I was first introduced to Claw, my first Windows based PC game, in 1998 when I bought my first custom built tower system. It was a high end system for the time(paid 4k for it) with a 400mhz processor, 128mb ram and 8mb video card. The Claw game(DVD version) was packaged with it, of which the computer tech wasted no time playing it on my machine(for demonstration purposes). He obviously was a novice player...of which his gameplay was clumsy looking, poking at the keyboard. I had a hard time imagining myself moving a character on a screen using a keyboard; as I was from a generation where keyboards were only seen and used on a typewriter. My previous experience with games was limited to pinball machines, Pong(from the 1970's), Atari and Nintendo consoles. There was one exception, which was DOS based game(circa 1991) on a 5.25" Floppy, named The Terminator; where one had to enter commands to play it. That almost permanently ended my PC game playing days. So, at the time, I was more enamored with the new windows based interactive screensavers like marbles or flying cows, etc. As a result, the Claw CD sat on top of my pc tower for a good 6 months before I inserted it in the DVD rom. The Introductory Clip Scene, I noted to be of high quality, so I figured I'd give it chance.
Of course, like the computer tech, my movement of the character(Capt Claw) was initially pretty clutsy...but, with some determination, it all smoothed out for me. I then decided I better play the demo first to improve my skills; which gave me more confidence as I began Level 1 in the Retail game.
I finally finished the game about 6 months later, only with the goal to completing it. At the time, I didn't realize the object of the game was to get all the treasure!...lol. So my score was pretty pathetic. I didn't even know there was a Claw Website/Forum, where players were able to chat, compete with each other and post our scores.
So to me that is where the fun was. I got online and met the likes of Eugenio(known as one of the original guru players), Finn(a well respected and excellent player) with a few customs and website he already made, Meezo(who was kind of a moderator) and Scorpio(a tech from Lith and original custom builder for the retail level). Mind you, this was an early time still, when player's posted scores didn't reflect perfect or maximum scores for any one level(let alone actually finishing the game)....so, it was relatively easy to post into the top 50.
Rich Kleinhenz and myself(we were the same age, ie., the only oldies) joined the team around the same time, with Mahesh(very innovative and bright) joining us a sometime later. By then, the stage was set and we were off and running with daily chats, friendly competition and discoveries. At that time, no secret areas, tricks or glitches were known; with exception to Eugenio's "Unreachable Coin" in Level 2(of which he refused to share that trick, and was the only one to acheive it for years to follow). So, the rest of us signed it off to luck; although theories abounded how to get the coin and other areas, such as using a cpu killer, or reducing resolution, frame rates, screen size, etc. During that time, even Mahesh had his theory, claiming his 233mhz processor allowed him to jump higher. I myself discovered perceived differences in Claw perfomance with cpu speeds and even with operating systems: Win95 vs Win98; as a few times I had to switch to my son's Win95 PC to make certain jumps. But, alas, I was never able to get that Floating Coin....so, I basically just stuck to my PC Win98 system for my second attempt to play and finish the game with the goal of obtaining all 'retrievable' treasure. Apparently, the rest of the team named above, simultaneously got the same idea....so, the race was on!...and what great fun that was for the next year or two.
I first noticed Finn got some perfect level scores, so the rest of us ditto'd him, then I'd jump forward with perfect scores in other levels; with Rich closely behind taking notes for his excellent and precise WalkThroughs that he would later publish. During that interim, Finn and I coincidentally discovered the 'walking clouds', of which I took to a certain checkpoint collecting treasure; followed by Finn taking it back further to a previous checkpoint, followed by Mahesh who took it further thus discovering the so called 'infinite loop', and deservedly dubbed as such by him. But, by then we were far enough ahead of him in the game, that Finn and I finished the game, with me posting the highest 'perfect' overall score, without using any tricks yet unknown and without using the infinite loop. That title lasted for at least 6 to 12 weeks; until, that is, Mahesh caught up with his Infinite loop technique, forever increasing his overall score thereafter(and without sharing exactly what was infinite about it...lol). It was while on this journey we discovered other glitches and hidden treasure, such as those in Level 5; and the missing tiger guard(in level 14?) of which Finn speculated, and I found in the Wap Editor. I also found the unreachable bar in the crate(I recall was in level 9 or 10). There was more, but I'm basing this on recollection from years back. Go to this link for the actual Forum dialogs for more specifics on the evolution of these discoveries at: http://web.archive.org/web/19981202212851/www.captainclaw.com/forum/
It will be quite the tedious search, but interesting nonetheless.
Anyway, in the intensity of our daily collaborations, we had fast become friends to the point of codependancy(that was a good thing, even with the occasional friendly darts, slings and verbal sparring), Finn even photoshopped my image into Captain Claw with him as the parrot on my shoulder!...lol.(He was one talented kid then at the age of 13). But, like all good things the pot got spoiled with the entrance of newer players using the infinite loop, and with the discovery of the Claw Trainer; the High Scores Post became a sham. Some of us then refocused our attention to making Customs(that kept us in the Forum for another couple of years). Finn produced more, as did I; and even Mahesh was inspired to make one himself. Claw Jr entered the scene at that time, and created an excellent website and made 5 or 6 customs. There were others, so please excuse me for not remembering at this late juncture.
Initially, my first custom was in 1999 entitled "Randy's 14th". It really was just an edit of the 14th retail level, where I only changed some objects, leaving all tiles intact. The intent was to make it easier to reach the end and also providing me some hands on experience in the Editor.
By the way, the chronology of my custom creations has been reported in error:
My next custom was in 2000 entitled "Mother of All Caverns"(MOAC). Initially, when I opened the editor, I saw a big empty space; so I decided to make it one big cavern with isolated gameplay areas that can be reached by elevators and pegs to be revisited over and over again. That is how I was inspired to make it. I wanted it challenging for the seasoned players, yet also as skill training for those newbies who wanted to seriously tackle the retail game. I also wanted some unique play areas, thus some unusual tile combinations....hey, as long as it was palatable, right?....lol.
Of course, objections were posed as to difficulty, so the following year I edited "Mother of All Caverns", and morphed it into "Mommy of All Caverns" for those who wanted it easier; aaaaand..... still needed their 'mommies' to play it.....lol....thus the play on words in the titles. Sorry about that!!!
For my then last custom created in 2002, was "UnderSeaWorld"(USW). In retroapect, perhaps as a rebound, my intent was to make it more difficult mostly to test most or all skill sets found in the retail levels, and then some. I felt if anyone can finish it, then they would be ready to champion the retail game. Yet at the same time it had to be doable within reason...so there had to be a cognitive fine balance in the difficulty level.
I also saw the opportunity to create more secret areas, making more use of Z coordinates; and inputing 'rect' values in the elevator logic. . As with my other customs, I repeatedly proof tested all game play and made sure perfect scores could be attained. My son, is also a testiment to that, as he achieved the same at his young age.
But, as they say: "Never Say Never". After a 10 year hiatus, I somehow found inspiration(or it found me) to create a new custom level. Some of that inspiration was a remnant of years past that I never got around to testing; of which is now in the new level. It still might be a matter of months before I finish it, but I believe it will be my best work....and it will be rather large, which I didn't necessarily plan on....just the way it worked out.
And, admittedly, the other part of that inspiration goes to the new guardians of the game. I appreciate your dedication to keeping the game alive with your current websites, and I congratulate you. I believed that once we saw the official Claw Forum descend into chaos and our old group dissipated, that that was the end. Apparently now, that is not the case, for I see a significant revival and perpituity of the Claw game for years to come. So, thankyou from one of the old players from years past.