Broadcast Syndication: Black Annex

Will the Kickstarter controversies never end? Simon Roth stopped making his crowdfunded procedurally generated management game, Maia, for at least five seconds this morning. I know that it happened because he spent that time sending me a link to Black Annex, a one-man production built in QBASIC that will probably remind readers of a certain age that Syndicate used to be about controlling a squad of tiny, violent cyber(punk)men from afar rather than violently dismissing a first-person shooter from afar. The hot-off-the-presses trailer shows four agents infiltrating buildings, shooting enemies and hacking computers, and it looks wonderful.

The game’s official site contains a year’s worth of development blogs, covering everything from campaign structures to pathfinding, and reading the material, it becomes clear that an enormous degree of thought and effort have already gone into the game. The later parts of the video show mission selection, which includes tagging of optional objectives such as ‘No Alerts’ and ‘No Kills’, suggesting that the violence and gunplay will be optional, either last resorts or brute force entry points.

No indication of a release date yet but hopefully we’ll know more about future plans soon. With this, Gunpoint and (hopefully) Cartel, 2013 could be the year that bionic trousers, trenchcoats and absurd violence become fashionable again.

The description of the trailer contains these words:

“I’m not the best artist nor am I the best programmer in the world, but I just wanted this game to exist; I sat down exactly a year ago today and started working on it. I hope you get to enjoy it too, some day!”

I would very much like to enjoy this game some day.


  1. lordcooper says:

    I would like to register my utter disgust at Simon’s treachery. We who backed Maia own him now, and permission to cease work was most definitely not given.

    • tigerfort says:

      Speaking as another Maia backer, I’m permanently occupied watching that video of the planet renderer, so I’m happy for Simon to spend my share of his time directing attention to other cool games. Obviously, if he wants to actually play them rather than just email links to Adam, he’s going to need to get a whole bunch of us onside with the idea :)

    • Oozo says:

      I never paid for this.

    • darkChozo says:

      Speaking as an RPS subscriber, I am appalled at the Adam’s admission that he spent time – time paid for at the public’s expense, mind you – “talking” to one of those “game developer” types. You’re a writer, not a chitchatter; those word mines won’t exploit themselves!

      I demand a written apology and recompense for my distress.

      • Josh W says:

        I’m sorry, we can’t afford writing time for him to apologise to you.

  2. pupsikaso says:

    Huh? QBasic has a graphics library?

    • The First Door says:

      I never realised that either! It does look rather lovely too in a retro sort of way.

    • magos says:

      I wondered about this too. As a 10-year-old I never got beyond using the vector graphics commands in QBasic to create Ultima-like 3D dungeon crawls.. If you take a look at the Reddit link in his blog, someone has posted some simple VGA graphics code. You have to POKE integers directly into VGA memory to form the screen buffer and then OUT (write) these palette values to the screen buffer.

      Makes me so glad for modern pipelines :-)

      • Triplanetary says:

        You have to POKE integers directly into VGA memory to form the screen buffer and then OUT (write) these palette values to the screen buffer.

        What is this, the Dark Ages?!

      • Harlander says:

        I’m vaguely amused by how you tossed off that accomplishment bashfully as if you hadn’t been working hard enough.

        “Well, you know, when I was 6 I didn’t get any further than designing and assembling a modified Farnsworth fusor. It only made 30TW so I threw it in the bin.”

  3. tobecooper says:

    The gameplay trailer informs us that Black Annex has Music Abducted By Sharks.

    In my opinion, music-stealing fits the modus operandi of sharks very well.

  4. 8bitbeard says:

    Qbasic? Really? That was the first programming language I ever played with. I didn’t think it was capable of anything as nice looking as this.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think the last thing I managed in it was the basic snowfall program (with the snow piling up at the bottom of the screen) and a sort of turn-based square grid thing. One of the people in my class also managed a bit of side-scrolling.

      I still can’t quite manage the same level of stuff in Java or Flash without a huge mess of code.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Ah, yes, Qbasic! The heady times, before I realised that GOTO was terrible.

      • frightlever says:

        You can write a million lines of code in Qbasic without using GOTO once.

        Again, why you’d want to is another matter.

    • Triplanetary says:

      Neither did I. With all due respect for the developer of this game: Why? It’s impressive that he’s able to do this in QBASIC but it seems like he’s making it unnecessarily hard on himself.

      • Teovald says:

        And he is also making it impossible for him to port his game to other OSes since afaik QBasic softs are only executable on windows and it is too specific of a language for a clean port.
        I am going to have to pass on that one..

        • Triplanetary says:

          Well, he’s said he intends to port it to OSX, but currently has yet to manage a stable OSX build. Apparently it can be done, but yes, it presents serious problems.

  5. drmidnight says:

    The creator said on reddit he will be at PAXAus and has procured a booth so if you happen to be there stop by and give it a play.

  6. abandonhope says:

    In a programming class in 1997 I made a sort of Star Trek game in Visual Basic–or enough of a game to fool my professor into believing it was a game, anyway. I think I missed a bunch of classes and never learned about arrays or anything else, so under the hood there were about a hundred individual timers going at once. The code was such shit that I never got it to compile, which was a requirement for the project, but I think my professor was so taken with the graphics that he just didn’t care.

  7. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I don’t even know anything about this game but any 2D isometric game sets me off wishing for a Breach update. Breach 2 was amazing.

    (and now I’m looking at D-Generation. Isometric gaming 4 lyfe)