Sylvain “Pypein” Martin, his brother Pierre, and associate Pierrick Hansen form the core of a mid-’90s Belgian demogroup called PPP Team. Later on they would release some tracker music and projects coded in assembler. It seems, though, that they got their start with Recreational Software Designs’ Game-Maker.
- Also see: Mary Martin
The Martins and their burgeoning group seized RSD's engine with a ferocity and a measured European flavor of design. Over two or three years they assembled upwards of 24 games, each more ambitious than the last. Since they were developing with an unlicensed copy of Game-Maker, most of those games were strictly for their own entertainment — which may to some extent explain the energy that went into them.
It's unclear exactly how many games they worked on; many are unfinished, and some appear lost to time and computer failure. Depending on how you count, maybe 16 or 17 games still survive in some form. The games touch several genres, but mostly focus on and toy with the side-scrolling platformer mold. They include a few long-running or frequently referenced series, several one-off games, and a fair number of tributes or pastiches.
Though the earliest games freely borrow sprites and backgrounds from existing sources, the group soon graduated to completely original elements. Even within a series the sprites are rarely duplicated from one game to the next. By the time they start to import graphics from Deluxe Paint, PPP Team seems to have total control over its resource pipeline.
At this point it’s the areas without that control — for instance the music — which glare the most. RSD’s chosen music format is famously lacking in available tools, and their software is famously lacking in support for more sensible formats. More than other authors, PPP Team’s choice of temp tracks always feels temporary; you can sense the eagerness to replace the music with original pieces that never materialized. It’s frustrations like these that seem to have been the last straw, eventually leading the team to move on from Game-Maker.
Even as the team outgrew Game-Maker, “Pypein” turned his growing skills back to RSD’s file formats, to dissect and study them in hopes of salvaging some material for future projects. Although those projects never quite materialized, the research continued sporadically. Recently Martin’s attention has turned to porting some of his Game-Maker material to the Nintendo DS, so since mid-2009 he has posted a handful of Perl scripts used to manipulate Game-Maker’s tile, map, sprite, and organizational files. At the moment the tools are more or less a curiosity, most useful for rendering precise diagrams of game levels, but they lay an intriguing groundwork.
Overall PPP Team is both one of the more productive and focused Game-Maker developers.
Branches of design
There are three branches of PPP Team software. On the one hand there are the one-off, often experimental titles. These games tend to be both character driven and strongly inspired by Commodore and shareware design sensibilities. One of those games, Blork Carnage, introduces a character named Jack Booster. This game and this character serve as the roots for the second of PPP Team’s branches — their defining franchises.
If the one-off games housed a wealth of interesting whims, it’s PPP Team’s series that received the bulk of their effort and originality. Of those, both the most significant and the most varied series are spun off from the Duke Nukem styled Blork Carnage. A third, early series also showed itself during the team’s Game-Maker era, to further build off one of those spin-offs.
The third design branch is PPP Team's tribute games. They pay no apologies for their influences, and indeed take every opportunity to strip them down and play with them like so many action figures. Between studying their design influences and studying how those games may or may not work within RSD's game engine, the team seemed to quickly absorb a bunch of information for their own purposes.
PPP Team used and internally swapped a three-floppy copy of RSD Game-Maker version 3 that was found in december 1994 on some BBS by a classmate and that featured the following games:
The heritage of A-J Games (especially Peach) will show up in several games until the team gathered sufficient skills and tools mastering. Because it wasn't possible for the team to purchase a registered copy of RSD Game-Maker -- and because most game featured copyrighted soundtracks, none of the games could be converted into a shareware or accepted for publication as reader's creations by game press.
Pierre Martin ALIAS Piet
- 18 years
- Tracker under ScreamTracker III. Formerly just a level designer and head of PPP Team, he is starting to slowly become a "competent" graphic designer, specializing in abstract scenery.
- MASCOT: Spector
- Departing on CPC programmer, he quickly came to teach us the art of basic graphic and animation
- MASCOT: Badman
Sylvain Martin ALIAS Pypein
- Graphic artist / programmer
- Responsible for most of the graphics in PPP's games. Even when he's not, he works on them anyway! He also is a programmer in BASIC and assembler A86. His sense of humor leaves a mark on all his games.
