Published on October 16th, 2013 | by Jamie843030
An Interview With Indie Developer James Gamble.
He has more aliases than Rocky’s Apollo Creed and has developed more games than Sparta has warriors! Earlier today I got to ask James a few questions I thought you may be interesting in him answering and he was more than happy to have a waffle!
Hello James, If you would like to introduce yourself and explain to our readers a bit about who you are and what you do?
Hello, I’m James “Jayenkai” Gamble, and I write games!
I’m a hobbiest developer, meaning I tend to write games for the love of actually writing the games. I enjoy the puzzle/problem solving of game development, and generally get a kick out of the process of creating things.
For the past few years I’ve been tackling the crazy project of making AGameAWeek. Although I haven’t always achieved that, and do like to take breaks, I do try to stick to that weekly schedule wherever possible.
How long have you been developing video games?
I started to learn to program when I was about 7 years old. (1987!)
Having an 8-bit Amstrad CPC computer, and a lovely big manual that came with it, I was able to learn the simple mechanics of putting commands together to create short programs.
Over the years I’ve experimented with many different systems, and dozens of programming languages, and have now settled into my current language (Monkey : Monkeycoder.co.nz) which is a nice new-age mix of old-skool BASIC, with modern programming techniques.
Can you remember the first title you ever created?
The first “game” I can remember was based on the classic board game HeroQuest. I managed to reproduce the board, and get a little player character wandering around the layout. Enemies would attack, and you could collect health points from treasure chests.
It sounds impressive, but it was all done in ASCII-text characters, and didn’t ever diverge from the standard Yellow-On-Blue default Amstrad colourscheme.
It wasn’t very good. But it is the first thing that I remember coding with the intention of it being a game, rather than a learning experience.
Who is your inspiration ( if any ) in the world of gaming?
As I was growing up in the 80s, many names stick out. Matthew Smith, The Oliver Twins, David Braben, Geoff Crammond, Chris Sawyer and many others are all wedged firmly in my mind as developers I admire. It’s a shame that, nowadays, game development is done by large teams, and that no names ever seem to stick out as well as they did in the past.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I’m not entirely sure, if I’m honest! I tend to start with either doodling some sprites, or messing about with audio, or sometimes playing with a silly bit of code. Usually a small starting point is enough to plant a seed, and then a game typically grows from there.
Sometimes the result will be new and exciting, whilst other times an idea seems to fall into a generic slot and become “yet another clone of xyz game”.
Doing AGameAWeek allows me to try out these ideas, and happily ignore the ones that don’t work.
What is the story behind AGameAWeek.com?
There’s not much of a story, it’s just the way I work!!
About 8 years ago, a member of CodersWorkshop (a now defunct website) decided to set a short development challenge. It was enjoyed by many, and folk wanted more of the same, so I took it upon myself to turn it into a weekly programming challenge. Each week would be a different theme, you’d have a week to write a game in that theme, and for a short-time it proved fairly popular. CodersWorkshop closed, and I created SoCoder.netin it’s place, keeping the spirit of the “Wednesday Workshop” challenges at the heart of the website.
After a while, though, people grew weary of writing new games every single week. As time went on, it became obvious that I was pretty much the only person left doing it, so I opted to end the Wednesday Workshop, and instead morph it into it’s own website. AGameAWeek grew out of that, and I’ve been attempting to keep it going ever since.
Which of your programs are you most proud of?
I’m not sure I could pick a single game, but the title I love the most is probably JNKPlat. It’s never been a popular game, but it’s a title that I love to create, and recreate, and recreate yet again! The most recent edition is from 2010, and includes over 100 levels. It’s a puzzle-platform game which concentrates on puzzle first and foremost, with a focus on timed movement and specific patterns required to complete each level.
Having started the game in college, I’ve constantly been remaking it over the years. It’s currently on hiatus, though, as I try to come up with a way of making it work on Mobile Devices. Their touchscreens aren’t exactly great when you need a whole bunch of buttons to play!
You can read more about JNKPlat, and it’s main character Platdude, here.. http://jayenkai.socoder.net/games-for-windows/about/
When you are not coding, which genres/platforms do you like to play?
If I’m honest, I’m not that much of a games player, but when I do play, I tend to stick to short-and-sweet games. The WarioWare series has stuck out as one of my all-time favourites, because it’s exactly the sort of thing I need between long coding sessions. Intense, but fun.
In general though, I currently keep my iPad by my side, and it’s getting a whole lot of use as an all in one game/media/web device. It’s even replaced my laptop for most purposes. Unless I’m coding, I’m probably using the iPad.
I recently bought a PS3 specifically to play GTAV on it, but even then I’m finding myself playing Transport Tycoon on the iPad more than GTAV, which is rather alarming!
In the end, it all boils down to whether a game is fun or not. If a game starts off with a 10 minute tutorial, it’s probably not for me.
What are your plans for the future?
I have no plan to speak of, and generally just play it by ear. I’ve found that if I try to plan things out, something normally comes along to mess up my plan.. Normally it’s a case of me doing one project and then suddenly coming up with a great new gameplay idea, heading off on a tangent, and never returning to my original plan!
I have a LOT of folders full of half-finished, incomplete games, just waiting to be finished off.
Do you have any current projects you would like to plug?
My current ongoing projects are BlastTrax, (the first update of which was recently uploaded to Apple) and Sheep Goes Right. Sheep Goes Right is a silly little stick-puppet-based game, about a sheep that heads to the right, dodging a variety of different obstacles on his way. I’ve gone in a drastically unusual graphical style with this one, and it’s very much unlike my normal “retro-80s” artstyle.
Sheep Goes Right should be appearing on iOS/Android/other devices in the next month or so.
As well as those, I’m hoping to create an Advent Calendar Collection of sorts, by December.. Whether or not I manage to achieve that will be entirely down to how much Transport Tycoon I end up playing!
Thank you very much for your time James. All the best success from us here at SentralGamer!
I hope to bring you more on Sheep Goes Right and the Advent Calendar Collection in the not too distant future, so please hit us up and visit SentralGamer again soon. In the meantime, feel free to check out the lovely links contained in the interview for much, much more.