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Car Wash Blues icon

Car Wash Blues


  • Much like Operator?, this prototype started with a simple constraint: "up, down, left, and right". As always, Jim Croce is on constant loop in my head, so I made a game about washing cars. And then I added roller skates to make the game interesting, though it deviates from the song. But who knows, he never says he's not wearing roller skates the whole time?

  • In this build, press left/right (or tap the sides of the screen) to move the character left and right. Each time you press a direction, he'll wash the car. The original idea was that up and down would wash, while left and right would move. That toy revolved around accidentally pressing left and right while rapidly jamming up and down, requiring constant readjusting. Turns out the frequency of input was exhaustive.

  • One of the biggest learnings was using shaders. The car has "bands" of dirt that need to get cleaner and cleaner, while also matching the shape of the car. The shader has two textures: one defining the shape of the car and the other defining the "darkness". My code then sets each pixel of the darkness texture to match the state of the car.

  • I didn't intend for the game to look like an Atari game, but it turns out when I have less pixels to work with, there's less mistakes I can make. That's just simple math. So I embraced it (though I'm sure many of the sprites here are not Atari-compliant).

  • Finally, the music is a MIDI track with an 8-bit filter. I was amazed I could even find Jim Croce's Workin' at the Car Wash Blues as a MIDI (thank you internet!), and a GarageBand plugin for the filter. It doesn't technically match the Atari graphics, but close enough, right?