A page dedicated to Mark Overmars'



EricDB



NameEric Burgess
Born1975
HomeMarble Falls, Texas, USA
WebBig Brain Games
E-mailericdb @ big-brain.org



When and how did you discover Game Maker? Have you used any other game creation programs?

The first game making program I ever used (apart from TI and Apple BASIC) was a wonderful tool from Electronic Arts called the Adventure Construction Set. ACS was way ahead of its time, allowing you to create a top-down, turn-based roleplaying game for up to 4 players. You could create your own graphics, locations, creatures, weapons, spell effects, and puzzles. I made quite a few adventures in ACS...unfortunately, my sister is the only one who ever played them, and I think she was just being nice. :-)

In high school, I ran a BBS. For those of you too young to remember the ancient times before the ubiquitous Internet, BBS stood for Bulletin Board System, and was just a computer with a modem in it--basically a web server, but only connected to one client at a time (some had several modems, but mine only had one--I couldn't afford any extra phone lines!) It was a lot like any community you might see on the Internet today--it had message boards complete with flame wars, file downloads, cheesy ANSI graphics, and most fun of all, door games (text-based games). I wrote a door game called Galactic Trader, which was a clone of TradeWars, but with extra features. I used Turbo Pascal, and it turned out pretty well. I wish I still had a copy of that...

I dabbled a little with Klik & Play my freshman year in college, but it was too limited for my tastes. I got pretty discouraged around this time...I found I didn't have the patience to create games from scratch in C or Pascal (and the standards situation around that time was dismal--Windows was still pathetic for games, and DOS was a nightmare of conflicting protocols). Yet I was a good programmer, and I chafed at the limitations of the various creation tools.

I wrote the first game that I would call "good" in 2001, for my TI-89 calculator, using the C compiler TI-GCC. It's called Drifter, and it can still be download from CalcWare.org. I think it still may be my best game ever, if you take into account the limitations of the hardware it runs on. I have a fondness for programming on "limited" platforms. When all you have a 1-bit 160 x 100 screen, nobody's going to say you have bad graphics. As long as you have good gameplay, you're in! You can see Drifter's influence in my GM game Pilot.

Shortly after I wrote Drifter, as I was browsing GameHippo one day in early 2002, I decided to check out their tools page. I came across Game Maker, and it was everything I had ever wanted in a creation tool. It took all the hard, boring work off my hands. And yet, GML gave me the ability to program anything I could imagine. It was (and is) the perfect balance. My game making has really taken off since that day.


What games or other projects have you made with (or for) Game Maker?

I've always had a fondness for games that involve realistic movements. Physics plays a big role in most of my games. In Pilot, you have to maneuver a ship through an asteroid field, and the ship's inertia really comes into play. Gravity Golf (which can't be downloaded until I fix the awful graphics) takes it a step further, with gravity as well as inertia. And Wrecking Ball, which is probably my best GM game to date, has you swinging a heavy metal ball around on a stretchy elastic cord.

I recently completed the first release of my GUI toolkit for GM, EForms. I think the best way to describe EForms is, "Visual Basic inside Game Maker". It allows you to create windows, textboxes, buttons, and other objects, then give them code to execute in response to certain events like MouseOver and LeftClick.

Another non-game project of mine is my Online High Score Scripts. Together with some PHP scripts on my website, they allow anyone to have worldwide high score lists for their GM game.

Probably my favorite creation with Game Maker is Bugworld. It's a sort of "sandbox" where you can create various plants and bugs and watch them battle it out. I've caught myself staring literally for hours at it. I'm currently in the process of upgrading Bugworld to make use of the EForms toolkit.

All of my projects, as well as tutorials and various tools, can be downloaded from my website, Big Brain Games.


What are your favorite Game Maker games?

Seiklus by tapeworm.
Shatter, and Cosgrove's Air Escape by Mocha Man.
Various mini-games by Alf-Fly. His presentation is great.


What are your favorite games NOT made with Game Maker?

The best game of all time has to be Wasteland, by Interplay.

Other games I've enjoyed greatly, in no particular order:
Utopia - Intellivision
Final Fantasy 1 - NES
Tetris - Various
Mario Kart 64 - Nintendo 64
Sam and Max Hit the Road - PC
The Star Control series - PC
The Worms series - Various
Gunbound - PC


What advice would you give new Game Maker users or those who would like to improve?

For new users, the most important piece of advice is this: start small. Don't try to make Quake 4 or the next GTA for your first Game Maker project.

Beyond that, (and this is probably more of a personal opinion) keep your games simple. Try to squeeze the most gameplay possible out of the fewest number of elements, instead of going nuts adding three dozen enemies and fifty different obstacles. Adding more "features" does not necessarily make a better game. In fact, extra features that are not well thought out can actually detract from a game, not to mention making it less likely that you'll complete it.


What elements of a game are most important to you and why?

Simplicity is the most attractive element for me. That doesn't necessarily mean that the game is small. It means that the author made sure that everything that is in the game, belongs in the game, and fits well with the other elements, and with the overall theme.

Why do you make games? What is your primary inspiration, motivation, or both?

I've loved playing games for as long as I can remember, and I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of person, so I guess it's natural that I'd want to make my own. Often my inspiration comes from one small aspect of another game, perhaps a mini-game or a particular puzzle, and I think, "hmm, that's an interesting challenge--I could build an entire game around that."

Any other comments?

Thanks to Mark Overmars for giving us all such a wonderful tool.
Thanks to tapeworm for inviting me to participate here.
Thanks to everyone at the Game Maker Community for making it great.




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