to make the Expo Competition Carts! Competition ROM is now in final testing phase! Enter the Tailgate Party Tournament at the Let's Play Gaming Expo for your chance to win one of these 10 numbered limited releases!

Follow us on Facebook for my photos and updates!!


As promised, I have more exciting news regarding Tailgate Party!

First, Orab Games has launched its very own Facebook page where you can get faster updates on the status of our games! Follow the link and Like our page!

Second, NA's own Ferris Bueller has asked to feature Tailgate Party as apart of the 2016 Let's play Gaming Expo!!! This will be your chance to play Tailgate Party way ahead of its release and in the fashion I envisioned this game being played, in a Tournament! That's right, Tailgate Party will be a featured Tournament at this year's Expo on June 18-19. If you plan to be at the Expo or live in the Plano, Texas area, you have a great opportunity check this out!

We are still in the early stages of planning, but I am working on a special version of the game just for this tournament that will not be on the final release of Tailgate Party! As of right now, we are planning on developing 10 number carts. The Grand Prize for the Tournament will be Cart #1!

The page needs some updating (soon to come), but check out the official Tournament Page at the Let's Play Gaming Expo website! Also, I included an exclusive sneak peak of the title screen for the Tournament version of the game!

Happy Friday The 13th!

Whew, been a while. LOTS done, still a ways to go. But, I just want to show some more teaser screen shots again. Major overhaul of the playing screens.
All games are fully functional. Will be working to finish up other screens and single player mode from this point on.scoreboard.JPG.830f83eeca68a80583360e46b97b9482.JPG





I wanted to share with everyone some recent progress that has been made, with much thanks to the advice of thefox in the Programming Questions Thread (now you can see what I am trying to accomplish or should I say, did accomplish).

Although it has not been put through a solid test and has 1 graphical glitch to still deal with (and now its fixed!), the Final 2 Games are in working order (Battle Bags and Lucky 13). Essentially, they are the same game with 2 different ways to win. Battle Bags, you play for X number of rounds (Chosen by the players before the game). Lucky 13, you play until a player has 13 or more points at the end of the round (there are 24 total points up for grabs, so you play until someone has majority).  In each game, the entire board is up for grabs. If you land on a target, you own it and the points associated with. You can also steal targets (and the points) from your opponent. The Blue targets are targets owned by player 1. The Red targets are targets a owned by player 2. The question marked targets have yet to be claimed. The top row of targets are worth 3 points a piece, the middle row is 2 points per target and the bottom row is 1 point per target.

Here is a screen shot of Battle Bags with the glitchy corn arrow I discussed above.battlebagsglitch.JPG.342c4be40fe80cc3b61ba87f4e657fba.JPG

Fixed Glitch Shortly After Posting This Update!!!!

This game was by far the toughest game to code but I think will be one of my favorites to play, especially using Lucky 13 rules! I spent probably as much time on this variation of the game as I have on all of the others combined. There is just so much going on and some much I have to keep track of during the game play. In order for the Undo Throw feature or the Restart Round Feature to work (in case you and your drunk buddy get out of order on throws), I had to store data for each throw in RAM. There are about 90-100 bytes of RAM dedicated to tracking throw data history just so I can undo throws for when you screw up!! You're Welcome!

Keep checking The Brewery for updates. This was a pretty big hurdle to jump, so once it is fully cleared, I should be able to move along a bit quicker with some other features I have been putting off.

Updated 1/31/2016 with more sreenshots!
I think I'm finally ready to tease the world with my next homebrew project.

For the last few months, I have quietly picked back up my Cornhole-based game featuring the Power Pad. Some of you may remember I released a demo ROM a while ago to test how the Power Pad would respond to Corn sacks landing on it. That test went very well and gave me great hope that this idea could work. Fast forward nearly a year and I was finally able to pick this back up. I would say that the game is roughly 75-80% coded minus final graphics and music. Currently, there are 3 fully functional games with different variations with a 4th game still left to be programmed. Tailgate Party will feature a 1 and 2 player mode, built in Rules Screen, and I hope eventually to have an Auto Save feature.

As of right now, there is no tentative release date. My original plan was to take my time and just let this game happen, but I have been challenged to have this finished for a special event. Once I am comfortable with a few more things, I plan to release a demo rom that will feature one of the games fully playable in 2 player mode. My friends and family have spent many hours testing this game with real Cornhole bags and I have to tell you, this is a hit! Everyone loves it and asks to play the latest rom version when they come to visit. This has been great for bug testing!

This game has gone through a few title screens and name changes, but this name and design finally won me over. I may make some minor changes to it and I plan on adding some animation to spruce it up, but this will give you a pretty good idea on what the final Title Screen will look like. So, without further ado, I give to you a screenshot of my first attempt at the final title screen.TailgatePartyTitle.JPG.fafa145ea331112d531fa036f7cbfe21.JPG

The very first Title Screen I built for this game. It's come a long ways since then.ch1.JPG.ed114b7337cbeaf36b037f5f90afd0b0.JPG

Title Screen Version 2....I'm getting worse at this!

This screen will probably change a bit. I don't like the game title at the top. Probably be more like the game select screen in the next screenshot. Colors may not be final as well.
Just 2 of the 10 characters to choose from in Exhibition Mode! You will have to buy the game to see the rest.

Game Select Screen with 7 different games!!!

Some games let you choose the Number of Rounds you want to play!!

Screenshot of the Playing Screen for 21 and Battle Bags.


This may change as well, I'm experimenting with ideas. For now, this stands out pretty well to indicate what target was hit.

Teaser from one of the nearly completed rules screens

Your first or 8 Opponents in Tournament Mode!!! This screen is outdated and will undergo some changes. But I wanted to show it anyways! AND what's this? Did I just show a 3rd character???


Tailgate Party Limited Edition.JPG


Edited by Orab Games
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  • 10 months later...
32 minutes ago, Scrobins said:

Also just want to say it’s great to see you here again @Orab Games! How have you been?

Life has been pretty busy, but it's starting to slow down a bit. Excited to be doing something in the homebrew scene again. Very appreciative to k3vbot for keeping Tailgate Party alive while I had other duties to take care of. Maybe one day, I can get to working on another project. 🙂

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