Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interview BakeSale: Ghost

Tonight, we feature none other than Ghost. We usually feature his articles, as they are ever-interesting, but tonight we thought, we'd give some webspace to the man himself, as he deserves it. The famous author of Once Upon A Crime, is also part of this Bake Sale.

1) Why and how did you join the AGS Bake Sale ?

I got a PM from Ponch asking if I would be interested in joining a fundraising project to benefit AGS, and I couldn't say no. For two reasons: First, he referred to that future group as AGS superstars. Everybody wants to be a superstar. And second, I'm a forum member since 2003, and have used AGS for a very long time without ever paying for it. So it sounded like a great way to do what I like (making games) and doing some good at the same time. And seriously, there has never been anything like that; it's always thrilling to be part of something new!

2) Talk a bit about your game (what is it about, how you came up with it).

RAM Ghost is a "casual simulation" where there are tiny ghosts living in our computers. The player adopts such a ghost, builds it a house and interact with it in several ways. RAM Ghost is heavily inspired by "Little Computer People", which had a very similar premise, and there's a generous helping of "Tamagotchi", too.

So RAM Ghost is a homage to these simple fishtank games. I wanted to see if AGS was up to it, and it defenitely is. The ghost's "personality" is randomly generated, and the house comes with a large set of furniture and decoration, too, so there's a lot of things to try out. You can set your own goals- do you want to build a beautiful house? You can do that. Do you just want to see what happens when you stuff your ghost with cheap foodf? You can do that too. There's a small story, too... but I'll leave that for players to discover

RAM Ghost is my first AGS project that isn't even remotely a classic adventure. I was curious to see if the old toolkit would be up to the task, and yes, it is. I had to learn a couple of new tricks, though- the game relies on a lot of data being saved in a way that isn't covered by the build-in commands, for example. It was always interesting to create workarounds for that, but also quite a challenge.

3) Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got yourself into game making in the first place.

I'm your average 36-year old German, slightly-older-than-average video game fan. The first game I played was PacMan on the Atari, and that was pretty amazing back then. My computer days started with a 086 PC, and somewhat later I upgraded to a 486 33DX- that was bleeding edge hi-tech stuff back in the days, capable of running Windows 3.1! We would sit at it all night puzzling over Lemmings and playing Wishbringer and Zork (and later Monkey Island).

Back then it was pretty much impossible to "make your own games" without learning a programming language; there were few toolkits around. So we started to dabble in Basic and later Turbo Pascal, and a friend helped me getting a simple parser together that powered one very silly text adventure. But I never really got the hang of it, and simply enjoyed PLAYING my games. Adventures and CRPG initially, and later a craze for jump-and-runs and shooters started.

And all of a sudden games came with editors, actual map editors! You could make your own stuff! Amazing! And then the internet evolved from an elite network for a chosen few to something everyone could jump right in, and... well, the exiting times started, and all of a sudden these "game creators" popped up like mushrooms after the rain.I tested several of these game makers, from the (now infamous) Klik'n'Play, RPG Maker and what-have-you. But either they were very limited in terms of genre and customization, or they were overly complicated, or both. I'm basically a storyteller, and the genre that would suit me best would have been adventure games, but apparently the only thing that could make decent ones was Inform. And Inform was basically a programming language in disguise.

But the urge to make a game grew. There is something deeply satisfying in having a video game react to you. I like "fishtank" games where you can just sit back and watch stuff happening for a while- the original "Settlers", "Creatures", "Sims" and "Viva Pinata", for example. And adding a narrative to that and create a world, a story, something for a player to discover- I wanted to do that. And then I found AGS. At that time it was at version 2.5something, but it was already very awesome- it was completely customizeable, it was charmingly simple to use. I started dabbling and never stopped.

Adventure games really turned out to be "my genre" when it came to game-making. I still haven't made very many, but I'm enjoying it a lot. I've also finally managed to get the hang of C# and hope to make a neat little RogueLike some day. Apart from that it's safe to mention that I'm a considerably skilled cook, and I once won the "German Moorhuhn Masters". Yes, I am that old.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments clean: foul language means your comment will not get published. Sorry for the captcha, was getting to much spam.