I am Mr. Mystery Writer. I was given the creator of the GMC Secret Santa as my gift receiver, so I decided to contact Independent Gaming and get them to post my article about GameDevDan. They happily obliged. Here is the interview I had with him.
What can you tell me about yourself, GameDevDan?
Does it have to be the truth?
Ok. My name is Dan Johnston and I’m a 19 year old graphics designer and game developer. I live on the outskirts of a large city in the UK called Bristol. I pretty much chose graphics design over any other kind of work because I knew that I wouldn’t have to listen to somebody ordering to me to stack shelves, calculate taxes or mix together chemical elements in order to try and make gold. I’m joking of course, graphics and games were the natural course for me to follow simply because I love making them.
What is Wormintheworks?
Wormintheworks is the name of the game development team I run with a few friends. The name was chosen way back when I first got into game design and was inspired by the team17 series, Worms. Man, I loved those games. Now we create all kinds of games on multiple platforms. I still find that sentence crazy to be honest: “Multiple platforms”. It’s especially weird knowing that I’ve chosen to do this professionally. I must be mad.
Can you briefly tell us about some of your games?
Sure. In general we like to create the kind of games that people of all ages can enjoy. Developing the character designs for each game is the most fun element of game development in my opinion, hence why a lot of our games include kooky little cartoon characters with oddly constructed bodies. SuperBeanJump is probably my favourite Wormintheworks game followed by Chickens & Moles. If anyone out there only has time to play a couple of our games I’d recommend those two for their cuteness and addictive gameplay.
What do you use to make your games? Any funny or interesting development stories involving any of your games?
My tool of choice always has been and always will be GameMaker. Programming isn’t really a strong point of the Wormintheworks team and GameMaker: Studio makes development so quick and easy that we can be free to spend our time perfecting the look and feel we want.
I don’t really have any funny stories from my point of view, but I have a couple of moderately embarrassing ones that may be funny from your point of view. Both of these take place during game jams and involve me and our other artist who is also called Dan.
The first story involves me and Dan going out and embarrassing ourselves by getting drunk at a night club and dancing with people who clearly didn’t want us around. We then proceeded to come back to my house and work on an entry for GMC Jam 6 while drunk and eventually horribly hung-over. We spent the whole first day switching between GameMaker and Facebook to untag ourselves from awful photos of the night before. We still managed to come fifth.
The second story involves our brief entry in the 2012 ExPlay game jam held in the center of Bristol. Having been given the brief and told we had 24 hours to complete our game we paired up with a couple of programmers and began working in a team of 4. Just before the event hall closed for the day they served everybody with a huge tub of cold chicken curry. We were expecting to wake up the next morning and head back to the event hall to finish our game, but as it turns out I got horrendous food poisoning from the curry and I spent the whole day in the bathroom instead. I’m sure you don’t want more in-depth information than that.
No, that’s good. How is it working with a team? Do you live nearby or is it across the world using the internet?
Working in a team is kinda cool, we have 4 team members: Me, Matt, George and Dan. I’ve been involved with every project currently on the site and do most of the upkeep and marketing side of things. Matt created Desperado and occasionally helps with some code snippets, George creates some of our music and helps with HTML from time to time and Dan is a bit of an ideas man. All four of us used to live in Bristol, but Matt and George have moved away to university. Basically Dan and I use game design as an excuse to meet up and pretend we’re doing some work but actually all we do is drink beer and eat terrible food.
Do you have any tips for aspiring indie developers?
I don’t really feel successful enough to give out a whole lot of tips, but there are definitely a few things I know have helped me. The most important thing you can do is network with other game developers. Open a twitter and follow as many other game developers as you can. How many followers you have shouldn’t matter, as long as you’re interacting with others, learning from them and even letting them learn from you!
What do you think of the indie scene right now? Where could it improve, in your opinion?
The “indie” scene is booming right now with platforms becoming more open to the average bedroom coder and there are some awesome multi-platform development tools being released. I don’t care how many people say platforms are getting more restricted – back in the day of NES and Game Boy how many bedroom coders could say they had sold thousands of copies of their games to people from all over the world?
In my opinion the “indie” scene could be improved by not using the term “Indie” as much, especially when marketing your game to people outside the game development scene. It’s definitely important to interact with other developers, but your average casual gamer downloading apps for their phone doesn’t care where their game came from as long as it’s good. As well as advertising to your fellow game developers, you should be spending a lot of time sending marketing emails to review sites and other places where casual gamers might spot your app.
Where did the idea for the GMC Secret Santa event come from? Can you tell us a bit about its history and how you managed to arrange something like that?
Well, Secret Santa is a game that many companies and communities play every year, so I guess the idea was pretty much hovering in front of us the whole time. I was amazed the GMC hadn’t had something like this before. I basically sent a private message to Nocturne, who thought it was a great idea, and we did a little brainstorming before finalizing the rules and posting the topic.
Thanks for doing this interview and thanks a lot for running the event.
No problem. Thanks for having me.