After discovering Game Maker by Mark Overmars in 2003, I began to browse the official forms for tips and to see the creations of others. One thread that I encountered early on announced a new game titled "The Lawnmover Massacre."
The game's creator was Sparlatacus, and he seemed to be somewhat infamous in the Game Maker community. People had strong negative reactions to the game, as much for its quality as for its cartoonish violence. The thread was soon locked with a moderator's note that the game's creator should be ignored.
It was another of his games a few months later that really caught my attention, and that was Johnny 2. The game had crude artwork and incongruous background music, and it was challenging in what seemed to be exactly the wrong ways. Simply traversing platforms in the first area was arduous. But I found the game compelling enough to play it through to the end, and it made an impression on me.
Sparlatacus would go on to create a total of 36 games in the Johnny series. 1
I first talked with Kim Okkerstrøm (Sparlatacus) directly in 2004. We had periodic conversations over the years about our projects, game design philosophy, and other topics.
I've included here a few selections from some of our instant messaging conversations, to perhaps to offer some insight into Kim's personality and his work.
c5: I've had discussions with people about what things in your games are intentional or not. :)
One reason I found myself drawn to his games, I think, is that he embraced the idea that you don't need to follow conventions when creating free independent games. I once asked him what advice he would give those new to the hobby or interested in improving their work. He said, "Do what you want to!" 2
KO: ehhehehe, cool, I would love to see/hear some of those discussions
KO: whether things are intentional or not depends on how old the game is, for the first johnny most of the things were unintentional because I sucked at GML
KO: In Johnny 5 things that are intentional are the no saving, the difficulty, the no menu and no health bars, the constant stream of shots... those things are supposed to be like that
That sounds simplistic, but perhaps game designers can get caught up in considering what a hypothetical audience is looking for or what qualifies something as a good video game by popular standards, rather than doing what they really want to.
KO: crazy games are fun to make and even more fun to play
His Web site went through several iterations, but it was generally titled PG Games. 3 This was short for "Paradise of Great Games," which in its early days also included another member named Siege Delux. 4
c5: Mine always end up too normal
c5: The problem is, they can't be totally random with no structure or they aren't fun
KO: I thought seiklus was quite original
c5: I wish I had hidden more secret strange things in it
c5: I planned to but got impatient
KO: well, it helps if you write down on a piece of paper all the things you will have to make to create a good game then when you start making the game, do not do any of what you wrote down and stay away from that as far as possible
c5: I do write a ton of things and draw on paper to make games
c5: I have a big pile of papers from planning seiklus
KO: Do you want to know how I create all those random games that I do?
c5: You have a secret method? :)
c5: Sure, especially if it explains where you came up with the 90% weapon [in Johnny 5]. :)
KO: when I created that 90% thing I was thinking of a bottle of alcohol consisting of 90% alcohol and that the guy who shoots it was a drunk bum
KO: ok, here is the secret method:
KO: when I create a game I just create, I sometimes write down things like the name of the person and then I open a drawing program and I just draw randomly without much thinking, I disable my mind and just let my fantasies take over
KO: sort of, that was hard to explain though, I do write storyboards and such
KO: my mind works randomly and I dont see random things as random, I guess thats what I was trying to explain
KO: for example, the music in my games, when most people hear it they hear random patterns, the music I hear is a world where each note and each instrument is a different description that has words living inside
KO: im sounding too weird
c5: Some of the music from your games plays in my head sometimes. :)
c5: Especially the Lawnmover Massacre song
KO: yeah, I love that song myself, it has a strong melody, not to brag too much of myself
KO: I think everybody is an artist, but most people have problems expressing their art because they have to follow rules created by other people
Kim also used variations of the name Kubus at times for himself ("Kimberly Kubus" or "MrKubus"), his site ("Kubusmannen"), and the world that his games were set in.
While the artwork in his games seemed sloppy and random at first glance, specific characters and themes intrigued me. Kim explained that there were stories behind what you see in the games. Stories that we can only guess at now.
c5: I think it would be funny if you had a site with all the Johnny game enemies shown and stories about them
One thing we had in common was a fascination with dreams.
