INTERVIEW > Alexis Andújar González

Alexis is a well-known user of GameMaker, having created several good games, most notably, The Power. He has his own site to showcase his creations, of which most are programmed with the Drag and Drop facility in GameMaker. Alexis was also very recently invited to join The Poppenkast.

Please introduce yourself.
I am Alexis Andújar González (AKA Alexitrón). I’m 28, married and live in Puerto Rico. I develop freeware video games as a hobby in my spare time.

When did you start to get interested in game development, especially with GameMaker?
I started to get an interest in game making as soon as I started to play them in my Atari 2600 when I was a kid. Then came the NES and I was hooked forever. When I wasn’t playing games I was thinking about them or talking about them. I drew video games on my school notebooks during class, little doodles engaged in all sorts of video game activities, an absolute addict. Then some day in late 2005 or early 2006 I started to Google for game making tools and came across Game Maker. It promised me that I would be able to make games without code and so I felt in love with it. I started and dropped GM a couple of times until I finally got the hang of it and haven’t let it go until today.

Being a working man, do you agree that GM is a brilliant tool for people with lack of time but high aspirations?
Absolutely, GM always does half or more of the work for you. If you want to get into game making and only have a little spare time per day, GM is the thing for you.

Do you think you’ll be using GameMaker for a long time? Will you ever consider trying out a different program?
I will continue to use GM for as long as it allows me to do what I want in it. But I am always open to try new things; I have made some research about other tools and have tried some like Construct. I still don’t find any that offer the versatility and ease of use of GM.

What would you say is the prime source of inspiration for your games?
It has to be the NES. I was still playing my NES when most of my friends already had Super NES and Genesis systems. There was something about the simple looks and mechanics of the NES games that I just loved. Games back then were, well, just games, and that was fine with me. I try to emulate this in my creations, but I am not restricted by it and am not afraid of experimentation either.

When releasing games, you tend to make the source file public. Why?
I started to do this some time after I released The Power. I do it because I want my games to go as far as they can, to reach as many people as possible. Maybe someone didn’t like my game much, but was left wondering how I made this or that; maybe the source will make that someone take an interest in my work, even if that someone didn’t like the game much. Also, a lot of people go “Hey, this deserves a sequel” or “Add this feature”. I am not a big fan of making sequels and even though I do it if I have to, I really don’t like to go back to my old games once I think of them as done. By making the source open, I hope to satisfy this particular crowd that couldn’t have enough of the game. Also, I like it when I see other GM users make their own stuff out of mine. Jet Pod, for example, has over ten player-made versions that I know of. I feel like I made the next Breakout and everyone is making clones of it… OK, maybe not exactly to that extent, but you get the point.

Do you think more indie game developers should do this?
Everyone should do with their work as they please. And if they don’t make their source material open, there are always decompilers… hehehe.

Most of your creations have a visually retro style. Is this done purposely?
Yes, I can’t get enough retro. I want to get better at pixel art or at least make a style of my own and get away with it. Like always, I am not limited to this graphic style; I have tried flashier anti-aliased stuff, 3D modelling with Blender, and even clay. I love playing with clay and hope to do a game with clay graphics in the future.

Which of your games do you think you’re most well-known for?
The Power. It’s been everywhere, even in DVDs that come with magazines. It got a 15th place in best platformers of 2008 on IndieGames.com. It has been featured on many sites and most of the time, when people talk about my other games they go like “this game made by Alexitrón, creator of The Power”. It has been Let’s Played twice and even has a wiki entry.

What aspect of it do you think attracted players?
I believe the biggest attraction of The Power is the graphics; people were quick to praise them and to compare them to games of old and even a movie, Tron. But beyond the looks, a lot of people also appreciated the simplicity of the game; there is nothing fancy or absolutely original to be found there, a lot of it is very Metroid-like, but many people loved how simple the game was and how much it reminded them of the games they used to play. The C64 was mentioned a lot, I didn’t get to play that so I guess I missed some good times. So, I believe that with The Power I got the simplicity and playability combo to work along with some attractive looks and that is what made it good for the players.

Could you give us a short overview of your latest game, Alexitrón’s Journey to Learn GML?
Alexitrón’s Journey to Learn GML is more than a game, it’s a learning experience turned into a game. In the game, you play the role of ME, developer Alexitrón, and you are tasked with helping me get rid of the Drag and Drop icons used to facilitate game making for people that can’t code and finally make the transition to Game Maker Language, which further extends the possibilities of GM. It’s a very simple game with minimal looks and mechanics, but it has been well received by the communities.

Did you receive coding help with this game, since it’s your first using GML?
No doubt. I wouldn’t have done it without the help of the guys at Game Jolt. They not only convinced me to make the transition to GML, but helped me all the way through the creation of this game. Thank you guys!

Why has it taken you so long to move away from using the Drag and Drop icons in GameMaker?
I hate code. It’s so technical and complicated. Up until now, I’ve been able to do what I want with GM with just Drag and Drop, so in my head there was really no need to learn GML. But now I want to deliver better games faster and efficiently and that can’t happen with D&D. I have to start every single project from scratch, even if they have similar mechanics to my other games; editing a D&D-only game can be so painful that it’s better to just do it all over again. With GML, it’s just a matter of copy & paste and whatever adjustments you want.

Have comments regarding the game been positive?
So far all the feedback has been good. The major complaint that I get is that it’s too short or that it doesn’t have music. But this is a small experiment, so that is fine.

Can we expect any more games from you soon?
I am on a learning process now. I hate learning because it’s tied to reading and I hate reading, so I’m going to be working on small games/experiments as I learn new things. That way the process should be less hateful. I have an idea for a small puzzle game now, maybe it will happen, maybe not.

Thanks for taking part. Is there anything you’d like to add?
I want to thank all the communities and all the people who kindly support me and my work. I hope to keep on delivering games that you all enjoy to play. Also, thank you for this great opportunity.

4 comment(s):

Alexitrón said...

WOW , that Alexitrón sounds like such a fantastic guy . When I grow up , I wanna be just like him .

Time said...

Good questions and good answers! I've played The Power and many of Alexitron's other games, and it really surprised me to find that he used D&D for them. I've been using GML for ages and I still can't get the right balance of graphics/gameplay in my games! I'm looking forward to more interviews! *Clicks to add as a follower*

T-Dub said...

Great interview.
Alexitrón has some really fun games to play. As it does Time, it also amazes me that his games are made in D&D.

Great blog too.

Darren Poole said...

Hey, thanks for the positive comments. And yes, it is also quite remarkable, in my opinion, that he uses D&D. :D

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