Frequently Asked Questions
This is a collection of things I've answered elsewhere, but could do with being gathered in one place.
Updated 10 November 2016.
1. Can I use the music in your games for something?
Please ask the composers, found in the credits in the manual for each game (sometimes inside the game itself).
2. Why do some of your games run slowly or not at all on my computer?
Most of the older games here were made in Game Maker 5.3A. Game Maker in general has issues with compatibility with different versions of Windows. Since Hyper Princess Pitch, I develop my games either in 5.3A in such a way that they can also be compiled in 7.0, or directly in 7.0. Having two EXEs compiled in different versions of Game Maker increases the chances that one of them will work on your system. Of course there are also other Game Maker versions I use when necessary.
3. Why convert to Game Maker 7.0 and not GM Studio? The latter can compile to all sorts of platforms rather than just Windows/Mac.
Again, there are differences between different versions of Game Maker that makes conversion difficult. I'll break it down, but due to the many differences I'll only go into the details that concern my games and this question:
GM5.3A: What most of my games are made in. Runs on DirectDraw (software). Some computers don't like the way it draws lines, polygons and alpha blended sprites, slowing down heavily. This is why I stopped using those after Iji, or in the case of Hero Core's "motion blur", makes the game turn alpha off if it detects slowdown. However, the games can still slow down on some systems despite only drawing regular sprites.
GM6.1: Runs on Direct3D and thus allows for 3D, rotation of sprites, advanced blending, surfaces etc. Some functions are renamed, some have differing number of arguments, some are removed or replaced. Many special variables had their names changed or work differently. On the downside, sound handling is worse, no longer allowing for realtime pitched sound or specifying the number of instances per sound file. The function sound_isplaying() does not work anymore as far as I can tell, and sound_stop() does not seem guaranteed to work. The graphics handling now attempts to interpolate sprites when drawn at subpixel positions, which has to be fixed by drawing them manually while rounding the X and Y. Polygon drawing has changed, the variable image_single is deprecated, and compatibility and performance is generally worse. Most modern systems have GM6 games fail to boot.
GM7.0: Most of the above things are not fixed/changed, and you can no longer overload functions. On the upside, compatibility and performance are a lot better. Appears to run fine on most Windows versions. A Mac version exists, letting you compile to Mac, though this requires a bit of work depending on the game. I actually didn't know about the Mac GM7 version until 2013!
GM Studio: This program is completely different from the rest. The "treat uninitialized variables as zero" functionality was removed, since it didn't allow GML to be properly compiled, which leads to the upside: you can now compile to many platforms, though at the time of writing some of those are either broken (HTML5), introduce new bugs (Windows) or require some recoding to get everything working (Mac).
For the purpose of the type of games I make, 5.3A and 7 are preferred. Starting with Hyper Princess Pitch I code my games so they can be compiled in both 5.3A and 7 for compatibility's sake, with the change of a few lines. This however requires me to stay away from GM5-specific things like pitching sound effects.
Back to the original question - why GM7 and not GM Studio? For my hobby work, I really don't need to compile to anything else, and the loss of the "treat uninitialized variables as zero" functionality makes all my previous games an even bigger chore to convert, since I used it in all of them.
4. Follow-up: Why won't you convert Iji to Mac?
It requires converting it to GM7 first. Following the above answer on Game Maker technicalities, the issue with Iji is its scale, compared to the Scrap Pack games, and its reliance on things GM5 does differently from 7. I'm going to give a GM7 Iji conversion another shot when I have the time, but it's going to take a lot of work.
5. Will you port some of your other games, like Hyper Princess Pitch, to Mac?
I'll try to get around to it (and when I say that, I usually mean that I'll forget about it later or didn't have the time). Music is always an issue when converting to Mac though.
6. Why not use a "real" programming language instead of Game Maker?
GM is a scripting language (with optional drag-and-drop coding for beginners), and while the graphics and sound handling isn't coded from scratch, the games themselves are. I've coded some in other languages before, but it's much faster for me to work in GM. So far I've not had an idea I'd like to implement that wasn't possible in Game Maker, so it's powerful enough for my hobby work.
7. Can I have the graphics/sound/voices from Iji?
It's all in the downloadable source code on the Resources page, which you can open in Game Maker. From there you can export any resource you want (though you need the registered Game Maker 5.3A to actually compile and run the game, and I can't help you with that). There's also a sprite dump on the Resources page.