KO: thats a very good idea, maybe I will do that.. hehehehe, maybe it could be hilarious
c5: like that santa claus looking guy who breathes poison gas [in Johnny 5]
c5: he must have an interesting story
KO: thats The Wizard
c5: oh so the sled with presents that rolls by isn't santa's
KO: yes, those are from santa, the wizard works for santa
KO: he was abducted by the elves of Kubus at a young age and he was taught the arts of magick and he has a personality disorder where he doesn't know if he should dress up like a wizard or use Santa's clothes so he does both
KO: he he :P
c5: you don't expect santa to breathe poison on you
KO: nahh, it's not what Santa usually does to people, he spreads joy and happiness, but the monsters in Johnny don't really die, their souls go back to Kubus so no harm is done really
We never talked frequently, but we always kept in occasional contact. Sometimes he and his entire Web presence would disappear for months at a time, and then he'd eventually be back with a new site and a new game or two. The games I've mentioned so far are a small part of his prolific output. At times, he would lose all of his games or intentionally remove them from his site.
all my games are actually connected to each other and are ruled by a fictional world called Kubus.... there are a LOT of stories built around Kubus and each game I make is based on this
but you have never actually written the story anywhere?
I have virtually limitless imagination and could go on and on
I will never run out of ideas, concepts and designs
do you want to know the story
sure. are you going to write it down?
do you think I should?
well if you feel like it
I think it is fun to write stories
yeah, it is quite fun, I am writing character descriptions for the johnny games right now though, I'll send you the list once it is finished then I will publish it on pggames.net
do you write stories for the games you make?
well my games and stories are normally based on dreams I've had
I write down my dreams when they are interesting
:).... some of my basic stories about Kubus (which no one has ever heard) are based on dreams as well... especially nightmares
I like nightmares. :)
me too, I am compelled to them
I have a really scary dream story
I've only had two in my life that I actually count as true nightmares
I count only the ones that carry over into life when I am awake
what do you mean --- carry over??
I mean I am still affected strongly by them when I wake up
that almost never happens
I remember when I was young for several years I would get nothing but nightmares upon nightmares.... some of them were so scary you would not believe it.... I am sad I have forgotten most of these
I still remember the three worst dreams-- want to hear them?
#1 - I would walk into this park and there were a lot of dead kids with their faces completely pale and they were all dead.... this one was the least scary
#2 - The other one was a dream I called BLACK SCREEN which was basicly a normal nightmare, but then all of a sudden this extremely scary face would appear and I would get so scared that there are no human words for it.... it was the face of the end of everything else
and now for the worst
#3 - when I was young I remember how cool my grandmothers house was... and there was a staircase leading down to the basement... and all of a sudden I would fall down and the staircase faded away so I could not climb up and I would be stuck here forever with a bunch of clowns and red balls appearing with stomach churning music and lots of weirdness
phew that was all for today
can you picture the face from #2?
Or do you just remember that it was scary?
oh man, what I wouldnt give to remember that face or have that dream again (havent had it since I was very little, I had a million different nightmares, but this dream would reappear).... man you have no idea how scary it was... nobody will ever be able to imagine it... not even myself hehehehe
I think I remember that it was a monster being electrocuted
and his face got filled with a lot of colors
I think that what you see in dreams is only half of it
things that you somehow know and feel are the other half
even if you could draw it it wouldn't be the same, I think
yeah, but I still believe that image could be scary if I drew it
what is the scariest dream you have had
One where I was in a museum that showed scientific principles with different displays. As I went through the museum, I saw each member of my family killed in a different way.
One electrocuted, one drowned, etc
that must have been creepy, for some reason I dont think I ever had a nightmare about a family member
This is why it was really scary. It never bothers me when I see monsters or when I die myself in dreams
I like the monster ones especially
yeah, those are nice
Did you ever hear about that 'haunted' painting that sold on eBay?
