Hello Gamers and Game Makers!
"So, how did you get into games development?" It's a question I get asked from time to time and one I never thought about much beyond simply saying, "I've always loved games and I wanted to make them" That's definitely true but, it wasn't until I really thought about why I love making games so much, that it really hit me.
As a kid, I always loved playing games. My earliest memories are of playing Pokémon Red and Blue on my Nintendo Gameboy. I loved the exploration and just the sense of being in this other world. Despite the basic graphics of the Gameboy, I was completely immersed into this fictional world. It wouldn't be until later that I realized just how important this was to me.
Growing up, I was very much a console kid for a very long time. I remember my first experience with a Playstation 1. I was visiting my older brother who at the time had a Playstation 1. I remember as I was getting a lift over, being so excited to see what it was like but, in the car on the way over, he told me it wasn't working. I remember trying to play it cool by saying something along the lines of "Oh, ok. That's cool" To anyone looking at me though, I think the expression on my face was enough to see I was disappointed.
Lucky for me, my brother was just being a typical older brother and messing with me. He sat me down in front of the TV with the Playstation 1 and I swear, I still remember wanting to scream like a little girl. I was so excited. At the time all he had was that demo disk that came with the Playstation 1. I didn't care. That demo of the T-Rex walking around a black screen and you just play its various animation states is still one of my fondest memories of a game.
It wasn't long after until I finally had a Playstation 1 of my own and my love of gaming truly took off. Some of my favorite games of that generation include Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Medievil and more.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Dan, you seem to like fun goofy games but as a Game Dev, you tend to make darker, horror games. Where did that come from?" Well, hush up, I'm getting to that. If you've ever played any of my past games, you'll notice I like to create dark narrative driven games. This came about as a result once again from my older brother trying to mess with me. Keep in mind, at this point I'm still just a kid with a Playstation 1. So, one day I'm at home and my mother calls me. She said something came for me in the post. It was a Playstation 1 game from my brother who was away working at the time. The game was Resident Evil 1. Now, up until this point, my gaming experiences have been on the lighter side and I didn't quite know what to expect. I was however incredibly excited to see what this game was about.
I still remember how impressed I was by the opening cutscene and thinking "Oh man, this is just like a movie!" My first thoughts of the game were of how atmospheric it was. It was quite but not silent. That ticking of the clock still gives me an uneasy feeling. My strongest memory of Resident Evil 1 is without a doubt, that first encounter with a zombie. Looking back, I kinda laugh at myself but at the time, that scared the shit out of me. The cutscene where it slowly pulls in on the back of the zombie as he's eating your team member and he just turns to face you. That moment right there scared me more than anything else had up until that point in my life and as soon as gameplay resumed and he lunged at you, I dropped my controller and turned off the Playstation.
I think it took me a day or two before I could face it again. That's the interesting thing though. Despite how much it had made me run away like a little bitch, I was fascinated by what I had seen and more than anything I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what this thing was and what was going on. So, I put on my big boy pants and loaded up the game once again and returned to face this pasty faced monster. Admittedly, he killed me the first time I came back. On my second attempt, I was victorious and a little shaken. That nailed it for me though. That sense of fear combined with the ability to face down that fear was such a powerful thing. While there obviously was no real danger, my mind still created that real sense of fight for my life. It was after this moment that I no longer felt scared in the same way. Sure, I was scared of what might lurk around the next corner but, I suddenly felt I could face it, fight and win and I had to fight and win because, I had to get to the truth. I had to find out what the hell was going on. It was from this point on that my obsession with horror would take hold. Not long after, I would stumble upon another horror game that would deepen my love for the dark and strange worlds. A little game called Silent Hill.
Silent Hill was an interesting horror experience for me as my only other horror experience up to that point was Resident Evil 1. Silent Hill was a very different kind of horror, a psychological horror. This was something I found very interesting. There was so much fear through the symbolism of the game and the characters. The way the world changed was also terrifying. Not just because the hellish world was so dangerous but because you never really knew when it could change. That sense of never really knowing if your entire surrounding is going to change at any moment created a very strong sense of fear.
