by Eric-Jon Rössel Tairne
My association with Recreational Software Designs started early, maybe around the time of my first game. I don’t remember the circumstances. Maybe I wrote in with some suggestions. Maybe I was trying to show off my work. Whatever my motivation, I was fourteen and unhampered with caution or tact. I mailed a letter and maybe a 3.5” diskette, and then forgot about it. Weeks later, the phone rang. Against my normal habits, I picked up. The voice, which asked for me by name, sounded uncannily like one of my friends. Being fourteen and tactless, I told the voice that it was an idiot. The voice was confused. I unleashed more rudeness. The exchange continued until the voice identified itself as the president of RSD, a certain Oliver Stone. Tickled with the oddness of the situation, I laughed for a minute or more.
I’m not sure why he stayed on the phone, or indeed continued contact with me. Eventually we developed a rapport. He would mail me pre-release versions of new Game-Maker updates; I would scour them for bugs and inconsistencies. I would mail in my newest creations; he would introduce me to other Game-Maker users and show me their work. This went on for a few years.
For the 3.0 release of Game-Maker, RSD chose to transition from floppies to CD-ROM. In 1995, this was a big step. It was like having a book or an album published. Within a year AOL mailers and demo discs would render the CD common; in 1995, it was still a magical endless data well. So RSD now had a whole CD to fill, and to justify the leap they needed to fill it.
I was prolific, and able to hide my ineptitude behind polish and an intimate understanding of the game engine, so evidently I was just what RSD needed. They contracted me to design six games, and to sign over another two. My rudeness persisted; when asked to contribute, my first impulse was to toss them a couple of my least favorite games. It was only with later discussion that I twigged their desire for new, flashy, and instructive content. With that goal in mind, a certain inspiration struck me. I progressed at about a game a week. Some of the games served to demonstrate certain design concepts; others spun themselves out of a whim.
At reader request, here are those six games, in the rough order of development. I’ll hold off on the overt criticism, and instead try my best to explain what was going through my head. We’ll just see if a sensible train of thought develops.