Your dream descriptions reminded me of it for some reason so I looked it up again.
no, tell me about it
It was a few years ago
yeah, now that you mention it, I do remember the picture... i havent read the stories much though
man thats a creepy image
yeah it seems like the sort of thing you'd like. :)
You reminded me of this when you talked about being able to draw the face in your dream and the drawing actually being scary
ahh I see
I have a very weird and scary story about a painting I saw in a creepy hotel one time
want to hear it
one time when me and my family were on one of our long distance driving vacations it was night time and we needed to find a hotel to sleep at so we found one... I can't remember whether we stayed there or not, but I remember me and my sister wanted to go upstairs and just take a browse around and so we did. When we came up, it was completely dark and we were on [the second floor] and there was a painting there
it was dark so we couldnt see it right, but it was of a clown and it was real creepy and we were both scared to death so we ran on down and we both tempted each other to go up again and look... when the light was turned on the picture wasnt scary at all...almost as if it changed shape with the light
At one point, I decided to create a fan game based on his Johnny series. This was to some degree against my nature, as I highly valued originality and had plenty of ideas of my own. Perhaps I was inspired by his ability to ignore conventions and not agonize over every detail, and felt that I could allow myself to do these things more freely if I borrowed his character.
I am tired mentally / exhausted lately. So that also adds up to the time it takes [to complete games].
but i think it is worth it. I think what I do is gold. it would be a shame for it to just gather dust.
sometimes I have had dreams while awake
like a living dream
That has happened to me very rarely.
Once when I was very sleep-deprived.
was it fun? what happened exactly?
There were bees swarming the room when I was on the couch.
More fun were some hallucinations I had as a child because I had pneumonia.
I remember once, where I saw some ghosts move out of the computer screen and into me body, temporarily turning me into a ghost. I remember how much fun it was being a ghost.
pneumonia is horrible, I had that last year.
What about that cabin in your photo? Were you actually there?
hmmm, not sure what u mean. What cabin?
Umm yeah. Heh, that is a photo of my room. In fact, I am actually in that room right now.
the same room where those ghosts were.
KO: I've reconstructed my website :D
Ultimately, I created two games with Johnny as a protagonist, Johnny's Odyssey and Johnny's Nightmare. I don't know that I captured the spirit of his games so much as mimicked aspects of them, but the games were fun to create regardless. Even today, I can't help but come up with more ideas for "Johnny" games among my other game design ideas. I've even done some work on a third one that I will probably complete at some point.
KO: [link, now dead]
c5: Just one page now, huh?
KO: ha ha yeah, but a VERY long page ;);)
c5: But wait. Where are the games?
KO: uh oh, thats a good question ;)
KO: I removed all of them except for lawnmover massacre.... I have no interest in game making anymore and all my other games are so bad that I dont want my name attached to them anymore
c5: How will you detach your name? Change your name?
KO: no, but I won't put them on the net anymore, I dont care if other people put them on the net though, but no official links... they are still hosted on pggames.net though
c5: I was thinking today at work again about my ideas for another Johnny game. I always get ideas for it, but I hate to be so unoriginal as to copy someone else's game. I don't know why I made one in the first place. :)
KO: I dont mind :)... hey maybe you can take over the johnny series, and make the official johnny 7? wouldnt that be cool?
c5: well if I made another I'd probably call it Johnny's Nightmare, because I already did a little work on it and all of my ideas fit that theme. :)
In addition to his games, Kim liked to produce music. I'm not as familiar with his music as I am his games, but he had an extensive a collection of exotic instruments and he used them to create many albums. What I have listened to, I'd largely classify as experimental. I find some songs a little too provocative for my tastes.
He also recorded movies, and once surprised me by sending me several physical DVDs in the mail. I still appreciate seeing his signature on the customs declaration label on that envelope.
c5: Roach Dance is my favorite song of yours, of those I have heard.
KO: my favorite is probably "the psychopathic man with the bloody machete", really catchy cheerful melody, and a humorous take on the lyrical theme
KO: sounds like some scary horror movie, but then you play the song and boom
c5: I am playing it now.
c5: It's not easy to understand the lyrics.
