Sandy speaks: GameMaker 8 in 2009
March 30, 2008
CEO of YoYo Games Sandy Duncan has revealed some interesting information about the future of YoYo Games and GameMaker, not through his glog, but during an interview with ThatVideoGameBlog.
Sandy also provided the story behind the get-together of YoYo Games Ltd and GameMaker something I had not known previously.
ThatVideoGameBlog: What were some of the other factors that inspired you to create a social platform for budding casual game designers?
Sandy Ducan: To be honest we started out on a very different path looking to become a publisher of casual games. Then we noticed YouTube. In June 2006 YouTube was just starting to get big and people were starting to talk about “user generated content “and “Web 2.0” was becoming a buzz word. We could see the potential of the “YouTube” model in games …but couldn’t figure out how to make it easy to create games. Then by chance one of our Directors at YoYo (James North-Hearn) is also the CEO of Sumo Digital who are one of Europe’s top games developers. The top programmer at Sumo is a guy called Jacob Habgood who had just finished writing a book with Mark Overmars called “The Game Maker’s Apprentice”. It was a match made in heaven! This was early October 2006. We moved pretty quickly to close a deal with Mark and within 4 months the first (Alpha) YoYo Games website was up and running. We launched the full (Beta) site in late April 2007.
TVGB: It was announced on January 21, 2008 that in a mere eight months, the website reached a record 10,000 game uploads, making it the premiere repository of user-generated games. What were the critical success factors that contributed to this unprecedented level of achievement?
SD: Our first challenge was to win the confidence of the Game Maker Community. Game Maker has been around since 1999, so there were already thousands of people using it. Luckily for us there wasn’t any truly great place for the community to post the games they had developed and get them reviewed and most importantly played. I won’t say we didn’t make any mistakes, because we did. But getting a site with a simple method of uploading your games and making it easy for casual visitors to play them was the key. We added the “Instant Play” feature to Game Maker in September 2007, which meant you didn’t have to download the game before you could play it and from there on the number of visitors took off. If you have almost 1 million people coming to the site every month, then there is plenty of incentive for the Community to keep writing and uploading new games as they have a readymade audience.
TVGB: What are some of the measures in place to counter such issues [poor quality games being submitted to YoYoGames.com], if any?
SD: Much of the work that we will put into the site development in the next few months will be focused on making sure that the best games are even easier to find. At the same time we have ambitious plans to offer more free packages of development content (Sounds, Backgrounds, Sprites etc) which will be available to anyone. This will help ALL of the developers. We will also offer the best guys some personal support later this year and ultimately we will spend money on the best games to help “polish” them ourselves. None of this has been formally announced, but we’re working on it.
TVGB: Game Maker is in its seventh release. What is planned for the near and distant future for YoYo Games? Will you offer much more advanced platforms that add several additional malleable layers of complexity for gamers to mould into content? Are there any plans to release commercial games at this stage?
SD: Game Maker will develop in 3 ways.
Firstly we are working on a version for the Apple Mac. This will be available in Beta around April time.
Secondly we are re-writing the “Runner” in C++ (currently GM is written in Delphi) which will give us several advantages, primarily portability. Our vision is for Game Maker games to be running on non PC platforms such as phones, portable devices and Consoles. For example, Apple’s announcement of the iPhone SDK last weekend was very exciting for us.
Finally we will start work on Game Maker 8 this summer. You won’t see it until 2009, but multi-platform support will be a key feature. We may also do something about a compiler around the same time.
I’m sure some of you will disagree with Sandy on the matter of their not being any community sites before YoYo came along, specifically I remember GameMakerGames.com and The Games Showcase which were featured on the old GameMaker website.
True they were different from YoYoGames.com which attracts a far wider section of gamer, specifically those outside of the GameMaker community.
The second part of ThatVideoGameBlog’s interview with Sandy, which is not related to GameMaker, can be found here.