Jessamin Yu
a.k.a. Barney9651 or Yenrab

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

They haven't changed since the last interview (unfortunately), and despite having spent so much time in that incredibly frustrating editor I don't seem to have been terribly prolific. The three of which I would still lay claim to today would be Escape from Planet Red, Dogfight, and Mostly Morphine Powder Strangers. I never was too good at naming things.

Anyway, while they aren't really anything special by today's standards, I'm glad that they were inspirational to some of the hotshot ZZT superstars of the new wave or whatever. I remember actually putting time into them to make them quality, which was something lacking from the majority of games in AOL's ZZT library at the time.

Escape from Planet Red
When you think about ZZT, what games come to your mind and why?

I feel like I'm sort of cheating on this one, because I just read the old interviews and so the first games that come to mind are the ones mentioned there. For example, Macrosoft! I almost forgot about those games, but man, they were really something. Also, anything by Greg Janson. He pretty much singlehandedly opened the door to the countless possibilities offered up by this amazing little game.

Have you created any games outside of ZZT?

I created Spirit Revenge for Megazeux in 1997, and I still like it very much, even though pretty much all of the dialogue makes me cringe. Also, there is an enormous hole in the logic near the end that I never noticed and none of my beta testers ever mentioned! I also had some unfinished projects, namely a Rampage clone, a game composed of a bunch of cool minigames, and a game where you drive a car and dodge various geometric shapes on a grid. I still have the first two, but sadly no one seems to have a copy of the last one.

Do you have any artistic pursuits other than making games?

I briefly collaborated on a sprite-based webcomic called Chilly Willy ( which was beginning to be not-sprite-based, but time constraints led to its eventual demise. I also started a journal comic tentatively titled Whimsies ( which I have not updated in ages either, but I'd like to get back on that pretty soon.

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

I suggested this question, and yet I am terrible at answering it! Right now I'm in my first year of grad school, I live with my boyfriend and our cat; I try to enjoy myself and not be sad too much. I don't know how well I'm doing at this getting an advanced degree thing. It's really just something to do while I figure out what I really want to do. What else can I say?

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

Of course! I've been friends or at least kept in contact with people from the ZZT scene longer than most people I know in real life. Not only that, but it was kind of a big deal in my young life and I treasure memories of tooling around in the editor and talking to my online friends until the wee hours of the night. There was a certain magic in those days, and there are times I wish I could recapture the feeling.

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

Lately, by virtue of scanners and torrents, I've been getting into comic books again in a big way, and they are chock full of inspiration. I've been trying to read a little bit of everything -- the "high art" stuff (Blankets, Bone, Concrete, etc), the horrible superhero stuff from the early 90's (to provide a contrast to the good stuff, and so I can be like "wow, I had horrible taste"), and the really great superhero stuff (I just finished catching up with Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men).

Video games too are clearly a big influence; really I just want to combine my favorite aspects from all the games I've ever played into one bloated lumbering beast of awesomeness, but that seems a bit beyond my abilities.

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

At first I couldn't think of anything, then I thought of too many! I guess the oldie-but-goodie is when everyone found out I was a girl, which was a big deal at the time, ha. Come to think of it, spending a lot of time as the only girl among a bunch of hormonal adolescent dudes probably caused some kind of long-term psychological damage.

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

I sure hope so. This Game Maker thing seems pretty sweet.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I'm horrible at this closing words thing. I'm certainly glad I found ZZT all those many years ago, and I would probably be a very different person without the experiences attached to it.

- May 2006