KO: kinda the point
KO: but hmm
KO: I can hear it well
KO: "thats who I have become, the psychopathic man with the bloody machete, gonna hit the streets, kill a lot of innocent people, get a new highscore yeah, in the stupid game of life, whoops, that was a hole in your head"
c5: Do you like horror books and movies? Or do you prefer happy things there, too?
c5: I think you said you liked H.P. Lovecraft a long time ago.
KO: No, I do not like horror movies and novels, too sinister for me, there is not much humor in it
KO: but there are exceptions to every rule I suppose
KO: I would be more interested in horror movies if I could actually get scared by them
KO: I long for a good scare like in the old times
KO: ghosts are the most interesting
c5: I agree. I don't like horror about people being cruel--torture, etc.
c5: That's not interesting to me.
c5: But I like ghosts, etc.
c5: Did you intend your games to be sinister?
c5: Some of them, at least?
KO: No, only the Nice Games
c5: The Johnny games are meant to be straightforward and happy?
c5: Without underlying unsettling elements?
KO: yeah, I did not intend for anything unsettling with them.
KO: Some of my works are also in the middle or the neutral ground though.
c5: You said once that you believe in a real afterlife, and that it is what we expect it to be/imagine. Is this still your view?
In 2010, Kim told me that he had written me a message describing some problems he had been experiencing in his life, but he had decided not to send it. I had some vague ideas about what he was referring to based on our past discussions, but I didn't know much.
c5: If I am expressing it accurately.
KO: Yeah, that is what makes sense in my mind. Lately though I have suspected that life might just be a dream, there is just too much logic for it to kinda make sense
c5: Whose dream? Yours and no one else exists? or a shared dream?
KO: Good question I say. hmm....
KO: I am not sure.
KO: I sure hope it is not like the matrix, I dont believe that
KO: that would be frightful to me
KO: well.. kind of
c5: Does it make a difference if you don't know?
KO: Not really. I am okey with not knowing.
c5: I mean, you could be a mind in a jar hooked up to a computer. We could all be a computer simulation.
KO: Yeah its true, people say life is a game so, it could be possible
c5: It is fun to make little life sims in GM.
c5: It would be more fun to do a really elaborate one.
c5: And see what happens.
c5: With creatures who think they can think for themselves.
KO: heh, yeah
KO: I believe gods or deites have that power
c5: To the characters in your games, you are a deity.
c5: If they had consciousness, they could worship you.
c5: They would be grateful that you created them, unless they were unhappy with their lives.
KO: yeah, you know, I kind of believe that my characters are modeled after real characters created by me before I came to earth
KO: but the story of the Johnny character is actually purely accidental
c5: And because Johnny 2 Director's Cut is lost, has that world been destroyed?
c5: There is the old version, of course.
KO: No, that game was more like - Johnny 2 Easy Edition
c5: I didn't keep it because it was missing the bosses, I think.
c5: But I don't remember exactly how it differed.
KO: yeah it missed out on some stuff which is probably why it got deleted
KO: I like to preserve the original condition of the mind state that I was in when I made a game
c5: If we are not as productive as we could be in game making, maybe we are depriving some characters of their lives. :)
KO: heh, interesting thought.
In 2011, in what might have been our last conversation of any significance, he shared some additional metaphysical ideas.
c5: Hi. I'm glad to see you appear again.
c5: I tried to respond to your e-mail, but it bounced.
KO: Thank you.
KO: Yeah I disabled the mail for a short while.
KO: I've been workin hard these last days, my site is coming back online.
c5: Did you find your games and music?
c5: I don't have the updated versions of your games, only the old ones.
c5: And I only have the 128 kbps music.
c5: I didn't know you had changed it.
KO: Yeah, I was lucky in that I was able to get the files using a file restoration program. I did not get everything, but I got most of it.
KO: What is the latest johnny game you have? just curious.
c5: Am I behind?
