How I got started in games – Matthew Hall – Klicktock
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This is an edited transcript of Matthew Hall‘s presentation on “The Australian Story” panel at the Game Masters Forum, Friday 29th June 2012. Matthew runs the one man design company Klicktock.
I’m a one man band developer. I pretty much do everything myself. And I do it from a sheep farm in rural Victoria.
I started making games when I was 8. I got a Commodore 64 for my birthday. And I got one game, which was a game called “The Pit” – it’s rather obscure and it’s really shit – and the other thing I got, of course, was a manual. And so the game I finished very quickly, and then I had nothing else to do so I dove straight into the manual. And you know going out and trying to find books wherever I could. I did that for quite a long time. So my video game heroes are people like Tony Crowther, and Martin Walker (who used to do those listings in those magazines, or write up the ZAP 64 developer diaries). So I was generally looking to the UK in reading those kind of magazines rather than Australia. I didn’t even know at that point that games were even made in Australia. There was Melbourne House but I had no idea that that was actually the Melbourne that was right near us! I was very young.
So I’ve sort of been an indie developer since then. What I realised recently is that every game I worked on I finished. I think that’s pretty unusual, most people who dabble get lost and break things. But I have this rather large catalogue of games that I actually completed around those years. And I’ve recently updated my LinkedIn profile and put all the games up there that I could remember making when I was, you know, 10 years old.
[You can find them all here .]
One thing that was really odd was the isolation, and not having anyone to talk to or understand. I mean there was no internet back then. Making games was kind of a crazy concept. I had this really weird thing in my head where I thought that copying was wrong, and so what I mean by that is that if I looked at a listing in a magazine, and I wouldn’t try and adapt it, I’d try and start from scratch. Because I didn’t want to take their line of code.
I really could’ve used some advice back then and when I was around 9 or 10 or so, my grandpa took me out and bought me this book on how to write text adventures. And that sort of really opened my eyes, and from then it was sort of my first game engine. And I wrote a lot of text adventures during that time, culminating with one I wrote when I was 12 on a Microbee, at school. And I printed out the listing and I still have the listing —it would probably extend from that wall over here to about where I’m standing now [about 7 metres]. And I did that in 8 weeks, 1 hour a day, at school, if I could get to the….I don’t even think I could type that fast now. I really don’t know how I did it.
When I was a kid we would go to Horsham once every few months and I would buy the cheapest games I could find (…we were very poor). It wouldn’t matter if they were good or not …if it was $2 or $3, that’s better than a $4 game because… that’s the way I would do it. And so I have a large collection of cassettes of really shit games at home as well. Anything that was on sale.
Once I hit year 9 I started to sort of self-analyse myself and thought “people really think I’m a geek and they won’t talk to me”. So I made this complete turnaround where I stopped playing games and I started playing sport and you know, making friends, and eventually by year 12 I was the School President, so I must have done a pretty good job at turning that around.
And I stopped playing games for quite a while. I eventually went to university, and although I wasn’t making games at that time, I could afford them again, so I started playing games again and really started to get back into the industry playing games like “System Shock 2” and I thought “right, I want to make a game like that”, which is actually developed by an Australian developer, John Chey at Irrational.