8. Can I have the original 3D character models from Iji?
You can get the models on the Resources page, but be aware that they look really odd due to the way they were used in the game.
9. You've said you're unhappy with Iji's graphics and cut scenes. Why not remake them?
Iji has a lot of graphics, and I've never found the motivation for remaking all of it. People have always been free to give it a try though. If I ever did another version, I'd at least update the worst of the cut scene images.
I'm also unhappy with the writing, but that's not as big of a job to change. The script was overhauled twice in the updates, and if I make another update I'll likely do it again.
10. Follow-up: Will Iji get another version, and what would it include?
Maybe. It would probably have the missing pacifist ending pics and some major ending modifiers. Basically everything that was planned for 1.6 but I didn't have the time or motivation for back then.
11. Will you ever make Iji 2, and what would it be like?
There are only vague plans for a sequel, gameplay-wise and visually inspired by the first MDK. Due to its larger scale, it would only become a reality if I made it commercially with a team, most likely Ludosity. But production wouldn't start unless I'd written a full game design document, we had the project budgeted and were willing to take the risk, none of which will happen in the foreseeable future - it's not as simple as giving people money and telling them to make a game. :p I also wouldn't want to simply make another game with Iji's style and gameplay, so everything about the sequel would be radically different.
12. Follow-up: Can I be part of the Iji 2 team? Can't we just make it as a hobby project together?
I've been asked this a lot, but if the project ever entered production in the future, you'd need to be serious about it and apply for work at Ludosity (see above). Sorry, but as a hobby project it would be too big for me to manage alongside my job, and I can't tell in advance if I nor any collaborators would be able to spend several very focused years on it.
13. What do you do for a living?
The games and stuff on this homepage are just a hobby, I work at Ludosity Interactive as a game designer / all-around type person. I do game design documents, story, items, 2D graphics, 2D and 3D animation, levels, scripting and sound editing, and I wrote level editors for some of our games. In fact, nearly everyone at Ludosity multi-classes as a programmer, and code their own games or tools in their spare time.
I write some more about getting into the game making business in question 31.
14. Why won't you sell your games?
1. I have a full-time job already; I don't need another.
2. I want everyone to enjoy them, including those who can't pay online.
3. I want the games to be available in the future without people having to pirate them.
4. Getting things published is a troublesome process.
5. I'm not obligated to patch or support the games (I do it anyway, but still).
6. I can do anything with my games and release the source code.
7. They are unbound by companies and contracts.
8. I have no deadlines.
Some people say "you would have made a lot of money if you sold them". But:
1. Barely anyone would've known the games existed had they not been free.
2. I make more on my job than I ever would had I sold my games.
3. I don't need more money than I already earn.
15. Follow-up: But I would throw money at the games if I could.
People have been saying this, and I point them to the donations page, yet on average I have only received around $USD 10 per month in donations. :p
Not that I need it; the majority of the donations go to charity during Speed Demos Archive marathons along with my usual contributions. Again, my day job gets me by and I'm happy with it.
16. Follow-up: But Garden Gnome Carnage is being sold for multiple platforms, isn't it?
Yes, at Ludosity we've been porting and selling some games me and Joel made previously, like Garden Gnome Carnage and Really Shooter / Clean House. But this was done as a company, and the originals will always be free and available on my homepage, no matter what. As for Iji, see the next question.
17. Follow-up: What about selling Iji? If I port that game to another platform, can I sell it then?
No-one, not even myself, is ever allowed to make money on Iji. Ever.
18. Follow-up: But Steam has a section for free games, doesn't it?
I doubt my games would go up there; it's not easy getting through the process, and I wouldn't be able to guarantee that the games would run well on peoples' systems. You can already share/torrent/whatever the games and their source code for free, or add them as "non-Steam games" to your Steam library if you want. If you'd like more people to know about my games, please feel free to spread the word - I doubt more people would know about them if they were on Steam considering the sea of games they have on there. As for itch.io and GoG, they are much more likely places for me to upload my games to, but I haven't had the time to take a closer look yet.
19. Do you still make Dance Dance Revolution Simfiles, Doom levels or video game FAQs?
No, but maybe my interest will return someday. I played a lot of DDR until I felt that I hit my skill limit without bar, and my focus turned to other things.
20. What is FK/Ultimortal? Will it ever be publicly visible again?
It's a long story - brace yourselves for some self-indulgence as I try to remember it all...