KO: Woah. You are missing quite a few. There are 31 johnny games now. Workin on number 32 at the moment.
c5: I might have more in another folder, actually.
c5: But I probably have not seen the very latest.
KO: johnny 28 is the best one.
KO: I find it strange that you haven't downloaded more of my music though, I figured you might be interested in that kind of "alternative" music.
KO: My music albums are vastly different sometimes from each other.
KO: But they all have the Kubus vibe of course.
c5: The song of yours that I have listened to most is Roach Dance.
c5: I will have to try more.
c5: I think what scared me away was the song titles.
c5: Last time I looked.
KO: Yeah, but I cannot put self-limitating self-censorship on my artwork, just because some people might not like it. I would not be able to function that way, its dangerous for me.
KO: I need to let my mind flow free.
c5: Of course. I don't mean that you should change anything for my sake.
c5: But some of it might not be to my taste. :)
KO: yeah okey, understandable.
KO: How are your games going?
c5: I have not worked on them lately.
c5: I have been productive only at work, not outside of work.
c5: I need to get back to them.
KO: Sometimes its good to have a break. To gather more ideas into the sub-consiousness. That is a technique I have used countless times.
KO: Do you believe dreams can predict the future?
KO: I hope so.
c5: I haven't personally had an experience to convince me of this, but I know some people say that they've recorded a dream and then seen it happen.
c5: I get deja vu feelings sometimes, but I'm not sure that's really memories of dreams.
KO: I never get deja vus.
c5: I often remember my dreams, and they are not as boring as things that happen in deja vu experiences.
KO: I am more alive in my dreams than in real life. My consious mind has a tendency to drift away from reality. It is not uncommon for me to crash into lampposts because my mind removes itself from the reality.
c5: You mean while walking, right, not driving?
KO: No, while driving. Thats why my clothes are all red.
KO: Nah, I dont drive cars.
KO: I have very little understanding of world in general, it just does not make much sense to me really.
In December 2014, I learned that Kim had taken his own life. At that time, I had not heard from him in nearly a year.
KO: the whole reality is just so strange to me.
c5: Does anyone have understanding of the world?
KO: You know what I mean.
c5: The more I learn the more I think I don't know anything.
c5: Despite people seeming to be so sure about their points of view.
KO: Thats one thing I find strange also, all these opinions people have and how certain they seem of it. Don't they know that everything can be seen from another perspective?
c5: I sometimes work too hard at challenging my own assumptions about the world, so that I'm left with very little that's certain.
KO: I don't have any opinions/viewpoints at all, I only have likes and dislikes. Mostly because I understand both sides of the spectrum and therefore choosing a side becomes impossible.
KO: Whenever I speak about an opinion, I also feel the opposite at the same time. I am conflicting.
c5: One problem is that people like to express opinions more than they like to explore ideas.
KO: Yeah. That is very true.
c5: It's more interesting to question and try to see all sides.
KO: Yeah. I'm the same way really.
c5: But I understand why people don't do that more--you end up not actually making progress at times due to indecision.
KO: Yeah that can also be true. That happens to me often.
KO: But I don't have any problems with that.
KO: I feel confident in my own total insecurity, and that is something not many people can be able to say about themselves.
KO: Many people are afraid of uncertainty, as I feel their minds have been programmed to make sense by being able to be secure about the things that flow inside their consiousness.
c5: Certainly. I'm afraid of my own uncertainty about some things, though not in any sort of crippling way.
KO: There is no need to be really. You can always find people who love you just the way you are.
c5: Do you think that if everyone knew your thoughts, they'd be surprised? Or are you pretty open about everything?
c5: When I say everyone, I mean people who know you.
KO: I guess I am what you refer to as open, as I find it amusing when I confuse and surprise people. Not that I try to do that always on purpose, but.
c5: Do you hold back at all, or do you think who you are outwardly exactly reflects who you are in your mind?
KO: That is a difficult, but interesting question. Let me think for a moment about that.
