What have you created with ZZT, or related to ZZT?
I did the Fred! series while I was but a small boy.
Those games are, as a consequence, pretty much just
accretions of ZZT cliches. Fred! 2, in particular, is
a wretchedly gaudy, oversized pearl. But I had a lot
of fun making it.
I only made Winter because I loved kudzu and p0p so
much that I ached daily with envy. I made a bunch of
24hozzt games that some folks like, too: Nightplanet,
Empty Spaces, Chicken Szechuan. You can tell that I'd
read and completely misunderstood "A Catcher in the
Rye" just before making the latter.
When you think about ZZT, what games come to your mind and why?
The theme music to Code Red 2 (is this an original
composition or did Janson gank it from somewhere?).
It gets stuck in my head and I imagine it fleshed out
and all strung up, Nobuo Uematsu-style. The School
Sucks series, because those were the first games I
downloaded, and the first games I tried to emulate.
Sivion! Nothing's better than Sivion, it was the
total ZZT experience. I remember being shocked and
challenged by everything drac0 did. drac0 contributed
to my personal growth.
Have you created any games outside of ZZT?
I had lots of ideas for MegaZeux, but very little
follow-through. (The notable exception is Honor
Quest: SE, but the all the credit for that goes to
Darren. Darren Hewer makes awesome games.) I was a
scene gadfly, more or less. A classic case of put up
or shut up.
Do you have any artistic pursuits other than making games?
My artistic to-do list has two items on it: (1) Record
shoegaze folk-drone masterpiece and (2) Write novel.
Maybe a graphic novel. Sort of a cross between H.P.
Lovecraft and Dashiell Hammett. Has that kind of
thing been done? Except mine will be set in outer
Uh, anyway, I have some music stuff up here:
What are you up to, lately (in life, generally)?
I never really had them before in my life, but right
now I am having terrible allergies. Non-stop fits of
sneezing, an itchy uvula, I want to tear out my tear
ducts. I'm not sure if it's an adult onset thing or
if I just hadn't felt the brunt of all these strange
NYC allergens since I moved here from California.
I am not having a lot of fun at my job. Thankfully
I'll be going to NYU in the fall. I'll be in their
"Interactive Telecommunications" program, where I hope
to learn about post-linear narrative from Douglas
Rushkoff. Among other things.
Has your experience with ZZT or the ZZT scene made any sort of lasting impact on your life?
Oh, in innumerable ways. Mostly positive! Other
interviewees have noted the benefits of having
belonged to a community that welcomed teenage outcasts
and valued creativity, and I'm completely on board
with that sentiment. But there's more: without
exception, the ZZTers and ex-ZZTers I keep in touch
with, or at least keep up with, are amazing creative
people. A lot of them are on my LiveJournal friends
list, which is like a daily roll call of cool stuff.
I love Dexter's songs and his radio show, and the
excerpts from bongo/wynand's novel, and Chilly Willy
and the Whimsy, and I'm sure yenrab's biology research
is awesome. Scott Hammack is going to be a great
filmmaker one day. Did you know that mono, like, runs
Anyway, it's a kick to be associated with these folks,
no matter how tenuously.
What works of non-ZZT art have inspired you the most?
Music: Basically I wish all music sounded like Flying
Saucer Attack. Like someone got high and conjured up
a fuzzy universe in an afternoon. I love Casiotone
for the Painfully Alone because of their obsessive
devotion to one narrative and one sound. The songs
are intricate but never complex. Oh, and the Jewelled
Antler Collective. And early Elliott Smith. I guess
I'm inspired by music that has an extemporaneous,
ramshackle feel to it.
Games: I never played Final Fantasy when I was a kid,
so I have really been enjoying the recent remakes for
the GBA (FFI&II, FFIV). New first-party stuff for the
Nintendo DS, like Animal Crossing and Electroplankton,
have been recent inspirations as well.
Books: God, I wish I knew the first thing about books.
Almost everything I read inspires me, even the stuff
I'm embarrassed to have read (e.g., The Kin of Ata
Are Waiting for You).
Do you have any interesting stories to relate about ZZT or the ZZT scene?
I met yenrab once! She showed up in my kitchen and
then we ate pizza at a Brazilian restaurant. True
Do you plan to create any games in the future, with or without ZZT?
Yes! Probably not with ZZT.
- June 2006