Developers Insight – Dan Marshall

Dan Marshall of Size Five Games shares some of his wisdom about games development with Ryan Archer.

In this episode of Developers Insight we speak to Dan Marshall (@Danthat) about two of his indie game projects, “Ben There Dan That” and “Time, Gentlemen Please!” We also speak about the usual topics such as how he got into the industry and where he thinks it can develop.

Q) How did you get into game development?

A) I used to work in TV, and making games was my hobby. One day the planets just aligned; Time Gentlemen, Please! was selling well and I’d landed a contract to produce Privates, and I found myself in a position to jump ship and make my hobby my real life full-time job. It has been amazing.

Q) Where would you advise people who want to become game developers to start?

A) Uh, I’d probably start with something that teaches you the logic of game development while abstracting programming – something like GameMaker or AGS should suit. While you’re doing that, if you’re really into it, you need to learn how to code. Pick up a C Primer like C++ for dummies and start learning how programming all hangs together. If you can’t code to some degree, you’re going to have a hard time making games.

You could theoretically get by with abstract art and minimalist music you’ve done yourself, and designing is pretty much just common sense for most gamers. But programming really is the dark core of game development, and even artists and musicians these days kind of need to at least have a handle on it.

Q) How did you come up with the basic idea for Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That!?

A) Ha ha, I think those were largely devised in the pub with my best chum Ben. We were big fans of the likes of Sam and Max Hit the Road and Day of the tentacle, and wanted to make one of those kinds of games. So, we went to the pub and started chucking ideas around.

Q) What engine did you use for Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! ?

A) They’re made using AGS. It’s a great little tool for making 1990s-ish Point and Click adventure games.

Q) What were the key skills needed to use that engine?

A) You need to code, if you’re going to do anything even remotely complex, but it’s a good way of learning since it uses a very simple C-like scripting process. You probably also need to have a significant love and understanding of adventure games, since that’s all it’s really suited to do.

Q) How long did it take you to make Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! ?

A) I think BDTD was largely done in a couple of months, I’m not really sure. It actually sat 99% finished on my hard disc for about a year before I polished it up. TGP was nine months, all in.

Q) Where can the industry go in the future?

A) The indie side of things is really exciting. With Unity and Steam and various other tools small teams are making some incredible stuff. I think the days of AAA three year dev cycles are going to be hard to justify next-gen when a tiny team with a lot of passion can rake in a lot more. Look at Notch.

Thanks to Dan we also have 6, yes 6, copies of the “Time Gentlemen, Please!” and “Ben There, Dan That!” double pack to give away on Steam! To enter all you have to do is answer a simple question:

What’s the best drink to have while chucking game ideas around in a pub, and why?

Post your answers in the comments section below. Please make sure to read our terms and conditions before entering. Closing date is Friday 14th December 2012.

Ryan Archer

About Ryan Archer

Gamer. Enough said.