I’m cleaning out my home office today… well, let’s say this week.
For most of my life, I have been a packrat, and a fairly disorganized one at that. I have always been very sentimental about things, and would keep reminders of events, and basically never threw out anything that I had worked on when I was a kid. Most of that stuff got kept for a really long time, far longer than it was useful, if it even ever was useful.
But after a certain point, keeping everything gets to be a burden. A few years ago, I started to recognize that this was a problem and that I needed to do something about it. I have a very strong instinct to preserve and archive things that are important to me, either because they express some idea that I find compelling, or because they help to define my personality or could be used to explain myself in some way that would be persuasive or understandable to others.
Anyhow, in my office I have piles and piles of old papers, drawings and things I wrote for fun in childhood, school assignments, newspaper clippings, comic strips, receipts, artifacts from memorable experiences, and outright junk. I’m working on going through it all and purging as much of it as I can stand to part with. Mostly it’s not hard, it’s just a lot of sifting and it’s time consuming.
It’s a bit embarrassing for me to admit this. If you’ve seen Hoarders, that could be me. I say “could be” because that’s easier than admitting that it is me. I’m definitely not that bad, and definitely not as bad as I used to be, but it’s taken me some time. I just had a realization and asked myself what I was doing, and from there it’s just been a matter of prioritizing when I can go through the accumulation of decades and get rid of things. Most of the time I am busy or obligated and haven’t gotten to a lot of it. But I have free time this week so it’s happening.
Anyhow, going through my piles of junk, I came across my original concept drawing for the Boobie Teeth game! I thought that it had been lost to the ages. But here it is. I’m blown away. Finding it here is surreal. I have no idea how it came here from my mom’s attic, where I know it had stayed for many years. But I must have retrieved it at some point, put it aside, and forgotten completely about it.
It’s 3 pages of wide format fanfold line printer terminal paper. Someone in my family would bring lots of it home and give it to us for scrap paper which we could draw on the unused side. The printing on the used side has 1982, which helps establish the date — likely the drawing would have been done some time around 1982-83. This means that I must have been 7 or 8 when I drew up the concept, not six.
The game concept is also quite different from how I reconstructed it from memory: Boobie Teeth is a space fish. Rather than eating other fish, Boobie Teeth primarily feeds on these alien creatures called Boobies, which resemble the ghostmonsters from Pac Man, only with legs. Actually, I recognize them as being “stolen” from a game I liked at the time, Fast Eddie for Atari 2600:
My game concept also featured some birds, called Boobie Helpers, who tried to help the Boobies avoid becoming Boobie Teeth’s prey. Also, there were two other types of fish in the game: An “older” species of the same genus as Boobie Teeth, which only eats plants, but which Boobie Teeth can eat for bonus points, and a “new” species which preys on Boobie Teeth. One of the more interesting aspects of the original concept was that the Boobie Teeth species was facing extinction. Only 12 fish remained. And when you died in the game, your skeleton would sink down into the sea bed, and become fossilized in the sediment.
I’m not sure how much of these unearthed revelations will end up making it into the finished game. They don’t entirely fit with the version of the game that I reconstructed from memory. I like the death->fossil concept.
As soon as I can scan the drawing, I’ll be posting it here for you to see. For now, here’s photo I took with my digital camera:
Original concept description:
You are one of the 12 remaining space fish called Booby Teeth. These little space creatures called boobies are trying to eat you. There are booby helpers that look like birds. You have to eat the boobies from behind. There are 11 other fish that are in reserve. A new specie of Booby Teeth called the Booby Crusher. It is much bigger and it is trying to eat you because it doesn’t know any better. He is 15 mph faster than you. There is one last kind of booby teeth. It only eats plant life. You are trying to eat it like the Booby Crusher is trying to eat you. It swimsflies across every time you have played for 30 seconds. It is 1000 points the first time it flies by and it will stay there until the score on it is 0, then it will disappear. Every time it flies by its score gets lower. The gill on it is the 1 in 1,000. After that it disappears. It is 900, 800, and so on until it gets to 100. The score keeps splitting in half. If you clear the whole board of Boobies, Booby Helpers, and Booby Teeth that eats plant life, you have to find the fossil form. The more times you lose a remaining fish you have to find more fossil forms. When you find it, you have to pull it up with your mouth, then you will get a rougher landscape. The game starts all over again. (Later there are mountains and volcanoes.)
Using the controller: Pushing the joystick up makes the Booby Teeth go up. Pushing the joystick down makes the Booby Teeth go down. Pushing the stick to the right makes the Booby Teeth go to the right. Pushing the stick to the left makes the Booby Teeth go to the left. The fire button makes the Booby Teeth bite.
Common Boobies: 50 pts.
Tallest & second tallest Boobies: 100 pts.
Strongest Booby: 150 pts.
Shortest Booby: 125 pts.
Flying Booby: 250 pts.
Baby: 300 pts.
Mother: 2,000 pts.
Fastest Booby: 350 pts.