A page dedicated to Mark Overmars'
When and how did you discover Game Maker?
It was in the beginning of 2001 I think. I was in search for a good 2D game system as the ones I used proved inadequate or incomplete. Searching every corner of the world and Internet for a good alternative, I never guessed that I'd find my ideal platform very, very close to home (the creator of Game Maker is coming from the same country).
Have you used any other game creation programs?
On good old 8-bit I used Basic. I once created an environmentally friendly game with which I attended a national competition (I was 13). Moving to the PC platform I created a hangman clone with Turbo Pascal. After that, I've used some mapmaking tools to experiment with a few of my favourite games. I tried interactive fiction on TADS and different other IF tools. I've tried out Dark Basic and Blitz Basic, and before I found Game Maker I was using DIV and Fenix. DIV was perfect except that it was DOS based and allowed only 256 color palettes, Fenix was a freeware Windows remake of DIV that was simply too buggy. Game Maker comes closest to these two. On many occasions I created games but never finished them because I ran into restrictions of the program.
What games or other projects have you made with (or for) Game Maker?
I've only published two DLLs so far. One was only weeks after discovering Game Maker. As GM couldn't play module tracker songs I found a DLL that could play them and made a bridge for Game Maker. JBFMOD can be downloaded from the official Game Maker site. Another DLL reported the local IP address, an edit of some code I found on the Internet. That DLL has disappeared since the this code is now incorporated in Game Maker, although I have a new one which can report multiple IPs (not published yet).
What are your favorite Game Maker games?
I was most amazed by Seiklus (Tapeworm), which needs no introduction here ;-). Heroes of the Stone Age (BeatUp Datsun) is still my favourite GM platformer. Furthermore I enjoyed the very professional breakout clone called BeatBall (Stefan Persson) and Macky and Pentell (Baby Bonnie Hood), an arcade-hall like shoot 'm up in which the stolen graphics actually look good for a change.
What are your favorite games NOT made with Game Maker?
I'll translate this as "which have you turned inside-out playing", because I probably have played literally thousands of games over my past of which I have loved many. I'll try to stick to the most memorable. My first experience with computer gaming was Parsec, on the TI99/4A, a space shoot 'm up. On the Atari 8-bit Star Raiders, a 3D space action sim that fitted on just an 8 KB cartridge, continuously drew me into the imagination of sitting behind the controls of a spaceship. Also on 8-bit, I've spent countless hours of wandering through the depths and listening to the songs of Alternate Reality I and II, an RPG series that died untimely. I pained braincells on finishing the IF adventure Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. On PC, ultimate breakout clone DX-Ball 2 munched away the evening hours. And during lunch breaks at work my colleagues and I skipped every chance on a decent meal to indulge ourselves in the hilarious multiplayer mayhem caused by Duke Nukem 3D. I still miss that sometimes (sob).
What advice would you give new Game Maker users or those who would like to improve?
Take the time. Just because you can create a game in an hour doesn't mean you should. Look at the details with criticism, everything should fit. Quit making clones of which there are already too many. Ripped graphics don't guarantee a quality game. Try to be as original as possible and create your own style. Most of all, hang on!
What elements of a game are most important to you and why?
Gameplay makes it lasting, always. But when combined with good graphics and a catchy tune, you've got a winner. I like a good story, especially in Interactive Fiction games, that contains a good dramatic background (Millions have sobbed over the friendly robot Floyd in the IF adventures Stationfall and Planetfall). Editable level sets are a factor that make games live longer, but the best games are different every single round. The random factor is a power that makes you return to them.
Why do you make games? What is your primary inspiration, motivation, or both?
As a game maker you create a world. The characters are yours, the rules are yours, a life is simplified to a complete new dimension in which you position the player as a shipwrecked puppet. You provide the routes and the traps for him on his path to towards the goal you promised. As with stories, you play God, although a wicked one. What could be more fun?
Do you have other artistic pursuits other than game development? If so, what?
I play a tiny bit of accoustic guitar. I've also written a few stories over the past and want to continue that in future. But right now, I am too busy with Game Maker and a world that unfortunately was not created by me.
Any other comments?
I still have the feeling that we're not using Game Maker to the full power. Some of the members are, and I'd like to see more of that, even if it takes more time. I hope to show something in my oncoming projects of what I mean. It could be a while, though.