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Frequently Asked Questions!

Please read this section before asking me any questions! I get asked the same questions a lot by many different curious people, you see, and I'd appreciate it if you'd save me the bother of having to repeat myself yet again. It gets rather tiring, and I can end up being bitter or rude or sarcastic as a result of that.

When will [game] be out?

I wish I knew! Unfortunately, past experience has shown my that my estimated release dates are... well, 'laughably inaccurate', you could say. I said MARDEK 3 would be out in like 2008 or something, 'any week now!!', then it came out in 2010. Hmm.
The reason for this is because of how I approach game making... I don't make games like some product, like the Big Companies might. Though I'm working on doing this as my full-time job, at the moment I just 'casually' work on games and rather lack the discipline and motivation to do work if I'm not in the mood. There's no boss telling me to do things, so if I feel down or weary one day, I'll just not do anything whether I need to or not.
I also procrastinate a lot, which is something I should work on, but for those of you who also procrastinate, you'll know how hard it is to ignore!
I also consider my games 'Art', expressions of myself, so if I have some kind of 'Artist's Block', then it's much harder to be creative. Sometimes the ideas really flow out of me and I get loads done, other times I'll go weeks without doing any work at all.
I really wish I could make some timetable of my moods and plan in advance based around them, but since that's not possible, I suppose we should all take my release date estimate as 'wild stabs in the dark'. They always seem possible in my mind, but I overestimate the speed at which I can work because I never take into account the procrastination. Though I've been trying to recently...

Why don't you hire or work with other people to get your games made faster?!?

This is one of the most common questions or suggestions that I hear, and I know that it seems like an obvious suggestion to some people (which it is, and so obvious that I've thought of it and don't need to be told), but, uh...
I'm weird, to put it simply. I've got all kinds of social inadequacies that makes interacting with people very difficult, and I want to avoid it if I can. I'm actually making games so then I can avoid getting a Proper Job for reasons like this. I've never been good in groups at all... and I'm absolutely terrified of the idea of having to work with other people.
I've learned to make basically every aspect of my games alone, so I prefer to do so...

Can I help you make your games?

This is similar to the last question, except some people do directly offer assistance like this instead of suggesting that I find some elsewhere.
I know people like this are well-meaning, but unfortunately people generally don't have the appropriate skills to be of any real use... And even if they did, I'd not want help for reasons I mentioned above.
There's also the matter of devotion. I stick with my games because they're very dear to me; as artistic expressions, I pour my soul into them, you could say, and I was driven to make games in the first place by a deep passion to make games. Other people would perhaps lack this passion, instead wishing to help either hoping some of my 'fame' will rub off on them for the sake of bragging rights, or just so they can feel good about themselves for being a helper, etc, and they'd get bored after a few days or weeks and leave with unfinished contributions. Or something.
The best way you can help is by donating money, or rating my games positively on sites like Kongregate, etc.

Why aren't you working on [the game I'm waiting for at the moment]? I bet you'll NEVER finish it!

Unfortunately, my track record isn't what anyone would call spectacular. I've finished far fewer games than I've started, and I've restarted others before ever finishing them.
I can't promise that I'll ever finish any of the games I start, even if I do seem enthusiastic about them and start them and everything. Some just prove to be far too tedious to work on... and since I've got no direct employer forcing me to work on them, I just... don't.
If you've ever worked on a creative project for a long period of time - say, a story or something - you'll probably know that even if you start it with eyes wide with excitement and you're eager to get it finished and you're having several concurrent orgasms just thinking about the ideas you'll be putting down, the feedback you may get, etc, it gets more and more tiresome as the days drag on, and sooner or later, you just don't wnat to work on it anymore. Either you feel you've grown up since you started and don't like the ideas in it anymore, and think you can do better now so you start another story, or just doing the same thing day after day after day leads to a horrible sense of boredom and you'd rather do anything else, just to spice things up a bit.
I often switch between games I'm working on to do away with this monotony, but sometimes I never go back to the previous game... Sometimes I do, though, so I really can't predict what I'll do!
So if I'm not working on what you want me to work on, even if it's a guaranteed success, it's because I've likely spent so much time working on it that it's dreadfully boring and I'm working on something else just for a change of pace.
If I'm not talking about a particular game openly in news posts, please don't ask me if I'm working on it because I'm probably not! I'll always let people know what I *am* working on though.

