I’ve always dreamed of the idea of creating video games. When I was about 6-7 years old, I remember visiting an aunt’s house and getting introduced to a “way older” cousin, around 13-14. He was a big computer geek, just like me, and when I told him I liked playing with the computer, he immediately rushed to the living room where his computer was to show me a game he was making.
I remember thinking: “wow, you can MAKE games?” I just took for granted that games came pre-installed with the computer, just like the other random boring programs.
He showed me a very awesome looking 8-bit game with art that he had drawn himself. I was more interested to know about the process of making a game rather than his game, which was a bit of a shock to him, but he was super excited to show me around the tool itself.
It was called “O.H.R.RPG.C.E” – and since that was a mouthful, we would just call it “CUSTOM” since that’s what the executable’s filename was. The app’s logo was a crudely drawn hamster, and it, for some reason, still lives in my memories all this time later. You can still find the project in its original domain https://hamsterrepublic.com.
Fast forward a few years later, and I got my hands on a program called “RPG Maker 2000”. I was 9 at the time, and I spent so much time tinkering with the tool, creating complicated games with the limited tools and programming knowledge I had. I didn’t understand the concept of variables at the time, so I would end up creating duplicated versions of the same map over and over, transitioning from one copy to the other depending on a dialogue decision or a pressed switch.
By the time RPG Maker 2003 came out, I had already discovered the concept of variables and switches, conditionals, and loops. I was aware of “the bigger picture” in terms of programming, mainly how you had to think to resolve abstract issues—all of that resulted from spending several hours just playing with a game-making tool.
My most advanced game had all kind of “extra” systems, like listening for custom keybinds and doing specific actions depending on a keypress, opening a “detailed world map” whenever you pressed a button that showed exactly where your character was standing, a day/night cycle with custom dialogues and behaviours (like an elementary version of Harvest Moon), and a custom battle system that worked more like a Tales game, rather than the first-person view of a dungeon crawler. I was around 13 when I did all of that.
Being almost 30 now, I can confidently say I have enough experience as a Software Developer and a Videogame player. I am brimming with ideas about creating different experiences, what I feel has been lacking or stagnant for the past decade and how I would’ve wanted the games to be when I first played them. I like to think about a recent example of a game that fundamentally changed its own formula after almost 35 years: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
While I love the original Zelda formula, I can also appreciate that Breath of the Wild is probably the closest a Zelda game has been to Shigeru Miyamoto’s original idea when he envisioned the game. A full-blown open-world exploration where you could collect and interact with everything and anything that you could see. When the original Zelda game came out, the hardware was pretty limited, but now, I can easily imagine a game like Breath of the Wild being the first in the franchise.
That’s my main inspiration to create games. I want to pay homage to my favourite genres and create experiences that are fundamentally the same, but at the same time, completely different. I want to elevate what we think of certain games, create “a new standard”, raise the bar, not for my own ego, but for the improvement and advancement of the art of making those games as an industry.
I am heavily inspired by games like Cities: Skylines and Stardew Valley. Against all odds, creating a new game in a genre that had been stagnant for years, if not decades, and creating something so fundamentally the same as usual, but at the same time so completely different and exciting. Both games follow their ancestors’ roots and elevate the experience by offering “quality of life” improvements and better user experience, thanks to the more powerful hardware available.
In conclusion, I want to create engaging experiences and share them with the world, and I hope to make at least one 6 years-old happy and make them wonder how anything is made. Because making things is one of the best ways to share a piece of yourself with the world.
Thanks for reading.