Game Maker Studio... At first I sort of dismissed it as I thought it would be just another one of those "make you own games" things that promise a lot but deliver very little, a bit like the old Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit or that one where you could make text adventures (the name of which I've forgotten). I kept looking at it, thinking "It looks interesting... Maybe it's worth a shot!" and eventually bought it when it appeared on sale for 50% off.
My initial impression of GMS was that it was okay, but not really something I'd use for any long space of time. But I quickly got to working with it, finding the GML language to be very easy to pick up, and started working on a game called Blokker.
I intended to release Blokker through IndieDB, but I never actually completed it. The game was going to be a Breakout clone and feature 40 levels of increasing difficulty. It was going well, but I got bored with it about three quarters of the way through development. I decided that I didn't really want to go back to making games and uninstalled Game Maker Studio.
Fast forward a few months and I was thinking of making games again. Being a full-time carer is fine, but it does mean very long stretches of time where I'm in the house for days, weeks or months on end without a break, only getting out to do shopping or pay bills, and this can lead to some frustration. So I was wondering whether it'd be worth trying to start a small games studio that I can run from home in my spare time when I'm not otherwise engaged. Something to do to stop me going stir crazy. And then perhaps turn it into a proper business later on.
|early BritBitGames website|
|Early ACOB logo|
I started looking at old Atari VCS games, and games from developers who were around at the same time as I had my C64, and seeing how they were put together to extract the best gameplay from the limited hardware, and proceeded to plan out the next game I was going to make along these lines. Even though it was going to be developed on modern hardware, this game was going to be retro!
|early Retr0ids banner|
I felt that I'd re-found my niche as a developer, and this led me on to creating Hyper-Galactic Spider from Mars, which pushed the retro game idea even further with a look inspired by the old Atari 2600 video games from the 80's. Sure, I still wasn't making any money and ACOB is just a very small fish an a gigantic ocean of games developers, but I was starting to enjoy it more and I think that's what really counts.
|Hyper-Galactic Spiders from Mars|
I admit, I would still like to make ACOB into a proper studio and become really established as a games developer with releases on Steam and other stores, maybe even physical releases, but my current situation as a carer makes that a very difficult prospect at the moment. It's not really the amount of time I spend caring that prevents me from making this grow, it's more the systems around being a carer and having to deal with certain people in authority that make the whole thing harder than it really should be, but maybe I'll go into detail on this at a later time. It's not that I want to become the next Notch and earn billions from my games, I'd be quite happy earning a modest income and enjoying the process of making what I enjoy. Enough to buy food, pay bills and carry on gaming, and I'd be happy.
|new ACOB logo|
In the mean time ACOB is continuing to move forward, slowly but with purpose. I've now released three full games and two demos over on acollectionofbits.itch.io, and I'm looking to start working on new projects soon. I'm still aiming towards the retro-inspired theme, though I may start looking towards a more 16-bit inspired style soon. I'm also intending to start up the daily development streams again, but in a more casual manner than the previous ones I did last year. I just have a few things to work through at the moment, the biggest one being my mothers ongoing battle with cancer, so things are going to be progressing slowly.
However, if I keep working at this, I may one day create that proper games studio that I'm aiming for!