My first and unfinished hobby project, the game "DFD"

By Joel K. Pettersson. Added 2022-08-02. Updated 2022-08-02.

My first longer-lasting hobby programming project was meant to become a text-based adventure, or role-playing game. It was originally called, in Swedish, Den Flummiga Dimensionen – roughly The Flummoxing Dimension in English; the word "flum" or "flummig" is not possible to translate perfectly, and back in the 00s I instead used the word "Freaky" when I translated the title, which nowadays seems worse. (The game remained in Swedish back then.) I worked on it back in my teens, learning programming while working on it, and I discussed ideas for the game with two friends, remembering a few ideas from one of them.

After writing something rough for a start using QBasic, I then went on to learn and redo it in C++ twice, first soon after as a command-line program, and the second time using the Allegro library when making a fancier game engine (turning it into a full-screen program with text, menus, and simple displays). It never got done, nor did its story develop beyond the backstory, the beginning, and a few big picture ideas. I instead focused on trying to rework the program in various ways, including eventually making a crude scripting language in which to describe each "place" in the game and the possible actions which would allow moving from one place to another, and more things.

Backstory

Core to the story is the idea of two parallel worlds of different natures, and travel between them. The game displayed a short text introducing the setting upon playing a new game, and below is a better translation than the one I wrote in the 00s, also expanded to make the middle flow a bit better. (My writing used to be much worse.)

Around a thousand years ago, there was a tyrant named Pusher, who lived in a parallel dimension called Flummia. Strange forces ruled over Flummia; these forces were called the Flummoxing Powers and were, from our point of view, pretty weird. Compared to our own dimension Fluffia, Flummia is always a thousand years behind in time. This means that Pusher, from the Flummian perspective, lives right now.

Pusher's ancestor Puffer came into contact with the Flummoxing Powers roughly a thousand years earlier (two thousand years ago, from our Fluffian perspective) which back then ruled over Fluffia. Flummia's laws of physics during that time were the Fluffy Powers, the very same that now rule over Fluffia. Consequently, Puffer was not usually in contact with things that flummoxed him, and he seems to have had his hands on fairly advanced technology at the time. Apparently Puffer experimented with something, but exactly what he did is not really clear. But upon being flummoxed by the Flummoxing Powers, he developed an interest, which not only grew, but eventually led him to figure out a way to bring himself across the dimensional divide. What he further did had far-reaching consequences.

Back then, Puffer either couldn't, or didn't want to, stay in Fluffia. And who knows what he met there, really? But obsessed with the potential he had seen, and thinking in a new way, using new powers, he began working on a grand project to make his own home world have that nature instead. A great machine was built which would somehow allow him to make Fluffia and Flummia switch physical laws, working from a place in-between them. He was successful, and the result was chaos – ten hours of it, before Fluffians suddenly began fluffing, describing the rigid and predictable order suddenly surrounding them as seeming remarkably clear and comprehensible. The Flummians, meanwhile, were suddenly flummoxed – apart from Puffer, who simply settled down from his temporary working place in-between the worlds with newfound power.

With time, the two worlds became as they now are. After a thousand years, no one in Fluffia knew what had happened anymore, and for the most part not the people of Flummia either. But Puffer's descendant Pusher knew of the worlds and wanted to rule not only over all of Flummia, but all of Fluffia as well – quite simply over all the worlds he knew. And the easiest and surest way he could think of to do so was to give the fabric of their realities a large push, at the cost of all other living things in them. It would probably be best to stop him. Or maybe even go a step further and make the two dimensions "normal" again.

But who is the player? I never invented a fuller story for the protagonist, who is described as a currently fluffy person named (Name) who discovers a dimensional portal in your basement. At first not knowing your mission, you must defeat Pusher, perhaps by pushing him...

How the story begins

The story begins in the protagonist's basement. Ever since you moved here a month ago, you have periodically heard a strange, humming sound from the basement. Now you have decided to investigate where it comes from. Moving into the second and smaller of the two rooms with concrete walls, part of the floor is covered by a metal plate.

There's also a crack in one of the walls. An old sledgehammer can be grabbed and used against it, producing a hole large enough to crawl through. On the other end is a third little room in large part occupied by a mysterious, humming machine. And it has a switch which can be pulled. Doing so, the humming intensifies – and something happens with the metal-coated part of the floor of the previous room. Going back and standing on the metal-coated part of the floor, large enough for four people to stand on, something happens.

The protagonist is suddenly in another room, in a different world – but just how different this place is only gradually becomes clearer. However, my ideas for just what the protagonist is going to meet from here and on are largely diffuse and undeveloped. An older idea had the protagonist emerging into an uninhabited area, or at least with no one around, and beginning to explore. The second redone version of the game however instead has the idea that the new room is someone else's basement. This someone was never really described, but was named "Berserker" in files for the game. This initial encounter, though curious, was to be or end up a friendly one, not a battle. Maybe it could lead to more questions than it answers.

Further sketchy ideas

There were to be a variety of types of areas to explore, with various persons and story elements appearing as the journey proceeds. Very early on I began to draw maps, sketching out landscapes, but it never went further.

One little idea for an enemy further on in the story, from my friend who was into Half-Life and (like me) silly jokes, was a play on the name "Black Mesa". By translating the first part and making a two-letter change to the second part, you end up with "Svarta Mesen", which means "the Black Sissy/Coward", meant to refer to a fearsome and presumably very dangerous sort not yet further described, apart from somehow being cowardly. Maybe such a villain could have remarkable powers, or perhaps mainly a reputation as a great threat to be reckoned with which is somehow maintained despite being practically harmless to any and all.

Names and ideas for story elements were largely silly, but I also wanted to make it something playable and interesting. But since after the early thinking I never went beyond experimenting with reworking a game engine and gradually becoming better at programming, the stuff in-between the beginning and the sketchily described end were never elaborated, apart from a few scattered elements.

Maybe some of these ideas could be turned into something worthwhile later, but I changed focus away from the idea of making a game a long time ago. The old code is also not a good basis for further work, but could probably nowadays be replaced more quickly with something better.