Today’s Game Developers Like You interview is with Maryanne Peters of Toronto.
Q: Hi Maryanne! To get us started, what’s a typical day like in your game development process?
A: If I’m not already working on one, I pick a feature off my list (shortened by priority) and work out how to implement it. If I need graphics, I make them as I go along. This is similar to the way that projects progress at work, except that for these games I’m the whole team.
I decide which functions to implement next. I refactor if necessary. Implement new features, first by blocking basic functionality, then streamlining it, and adding art as required. I take note of any bugs. I fix the bugs, clean up the code, tag and release it. Repeat.
Q: Why did you choose to get into making games?
A: Making a videogame is the perfect mix of logic and reason (code) and art.
Q: Do you currently do it professionally or as a hobby?
A: I don’t enjoy working where quality is subject to the whims of someone else, so what I’ve seen of the game industry was unappealing. I keep my game development for myself as something I can enjoy.
I hope other people like the games I make, but I really am making them for my own amusement.
Q: Has making videogames changed anything else about your life or how you see the world outside of games? (If so, how?)
A: I think about all of life differently – my mind automatically seeks out the structure of how things interact, maps out how to get to any given goal, assesses the risk, and re-evaluates when new information becomes apparent. It makes life seem smoother – there’s less friction, and obstacles are either puzzles to be solved or path markers. I can’t imagine ever wanting to stop.
Q: Mind sharing a bit about the game that you’re currently working on?
A: I’m working on my pet project @RaveMowFive, which I plan to release for iOS, Android, and the web. People can play the current iteration on my website (www.macpeters.com) by clicking the purple Rave Mow Five icon in the top right corner.
I don’t have a hard deadline yet for RaveMowFive, but I figure before 2016 I should have something worth releasing.
Q: Where does the site/brand name macpeters originate from?
A: I use Macpeters – M.A.C. being my first initials, Peters being my last name. It’s easier to say, to spell, and to google than my full name.
Q: Which roles do you do for your projects?
A: I am doing all the coding, art, and audio for my game. I’m least comfortable with audio.
Q: Which tools are you using for your current project?
A: I am currently using Game Maker Studio for development, because it can build to many platforms. For the art I’m using Inkscape to create the vector sprites, edited down to size in Adobe Photoshop. For audio I have an iPad with GarageBand.
Q: Do you participate in game jams?
A: I’ve taken part in 2 TOJams, and I think 4 Game Prototype Challenges. Hoping to participated in TOJam 10.
Q: Any long-term goals for your games or your journey as a developer?
A: As a developer, I want to make games that feel the way games felt to me when I was young and games were new.
Q: Are there some specific games you played growing up that impacted your ideas as a developer?
A: Games that really stand out to me are Super Mario 3, and a few of the old C64 games like Lode Runner, Frogger, Montezuma’s revenge. I guess most of them are platformers – adventurous, whimsical, with surprises and hidden secrets or tricks.
Q: Do you still play games today?
A: I do still play games, mobile and computer. I have a bunch of really old games from C64, NES, SNES, then mostly PC games (Oblivion, Skyrim, Vampire the Masquerade, Spore, Dragon Age). These days I get most of my games (Dragon Age Inquisition, the Forest, Beat Buddy, GW2) off Steam or straight from the publisher.
Q: What’s a challenge that you’ve experienced so far through game development?
A: I find it difficult to finish a creative project when working with a team where the goals are not clearly defined and agreed upon. Differing priorities tug the project in too many directions, and it just falls apart. I would have liked to finish Jump Dude, but I don’t feel comfortable taking that on my own, since it began as a team project.
Q: Do you have education or specific training related to game development? If so, how has or hasn’t it helped?
A: I went to triOS specifically for game development, and it was a great place to start. That allowed me to program professionally, which has definitely increased my skills. So yeah, it helped.
Q: How else do you improve your game development skills?
A: I watch tutorials, sometimes. Usually I learn something new because not knowing is a roadblock that I need to get past in order to continue. The best way I find is just to search the internet – there are language and IDE or platform specific forums, and there’s always StackOverflow.
Q: What words of advice would you like to offer other people thinking about getting into game development?
A: Be prepared to feel lost most of the time, and learn to enjoy the frustration of not knowing why things are doing what they’re doing. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
Q: Any game development role models or heroes?
A: Anyone who is always creating, developing their skills, and sharing their unique vision with the world is a role model for me.
Q: Any shout outs that you’d like to mention?
A: My programming prof, Rob, and Dave who gave me my first real job in coding. Also all my coworkers who happily share their knowledge with me, and everyone who contributes to the inter-world of information that’s available whenever I need it.
Q: What do you do to get word out about your games?
A: So far I’m just tweeting, mostly just once a week for #screenshotsaturday. Once my game is a bit further along, I should do more. I’m not sure what yet…
Speaking of Tweeting, y’all should really follow Maryanne on Twitter, where she’s @MaryannePeters.
Check out http://www.macpeters.com/ to playtest the latest public version of RaveMowFive.
Also, here’s her latest game demo reel, if you’d like to see more of her projects:
Next entry: a text interview with you, about your projects?
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