If you could do things in your life over again, would you? What would you change? Relive Your Life gives you the opportunity to find out how different choices you make can impact your life course.
Relive Your Life is a fun Dr. Seuss-style interactive story where your choices (and ability to perform tasks) drastically affect the outcome of the game (and your life!). With multiple choices spanning from conception to adult, there are dozens of endings…see if you can get them all!
With a witty (and rhyming) narrative, great artwork, and simple gameplay Relive Your Life is this week’s Flash Game Friday winner- congratulations Frozen Fire!
Get To Know Frozen Fire
Tell me about yourself- how many people are on your team? Where are you based?
(Solo, no team here)
My name is Matthew Ackerman and I am 20 years old. I am based in College Station, Texas where I currently major in Visualization at Texas A&M. The major itself is a mystery to most but if I had to define it, it would be anything involving both art and technology. We dabble in game design, 3d/2d animation, graphic design, photography, even interactive fashion.
How long have you been making games? What did you do before?
I provided art for games as early as 2009, but my first true game creation experience was Primary back in 2010. I worked alongside Dave “Jacksmack” Fulton to create a platformer game that utilizes the primary colors as intangible platforms for your hero unless he was that specific hue. Each color had it’s own special perks as well, including the ability to create portals and become invisible. I focused in on how games really work during this time, and took some computer science classes of my own even though I was just providing animation/art.
After that I went on to create Lil’ Einstein’s Manhattan Project as well as Symphonic Tower Defense, which is a music driven tower defense game.
What was your inspiration for “Relive your Life”?
Relive Your Life is my final project for a course at my university. I knew from the start of the course we were going to make an interactive animation, and because I was extremely comfortable with Adobe Flash I was prepared to go all out. My initial narrator was a goofy guy who helped come up with preposterous scenarios that someone could find themselves in. (ex, Ultimate Velocity Spank)
We only had a little bit less than a month so the style itself needed to be simple because the amount of conten was so high.. Watercolor backgrounds hastily painted on Crescent board….narrator visuals to lower amount of animation necessary for each scene (52 scenes total) etc.
Did you encounter any major challenges or hurdles during development?
Initially I had the narrator under a video camera which he would recite his rhymes to. The video was going to be what you saw when the narrator appeared. Unfortunately the quality needed to be low and even then flash corrupted because of all the data it was force fed in this ginormous file, so I went with a static drawing of him instead. Even now the file is still huge. 52 MP3 files of talking, ~70 background JPGs really started to add up.
The game itself was animated in 24 days, so I was on a really tight schedule and I didn’t leave my room for long periods of time. Even when I needed to be in the class, my professor would just ask to see my progress, give some input, and then excuse me to continue working on my own. My girlfriend even made me have a short intervention in the park to keep me from forgetting about her. Haha whoops!
What types of games do you like to create the most? What types of games do you like to play the most?
I like to create something out of the box. I don’t stick to a genre and I avoid making sequels. It would probably help build up a fan base if I was more predictable but I would feel bored just recreating something you have already seen before.
My favorite games are story driven games. If a game gives me a good cinematic experience, and leaves me caring about the characters involved. Then it’s a good game. Games like these linger in your memory for a long time, but their replay value is low which is something that Relive Your Life tried to fix by being different and interesting at every turn.
How long is your game creation cycle? What is your process?
If I work on a game for more than 6 months, its usually trashed and started over from scratch a much more intelligent way.
My process is like this:
1. Create a Google Document.
2. Type out EVERYTHING I CAN POSSIBLY THINK OF.
3. Share the document with potential partner or just a friend who can critique and revise it.
4. Design a mock up of the layout and show what makes the game unique.
After that it’s just really specific to the game itself.
Are there any game developers that you admire or consider “rock stars”?
David Cage, the head at Quantic Dream, is an inspiration of mine. I’m looking forward to his newest story, Beyond. He’s a master of storytelling in games. The whole Quantic Dream Team does a remarkable job bringing his vision to life.
Valve is amazing as well, they have been consistently blowing my expectations out of the water with their marketing brilliance, cinematic expertise, and just all around bad-assery.
What is it about making a new game that you enjoy most?
I just like imagining how people will approach the game. How they will view it for the first time. I love thinking about people enjoying the game. This was honestly the drive that got me to pull through with Relive Your Life because it really did deliver something new.
Do you have any hot projects you’re working on right now?
I have a mobile iOS game in the works. I’m partnering up with Jon Sandness who worked with me on Symphonic TD.
It’s a puzzle game with the working title of Statiq and the people who’ve played it on my phone so far have had a hard time putting it down, so that’s a good sign. :)
Thanks Mathew, and good luck with your mobile game project!