This column in the past has mostly been one where I tell you the reader about a game I like that I think you will also like. This week, and in some of the weeks to come, I'm taking a different approach. I'm going to talk about issues related to games as a whole, rather than a single game in a vacuum.
I think games are essentially a brave new artistic medium. I've been playing games of one sort or another just about as long as I can remember. I started making my own games back in 1998 with a program called Klik & Play.
Klik & Play was a strange little gizmo. It promised to allow you to make games with "No programming needed."
Actually, you sort of did need to program; you just didn't need to write the code. I made screens of little characters and eventually learned how to make the little characters move around.
When I figured that out, I'd construct little obstacle courses you needed to navigate. I didn't know how to do a lot, so I just told people that you won the game by reaching a particular character on the screen.
I eventually learned how to do a lot more than that and made some truly weird games. But to a kid, that feeling was exhilarating.
I played on an old black and white Gameboy Pocket, obsessively making a little Mario run across the screen, so seeing MY little characters run across a computer screen was amazing. It didn't matter that the games would be called "bad" by almost any traditional media.
I wasn't alone in this. A few years back I discovered a website called glorioustrainwrecks.com. It was dedicated to exploring "Glorious Trainwrecks," so called because some games, while terrible, still had something magical about them.
Along the way they, too, discovered Klik & Play, which turned out to be perfect for making the kind of game glorioustrainwrecks.com was about.
Making glorious trainwrecks, became their mission. Because making games makes you feel good, it empowers you. And Klik & Play, for all its faults, empowered you to make strange kinds of broken games of your very own.
In the coming weeks, I'm going to talk more about some of the small-time game makers out there, and some resources for becoming one yourself.
I leave you with a few links:
Glorious Trainwrecks is the website mentioned in this column. It has a bit of profanity on it but many good resources for getting started, if you can figure out the site layout.
Blob Ninja is a game I made nearly 10 years ago but recently dusted it off as part of a personal project. It's not fantastic, but it's a good example of the sort of game I'd make in Klik & Play. It was made with a related but more powerful program called the The Games Factory.
SHMUP! is probably my most favorite game I've made. It's really, really hard. It looks fantastic though. The graphics are primarily made of clay or hand drawn. I made it with Multimedia Fusion 2, yet another successor to Klik & Play.
Walla Wallan Noah Hinz is a tabletop and electronic games aficionado. A graphic arts student at the Evergreen State College, he's working on various art projects and game designs. Email your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.