Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview BakeSale: ShiverMeSideways

Made especially for the 2012 AGS Bake Sale!

Zombie Attack is a top-down shoot 'em up inspired by '90s video games like Doom. The player must navigate treacherous levels, kill hordes of monsters and finally, defeat Satan and stop him from taking over Earth!

And today, we have ShiverMeSideways, for a couple of questions.

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

I joined the Bake Sale after a few days of it being announced publicly, on October the 23rd-24th, so I wasn't one of the "originals," but I was really keen on the idea because I had been a member of the forums for years and have never done a proper game. Sure, I've made short things which could be classified, if you're really lax about the term, games, but have never contributed something worthwhile to the community. So, the prospect of actually making a game AND doing it for charity was very appealing to me.

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

Zombie Attack is a top-down shoot 'em up with a retro atmosphere, mainly inspired by games of the '90s. The main story of the game is very basic: the forces of evil are taking over Earth, you need to go to hell and defeat Satan and his minions in order to save mankind. Along the way, there are 12 weapons to collect and use, ranging from standard pistol, shotgun, to chainsaw, plasma rifles and exotic weaponry. There are also a lot of special items which you can pick up and use, like the "Avarice" one, which generates money, or passive upgrades like the health bonuses. You'll travel across three locations, one for each episode, and each one has its own set of monsters and bosses. Each level has 3 bosses from which it randomnly (but based on difficulty) chooses one for you to face at the end of the level.

At the time of the start of the Bake Sale, I was really into making non-adventure games, and had been developing an RPG called AGSCrawl. I was also playing a lot a game called The Binding of Isaac by Edmund McMillen. So, I know I wanted to make a game that was relatively simple and pretty "action-y". That's the basis for everything in the game, really: simplicity. That, and all the games I used to play as a child: DOOM, Blood, ZZT, Quake, etc. In fact, Zombie Attack is an idea that's about 8 years-old if not more, back when I used to program in Turbo Pascal. At the time, I wanted to make a text-mode shooter inspired by Duke Nukem, with a versatile editor.

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

Well, I'm a 20 year-old Romanian, so basically your typical child of '90s, really. When I was very little (like 1st grade or something), my older brother, who was really into programming, let me play games on an old HC 85 machine, one of those old computers you had to use tapes for and plug it into the TV. After a while, he taught me how to write small programs in basic. I naturally gravitated towards wanting to make games, but I was really sad that every time you'd turn off the machine, the program would disappear, 'cos we couldn't save. But I still loved to play the games, and to do small game mechanics each day - for example, one day I'd make a bullet flying across the screen, the next, a dude walking around, etc.

Later, my mum brought home from work a 286 PC, and there I played my first "love/obsession" games, Death Track and Golden Axe, I still hum their soundtracks and I think a lot of the fact that I need glasses at the moment is due to that Hercules monitor. My brother later upgraded it to a 386, put in a colour monitor and oh my word, Dune II, DOOM, Transport Tycoon, Sim City, Volfied, Lotus - the Ultimate Challenge, The Settlers, and, most importantly, QBasic. This was around 4th-5th grade, I think, I can't really remember. And that's when I started developing a lot of ideas for games. Soon, I'd go to a small computer class centred around Turbo Pascal and I immediately started working in that, with my brother giving me little boosts like showing me how to put in mouse control and how to use it, how to use the graphic mode and so on. It is in this period where my older ideas started to really take shape, games like Zombie Attack, Bomber Planes, Cyb City, Industrial Revelations and the like - what I did was basically to take ideas from games that I really liked and try and change them and combine them to make something that was mine.

As time went on, I got a 486, which allowed me to play FPSes like Duke Nukem, Blood, and Quake, and even a Pentium I, where I discovered the demo of StarCraft and, since the only other strategy games I'd played were Dune II and WarCraft (the first one), oh my, was my mind blown. We got internet in-between in the summer of 2006, 8th and 9th grade, and that's when I joined the forums and discovered adventure games: Monkey Island 1 and 2, Beneath a Steel Sky (my favourite), the Chzo Mythos-series, Broken Sword, Rob Blanc etc. I only really got into "modern" gaming in 2007, when my parents got me a proper computer, which today is soooo outdated, but hey, I played a lot of games on it and really got my "gamer culture" updated.

After discovering AGS, I really can't go to any other game-making utility. I've become so used to it, that anything that doesn't use its scripting syntax, or its IDE, or its general way of doing things, is completely unusable to me. That's why I prefer using an adventure game-making program to make non-adventure games. That, and the fact that I'm really not good at artwork, or puzzles, or a coherent, adventure game storyline. So, I prefer to work on designing and programming, hopefully interesting, gameplay. That, and I like to see how far I can take the engine. Lord knows, I'm not a trailblazer here, a lot of very talented AGSers have used and abused to utility to make a lot of non-adventure and interesting games, but I hope I can join their ranks!

Thank you very much!

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