KO: I feel that I am not in control over myself, and that I am controlled by mystic forces that control my mind and body. I do hold back a LOT myself, but thats more because I want to, not because I am afraid to be open. Yeah I do hold back sometimes a lot, but so what?
c5: I don't think it's good or bad--I was just wondering.
KO: I didnt assume you would.
KO: I'm complicated. I believe my art reflects who I am, in the true sense.
c5: You told me a long time ago that you envision an afterlife that's built out of things that you create/dream about/etc.
c5: I may not have that exactly right.
c5: Or was it more that your art is an outlet through which those things come, not that you create them in a strict sense?
KO: No, not entirely. I know what happens after death. I know that there are different planes of existence, as I have been to those planes using third eye techniques. I am an old avatar, from the spirit planes. I came to earth using by taking over a body in the womb.
KO: My art is based on a world called Kubus that I created many thousand years ago.
c5: What gives you confidence that what you learn from such experiences is your true history?
c5: "Know" is a strong word. :)
KO: I just know it inside. Same type of knowing I get when I finish a game. Some people have trouble deciding when a game is ready, but I just know it. There is this knowing there.
KO: Yeah. I have very strong intuition. Maybe that is one of my strengths?
KO: There is a heaven. And many people live there, but heaven is not the only place. it is only one place in the spirit world. Each person has their own place in the spirit world, and some places have more than one person living there, heaven and hell are examples of such places. Same thing with Avalon for example. The yggdrasil, or the worlds tree, is the entity which connects the planes together.
KO: I have been to the tree.
c5: Are you talking about astral projection?
c5: I've always found that interesting but don't know much about it.
c5: Is the part of you that projects the same part that lives after death?
KO: But there are different types of projection, many of which I have not gotten much skill in.
KO: Your spirit will live on after death. And if you are a christian, you would go to heaven, in the spirit world.
c5: What about people who have no idea what to expect or believe in no afterlife? Do they get a default one?
KO: Kind of. They go to the lower levels. What they do from there or where they go from there, is up to them.
KO: They can also return to earth, that explains ghosts.
KO: But since they don't have a body, they won't be able to live entirely in the same plane as those alive, but they can manifest into it and manipulate it.
c5: If you go to a place that resembles what you were expecting, will you know that it's a construction based on what you were expecting? Or are you deluded forever?
KO: Hmm. Difficult question. Let me think again for a moment or two.
KO: The answer is easy, but how to explain it is hard, I would be happy to try though.
KO: It might be quite shocking when you first die, and find yourself lost in limbo. If you have a belief system, you have security. It is easy to feel deluded once you reach the construction of the belief, but it is real. You will know, as being dead for real will make you feel more alive in a way you never did while you were alive. It is quite different. But you will know. And if you just happen not to, there are those spirit creatures which work as guides to help people get to the right place.
KO: And help them piece together the puzzles they might think the new reality is.
c5: Is there a hierarchy of the spirit creatures? A god at the top? Or is everything fragmented and unorganized?
c5: Sorry for all the questions. I just like to learn about ideas like these.
KO: Its unorganized as a whole, but there are organizations inside the unorganizations. There are many different gods. The christian God, also known as Tettragrammaton or Eliyah, is very real and he is the one who created heaven. Some say he created earth too, but this I cannot say for certain.
KO: No need to apologize, I love to explain and talk about this.
c5: But he is not in charge of everything? Other factions can balance/overrule him in some things?
c5: In other words, not all-powerful, all-knowing, etc.
KO: No, nothing can overrule him, as he has final authority over his own spirit place. Which means essentially that heaven exists forever and those that go there will stay there for as long as they wish, time does not exist in the spirit world like it does here. He is not in charge of everything no, nobody really is. But I know that he has a strong connection to Earth, and that is how it is possible for christianity to be a real thing.
KO: I have seen God with my own eyes, once when I was flying in an airplane, I looked out the window and there he was.
c5: In the sky? You mean a vision of what he looks like, or he was actually in the sky?
KO: His face manifested in the clouds, God is powerful enough to be able to do that.
c5: Why do you think he (and any other spiritual beings) don't manifest more obviously to more people?
c5: Do they prefer that only those looking for them believe that they exist?
