|Engine||id Tech 4|
Quadrilateral Cowboy, the player takes the role of a computer hacker in the 1980s, armed with a "top-of-the-line hacking deck outfitted with a 56.6k modem and a staggering 256k RAM". According to Brendon Chung, the sole developer behind Blendo Games, Quadrilaterial Cowboy takes place in the same universe as his previous games, Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving, and shares the same "blocky" aesthetics.
The game is played from the first-person perspective. The player acts as the hacker overseeing one or more adept agents that have missions to infiltrate buildings and steal documents. The player will experience what the agents would see through virtual reality goggles that relay what they see to the hacker character. When the agents encounter locked doors, cameras, and other security features, the player, as the hacker, will have to create a program - typing this as code on their physical keyboards - that manipulates the security features without setting off additional alarms to allow the agents to sneak by. An example shown in an early preview is using the code
cam8.off(3) to disable "Camera 8" for 3 seconds; disabling the camera any longer would raise a security alert. As such, the player must create the program with appropriate timing to allow them to make it through the various obstacles without triggering additional alarms. Through the game, the player will gain access to other gadgets, like a rover to scout and collect objects; these too can be programmed by the player to aid in the heist.
Chung, the sole developer behind Blendo Games, explained that his philosophy for making games is that he likes "to experiment with different genres and try different things", and considers Cowboy to be a "very different direction" from his last game, Thirty Flights of Loving. The concept of the game bore out of Chung's experience with computing in the 1980s, which he considered in sharp contrast with modern computing today; Chung stated "There's something satisfying, something tactile, about punching commands into the computer, slamming the enter key, and mastering this new language." Further, he considered how the computer hacker stereotype is portrayed by Hollywood, and expanded the setting and story around that. Chung noted that the representation of hacking in other video games has typically been very simplified, such as color matching minigames, and wanted to develop a game that explored hacking in more detail.
Unlike Blendo's previous games that used a modified id Tech 2 engine, Chung used the id Tech 4 (Doom 3) engine for Cowboy, which provided "a lot more modern functionality" than the earlier engine. Chung had brought the game to the 2012 PAX Prime convention in Seattle; though those that had tried the game were initially concerned about having to learn programming, Chung found that they grasped the language easily and were able to complete the game's puzzles without additional help. Several of these players made comparisons of the game to William Gibson's Neuromancer novel and other cyberpunk themes.
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