The Brussels Spout (Book 2)

  • Reading time:2 mins read

The Martins and their burgeoning demo group known as PPP Team seized Recreational Software Designs’ Game-Maker 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.

There are three branches of PPP Team software. In our previous article we discussed their 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. We’ll start with the series that more or less equates with PPP Team, in terms both of iconography and of their design sensibility.

( Continue reading at DIYGamer )

The Game-Maker Archive: The Brussels Spout (Book 1)

  • Reading time:2 mins read

I had known for a while of Sylvain “Pypein” Martin’s blog. It muses in depth on Game-Maker’s file formats, and tracks a project to port one or more Game-Maker games to the Nintendo DS. My problem was that the site is mostly in French, and seems to presuppose some understanding of its topics. I bookmarked the site and filed it away, and turned to more immediate problems. It turns out that all this time I had been overlooking a cornucopia of Game-Maker games and utilities.

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 RSD’s Game-Maker.

I’m not sure how many games they worked on; many are unfinished, and some appear lost to time and computer failure. Depending on how you count, maybe 17 or 18 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 graduates 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.

( Continue reading at DIYGamer )