A page dedicated to Game Maker by Mark Overmars
Game Maker Profile:
Alf Fly
Name Chris Spicer
Born 1977
Home Warwickshire, UK
When and how did you discover Game Maker?
The exact time escapes me now. I know that it was a couple of years ago, when I found myself with a great deal of time on my hands and a computer sitting unused in the corner of the room. I've always been interested in making games, but one thing has constantly stood in my way - my complete lack of any programming skills whatsoever. So, I searched on the internet for easy gamemaking tools, and evetually found my way to the infamous Ambrosine website. Then I simply looked down their list of resources and downloaded the one that sounded most hopeful.
Have you used any other game creation programs?
My first computer was an Amstrad CPC 464, for which I made a couple of very poor text adventures using a piece of software called CAG, which ingeniously stood for Create Adventure Games. A few years later I got myself an Amiga, and I messed around in Blitz Basic and created a couple of stupid little programs - the only one I can really remember was Wiseman, a program that gave you a random proverb every time you started up your computer. I also created another text adventure game called Minnesota Smith's Aztec Adventure, which was a little better than my first couple of attempts, but still rubbish.

Since getting a PC I've tried a few programs. I've attempted to learn AGS a couple of times, as I'd dearly like to make a point-and-click adventure, but I always run out of patience. I've recently got my hands on The Games Factory Pro courtesy of a magazine coverdisc, so I'll have a go at that. But mostly it's GM all the way.
What games or other projects have you made with (or for) Game Maker?
My first ever game was Cacman, which was a Pacman Clone - hence the name. I followed that with Cacman In Grub-Grab Gardens, which was a neat little variant on the Pacman motif. Next came Arachnoid, which, as the name suggests, was an Arkanoid clone with added spiders, and then Skate Daze, an action-puzzle game about ice skating. Around the same time I released Super Bubble Burst, a game I created as a birthday present to my sister - the character sprite in the game is based on her.

Then came Car Killer, a fun, if violent driving game, Astro Command, which is a combination of Asteroids and Missile Command, and Protectron, the game that started the short-lived Speed Game trend at the GM Community. Protectron was completely made in less than two hours, from initial concept to final release, after which loads of other GM users took up the challenge to make a simple game in as quick a time as possible.

After that came Numpty, which was my attempt at a back-to-basics, twitch-gaming platform game, Astro Grab, a snake variant set in space, and Marble Magnet, a tricky puzzle game in the same vein as Columns. I've also created a few examples and tutorials.

What are your favorite Game Maker games?
It's difficult to remember indivdual games, since so many GM games get released. Mr Chubbigans is one of my favourite GM creators, though, because he understands the importance of storyline in the gaming experience. Fall Of Atlantis is a great game.

The problem is that there are loads of great GM creators, and I feel bad picking anyone out. Everyone puts effort into their games, and everyone should be congratulated to at least some extent.
What are your favorite games NOT made with Game Maker?
I'm utterly besotted with Zelda: Wind Waker at the moment, and I have been since the moment I set eyes on it. I even prefer it to Ocarina Of Time - the combat system is more refined, and the gameworld feels more coherent and realistic. And those graphics - so stylish! There are a few others I can't stop playing - Deus Ex, Warcraft 3, Half-life and Super Smash Brothers Melee immediately spring to mind.

But my favourite game of all time is an interactive fiction game. It's called Photopia, it's written by a guy called Adam Cadre, and it can be downloaded for free from http://adamcadre.ac/photopia.html. It is a wonderful piece of interactive storytelling, and probably as close to art as games have ever come. Everyone should play it.
What advice would you give new Game Maker users or those who would like to improve?
Everyone else will say "Read the manual," so I'll be different. I'll say "Randomly slap passing strangers." No, just kidding. Read the manual.
What elements of a game are most important to you and why?
People will usually say "Good gameplay," but personally I feel that's too vague a concept. Things like a good difficulty curve, variation as the game progresses, well-thought-out control systems and the like all go together to create good gameplay. But what I really like to see are games that are coherent. For instance, I know that not everyone can create their own graphics, and I don't mind seeing ripped graphics, but I DO mind seeing graphics that have been ripped from different sources. They look out of place - it destroys any sense of internal consistency the game might have had.

And one other thing - well-written documentation. Check your spelling, people!
Why do you make games? What is your primary inspiration, motivation, or both?
Simply because I love doing it, and I've always wanted to. That's why I'm so glad to have found GM - it's pitched at the perfect level for me to create the kind of games I want to make.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, not just from playing games. It pays to experience as much of life as you can, because you never know where or when inspiration will strike you. I believe that the more you put into your head, the more you get out.
Do you have other artistic pursuits other than game development? If so, what?
I play the guitar, and pretty well considering I've only been playing for just over a year. I write a lot, and have had work published in a variety of publications. I also draw and paint, using both traditional and electronic media. Hopefully I'll be able to set up a website devoted to this at some point.

I have two other main web-based projects on the go at the moment. The first is the irregularly-updated Electronic Interweb (http://interweb.pitas.com), a satirical gaming weblog which allows me to poke fun at the games industry. The second is Funny Strange (http://funnystrange.sites.cc), an online cartoon strip which is updated weekly. I should warn that both of these contain language and ideas that might offend, and should not be visited by children or those with a weak constitution.

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