Sometime in 1996 I made a silly top-down shooter in Klik'n'Play called Fanatic Killer (yes, really). It was inspired by Operation: Carnage and later got two sequels, titled Fanatic Killer (wait, a reboot of a series with only one entry?) and FK2 (the third game - makes sense).
FK0 / FK / FK2 screenshots
The games spawned an equally silly comic titled FK, starring the series' protagonist "Killer Roy". As in the games, Roy was one of the hostile intergalactic invaders revolting against his own in order to save the Earth. This in turn inspired the plans for a untitled fourth game, which was never made since it was supposed to be in 3D, and a new comic titled FK: Planetfall. This was around 1999. The series was still fairly self-aware and oddball in tone, and included videogame conventions even in the comics, such as visible hit points.
Around 2002, FK: Planetfall was rewritten into Ultimortal, a webcomic that ran from April 2003 until October 2004 with a schedule of two pages a week, and later three pages a week. The style was considerably darker than before, again featuring Killer Roy (under his real name, Zaia Kataiser) slowly going insane from killing off his own race in order to save the Earth. Bottom line: don't let an impressionable teenager read a bunch of Spawn and re-imagine his own goofy video games. :p
Ultimortal - a bad day for everyone involved
Anyway, the comic grew to 135 pages, which was halfway through the planned script, until I suddenly burned out and was unable to draw anymore. For maybe half a year I felt physical disgust for putting pen to paper. Looking back at the comic, I also realized how frankly terrible it was.
I started focusing more on programming, as even before the end of Ultimortal, the idea for Iji had started forming. In late 2004, work on that game got off the ground and carried on the FK spirit, but this time mixing some of the old Tyrian-style goofiness in with the seriousness. For the few who read Ultimortal, and to remind myself not to repeat my mistakes, I included a lot of references back to it, such as Iji's surname and Dan's FK logo necklace.
Iji was also a sequel to the tongue-in-cheek Killman, one of the games found in Scrap Pack 2. Very few people played the original version, which revealed that Killman is in fact a woman with long brown hair, as an homage to the original Metroid. This was later taken out since the portrait looked crap, but was retained in Iji's visual design, and is far from the only Killman reference in Iji.
Proto-Iji from the Killman beta - we're in deep trivia territory here
Come to think of it, the FK logo is also found as a secret powerup in Hero. My nickname on several sites is also "Ultimortal", eventhough I don't like the name anymore. So it's been a dear thing to me, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't finish that webcomic and waste any more time on it.
I doubt I'll ever want to show the whole of Ultimortal publicly again - it's quite embarrasing. The same goes for all three FK games, not that they run on modern systems anyway. But better make something you'll be ashamed of later than never making anything.
So without Operation: Carnage, Iji would not exist. It's not a fluke that Hyper Princess Pitch is a remake of the game that started the whole FK/Iji thing. :)
21. Follow-up: what does Ultimortal mean?
"My name is Ozymandias", basically. It was a nickname for two of the characters in the comic, the protagonist being one of them. No matter how skilled or respected they were, they still died in the end.
22. Are you an X / do you belong to group X?
There are many things you could call me, but none I'd like to be judged by - I generally don't associate myself with larger groups even though I share a common like / belief / motivation / idea with one. Groups are great for getting a sense of belonging, especially oppressed minorities, but outsiders keep forgetting that they're made up of individuals. If one person of group Y (or claiming to represent group Y) does something bad, every rational person in group Y will be stigmatized for it. Having a strong relation to a group can also make you one-track. It's only if I feel strongly for something I'll be vocal about it.
Some people enjoy things you don't, just accept it and move on.
23. Why do you occasionally remove pictures from the pics section without notice?
I don't want them there anymore, usually because they're too old and embarassing, though I still have pics from around 2000 up that weren't completely bad.
There was an incident where someone had previously saved a joke picture I made for my friends, and displayed it on a forum after Iji was released without any context, in order to cast my drawing skills in a bad light (as if that was necessary). This was long after the picture was removed from my site. To this day I don't understand what the deal with that was. :p
24. Why do you take so long to respond to mails?
Although I removed my adress from this site since I received so many mails, I still get a few now and then. I try to respond to every mail within two weeks, but I can't guarantee it.
25. Is there any connection between you and the character Dan in Iji?
No, but since Chris Geehan calls me "Dan" it all got a bit confusing during the game's release.
