BFM2015 and the time I got cancer | My Gamedev Journey #2

4 min readJan 25, 2021

The year was 2014, I was stressing out about my 10th-grade exams, and I would spend my entire day practicing for the math and science exams. I’m pretty sure most of my math and science skills came from that year. Mind you this was the start of the academic year, so it was hot as hell, and if it gets too hot, my nose tends to start bleeding. Something about weak veins in my nose. So of course, my nose started bleeding one day and it would normally stop in around a minute, but almost 10 minutes in my nose was still gushing like a faucet. This ended up being the first sign of what was to come. We got some blood work which came back fine at first, but as my condition deteriorated, I had to be hospitalized, and it wasn't soon that we found out that I had cancer. Big and scary as that word can be, I was fine because honestly, I got a break from the stress of school.

No matter how bad it got, I had a really good doctor to guide us through the whole ordeal. By 2015, I was cancer-free and just had to get some routine chemotherapy done to make sure that my cancer doesn't come back. Out of gratitude, just for making that year so much easier, I decided to make a little game for her. But this game meant a lot to me too, because this would be the first game that I made without any tutorials on hand.

I opened up GameMaker and I knew how to do basic stuff, nothing too complex. I also had my hands set on Game Maker 8 even though Game Maker Studio was already out. So I’m using Game Maker 8 and I decide to make something like Contra. It was gonna be really good. By the end of day 1, I made a little animation of the good doctor holding a Chemo Gun!

First sprite I had created!

I loved making the gun because I had figured out exactly how to get metallic surfaces using pixel art. If you look closely I even added a shine to the top right corner! She had a simple walk cycle and could shoot two different bullets. Methotrexate and Donarubicin. those were the ones that were the best sounding from all my chemo sessions. The shooting mechanic was simple, if you press C you shoot one drug, if you press V you shoot the other. Arrow keys to move, and X to jump.

The idea was to start with a platformer and work my way from there. I did take some assets from other games like you had to buy the drug from a pharmacist, and it took me a whole day to make one doctor, I got lazy and used Prof Oak instead. I forgot to make the menu because I always start with the gameplay and once I’ve perfected the gameplay, then I move on to the other stuff. So in a rush, because I was going to meet with her the next day, I ended up using a hospital background from Earthbound and a wall of text for the main menu.

So let me summarise the plot for y’all. Yeah, this was a two-level game, the second level was impossible to finish, but there was a plot to it. It goes like this: You play as my doctor, as she has come up with this technique called BFM 2015, which was a reference to BFM 2002, the dosage cycle that I was on. BFM 2015 involves the doctor shrinking herself and her chemo gun to go inside the patient's body, hence the meat wall, and shoot the cancer cells to death. I had B-Cell Leukemia, so of course, the cancer cells had to have a B on them. Game Design 101.

I gave it to my doc in a Pendrive, because I hadn't figured out digital distribution just yet. I mean yeah I wanted to do it but pen drives were a more efficient option. I later hosted it on my website as well! You can go check it out right now!

She enjoyed the game and it was kinda really fun to get her feedback because it meant a lot to me. Honestly given that that was the first original game that I made, I would give myself a strong 5 out of 10. Great first game.

I never stopped school during this whole ordeal though, I still gave the 10th-grade exams that I was so stressed about, I still messed up just as I had expected, and I still graduated and joined 11th grade in the Science stream. I swear I was terrified because I thought I couldn't be a game developer if I didn't go through Science in the 12th grade. As a kid, we believe a lot of unnecessary things. You don't need Science to be a game dev, The Commerce and Arts stream are at the same place that I am, some even better off because of it.

I was motivated to work hard, and I did so for the first couple of months in the 11th grade. Until one fateful day that I found this Reddit post talking about a Kickstarter for a Unity course, but that's a story for next time. See ya then!




Indie Game Developer, check out my portfolio over at He/They/She/Xe/Zer/etc. whatever pronouns you prefer!