Let me tell you a story.
Once there was a kid, and this kid loved video games. Ever since he was old enough to grasp an NES controller, he was endlessly captivated by the experiences they made possible. And so he decided at a very young age that he wanted to make some games of his own.
So he did. He spent his youngest years sketching out scenarios and ideas that borrowed liberally from the 8- and 16-bit games of his youth. At the age of 11, he had begun making rudimentary point-and-click adventures using HyperCard, a hyperlink-driven tool that was a lot like the web before the web existed. These were traditional adventure games in the style of classics like Full Throttle and The Secret of Monkey Island on an old Macintosh Performa in his elementary school’s computer lab during recess.
His finest work — “Hex versus the Dastardly Decagon,” named after two characters hastily drawn with the polygon tool — was composed of nearly 100 different slides and featured a half dozen or so branching paths to the end. His teacher was impressed and had him demo the full game to his sixth-grade class. Copies were distributed on floppy disks.
The kid was pretty proud of himself.
Junior high brought algebra and geometry classes, which in turn brought out the graphing calculators. The kid would tap away at his TI-83 while distracted in math class and during between-class lulls in the hallway. He wrote a text-based adventure game using BASIC and tinkered with assembly a bit. He didn’t care for the programming, really — that’s not why he did it. But when he saw what he could accomplish by brute-forcing some basic understanding through trial-and-error, he was hooked. The power to create experiences — to establish rule sets and to watch people interact with them — was the most gratifying work he’d ever done.
But he never forgot what it was like to make things. And so, one day, shortly before his 27th birthday, he sat down at his computer and decided today was gonna be the day where he allowed himself to admit that he still wants to make games and, yeah, that’s exactly what he’s gonna do.
So that’s where we are. That ugly screenshot you see above is what I hammered out after a couple hours of messing around in GameMaker: Studio — a simple platformer with basic physics. It’s not fun, but whatever — it was worth it. I’m learning again, which is a life-affirming thing and I’ll be damned if anyone argues otherwise. And more importantly, every basic problem I overcome through sheer tenacity and frustration reveals an exponentially greater set of possibilities for the future.
Anyway. So why now? And why put all this down on my blog when I’ve probably written similar diatribes about how I love games and want to marry them but haven’t put any of those words into action?
Because I need to get it out there. I’m gonna make games, dammit, and I’m gonna make them now, and they’re gonna suck, and I’m gonna love it. And I’ll keep making them until they stop sucking or I realize my raison d’être is actually, I dunno, macrame or billiards or LARPing. One way or another, it’s gonna happen.