26. Who is Yukabacera?
He's a character in Iji, a secret boss holding the Scrambler, and in-universe geek who wrote the Iji pre-release teaser pages. Another character in the game confirms that Yukabacera created Hero and Hero Core, which itself contains a reference to Iji.
27. Who is reallyjoel (and reallyjoel's dad)?
reallyjoel is the nickname of Joel, a friend and co-founder of Ludosity. He was the first to comment on my Maximum Charge Tor video, saying that his dad could beat it on an even higher difficulty setting. This soon turned into the well-hidden "reallyjoel's dad" difficulty in Iji, and later Hero Core, Hyper Princess Pitch, Muri and a few others.
28. What is No More Sweden?
A lighthearted Swedish summer game jam I usually participate in. Me and reallyjoel often collaborate and made Bear Miner, Really Shooter and Baad Gringos together. I later made Bromancing Saga 2 and Hype Snake at NMS as well.
29. When did you start making games?
I started with QBasic as a kid, as my brother had an interest in programming, though I was never any good at it. I got Klik'n'Play around 1994 and made a whole bunch of nonsense in it. I later discovered Game Maker in 2003 or 2004, and though I know some C and AS3, I much prefer Game Maker due to how fast it is to develop in (and how lazy you can be with the code).
30. What game are you most proud of?
Though I'm glad I finished Iji back in 2008, I think Hero Core is a better game. I'm also happy with how Hyper Princess Pitch turned out. I got in touch with Patrick Maidorn, the programmer of Operation: Carnage (the 1996 DOS game on which HPP was based) and he liked it a lot. Yay! :)
31. How do I get into the game making business?
I only have some general advice, based on my own experiences, but hopefully it'll do.
1. Even if you're attending a game making course or similar, make stuff in your spare time constantly.
2. Always strive to improve and challenge yourself.
3. Ask for feedback and know how to take criticism. Not all criticism needs to be considered, but on the other hand people may give you the wrong reasons why they didn't like something - find out the right reasons through discussion.
4. Be passionate about your work when you're creating it, but separate yourself from it when you're taking criticism. People are critiquing your work, not you as a person. Taking breaks and coming back to your stuff with a fresh mind really helps in finding faults in it yourself.
5. Make contacts everywhere! The only jobs I've ever gotten in game making were thanks to friends and teachers who saw my hobby work and remembered me when they were hiring for their companies later. I've never gotten a job by applying for it myself.
6. In my experience, pure programmers, artists and sound/music makers are always in demand. The concept of a "designer" is pretty fuzzy, and all I can tell you is that it's difficult finding work as one. Smaller companies very rarely go out looking for these; you have to be assertive.
7. Having skills in multiple areas is a plus. At my job everyone knows how to program, for example. This also helps you understand what other peoples' job is like and how long it can take.
8. Even if a job is stated to require years of industry experience, apply anyway and show them your portfolio. Just be prepared to be turned down a lot.
9. If you don't know the tools, but you're a creative person, you will learn the tools.
10. If you don't see many people like yourself in the industry, don't think that you don't belong there.
32. What are your hobbies besides game making?
It's mostly cooking and baking nowadays.
33. How do you keep from feeling discouraged during a long project?
There's nothing you can do about such feelings. I just take a break when I'm feeling down, as I know motivation will return once I'm feeling up again, even if it takes months. I also rarely work on only one project, it's fun to switch things up.
When motivation is down on a project we're doing at work though, I just grind through it, taking many tiny breaks during the day, either for having a snack or chatting with the others. Someone who tries to work constantly 8 hours a day without breaks won't be more productive, only more stressed and grumpy. I got severely depressed at a job where I had to stay in my room all day and only come out for lunch.
34. Can I publish or otherwise sell your games?
No, but see the next question.
35. Follow-up: Can I remake or port the games to other platforms?
Of course, as long as no-one makes any money on it and the porting/remake project is open source like the original. I and Ludosity Interactive reserve the right to sell ports, remakes and sequels (see question 16). But again, in practice only Ludosity as a company does this; I have no personal interest in selling my stuff.
36. What's the story behind Strawberry Jam?
It began as a test in 2009, then in 2012 I said I would finish it within a year at a No More Sweden presentation. But it wasn't until 2014-2016 that I actually put any serious effort into it. The first chapter was finally done and released in August 2016, much to my own amazement and relief, after about a year of full-time work in total. I don't know if I'll make the remaining chapters right now. We'll see!