“Mouse click on gerbils to shoot them, get scores, youre winning, YOU ARE WINNING FOREVER”
Letâ€™s Win Forever is the latest creation of Amon26, from whom sprang the wonderful Au Sable series and a number of other short, humorous titles. In Letâ€™s Win Forever, the player aims their crosshair at the members of a large crowd of colourful gerbils. Shooting them results in their gaining jetpacks and a seemingly arbitrary number being added to the playerâ€™s score. Thereâ€™s not really any objective or purpose to the game, but thatâ€™s okay since it allows you to WIN FOREVER (!). The music is quite brilliant, as always with Amonâ€™s work. If you enjoy this, itâ€™s also worth checking out the more experimental Letâ€™s Win Everything.
Hit the jump for an interview with Amon26:
does the pseudonym “Amon26” mean?
Amon26: I was fourteen when I found the name. Amon was short for Amontillado, and in junior high my friends and I talked about each other and our crushes in-code so that our peers wouldn’t find out our secrets. There was Eduardo, Oxy, Aim, Julius, Pizarro, and me, Amontillado. The 26 came in when I was tired of everybody using the same boring numbers like 69, or 666, 13, or 420. It seemed every number had some kind of special meaning. I couldn’t find any special meaning to the number 26 so I chose it to represent me. I let it become my ‘holy number’ I guess you could say.
Amon26: I don’t worry that much about balancing it out. For a long time I’ve liked the idea of trying to bring multiple elements to bear in a way that excites an audience. So sometimes I’ll write a story that becomes a picture, or I’ll design a picture that becomes a short film. I tend to think in fractals, so everything could be easily transformed into another media for me. AOOFAD could be a board game, or a 200 page poem, or a coffee table art-book. It just happened to come out shaped like a game. :)
TIGS: Where do you think games stand as a medium? Do you consider Anna Anthropyâ€™s concept of games being primarily about creator-audience interaction to be worthwhile, or do you tend to focus more on your own individual expression?
Amon26: I think each game should be measured by its own merit. Boardgames for example: Mahjong can’t be compared to Brenda Brathwaite’s Train, or vice-versa even even though they’re both boardgames. Sometimes a game is meant to tell a story or have a message, sometimes a game is meant to realistically simulate an event, other times its just meant to look and feel cool with little or no substance and meaning. The whole “games as/are art” debate is hard for me to understand. The concept of what makes art art is so hard to pin down as it is. I think what matters more is setting out to try and accomplish something good, regardless of what it may be considered in the end
TIGS: All of the games set in the world of Au Sable are in traditional genres, as either run-and-gun or first person shooter. Is this due to a design philosophy that one can most easily distort what is already well known, or simply from the route of attempting to marry gameplay to aesthetic in a way that doesn’t require a great deal of coding?
Amon26: At first it was my way to make sure I wasn’t overstepping my bounds. I re-purposed a free, open source platformer example for GameMaker and didn’t want to design a game that had goals more complex than I knew I could accomplish with what limited skill I had. Now that I’ve learned more, I could try something less conventional but I’ve always been
fond of John Carmack‘s concept of simplicity. You can play Doom1 with a couple keys and the mouse, that’s all you need.
TIGS: What are a few of your major influences, in any medium?
Amon26: Hm, Castlevania II really helped me see potential in making lo-fi graphics unsettling, the whole game gives this stark sense of loneliness even when you’re in a populated town. Same with Wizards and Warriors 2. Silent Hill/Fatal Frame were good examples of creating a vulnerable player; someone who wasn’t good with guns or combat. As far as books go, I used Ray Bradbury’s “Death Is a Lonely Business” as inspiration for creating an eerie mood from what would otherwise be
considered mundane. Also “House Of Leaves” created an illusion that the book was shredding itself apart as you progressed. I listen to a
lot of music all over the board, from Lilly Allen to Soul Coughing. I modeled AOOfAD/AuSable’s music after Throbbing Gristle, and the
ambient tracks off of the Quake1 CD written by Trent Reznor.
TIGS: Your games tend to employ a glitch aesthetic in that there’s no definite reality that is readily understood by the player, making them unsure of their abilities and goals. To what extent is this
intentional, rather than accidental as a result of your unfamiliarity with your tools?
Amon26: Well a lot of those glitch and scratch concepts come from “manufactured accidents” during the development process. I.E the Eyes in Ausable. I wanted them to do something other than hover in a
fully predictable pattern, so I made attempts to break the game on purpose with lots of random integers, particles, distortions. Once I found something that looked good, I toned it down to a point that kept the game playable, but reflected that sense of nearly crashing. That’s pretty much how I do everything.
TIGS: Collaboration is obviously something that you’re familiar with, as you’ve done the music for both Anna Anthropy‘s and Jazzuo’s games. To what extent has this been a positive influence on your own work?
