a.k.a. Barney9651 or Yenrab
What have you created with ZZT, or related to ZZT?
They haven't changed since the last interview (unfortunately), and
despite having spent so much time in that incredibly frustrating
editor I don't seem to have been terribly prolific. The three of
which I would still lay claim to today would be Escape from Planet
Red, Dogfight, and Mostly Morphine Powder Strangers. I never was too
good at naming things.
Anyway, while they aren't really anything special by today's
standards, I'm glad that they were inspirational to some of the
hotshot ZZT superstars of the new wave or whatever. I remember
actually putting time into them to make them quality, which was
something lacking from the majority of games in AOL's ZZT library at
Escape from Planet Red
When you think about ZZT, what games come to your mind and why?
I feel like I'm sort of cheating on this one, because I just read
the old interviews and so the first games that come to mind are the
ones mentioned there. For example, Macrosoft! I almost forgot about
those games, but man, they were really something. Also, anything by
Greg Janson. He pretty much singlehandedly opened the door to the
countless possibilities offered up by this amazing little game.
Have you created any games outside of ZZT?
I created Spirit Revenge for Megazeux in 1997, and I still like it
very much, even though pretty much all of the dialogue makes me
cringe. Also, there is an enormous hole in the logic near the end
that I never noticed and none of my beta testers ever mentioned! I
also had some unfinished projects, namely a Rampage clone, a game
composed of a bunch of cool minigames, and a game where you drive a
car and dodge various geometric shapes on a grid. I still have the
first two, but sadly no one seems to have a copy of the last one.
Do you have any artistic pursuits other than making games?
I briefly collaborated on a sprite-based webcomic called Chilly
Willy (www.chilly-willy.com) which was beginning to be
not-sprite-based, but time constraints led to its eventual demise. I
also started a journal comic tentatively titled Whimsies
(www.chilly-willy.com/whimsy) which I have not updated in ages either,
but I'd like to get back on that pretty soon.
What are you up to, lately (in life, generally)?
I suggested this question, and yet I am terrible at answering it! Right now I'm in my first year of grad school, I
live with my boyfriend and our cat; I try to enjoy myself and not be
sad too much. I don't know how well I'm doing at this getting an
advanced degree thing. It's really just something to do while I
figure out what I really want to do. What else can I say?
Has your experience with ZZT or the ZZT scene made any sort of lasting impact on your life?
Of course! I've been friends or at least kept in contact with
people from the ZZT scene longer than most people I know in real life.
Not only that, but it was kind of a big deal in my young life and I
treasure memories of tooling around in the editor and talking to my
online friends until the wee hours of the night. There was a certain
magic in those days, and there are times I wish I could recapture the
What works of non-ZZT art have inspired you the most?
Lately, by virtue of scanners and torrents, I've been getting into comic
books again in a big way, and they are chock full of inspiration. I've been trying to read a little bit of everything -- the "high art"
stuff (Blankets, Bone, Concrete, etc), the horrible superhero stuff
from the early 90's (to provide a contrast to the good stuff, and so I
can be like "wow, I had horrible taste"), and the really great
superhero stuff (I just finished catching up with Joss Whedon's run on
Video games too are clearly a big influence; really I just want to
combine my favorite aspects from all the games I've ever played into
one bloated lumbering beast of awesomeness, but that seems a bit
beyond my abilities.
Do you have any interesting stories to relate about ZZT or the ZZT scene?
At first I couldn't think of anything, then I thought of too many! I guess the oldie-but-goodie is when everyone found out I was a girl,
which was a big deal at the time, ha. Come to think of it, spending a
lot of time as the only girl among a bunch of hormonal adolescent
dudes probably caused some kind of long-term psychological damage.
Do you plan to create any games in the future, with or without ZZT?
I sure hope so. This Game Maker thing seems pretty sweet.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm horrible at this closing words thing. I'm certainly glad I
found ZZT all those many years ago, and I would probably be a very
different person without the experiences attached to it.
- May 2006