- MASCOT: Bilou
Pascal Deiting ALIAS Vegeta
- Japanese Branch - Manga Master
- Pascal is primarily a sort of "underground" level designer, in that his images are not the same size as his maps: his monster mazes are of such monstrous complexity that there isn't a tile to spare!
- MASCOT: Gohan
- PS: It is often said that we forget that Pascal is not supposed to be an artist, but he draws anyway, sometimes to funny results. Furthermore, we don't always fix it properly...
Laurent Mazzapichi ALIAS Parmy
- BASIC Programmer
- Parmy is a man traumatized by his time with the C-64. Using the glorious Quickbasic, we have reproduced 'Island' and several other little Commodore games. (Those were good times.) Parmy is also a musician. It was he who composed "Outer Space".
- MASCOT: Purple Basic Blob
Valentin Boigelot ALIAS Tentacle Bob
- Realization in Game-Maker
- TBob and his brother Puce often make their games together, with a few alterations by Pypein or Piet. Their games have a strongly surreal quality. (It's they who concocted Ratman, Tentacle Bob, and Bart Simpson.)
- MASCOT: Tentacle Bob
Simon Boigelot ALIAS Puce
- Director of games under GM
- Simon, as his name suggests, is the brother of Tbob. There are not many games for them yet because they have DESTROYED their Game-Maker not so long ago, they're just like "It's no good, we're moving on."
- MASCOT: Ratman
Francois Bare ALIAS the Clicker
- Turbo C and A86 programmer
- Francois is an application programmer in TURBO-C, and very very advan-C. (Haha!) He controls the mouse, screen, and everything. It's just a bit excessive: he tries to do a 'Clicker' (I will not detail here). And believe it or not, I offered to help!
- MASCOT: none yet.
Most of the members of PPP Team have maintained occasional contacts over the last 10 years. Although none of them have pursued a career in game development, PPP characters game and game programming remains a frequent discussion topic, especially since Pype started homebrew game development on the NintendoDS as a hobby in 2006.
The games so far are starring Bilou, PPP Team's #1 mascot who only occasionally showed-up in Game-Maker games (in the lost-in-disk-crash "Bilou's Sky Quest"), since it was supposed to have Mario-like game mechanics. The latest output of this project is a arcade-oriented platforming game dubbed "Apple Assault" based on a game design idea from Pierrick, featuring music and monsters designed by Piet almost unmodified, with pixel art from Pype. The remaining members are regularly polled on design orientation or for beta-testing.
The RSD Game-Maker influence still shows up here, as Pype first programmed a GM-inspired sprite editor and an accompanying level editor. Moreover, the game's logic is not directly hard-coded, but separated from the C++ engine and expressed in term of states for monsters/characters. Providing a set of tools that allows non-experts to have a first experience in game making is the long term objective, partly to invite former members to resume hobby game-making.
Special efforts are made to avoid the limitations that were inherent to Game-Maker: allowing separate idle sequences depending on the last character direction, allowing monsters to be affected by gravity and to have more complex behaviour thanks to a state-machine abstraction.
Major PPP Team characters such as Badman, Biokid or Spector are regularly revisited, waiting for their turn to be revived. The extracting perl script for Game-Maker also indirectly feeds this slow process with original design maps, although direct porting of the old Game-Maker games into GEDS games isn't the ultimate objective.
Address any inquiries to pype_1999.geo(at)yahoo.com.
- Sylvain Martin's Game-Maker blog
- PPP Team's Welcome Site (GeoCities)
- Official PPP Team Site (GeoCities)
- Distribution page
- Cyborg Jeff's distribution page
- Cyborg Jeff's FTP
Interviews / Articles
This category has the following 7 subcategories, out of 7 total.
Pages in category "PPP Team"
The following 24 pages are in this category, out of 24 total.
Media in category "PPP Team"
The following 85 files are in this category, out of 85 total.
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