Amon26: Mighty JillOff and Sexy Hiking have been two heavily played games among my local friends and I for years. We’d spend hours at all-night diners trying to work our way over that damn tree, or up the impossible tower. So when I was invited to compose music for Jazzuo/Anna/Kepa I nearly wet myself! Now, a year later, I’ve learned about who they are, and what they enjoy doing beyond what brought us together. Their friendships have been the most valuable outcome from all of this. I’ve met Anna in person and someday I would like to fly over and visit Jazzuo so we could do a live performance of the DildoTank theme song. I think we would obliterate all of Eurasia with
its greatness. (And some of Denmark)
TIGS: One of the defining features of games as opposed to other artistic mediums is the possibility of a social aspect; this is present even in single player games, as you’ve mentioned in relation to your experiences with The Mighty Jill Off and Sexy Hiking. Do you plan on ever creating a game that focuses as much on human interaction as atmosphere, a la Anna Anthropy’s Octopounce?
Amon26: I have this really crazy idea for a 2 player game that actually encourages failure to some degree. I loved how the later ps2 Burnout games rewarded you with super-dramatic visuals when you failed. I want to recreate that same sense of “oh man, I lost the round but look how amazing my failure was!”
TIGS: Do you have any tips for complete beginners to Game Maker or independent game development in general?
Amon26: hmm.. well it applies to more than just GameMaker, but; Make lots and lots and lots of mistakes. Visit forums, grab examples and code and just rip them apart. Even if you dont know what you’re doing, you’re still doing something. Eventually it gets clearer.
its not effective for people who want to go from zero-to-awesome in a day, but its really rewarding
also, make friends with other small devs, cultivate meaning partnerships with other fledgling designers and share your experiments between eachother.
TIGS: I see that’s worked out very well for you and Anna Anthropy.
Amon26: exactly, she really took me under her wing and spends lots of time helping me fine-tune things. In return, I’m her “piano monkey” writing fun music for her work.
TIGS: Are you doing the soundtrack for her new deep sea diver game, too, then?
Amon26: It’s planned, I’ve had really bad writer’s block with music lately. Winter gets me down and makes it hard for me to focus on things, but I sent her a few blurbs of music today Ages ago, now- Ed..to see what she thinks.
it’s a lot of fun, there’s stuff I cant discuss about it that really amuses me. Very much her sense of humor.
TIGS: Your Quake machinima tend to have a comical aspect not present in your games or music (aside from the Dildo Tank theme). Is it less natural for you to make humorous, rather than melancholy, creations?
Amon26: I struggle with chronic night terrors. I’ve had them since I was a child and they’re very distracting. One time I had a therapist that encouraged me to try “trapping” my horrors on canvas but It
didn’t work out really well. The pictures didn’t make me feel any better. But it all changed the moment I personified a nightmare as an NPC, took aim, and killed it.
In my ordinary waking-life I tend to be very light hearted, positive and quirky. I avoid over-exposing myself to negative things, I don’t read the news or watch TV. So when I’m in the spirit and feel it’s time to tell a really good joke, I do it by whatever means necessary. I look forward to creating a really absurd and hilarious game in the
future. Something that I hope will equal the polish of AOOFAD/AuSable.
TIGS: Have you played any of Aliceffekt‘sgames? They’re quite reminiscent of yours, especially Cyanosis Fever.
Amon26: ooh this looks interesting (downloading valp.zp)
angon a sec, trying it
i never knew i could feel that way about a game.
valential hopes just made me keep going “YES! FASTER! YES!” then i ate some mints, and i was allright.
im not sure what its about yet, i just tried the first path
yeah, i’d really love to develop something alongside a programmer with some genuine 3d prowess. I have an idea for a flight game that I’m not nearly smart enough to make yet.
I tried unity, but it made my brain explode out my ear,
TIGS: It appears that you’ve tried to sell some of your work on CD and USB locally as well as on-line; has this been successful?
Amon26: The money I’ve made off sales doesn’t cover much more than a nice dinner or a DVD on occasion, but I don’t expect it to. It’s just my way of providing people a method to donate money and be able to get something nice in turn as my way of saying thanks. I wish I could curb production costs though, I make 2 dollars profit off a 18 dollar shirt.
TIGS: You’ve recently made the jump into 3D; how is designing for three dimensions different than designing for a spatial area seen only from one side?
Amon26: It was a nightmare at first, but I was sort of expecting that. Even though all I was doing was providing a variable for “height” along with width and length, it took a lot of re-thinking to
understand. Once I started getting the basics down It actually felt very familiar. Cactus helped me solve a problem that was a bit tedious but he really saved my ass. Without his tip, The Hunt still wouldnt run right on most PC’s. I really need to look into Unity and
see if I can make anything interesting in that next, but I’m not sure if my brain can handle it. We’ll see. If i start speaking aramaic and drawing stick figures of zalgo with my own feces, then maybe i’ll stick to 2d a little longer.
You can ask Amon26 your own questions at his Formspring.