Previously a featured creator on Vidme, EchoWaltz has recently put that all on hold to pursue a lifelong passion: game development.
ADuelGet! spoke with EchoWaltz about what inspired him to want to create games from an early age and what he intends to accomplish in this interesting look at the early stages of becoming a game developer.
What are your fondest memories of gaming growing up?
A lot of my earliest gaming memories are the main ones that really stick out for me. I was 5 years old when I first started playing video games. I wasn’t allowed my own system at that point and had to kindly beg my older brother for a turn playing on his PlayStation 1 or Game Boy. The very first game I played was Super Mario Land for the Game Boy, from that moment on, I was hooked.
My fondest memories mainly involve a lot of platformers–that was my main go-to genre throughout most of my early childhood. I remember playing countless hours of Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, Rayman and a bunch of others. So whenever I see developers bring back 3D platformers these days, I experience so many nostalgic feelings.
…I kinda got a bit of a thrill playing this game I wasn’t supposed to and getting away with it (Mom, Dad, if you ever read this, I’m sorry).
Once I reached those early teenage years, I had moved onto more of the FPS, RPG and Action games, most notably Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I was only 13 years old at the time and my parents wouldn’t buy it for me, but I managed to convince a friend to let me borrow his brother’s copy. This was something my parents didn’t know. Whenever there were cutscenes with lots of cursing and foul language, I used to sit right next to the TV screen and put the volume on its lowest setting so they couldn’t hear it. It’s funny, because I kinda got a bit of a thrill playing this game I wasn’t supposed to and getting away with it (Mom, Dad, if you ever read this, I’m sorry).
At what point did you realize that you wanted to become a game developer?
There was one big defining moment for me, which has stuck with me to this very day. I was 7 years old and my parents had finally decided to let me have my own video game console, the PlayStation 2. They helped me set up the console and loaded up Batman: Vengeance, the first and only game I had at the time. After playing the game for a few minutes, I looked over to my parents who were watching me play, and said “I’m gonna make my own game one day”.
Several years after that I started making a Pokemon game with one of my friends from the neighbourhood. During the school break we spent a whole summer working on this game, making NPCs, designing towns and adding dialogue. By the end of it all we basically had a game that was probably 90% complete and playable. We decided to call the game Pokemon Platinum, which funnily enough was way before Nintendo actually made a game with that name. Maybe I should’ve asked for some royalties? Haha.
Overall though, the world of video games has always fascinated, excited and inspired me and I think I noticed that from a very early age. It’s something I’ve alway felt drawn and connected to for whatever reason. My grandma used to always say that I was very creative and I spent a lot of my childhood at her house, drawing characters from games and cartoons. So it might be the thought of going one step further by making art that is interactive.
What was it that inspired you to create gaming videos?
I’ve always been incredibly passionate about games–that’s one thing that has remained consistent throughout my life so far. Making videos was the perfect opportunity for me to share that passion with other people, so I thought I’d give it a shot. My very first videos were not good though–in fact that’s being kind about it–they were terrible. There’s no way to watch them anymore, but I think I’d cringed out of my own body if I was able to watch them back now.
What was it that convinced you that it was the time to finally get into game development?
I realized that life really is short and that I couldn’t keep putting off this idea and ongoing dream of mine. I decided to take a break from making gaming videos and some other things in life to have a really important conversation with myself. In the past I never had the time to pursue it and something would always come up or I would already be busy with another project or venture. But I came to the realization that if I was really serious about doing this, I would find a way to make time.
Now feels like the perfect time and opportunity to get started. While I have had to sacrifice making gaming videos in order to make that time for myself, the rest of my life isn’t too hectic…yet. I’m able to manage my job, my social life and this game dev stuff. However, that could all change in the future, if I got married, had kids and all the other things adults tend to do, I think I would struggle to start from that point. It’s the getting started that requires the most patience, persistence and time because I’m having to learn so many new things at once. So I figured I might as well get started now and have a bit of foresight about it all.
Did you have any previous coding experience?
The only real coding experience I had prior to this was from designing websites. I’m familiar with HTML and CSS, but those are completely different compared to what I’m using now. A couple of years ago I started messing around with a game engine known as GameMaker Studio 1.4, which I didn’t do anything all that impressive with, but I liked the way it worked and the tools it offered.
Early this year GameMaker Studio 2 was released and with it came news tools and systems that I immediately took a liking to. I decided to focus on learning the ins and out of that particular game engine. The engine uses its own scripting language known as GML, so I find myself having to learn almost entirely from scratch.
What is the type of game that you want to make and what does your timeline currently look like?
I originally had a really solid vision for a game that I wanted to make but I realized very quickly that it was way too ambitious and unrealistic for my very first project. Essentially, I found myself wanting to run before I could even crawl. It involves some forms of procedural generation and a loot system, with a goal to make an existing genre much more accessible and satisfying.
For the time being, I don’t have a replacement project–I’m spending most of this time to experiment with the engine I’m using while practicing and learning as much as I can.
What advice do you have for people that may be in a similar situation as you with similar aspirations?
I think it’s paramount that you have some kind of conversation with yourself or those around you about your dreams and aspirations. Try and identify and work towards the necessary steps that will make it easier for you to try and chase them. Most importantly though, be patient. You will likely fail; in fact you’ll probably fail quite a few times. The way I see it though is that failing is a part of the test to see how bad you really want something. The real secret is being able to learn from the failures and seeing them as learning experiences.
As humans we tend to have this voice in the back of our head that tries to talk us out of doing something ambitious if there’s any kind of risk involved or chance of failure. It’s there as an instinct, to try and protect us but a lot of time it gets in the way of ambition and holds us back. The only way you’ll ever have a chance at those aspirations is if you can learn to ignore that voice and have a bit of faith in yourself.
What is the best way for people to follow your current projects?
As it currently stands the best way would be to follow my Twitter account. It’s not completely focused on me talking about what I’m working on, but occasionally I plan to keep people posted about how things are going.