Feb. 23, 2011

Developer Q&A with Nerdook

This week, we interviewed the very popular and prolific game developer Nerdook to get more insight into his process and success as a game developer. We were very lucky to pull Nerdook away from his busy schedule to provide these helpful answers and we hope to have more interviews in the future!

Developer Background
My real name is Sim (yes, I've heard every possible joke :p), but I'm more commonly known through my nickname Nerdook. I'm currently an electrical engineer in Malaysia, which is a wonderful country in Southeast Asia, but by April this year I would be moving on to doing games full time for a while.

Back when I was a kid, I would spend my long afternoons at the grocery shop with my grandma. There wasn't much to do while waiting for customers, so I would doodle pictures onto used cigarette carton boxes and cut those out into little figures. I would cut out little 6 sided dice held together with glue/tape, and then persuade my brother to give these "games" a try. Later, I was delighted to find out that I could do all these in a computer, and did my very first game in, of all things, Microsoft Excel's VBA script (it was a fishing game). I later discovered Flash, and here I am today.

Games
Among all my games, Monster Slayers is by far the most successful, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Cluesweeper, which was the first game that convinced me it was possible to do games for a living (at least for a while!)

Questions

Kongregate: You have a lot of creative and original concepts for games. What process do you go through when working on a new game design?

Nerdook: I don't really have a formal process! It usually starts with a random idea ("Wouldn't it be cool if..."), and I would bounce the idea off the Kongregate community through the chatrooms. After that, I would start sketching out doodles of the idea and some basic interface layouts. And yes, I have a lot of sketchbooks full of weird drawings. From there, I would usually start building a prototype to see if the idea is fun. The game design usually changes on the fly, which is probably quite inefficient, but anything that's not fun usually gets tossed out during development and replaced with something else.

Kongregate: What software do you prefer to use for your development environment?

Nerdook: I've been working with Adobe Flash for a while (several years), so it's pretty much the software of choice. Having drawing/coding integrated into a single program really helps me speed things up, since I'm doing both.

Kongregate: The speed at which you publish games is downright impressive, especially since it's not your full-time job. Do you have advice on how other developers can increase their turnover rate while maintaining quality?

Nerdook: It's certainly not easy, and has led to a lot of late nights and lost weekends! I think the key factor to being able to release games monthly so far is to get a prototype running as quickly as possible. This allowed me to test my idea out quickly! Also, a pool of playtesters from the Kongregate community have been instrumental in testing early (and horribly buggy) versions of the game, and telling me what works and what doesn't. I really could never appreciate their efforts enough, and I make sure to credit them prominently in all the games!

Kongregate: Do you have any words of wisdom for young, aspiring game developers?

Nerdook: Sure! Making games takes a LOT of hard work and discipline. Read as much as you can, and play as many games as you can. Learn from other games: even bad games teach you how NOT to design a game. On the commercial side: the Flash game market is a really competitive one, so the first few games you make will probably not make much money (unless you're really lucky or talented), so get a day job as well! Always look for room to improve and remember that learning is a never-ending process.

Kongregate: What is the hardest thing about game development for you?

Nerdook: The hardest thing for me is to choosing a different idea to develop each month. The games might look similar (because I did all the art, it's a common criticism), but I try to make sure the gameplay is different and fresh from one game to another. It's not easy, but I do my best!

Kongregate: Thanks so much for giving us time from your busy schedule to talk with us!

Nerdook: Thanks for taking the time to ask these questions!

Be sure to check out Nerdook's full library of games!
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