What have you created with ZZT, or related to ZZT?
The only thing I ever created for ZZT that got released was a game called [sic] that was my attempt to draw on all of the weird atmospheric puzzle games that I loved, like pop and kudzu and winter. It ended up being a short effort-- it started taking the form of these chapter-days and once I had a couple, I tacked on an ending and pushed it out the door because I had some other grand ideas about this game with a lot of Christianity metaphors called "Unless" and a medieval murder mystery called "Dulcimer of the Ages" which, of course, fell by the wayside like so many other projects. In the end, I guess I'm glad that I can say I released something. In general I was more of an admirer of works in the scene, but I did feel some pressure to give back by making something intriguing that let other people press their arrow keys for a while.
When you think about ZZT, what games come to your mind and why?
Nightmare, pop, kudzu, winter. Puzzle games like that. Also the really involved stuff with plots and jokes that came later on like November Eve and Teen Priest. And to some extent, the stuff that got me hooked in the first place in grade school-- Barney9651's games and Scott Hammack's Power Ranger parodies. Oh, and the Legend of Zelda and Yoshi games.
Have you created any games outside of ZZT?
I released a handful of demos for Megazeux projects before I lost all my files. There was an Honor Quest parody called Dorkage and a Parasite Eve-style RPG called Costan, based off of a Weekend of Zeux competition entry I made. When I get bored at work, I've thrown together little games, mostly just implementations of common games like Lights Out, Minesweeper, Snake, Tetris, and so on. Most of those are in Visual Basic, C++, or C#. I'd like to do something more ambitious, but I don't really have the time.
Do you have any artistic pursuits other than making games?
Not particularly. I've dabbled in creative writing but have never been particularly satisfied with the results. If regular programming counts, I find myself starting and abandoning a variety of software development projects just like ZZT taught me to.
What are you up to, lately (in life, generally)?
I've got one more year to finish college at Purdue University in Indiana. I'm going to get my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and then I'm not really sure what I'm going to do. I'd like to either work at making games "for real" or just do some other sort of software engineering. If someone from the ZZT community wants to help me get a job, that'd be cool. ;)
I've been dating someone I met at school for two and a half years now, and so I might end up following her somewhere when she goes to grad school after we graduate. Lots of change is on the horizon.
Has your experience with ZZT or the ZZT scene made any sort of lasting impact on your life?
If anything, it just showed me the way a community can form over the internet and how invested you can feel in it just by talking to people on a daily basis and getting to know them without ever seeing their faces. My involvement with ZZT and Megazeux seems like it lasted a lifetime, but it was only a handful of years. Nevertheless, I learned so much from all of the people around me and my sense of humor was developed primarily from the games I played and time I spent in IRC channels. I still miss IRC to this day, but I've kept in contact with a lot of people through Livejournal.
What works of non-ZZT art have inspired you the most?
"Earthbound" for the SNES really influenced me in grade school, and the movie "Rushmore" had a profound impact on me at the beginning of high school. I have yet to identify what's shaped my college years, but come back in a few years and maybe I'll be willing to admit that I listened to the Postal Service's "Give Up" an unhealthy number of times for the first year after it came out, which also happens to be my first year at college.
Do you have any interesting stories to relate about ZZT or the ZZT scene?
Not really. Any interesting stories that I'd offer up would probably later turn out to be pieces of shammack's "Saga of the ZZT/MZXers" that I'd somehow convinced myself had actually happened.
Do you plan to create any games in the future, with or without ZZT?
I'd really like to, it's just a matter of either finding the free time to do so, or in the case of not-ZZT, finding someone who's willing to pay me for it. Video games have definitely continued to be a major part of my life, so if I have the ability to give someone else even a fraction of the enjoyment that I've received from the game creators out there, I'd feel pretty happy about that.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm honored that I was thought of to participate in this set of interviews, but I guess I made friends with the right people. As someone who did a lot more playing games than making them, I'd like to just point out that to this day I adore and respect so many of the people who put time into making those games. So many of them became friends *and* heroes to me, which is a great thing to have happen. These people really did more than just entertain me and the others who played their games, they gave us a chance to see something they could think of, whether it was just an outlet of their peculiar sense of humor or an interesting way of making us think through a puzzle or seeing the way a character reacted to situations in the course of a plot. The whole community deserves a big "thank you."
- May 2006