Darren Hewer
a.k.a. Megazealot or Emmzee

What have you created with ZZT, or related to ZZT?

The four ZZT games of mine available on Z2 are Death (or _death_), Dr. Zeebo, Dreamling, and Jeebie's Quest. The best of the four is Death. It has a dark, macabre theme, and lots of shooting. It took a long time to complete. By the end, it became pretty large and ZZT started messing up my robots and crashing. But the finished product works, AFAIK. Dreamling won the Summer 1998 24HoZZT. Its decent. The other two are forgettable. Like most people I had probably close to a dozen finished early games (read: bad games) and who knows how many unfinished games that no one else ever saw.

When you think about ZZT, what games come to your mind and why?

Well I haven't been playing any of the newer ZZT games so the ones I'm thinking of will mostly be old. Merbotia was, for some reason, an early favorite. Some others that come to mind as being fun and well done are Warlord's Temple, Dragon Woods, POP, Winter, Code Red, Sivion, Coolness, Edible Vomit ... and in terms of stupid but funny games, No Point, Double & Triple Weird, and the Mr. Shapiro games are hilarious. There's probably tons more but those are the ones that I could remember (or that I noticed as I quickly browsed my ZZT folder just now).

Have you created any games outside of ZZT?

I'm probably better known (relatively speaking) for my MegaZeux games: Honor Quest (later remade by Adam Parrish (myth) as Honor Quest: Special Edition), Damaged Mind, Darkness, Calmness, Rangest, Honor Quest 2: Chapter 1, MiniDarkness ... I think that's it. I enjoyed working in MegaZeux more than ZZT because of the additional freedom and options it provided. Other than that, I haven't created any games. I lack artistic skill, so while I was able to handle working within the confines of MegaZeux, having to create "real" graphics for something like GameMaker is beyond my capabilities.

Do you have any artistic pursuits other than making games?

I've created several websites over the last few years. The most famous is still my first, DOSGames.com. It needs a redesign badly but I don't have time at the moment ... it's all hand-coded HTML which would take QUITE awhile to redo. There's also PLAY.vg which is for remakes of classic games in Flash/Java. My personal website is at emmzee.com complete with an infrequently updated "blog" type thing. I sometimes still write music (still using Impulse Tracker, through DOSBox, yea!) but I rarely feel comfortable sharing my songs with anyone.

What are you up to, lately (in life, generally)?

Attended the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in "Information Systems & Human Behavior" in Dec 2004. It's basically a comp sci degree for people who hate math. I worked for a year and a half, then decided to go back to school to get my Masters. I'm currently attending Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, halfway through my Masters of Theological Studies degree. Although growing up as an atheist, I got interested in religion while at Guelph, and eventually (after much struggle) accepted Christ as my savior. How did I change from someone who had no faith in anything to a committed Christian? Well, it wasn't by throwing my brain away! My full story of my journey is available on my website if you're wondering how the heck THAT happened to ME of all people! ;) For this summer I'm working doing web development and writing content for Campus Crusade Canada. I'll be returning to school in Fall 2006. After that ... who knows?

Has your experience with ZZT or the ZZT scene made any sort of lasting impact on your life?

When I was in highschool, I was basically an outcast. I was (am) shy, and certainly wasn't part of the popular social clique. I was always interested in video & computer games though, and when I found ZZT on a local BBS it was so exciting. Then much later when I got on the Internet, I was astounded to find that other people shared my interest! Often I looked forward to getting home from school just so I could log onto IRC. I learned a lot from talking with people, bitched about life and had tons of fun. It was great just having a place to belong. Although there were often fights, splits, people "quitting" MZX and coming back a week later (not that *I* ever did that, heh) ... still, the community was generally very accepting, and I'm grateful that I was able to be a small part of it. It left me with a weird fascination with text mode games.

What works of non-ZZT art have inspired you the most?

Back in my MZX/ZZT days, mainly music. My CD collection now numbers probably close to 200 (all legit) and music has always been a powerful source of inspiration for me. For example, while working on Death for ZZT, I usually listened to Tool and NIN to get myself in the right frame of mind for that game, there's some Tool lyric references in the game I think. (Although probably if I were to play it now, a lot of the dialogue would seem groan-worthy.) In terms of video games, I grew up with the Nintendo systems (NES, SNES, N64 ...) and PC games. I played all of the famous Nintendo games on the NES/SNES, and most of the Sierra adventures on PC, among probably hundreds of others. Probably the Zelda and the Final Fantasy games (both for the SNES) were the most influential games.

Do you have any interesting stories to relate about ZZT or the ZZT scene?

Hmmm, the whole "Greg Janson" fiasco comes to mind. Mostly, it was just fun and crazy stuff that happened, hanging out and talking about everything and nothing. Reading Scoot Shammack's [sic] Saga probably will give people a pretty good idea of what things were like back then. I was honored to write an episode of The Saga, which I think turned out decent.

Do you plan to create any games in the future, with or without ZZT?

I'd love to do more games! In fact I sometimes will get ideas for games, ie "What about a game where ..." but I just don't have time at the moment to seriously work on anything. If I did make a game it'd be in MegaZeux, and probably would be a non-traditional adventure game of some sort. I actually have one fairly lengthy game around somewhere that's fairly far along, maybe even 80% done. At least, I hope I still have it somewhere. But I have no specific plans to finish that or start new projects at the moment.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I'm thankful and honored to be asked to do this interview. It's so fantastic that even after all these years, I still get an email once in awhile from someone praising Honor Quest, or asking about Honor Quest 2: Chapter 2. :) (Sorry all, it's not coming out.) I just wanna say "hi" to anyone who remembers me, and feel free to contact me!

- May 2006