As part of GameSalad’s Community Love Week, we will be profiling and interviewing several key developers within the GameSalad community. In today’s installment, we interview GameSalad Sous Chef, TShirtBooth. He discusses his background, inspiration for game design, and his ambitious “One Year” game development project.
GameSalad: Hello TShirtBooth! You are some what of a figurehead in the GameSalad community! We are excited to be able to include you in this Community Love Week feature. Why don’t we start out by talking a little bit about your background.
TShirtBooth: My background is in EVERYTHING! I dropped out of school and left home at age 16. As far back as I remember I have always been a self starter.
In the past 18 years of working I have done things like:
– Diving in the ponds at the local golf courses for golf balls. A great business but a little dirty 🙂
– Buying Truck loads of Best Buy returned merchandise for pennies on the dollar. Refurbishing and then reselling the items.
– I have had a fleet of vending machines selling candy and snacks.
– Spent a year doing special event photography. All self taught, this was before digital and I was developing the film in my bathroom/dark room.
– Started a Button Business called Pinnerz. Had a line of buttons with funny sayings and images.
– Sold stock vector art at www.istockphoto.com. This was a lot of fun.
– Had a Tshirt business (this is where I got my name as my website was www.tshirtbooth.com)
And I’ve been doing so well with GameSalad, that I was able to sell the tshirt business over a year ago.
GameSalad: Wow. That is really incredible. You are a complete jack-of-all-trades. With a background like that, what first drew you to game design?
TShirtBooth: As you can see from the long list of different things that I have done, I really like to try new things. Im always looking for things I can do and do well. I didn’t know about the iPhone until the iPhone 3g. When I got my 3g, I was amazed at how far phones had come. My first cellphone was the Motorola Flip Phone!
Like everything else I do, I just jump in without thinking. I told my wife we need to go to Best Buy so I can buy a Mac to make iPhone games. Never using a Mac before she thought I was completely crazy. Since I had never coded before either, she thought I was even crazier. After buying the Mac, we stopped at the local book store so I could pick up a book on Cocoa and Xcode. After about two days of trying to learn some code, I quickly released this was not for me.
GameSalad: How did you end up discovering GameSalad?
TShirtBooth: So, I’m sitting there with a $2,400.00 Macbook and a not-so-happy wife. I started looking for the easy way out that would still allow me to make some games. With a quick google search I found GameSalad. This was about three months before GameSalad had iOS support. I was instantly hooked. The fact that I could start making a game in minutes and see my work as I go just blew me away. So much in fact that I called my best friend at work and told him he had to pick a Mac up on the way home from work.
GameSalad: A GameSalad advocate from the very beginning! That’s awesome. Let’s switch gears some and talk about games. What do you consider to be your favorite genre of game? And how do those preferences influence the type of games that you like to make with GameSalad?
TShirtBooth: I love Word Games and physics puzzle games. I have spent a few years making physics puzzle games now. With the addition of tables now in GameSalad, I’m free to make all the word games I have been jotting down over the past few years. So far, I have made five word games and I have five more on the books for this year. I really love being able to make a quality word game in less then a week. Mixed up, Cat-A-Gory and Mumble Jumble are three word games that were all made in about a week each.
GameSalad: Tell me about your development experience in general with GameSalad. What other games have you made so far?
TShirtBooth: I have made a lot of games with GameSalad.
The games that I consider my best are:
Zombie drop – A physics puzzle game where you need to land the zombie on the metal block and then shock him with the zombie zapper. This game hit #3 TOP PAID GAME in the USA mac App Store.
Tiny Balls – Another physics based puzzle game. This game hit #2 TOP PAID GAME in the USA mac App Store.
Mini Cannon – A physics puzzle game where you shoot a ball out of a Cannon into metal bins well avoiding obstacles and collecting bonuses.
Star Daze – This is one of my Favorites. Star Daze is a play on an old game Jezz Ball. But way more advanced. We have a built-in store that allows users to spend all the stars they collect on power ups to help them get a better score.
Mixed up – is a word game that makes the player unscramble five – 5 letters words in a set amount of time. Very challenging.
Mumble Jumble – is a word game that makes the player unscramble 5 letters words one at a time. Each word needs to be unscrambled in 20 seconds or the game is over.
Cat-A-Gory – is a cross between Wheel of fortune and Hangman but with a twist. Each game starts out with 8 Cats. And the goal is to solve each puzzle by selecting letters. For every wrong letter a cat will explode.
GameSalad: What inspires or influences your game development?
TShirtBooth: The main thing I try to do is makes games that I love to play. So a lot of my influences are from games that I have played. I don’t really try to reinvent the wheel. What my goal is to make the wheel even better. When I set out to make a game, I want to make sure it’s something I would want to play over and over again.
GameSalad: I would love to hear more about your “One Year in the Life” Project where you make one game with GameSalad per month. How did you first get the idea to do something like this?
TshirtBooth: Back in December I was at dinner with my wife and we were talking about how many games I had made that year. I looked back and it was way less then I knew I could have made. In 2011 we made three SOLID games. Zombie Drop, Tiny Balls and Mini Cannon – each of these games are 80 level physics puzzle games. And as you can imagine they take more then a week to make. But the truth of the matter is they do no better than a “pick up and play” single scene game. The only difference is they take a lot longer to produce.
I decided I would challenge myself to make one game a month for 2012. I knew in my heart I would do more than that, but I didn’t want to set the bar so high that I could not hit my target. In the first three months of 2012 I already have six games completed and a long list of ideas ready to go.
The idea for the GameSalad forum thread was to inspire others to buckle down this year and get working. I hope that others can see how easy it is to produce a quality game in very little time.
GameSalad: How has the development experience been so far? What about working on those tight deadlines?
TShirtBooth: The development schedule has not been to hard on me since the addition of tables in GamesSalad. With tables I’m able to a lot more work in less time. In fact, with GameSalad being such an easy to use software I find the work that takes the longest is the design and testing.
GameSalad: Speaking of tables, how have the recent releases of GameSalad features aided your development?
TShirtBooth: Gamesalad is like Christmas time 8-10 times a year. Every new release brings me something cool that helps me build better games.
Hands down tables have been the biggest help with my game development. Most people in the GameSalad community don’t understand just how POWERFUL tables can be in their game. I try and make as many tables videos as I can in hopes that others will understand how great they are.
GameSalad: Speaking of the community, the GameSalad community has really connected with your “One Year” project and love following your progress. How does it make you feel to see the inspiration that you give other GameSalad developers?
TShirtBooth: I love it! This is why I do these types of things in the forums. Watching people grow and make better games because of things I have shared makes me very happy. I get emails all day long from people sharing their games with me and asking for my thoughts. Nothing makes me happier then seeing others do so well.
GameSalad: And lastly, can you give us a sneak peak at what is coming in April for your “One Year” project?
TShirtBooth: Hmmm…Well, I have a few things planned for April. I don’t want to share them just yet. However if writeable tables come in April, everything will be put on hold for a very special project. I have had this idea in my head for well over a year. This idea has NEVER been done as far as I have seen and I think it will be a hit.
GameSalad: Well, again thank you, TShirtBooth. We look forward to seeing what you do next!