It took us two days to make a violent first-person point-and-shoot about a conservative hunter trying to protect the forests of Värmland from an evil lumberjack by shooting all of his lumberjack henchmen. For me it was a peek into the world of adults. I can't remember how involved I actually was in the design and execution of the game, but I developed a deep-seated need to start making these things on my own. The following christmas, Rustan offered me my own version of The Games Factory, and that's where it started.
This week I have passed on the legacy. Once again visiting my family's house in Bohuslän, I came across my eleven-year-old cousin Madeleine and let slip that I was playing around with the Game Maker, trying to come up with a game that was fun. She commanded me to teach her, and for the next few days I made my debut as a commited programmer, a slave to the will of this intriguing game designer.
We were making a simple, conventional platform game when Madeleine said "Let's put a ball in there". I obeyed, and from that moment, the game was fun! It was varied, intuitive, and even had emergent qualities. I worked hard to keep up with my cousin's imagination, but thanks to the built-in functions of Game Maker we made it happen, and even managed to mix things up a bit with spinning logs, trampolines, and the biggest boss I've made so far.
Of course, I have been involved in the game design. I have given suggestions and tried things out in Madeleine's absence that she instantly loved, and I have advised her to stay out of a few deadly traps. But I have struggled all summer to do this kind of game alone, and now it was suddenly possible in three days. All I needed was to put a ball in there! I wish it were that easy with all games. I'm going to try designing more games with people who have never made a game before, and see what it brings. My guess is that every game designer has a lot to learn from "design children" like my cousin.
I have made the game available for download on YoYoGames, so feel free to try it out. With Madeleine's permission I might even keep working on it.