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Latest Comments by Liam Dawe
Interview with Troy of MyGameCompany, part 2 in the replies
10 June 2011 at 11:30 am UTC

Rustybolts also had a few questions to ask

Rusty: Hi Troy!
I was wondering if you are a games player at all yourself? If so which genre of game floats your boat and from what period you got into playing games e.g the 8bit, 16bit era? Also what are your standout moments in games history in your time as a games player?

MGC: Oh, yeah - I love games! I've been playing computer games since the earliest years. My dad bought me an Atari 2600 back in 1980, and we played Pong, PacMan, Asteroids, and lots of other great games. I also had a friend with an old 8-bit Commodore 64 back in 1982 that we used to play games on. In 1985, our family bought a PC Jr, and one of my first games was Sierra's King's Quest, which I absolutely loved. He also bought a cartridge with the BASIC programming language on it, and I started dabbling in writing my own games.

I enjoy a pretty wide variety of games. Through the years, some of my absolute favorites included the Commander Keen games (particularly episodes 4-6), Wacky Wheels, Interplay's Lord of the Rings and Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Sierra's King's Quest and Space Quest series of adventure games, LucasArt's X-Wing and Tie Fighter games, some first person shooters like Quake II and Dark Forces, Disney's Jungle Pinball, Re-volt, and more.

My current favorites include a number of indie games, particularly Eschalon 1 & 2 by Basilisk Games, Fairway Solitaire by Grey Alien Games, Titan Attacks by Puppy Games, and Ancient Empires Lux by Sillysoft.

I still play a lot of the older games via DOSBox. There's something about the purity of the gameplay and the stories that is almost timeless. The older games focused a lot more on story and character development, and they had an undeniable fun factor while you played them. It seems like most newer games focus almost exclusively on combat, realism (in both gameplay and graphics), and darker settings (military missions, horror settings, or weird supernatural themes). That doesn't appeal to me at all.

That's probably the biggest driving factor behind the design of my own games. I'm trying to recapture some of the fun of those earlier games, because nobody makes games like that anymore. That's why my Rick Rocket game borrows a lot of elements from Dan Dare, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon, in terms of both story and art. That's why my Dirk Dashing platformers use the same slanted 2.5D look of Commander Keen, with traditional spy music, a cool cartoon spy that is not a bungling idiot or a dark, hyper-realistic CIA type, and a lot of fun gadgets, weapons, and moves. These are the kind of games I enjoy!

Rusty: Yeah really enjoyed the Eschalon series myself, looking forward to the third installment. Can you tell me a little bit on how you produce the artwork for Dirk, as some of that background art is gorgeous. Also I read in one of your monthly newsletters about a problem you had creating the secuirity cameras for Dirk, can you tell us a bit about this problem or any other problem like this and how you solved them.

MGC: Oh, thank you! I'm glad you like it! Hopefully that's an indicator that I'm on the right track with the improved graphics...

Many of the graphics are hand-drawn and hand-painted. For the background elements, I use a combination of acrylic paints, colored pencils, and colored markers. I draw and paint each individual background element by itself - this includes repeatable walls of bricks/stones, floor surfaces, trees, furniture pieces, etc. Then I scan them in, trim them, and scale them using GIMP. For the animated characters, all of the frames are hand-drawn, just like they are in a traditional cartoon. Then I scan them in, clean up the edges, and paint them in the computer.

I've had a few art pieces that posed challenges for me. The security camera you mentioned was one. I was having difficulty with the hand-drawn animation - the camera movement just wasn't coming out the way I wanted. So I built a paper mock-up, photographed each frame in the position I wanted, and then converted each photo into black and white line art and painted them. A fellow indie called me the "MacGuyver of video game production"!




Another art piece that challenged me were some background hills I needed. I couldn't get the paintings to come out the way I wanted. But I found an article on the Internet about how to convert a photograph into a watercolor painting using GIMP, and after some experimentation, I came up with the perfect background piece that I think complements the rest of the art in that scene.



Liam: Have there been any problems in porting/coding your games to the different platforms?

MGC: Not really. Most of my games use the same core game engine, which is built with cross-platform technologies. The initial port for the first game that used this engine took some work, but once that was done, it became trivial to do a build for any of my games on any of the 3 platforms.

Linux was probably the most difficult platform for the initial port. Even though I had developed the game on Linux, it wasn't easy to create a binary that would run on almost any distribution. There was almost no useful documentation available for doing this. Fortunately, Erik Hermansen at Caravel Games put me in touch with Gerry Jo Jellestad, who has done a lot of Linux game development and had experience with building distribution-independent binaries. Gerry was very helpful, and very patient as I bombarded him with e-mails over several months, asking questions and getting help for technical issues that I was running into. By the time I was done, I had two notebooks full of great information that wasn't documented anywhere else. So with Gerry's permission, I wrote a series of articles that captured what I had learned, and I published them on gamedev.net a few years ago.

Actually I've been thinking about turning those articles into an e-book. There's a lot more I've learned since I wrote them, like how to handle PulseAudio (which seems to be the norm on most common distributions nowadays) and how to build a binary against older versions of glibc so your game will run on older distributions. I've also talked with some other indie developers who would like me to write an article or tutorial about how to get started with basic development tasks, like compiling, linking, and debugging on Linux. When Dirk 2 is done, I might put that book together and sell it from my web site.

Rusty: Ok to keep the spy theme going ill end this interview with spy themed question.
Whats your most loved bond film and who is your favorite bad guy from the bond films (Odd job is my fave although I do have a soft spot for Jaws). Also if you wish you can end with anything else you wish to say to our readers.

MGC: That's a tough one! I enjoyed all of the Bond films, to one degree or another. I don't think I could pick just one, but my favorite movies would be Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, and Tomorrow Never Dies. And Odd Job would definitely be my favorite bad guy too!

Thanks, guys, for the great interview, and thanks to all of you for reading this and supporting me and my games! I really appreciate my Linux customers, and I'll definitely keep bringing you new games in the future!

Some cool pictures to end it with!
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Oilrush 0.64 update
4 June 2011 at 5:38 pm UTC

Well if you in any way feel you can do some videos why not join us ;)

Hacker Evolution Duality
24 May 2011 at 10:40 am UTC

No worries cleared it up.

You're right though it does seem rather pricey for such a simple game.

Minecraft 1.6 Next Week!
22 May 2011 at 2:09 pm UTC

We do currently use bukkit on our server, i will have a look into mcMMO.

Minecraft server downtime + Website revamp
13 May 2011 at 10:24 am UTC

Yeah the left side will be populated:
"Re-create the current websites left and right side blocks (the ones I want anyway)."

:)

Helena The 3rd update
9 May 2011 at 9:11 am UTC

Thanks added it in :D

Helena The 3rd update
8 May 2011 at 12:29 pm UTC

Hah no problem :), besides the more people that know about your game the better.

Helena The 3rd update
8 May 2011 at 12:12 pm UTC

I thought the auto updater was newsworthy :)

FLARE 0.13 Released!
8 May 2011 at 12:26 pm UTC

Well looks like only another couple months until the engine is in a more finished state and then i think they will be working on an actual game :)

Linux Game Publishing...are alive?
6 May 2011 at 8:34 am UTC

Well i doubt it would kill him to post something in public once now and then, if he's doing it in private then it could be because he isn't doing much and just making himself look good to his friends on FB. Not to bash the guy but until we see what they are up to people will think that.

Sacred 2 would be a pretty cool port, i honestly as well hope it is a newer game and not one of their older in-porting for x years games. But then it would prove to their customers they can finish stuff if they did finish up their older ports.