KO: That is an easy answer. He wants people to believe in him by feeling him through his connection with earth, and not the other way around. In other words; He does not want to force people to believe in him, as that can make the love less genuine.
KO: By not having a stronger presence, he instills doubt in people, which is what he wants, those that see through this doubt are those who he knows genuinely love him.
KO: My guess is that he wants heaven to be as much love as possible.
KO: Which is a nice thing I think.
KO: He does occasionally try to convince people though, if he likes them.
KO: Maybe convince is not the best word to use, but you get the point.
KO: Hope I did not offend you now :)
c5: Offend me? No chance of that.
KO: Nice :)
c5: When I said that your song titles dissuaded me from trying more of your music, I was talking about profanity and sexual themes.
c5: Ideas never offend me.
KO: I was referring to more what I said about the spirit stuff.
c5: Yes, I know, but I thought you might think I was easily offended because of what I said earlier.
KO: Nah, I understood its just not in your taste :)
KO: I like it though heh :D
c5: I do like Lawnmover Massacre, though.
KO: I like all my games, they all mean something special, even if it might be semi-hidden sometimes..
KO: I won't deny being a strange guy though :)
KO: I get that feeling from you many times, I like that.
c5: That I think you are strange?
KO: No the opposite, that I get the strange vibes from you.
c5: Oh, I see. You're probably right.
KO: Thats good sign though, I don't get that feeling from people very often.
KO: very rarely actually.
KO: Ever heard the expression "Takes one to know one"? Thats what I mean.
KO: I believe that there are certain vibes that exist in some people. Stuff like weirdness, arrogance, insanity and even normalness, can put off a vibe that can be detected by people who have the same vibe as the other.
c5: Even over the Internet?
KO: If it is strong enough.
KO: And if the perception of the other is good enough to detect it.
KO: I have an other-worldy perception.
KO: Probably because of my past experiences as a mystic ancient deity.
c5: Does the word ancient even have meaning if time is infinite?
c5: And if time is infinite, is it likely that everyone has been a deity (and everything else) at some point?
KO: Yes. If you relate the word ancient to the word birth, then it does.
KO: No, I dont agree with that.
c5: That time is infinite, or that everyone has probably done everything because time is infinite?
c5: Are all living beings eternal, or are they created at some point?
KO: I dont agree that everyone is a deity. Yes time is infinite, but that does not mean everybody is born at the same. Living beings are not eternal, not even spirit beings are eternal, a spirit can be swallowed/destroyed, resulting in final death/spirit death. Only deities are truly immortal.
c5: So there is a certain number of deities, and they have all existed forever, and all other beings are temporary?
KO: Final death means your spirit will be reborn as a new spirit.
KO: No, deities have not existed forever. They are created by a pre-existing deity. I was created like that. Temporary yes, both in mortal form and spirit form, BUT, thats not something to worry about. There are always ways around it.
KO: God can give eternal life.
KO: in spirit form.
KO: He has that power, as do all other deities. Limbo is the real danger.
c5: So there may have been a certain number of deities forever, but they can create others. The number always goes up but not down? Are you not one at all anymore, so deities can become non-deities?
c5: Are you conscious in limbo? Or would you not care because it's like non-existence?
KO: Deities can never become non-deity, nor can they be killed once created, that is the downside of being one, which is why so many move into mortal bodies, to help them forget about their own immortality.
c5: So if you can gain the status but can't lose it, then through infinite time all beings could theoretically become deities?
KO: Yes, as long as you possess a soul.
KO: If you don't have a soul, then it is possible to create one for yourself. This can be learned through teachings such as Zen or Taoist.
c5: Then it's not a soul that animates a person, and determines whether he or she is alive or dead?
c5: If some don't have one.
KO: BUT, ahh, this is hard to explain, but deities can destroy their own immortal children if they are not deities. Ahh, well lets put it this way: There are different levels of immortality so to speak. Level one is where no one can destroy you except for a deity. Level two, thats the highest, then nothing can destroy you.
