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Interview: Areas Developer Mark Sheinkman

JANUARY 27, 2008

An informal chat with Mark Sheinkman, the developer of Areas.

Let's begin with a little introduction of yourself, where you're from, what you do, and what games you have released.

Well, my name is Mark, I live in Israel, and currently I don't really do anything for a living. Just waiting for my recruitment date. Other then Areas I haven't released anything, yet. Recruitment date, enlistment date... I dont hear a lot of english army-talk, so I'm not sure how to call it.

Do you mean mandatory army service, like in South Korea and Singapore?

Yea. I'm not too thrilled about it.

How long is that?

3 years, in most cases. Could be more, if one chooses to.

Does this mean you have to be in the battlezone, or is it just military training?

About 2 weeks at bootcamp, and then I'll probably be doing something the army thinks I'm good at, and they want me to do. Probably programing. No battlefields for me.

How long did it take for you to create Areas? Any inspirations? Are you planning to release another game before the army stint?

I did Areas over a period of about 6 or 7 months, on-and-off. Mostly off, I must admit. About inspirations... it's hard to tell. The game Red is definitely one I admire, but more for it's style than it's gameplay. And there's Homeworld and Homeworld 2. I tried to give Areas some of that majestic aura they have.

Did you do any playtesting on Areas?

Plenty of playtesting. About as much as coding, maybe more. I wanted to make sure everything works perfectly. That was my excuse for wasting time playing the game instead of coding it.

I'm still having a hard time completing stage 70, even after my fiftieth attempt..

70 is hard, yea. Here's a hint - pickups don't expire. You can keep them on the field untill you really need them.

Do you play arena shooters?

I play them, but no more than other types of games.

Why the nickname Ridiculous?

I had a good reason when choosing it, that much I remember. Almost everything people take for granted is actually ridiculous when you think of it. And I like to think of it. Hence, Ridiculous.

Your favorite arena shooters?

If you can call the 3 merlin's revenge games arena shooters, then they are some of my favorites. Crimsonland is also great. Oh, and how could I forget Warning Forever.

How did you come up with the idea for Areas?

It's actually rather dumb. Areas started as a tiny AS1 movie I used to test a new collision-detection algorithem I wrote. Being vector-based, it was able to detect collisions even if they happened between frame updates, so it was possible to have objects moving very fast without missing any collisions. At this point Areas had a ship that fired bullets, and growing blobs. I needed a good way to manipulate the bullets in-game, just to test all kinds of conditions, so I created the areas.

When I saw it all works well, I forgot about it and started doing other things. Some time afterwards I saw the old file, and thought, "this could make a cool game".

Do you have your own personal web site?

No personal website yet. It's on my to-do list, but websites are a lot less fun to code than games. For now Kongregate will have to do.

How has the response for Areas been?

As a guy by the nickname McKain wrote in a comment, the response to Areas is rather black and white. Some people really love it, others really hate it. Almost no one is in the middle. I'm rather happy about it. It's good to take a stand, even if it's only a computer game.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

A game that has only one word in it, "whaa". It's a very small project, and very "light-weight", nothing like Areas. I'm not sure what my next major project will be, but I have a few ideas I'd rather not talk about right now.

Any teasers from that small project of yours?

I'll probably release it within the next 24 hours, so there's not much point in teasers. As I said, it's a very small project.

Your favorite sites?

Favourite sites... Kongregate. And I just love it. That's humor.

Favorite flash developers?

Ivory, who made Red and 5 Differences. And the guy who made Timebot.

What do you think of the current trend, where most flash games are of the escape the room variety and vanilla tower defense games?

About the trends... hate them, but there's nothing anyone can do about it. Flash games have their trends, just like any other scene.

Anything you'd like to tell us about Areas that we might not know about?

Some things about Areas... No, can't think of anything. Oh, just one thing - I wasn't able to contact the guy who composed The Opera of the Frogs, the fantastic music piece I used in Areas. So, if anyone knows him, please ask him to contact me, at [email protected]

Any message from you for fans of Areas?

A message for the fans of Areas... Think. Observe. And think again. You'll be amazed at what you'll see. I'm not talking about Areas, I'm talking about everything.

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