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Sunday, December 23, 2007
EDIT: Exclusive preview image courtesy of MDickie.

MDickie is the author of dozens of unique games, and probably needs no introduction for most of this audience so I'll get right to the interview.

1. One thing that's notable about you is how fast you complete games, often in three months; did you ever have problems with procrastination, or is working so fast natural to you? Do you use any productivity tools such as to-do lists or schedules, or do you just work on things as you feel like it?

MD: Well, let's not fly that flag too hard because time is gushing away from me like water at the moment! I estimated it would only take 3 months to turn Reach into a wrestling game, but the project is heading into its 6th month and I'm still working 12-hour days. Of course, 6 months is still pretty astonishing for a game of that size and sophistication. My closest counterpart, "Pro Wrestling X", has clocked up a good 3 YEARS in production - and that's a team effort! As you say, 3 months is the standard for me now though - so my fans get restless at anything longer. After all these years, I guess I just know what I'm doing. I instinctively know exactly WHAT needs to be done, WHEN it needs to be done, and HOW I might best achieve that. It's a lot like a puzzle - I just know how to put all the pieces together as quickly as possible. One of my best tricks is dividing the day into art work and programming work. I create media in the morning and then bring it to life in the afternoon, so there's a nice flow to what I'm doing. Other than that, it's a race against the clock that makes me work so fast. I don't really have a choice! It may be a cliché, but time is money. The longer I spend making a game, the more money it has to make. For instance, if I had spent all year making World War Alpha I'd be out of business now because it didn't fly. Game over. I'm only here because Hard Time arrived and picked up the slack. My scattergun approach makes me failure-proof. If one concept doesn't work, another one is right around the corner to take the next shot. And on and on it goes, evolving towards perfection. The weak concepts die out and the strong concepts live to fight another day...

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Blogger OP-101 said at 12/23/2007 10:26:00 PM:  
I can't countenance how few times I've heard that word used in that way.. was that some sort of clever wordplay? Is it short for "count"!?

I think there's a long way to go before the tools become easy and powerful enough to attract the general public. Imagine how different the history of music would be if you had to make a guitar by hand before learning how to play it!
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/23/2007 11:55:00 PM:  
B-Boy Stance!
Blogger miyamoto-SAN said at 12/24/2007 12:19:00 AM:  
You can't countenance MDickie's vocabulary!
Blogger miyamoto-SAN said at 12/24/2007 12:32:00 AM:  
Although reading it over I think he's using it correctly; what he means is something like "I can't accept/tolerate the number of hours I'd waste if I was in a team".
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/24/2007 02:33:00 AM:  
Great Interview thanks. MDickie is certainly an inspiration. I use Blitzmax and it really is *not* a game engine. I had to make my own game engine using it and that took months and it's continually improved. I've used Assembly and C++ before, but Blitz is just quicker to use and easier to comprehend when you look at it so I favour it.

Thanks for the exercise link, I've just been asked by my Sensei to go for 2nd Dan in Aikido in 2008 so I'll be applying some of those techniques.
Blogger miyamoto-SAN said at 12/24/2007 03:44:00 AM:  
It's hard to define game engine I think. In Game Maker you have to make your own "engines" for each type of game too (for instance, for the Fedora Spade adventure games I made Orchard the Tomato Engine in Game Maker). So when I said game engine what I meant was something which reduces the amount of work required to make a game by providing a further level of abstraction above something like C++.

Glad you liked the exercise link. I like them because once you do them enough to memorize them they can be done anywhere.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/24/2007 06:44:00 AM:  
I once thought Mdickie was, well, a dick, but I'm happy I'm wrong, he's a class act. I really like this guy in a very heterosexual way. Very good interview, keep 'em coming!
Blogger CMSpice said at 12/24/2007 12:50:00 PM:  
As far as I'm concerned, things like blitz basic are just higher level programming languages. Ultimately, a game is always going to involve programming. Just sometimes several thousand lines of code can be condensed into a single mouse gesture. E.G. motion tweens in flash.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/24/2007 01:39:00 PM:  
Thanks for the very interesting interview.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/24/2007 07:13:00 PM:  
Go to his website and read his unwillingness to add features requested by the consumer to a game that wants money, due to his personal lack of interest in them. This is why his games get cracked every time then the crack gets shared, because he adds features only HE likes, then expects money.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/24/2007 10:46:00 PM:  
" he adds features only HE likes, then expects money "

- thats almost every developer out there, wakeup whiner. He knows better how to make games and what it needs, instead of wasting time on someone else`s feature.

and its all fair: try the demo and buy only if you like it
Blogger miyamoto-SAN said at 12/25/2007 12:17:00 AM:  
Uh, I'd hate to have my customers demand features *after* they already bought the game and feel cheated if they don't get them and then pirate all my games because they felt cheated.

You get what you pay for, there's no obligation to add features forever according to what people demand of you. Selling your game doesn't mean you're the employee of your customer and that they can tell you want they want you to work on or how to do it.
Blogger JS said at 12/25/2007 08:03:00 AM:  
For having recently bought BlitzMax after someone I know used it to make a proof of concept for a blazingly fast raycaster (later converted to J2ME for a mobile game), I can vouch that BM is a really powerful tool to create game, and saying that it is not really programming would be stupidly uninformed.

@CMSpice : You aren't really condensing any code with a "mouse gesture" by using tween in Flash, you are just using someone else code, which is really the issue here. Some coders think that using pre made libraries or tools is cheating.

My theory is that they are just jealous that the arcane art of programming that make them special is now accessible to the unwashed masses.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/25/2007 08:04:00 AM:  
MDickie has VISION. And knows how to execute it. But, to put down dev's who are making 2D games is a bit ignorant. Just because it's a 3D game doesn't make it better than 2D IMO. Other than that, I agree with everything he's said.
Blogger miyamoto-SAN said at 12/25/2007 09:30:00 AM:  
I don't think he meant that 2D games are inferior to 3D ones (on his site he even said that making 3D games is easier than making 2D games), I think what he meant was that 2D games will always have a smaller audience.

Many people who play games see that a game is 2D and don't take a second look at it. It might be stupid, but it's how the audience is. The people who appreciate 2D games and don't discriminate against them or the people who prefer 2D over 3D are niche people, so if you decide to make a 2D game you're automatically cutting off a large portion of your audience.

So I think he's right that most independent game developers make games for a fairly small audience -- those who still appreciate 2D games, usually those who grew up with the NES and SNES.