KO: Being level two is not possible if you are not already one. A soul that already exist cannot be made into a level two.
c5: Maybe immortal isn't the best word for it, I guess, if they can be destroyed.
KO: Yeah, like I said, only deities are immortal.
KO: are truly immortal.
c5: Are you going to make a game the explores ideas like these?
c5: Your games typically seem to be confined to mortals.
c5: If monsters count as mortals, too.
KO: Yeah, they are confined to mortal stuff and mortal people.
c5: Dealing with more than one plane of existence in a game might be interesting.
KO: Oh, they always deal with that. That is exactly the point. To make an artform that mixes the mortal stuff together with the Kubus World. It's a beacon.
KO: A connection between the two worlds.
KO: Like a magical link.
c5: Oh, I understand that they take place in the Kubus world, but I mean a more obvious presentation of more than one world.
KO: Oh yeah. Well, yeah, on occasion I have that, but only a very few times, yeah. But no, that goes against the point of it all really. I am NOT a master of other peoples worlds, only my own. I focus on that which I master only.
KO: I want the artform to be focused.
KO: Not spread out across different worlds, that would make the beacon less strong I think.
KO: But I understand your point yeah.
c5: Maybe one being's journey through death and rebirth?
c5: But I see what you mean.
KO: Hmm. What do you mean by that question?
c5: Without going into a lot of other worlds, one being's journey through a few planes of existence.
c5: Maybe earth and Kubus.
KO: Yeah. Thats right. Earth and Kubus. Earth because it is where I live right now and where the art is currently located. And Kubus because thats the world that I created.
It's a strange thing when an Internet acquaintance dies. I'd never met Kim in person, and I didn't know any of his family members or close friends. I simply learned in an indirect way that he was gone.
c5: You mentioned some bad news?
Kim wasn't the first game designer friend I'd lost to suicide. Back in 2006, I had a similar experience with Shawn64. 5 Another was someone I didn't know as well but had had some contact with, Jack Masters (a.k.a. Flimsy Parkins). 6
E: afraid to tell you kimberly kubus is dead
c5: Strangely, I guessed that this is what you were going to say. How did you find that out?
E: an old schoolmate of his contacted jinx by email
E: I don't know any details
E: were you aware? I suppose both of you mention him on your websites
c5: No, I had not heard anything. I talk directly with him from time to time, but that's all.
E: oh I see
E: it feels very weird
E: sad and frustrating
c5: Yes, in such cases you always kind of feel as if you should do or should have done something, but you're really powerless.
c5: Especially when it's someone you only know online.
While I realize that not everyone is likely to find Kim's approach to game design inspiring, I know that I'm not the only one who does. And even if not everything he did aligned perfectly with my tastes, I think the world would benefit from more enthusiastic and prolific artists who create whatever they want to.
1 I have not tried every game in the Johnny series, let alone completed them all. However, a dedicated fan named Saint has recorded full playthroughs of all 36 games with commentary:
2 This was one of a series of Game Maker creator interviews I conducted some years ago.
3 History of PG Games (as of 2004)
4 Siege Delux was a collaborator for a few of Kim's early games, such as Cooking Breakfast 2. He created The Gods Choise on his own.
5 I've also written some of my thoughts on that experience: A Shawn64 Retrospective
6 When I learned of the death of Flimsy Parkins, I also learned that he had a Web comic, the last issue of which had served as a sort of suicide note. The comic's name sounded familiar, and I discovered that was because he had been one of a few other recipients of an e-mail message I had received from Kim in 2011 about a site update. He must have also been a fan of Kim's work.
Kimberly Kubus Memorial
This is a tribute page created by Jacob Buczynski (Jinxtengu), another game designer who was acquainted with Sparlatacus. Jinxtengu also has a forum dedicated to Sparlatacus.
A repository of Sparlatacus's games hosted by Glorious Trainwrecks.
The King of Good Stuff Examined
A Web log chronicling some of Sparlatacus's games.
Entry on The Independent Games Wiki.