Apr 13 2015
Edgar M. Vigdal – The Game developer you didn’t know you knew
Weekends for me as a child could be quite sheltered, I didn’t go outside much and little has changed so it should come as no surprise that I had a strong bond with the family computer in our house and lucky for me that just happened to be a Commodore Amiga 1200. I had a few games that were almost part of a video game OCD for me, I had to play them even if I was terrible at the game but they seemed to warm up my game face and get me in the mood for a bit of the old Deluxe Galaga!

My good friend and all round nice guy William (Arcade USA, Colecovisions podcast, Stalking the Retro podcast) is a big fan of Galaxian (1979) and I love Galaga (1981). Both games are great but both William and I would agree that they belong to the arcade, they are games that offer the user fantastic shooting game play and you can rack up a great score BUT that’s where the game ends, and this is where Edgar comes into the story, he literally changed the game of Galaga and arcade style shooters and increased the life expectancy of each players gaming session.

This is an example of the Profile locks you can open in the game

If you were lucky enough to play Deluxe Galaga you would have been given the option to open a ‘profile’ and in this profile you have a list of objectives and next to it a series of empty boxes (see photo) so some of these objective are simple; reach level 100 to unlock bonus box 1, when the user reached level 100 and unlocks the first box a second and now be achieved which will double in difficulty ‘reach level 200’ every box you ‘unlock’ gives you a ‘Permanent’ upgrade that can be used time and time again when you come back to play the game and open up your profile at the start up menu.

That ability meant that you had a reason to come back and play the game again, the more you play and unlock the better your ship is when you start level 1, until you have a super gun, unlimited auto fire, shields and several other bonuses on level 1, this game gave the user a feeling of almost God-like invulnerability, so what’s the point in playing when nothing can kill you? Well you haven’t played Galaxian or Galaga for long if you think being given a big gun will keep you alive! Wrong! Even with a great big gun you are still playing an Arcade game and that’s why I name-dropped William (above) because unless you are a fantastic arcade game player like William (watch him play video games via his ArcadeUSA twitch account to see him tear up arcade games) the chances are you will die often and loose these upgrades. Just when you thought the fun was over there was another life altering feature in this game that both a younger and older me loved!

In fact I have always loved this feature in retro games and that’s an in-game shop! I could spend years telling you how much I loved playing Wonderboy In Monster World and how it seemed so much more real because it had shops where you could repair your clothing, boots and upgrade items, well the space shooter genre was no different for me, the idea that you had a shop was a revelation, normal people go to the shops to get new things and now our space shooter pilot is doing the same thing, and that bought me one step closer to the cockpit of my craft and a young me loved it!

This is the shop front in Deluxe Galaga
The War 1 Plasma is EPIC when combined with auto fire

Well Edgar had remade Galaga and added ‘Deluxe’ to the title and then released it on the commodore market and it reached number 1 in the game sales charts here in the UK, it became one of the bestselling games on the platform AND got into the top 100 best ever Amiga games on various gaming website polls, it was a hit but it was freeware so although it was a hit for Edgar it wasn’t a perfect situation as he didn’t own the rights to the game Galaga.

Warblade title screen - Windows/PC

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Years later Edgar would release a game called Warblade via his game development company EMV Software, this game was Deluxe Galaga but renamed and cleaned up a little from the Amiga version, not a perfect port in the sense that it was a replica but I couldn’t tell the difference between ‘Deluxe’ and Warblade so for me it was an opportunity to relive the classic game but on hardware (my PC) that was more reliable than the Amiga, I bought a copy of the award winning game and fell back in love with it!

Warblade - In-game screenshot

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Warblade was received with open arms by fans of Amiga games and the Galaxian/Galaga series of games and it went on to win lots of awards and accolades, it certainly left room for a new game which would have new aspects included with enough style of Warblade to call it a sequel, but that game was in trouble even after it was successful in a crowd funding project. If you visit the EMV Software forums and look at the threads concerning the new game in development you will see that a lot of funders were growing inpatient while waiting for the new game, you can still read the comments on the crowd funding page and they leave nothing to the imagination, some fans even claim that Edgar and EMV are scamming folks of money. Due to this outburst from backers/fans Edgar and his team released as much news as possible (and now we know that it was an illness and not an evil scheme to rip people off) but inevitably given the circumstances the news went quiet again, we got trickles of news and a few mentions about the team working on a separate games, later they mention working on a Deluxe Galaga game that perfectly replicates the original Amiga game with original music and so on. A forum moderator going by the handle Hitm4n at the EMV forums often tried to calm disgruntled backers/fans by re-assuring them that Edgar was working on the project but had ‘other’ things in his life that needed time to work on. We can assume cancer would have been the biggest time consumer and for that I’m sure Edgar would be forever grateful to Hitm4n for how much heat he took from inpatient people instead of letting it get to Edgar himself. I personally want to thank Hitm4n on behalf of Edgar's more patient fans and say you did a fantastic job of keeping your head and deflecting stress away from Edgar during his last months.

Suggested title screen for the unreleased Warblade MK 2

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Only Edgar’s family and close friends will know the full extent of his illness and I won’t speculate about what I think he was suffering from because it’s not important, what matters is that this game dev seemed to run into a few problems getting the new Warblade game out to the market but you can see he had tried very hard to do that, it’s because of that effort and genuine intent that is can be troubling to read some of the comments on the EMV forum and the crowd funding comments page, they can be bitter and sometimes confrontational, these people would only have added to Edgar's stress rather than give him the time off that he obviously needed.

One of the over the top and negative
comments left for Edgar and his team

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I hope the game is worked on and released and Edgar thanked posthumously for his creative output that made so many gamers happy. If you haven’t played Warblade yet you still can, buy it from the official website for a few bucks and it will be well worth your money, trust me you’ve spent more on digital games that you know yourself you will never play. Enjoy this game and let's all thank Edgar for his dedication to making great games.

I wish his family and friends the best of wishes and together we all mourn the loss of a game developer from the golden age of gaming that really did change the game on more than one level.

The late Edgar M Vigdal

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Some helpful links to save your chubby fingers time!
The EMV Software forum

WARBLADE – Official page and store

Warblade II Crowd funding page

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