Hey, you should contact [big, famous games design company] and sell your game to them and/or join their team!

Strange as it may seem, I make games but don't have any desire at all to work as a part of a big games design team. I'd rather be the master of my own creative universe (my, how arrogant that sounds!) than be some mere drone slaving away from nine 'til five on technical minutiae relating to some other person's ideas that I don't even like. There's no passionate drive that I feel towards that. I'm not after fame or fortune or a well-paid or secure job; I just want to express myself, and the medium I've chosen is Flash games.

How did you learn Flash? Can you direct me to the website you used?

I learned Flash ActionScript from various online tutorials; I'm self-taught. I didn't use any specific site or anything though; I just searched Google generically for things like 'Flash tutorials' and read all that I saw if I found it interesting.
It was a long road, but I was passionate about it and eager to seek out and absorb this information. It takes many, many long hours of devotion to get good at making games, and it took me years to get to the level I'm at today; there's no easy, magic solution. Like everything, you really have to work at it to get anywhere.
If you really have the passion to make games, then seek out all you can find and learn, learn, learn! Don't wait for others to teach you; teach yourself! If you don't have this drive, and don't want to spend the time learning such things by yourself, then sadly I don't think game design is for you.
I had no 'life', making it much easier for me to focus on these things when I wasn't at school, back when I was still learning. If you don't have the time to regularly spend hours at your computer, maybe you won't have the time for game making.

But where do I start? I don't know anything about programming at all!

I use a program called Adobe Flash to make my games, using the ActionScript language. This program is NOT free, so if you don't have it, you won't be able to make games using the same methods as me. You should only get it if you feel that you'll really stick with it.
If you have Flash but don't know where to go from there, then perhaps try searching Google for things like 'actionscript beginner tutorials', and reading what comes up. If there are bits you don't understand, then try searching for them specifically to find more information about them, which will hopefully improve your understanding.
You really do need to have the passion to find your own answers rather than asking others if you want to get anywhere. The internet's full of the information that you need to learn; you just have to go out of your way to actively find it.

What do you use to make your games?

They're called Flash games because they're made in a program called Flash. It used to be Macromedia Flash, now it's Adobe Flash.
It's not a free program; you have to buy it. It also takes a while to master its functions and stuff; merely having the program is not enough to make games in the same way that having a pencil in your hand isn't enough to create beautiful artworks.

What do you use to make your music?

I use a program called Sibelius. It, too, isn't free, though there are various midi-making programs that are if you take the time to look for them (I've got no direct links, unfortunately).
This program too requires skill to use; having it isn't enough to make good music. I prefer it because of its proper musical notation, but one of these days I want to look into some music software that gives better sounds than the generic midi soundset. I've found a few before, but the sounds are never *just right* somehow, even if they do sound 'better'... Hmm.

You should make your games available as apps for the iPhone (or similar systems), where people would be more willing to pay for them!

If only it was so easy! If only I could merely release my games as-is for those systems then watch the money come rolling in, but it's not that simple.
These handheld systems tend to only play games or applications written in certain programming languages, and Flash ActionScript is not one of these languages. That means that I effectively have to translate everything that I've made into a new language, and I don't even know the languages I need to translate to. It'd be like coding the game from scratch. This is easy enough for smaller minigame sorts of things that only took a weekend to code in the first place, but for projects of the scale I work on, it's just not feasible.
I can't afford to get anyone else to do it for me and wouldn't be able to cope with working with someone if I did, not to mention that I don't even really own any of these modern fancy gadgets like an iPhone or whatever.
These same things apply for releasing games on the DS, PSP, or even Wii or PlayStation or anything. They all require using different languages and more work than I'm capable of doing alone, so I'd have to work with others, and the whole reason I'm making games at all is to avoid that.