My Game Development to date hasn't been shaped purely by horror games from my childhood. One game series in particular that really made me think about how you tell a story is the Metal Gear series. I've grown up playing Metal Gear Solid since the Playstation 1 tittle and the way those games tell a story through its world, characters and music is something special and I don't think I'd view games in the same way had I not played them.
Skip ahead some years to when I started secondary school. At this point I had been playing many types of games and my obsession had gotten to a point where I wasn't happy simply playing a game, I needed to know how it worked. I was curious about things like, why did such a thing happen only when I stood in such a place. I quickly decided, I was going to make video games and that was that. However figuring out where to start wasn't so easy. At this point in my life, access to the internet was very limited due to Ireland being behind in everything.
It wasn't until one day when I was in a newsagents in Kilkenny that I picked up a copy of PC Gamer which had a disc with it with a copy of Adventure Game Studio and a trial copy of FPS Creator. I was blown away by this. It was the first opportunity I had to start creating something. I quickly bought the magazine and went home, installed AGS and FPSC on my laptop and started learning how they worked. I quickly enough learnt the basics of how they worked as they were very user friendly. I made some games and oh boy they were crap but, I was hooked. I had found my thing and I knew this is what I wanted to put all my time and energy into. Not something every parent wants to hear from their son who's still in school. To be fair my mother is a very supportive person and encouraged me to do what makes me happy as long as I kept up my school work.
And so I did. I continued to make little crappy games after school and also continued to play games as much as possible. It wasn't until one particular game released that my view of creating characters and worlds was changed dramatically. That game was The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
I had heard little bits here and there about the game and thought that it sounds way better on paper than it could ever be. I picked it up on release to see if it would live up to the hype and let me tell you, it was perfect. Never has a game given me so much freedom in creating a story that was my own to tell and a world that was much a character as it was a location. I had found a game that offered me pure immersion. A game that felt like a second home to me. A game that felt real to me for the time I was in it. I knew this was a game from a studio that knew how to create worlds.
Fast forward a few more years and I finished school and am now on my way to college to study Multimedia and later IT. During this time I continued to make small little games that never really saw the light of day. I was also highly anticipating the release of Fallout 3 during my Multimedia studies. A game that once again made me want to better my skills and push myself to make games for people to actually play. I soon moved to devloping games in Unity 3D. A move that at the time was very daunting because it was a very new tool to me.
During my time at college, I began making my first real stab at creating games that would be released to the world. I created Eyesodic Games as my development lable and got to work on some games. Some which never saw the light of day for various reasons. Some which I never expected much from going on to surprise me by becoming quite popular.
While Games Development may be a ruthlessly hard industry a lot of the time, I have to say I've been very lucky in some of the people I've come to know through my work. I've made friends with some of the people whom I respect most of all in the industry and who are among the reasons I got into Games Development. You know, it's a funny thing too. You'd assume the most support I've gotten would have been in terms of a local games scene. Well, no, it hasn't. I've found I've gotten the most support from across the world from people who until they played my games, I never knew. Don't get me wrong, there's some wonderful folks in Ireland who support other devs and are themselves making great content but, the communities the likes of GameJolt and devs both large and small from other parts of the world have been truly wonderful.
To date, I've been very lucky. I've been able to create games that a lot of folks have played and enjoyed. That's the best part of it for me, seeing folks playing something you made and being entertained by it.(I'll put a video of some folks, reacting to my games below) I've also been very lucky to win some awards for games I've made as well as meet some amazing people in the industry. I'm lucky enough to have people around me who are so supportive of me making games. As for now, I plan to keep making games as part of my own indie lable, Dan Kenny Game Design and Eyesodic Games. To those of you who have played anything I've made, thank you for being so very awesome and I hope you all look forward to what comes next!