The decade between 1995 and 2005 was a dark time for the bedroom developer. With the introduction of the Web and the death of dial-up boards, the Shareware scene had crashed. With the introduction of 3D cards and the growing popularity of the home PC, development became complex and expensive. There was never a harder time for an amateur game designer to get started and build an audience.
That silent decade need not have happened. In 1991, a company called Recreational Software Designs released its own game design suite for MS-DOS. RSD’s Game-Maker supported VGA graphics, four-way scrolling, Sound Blaster music and effects, full-screen animations, large maps, and fully animated characters and monsters. Its editing tools were powerful and intuitive, allowing quick turnaround of sprites and background tiles and easy assembly into full games.
RSD ceased development just before the Web caught on, and right on the verge of a radical reinvention. The company never built an online presence, and Game-Maker failed to make much of an impression on the Web – leaving a big void for Mark Overmars to fill.
We caught up with lead programmer G. Andrew Stone, to talk about Game-Maker and the place that it holds in indie game history.