Let me introduce myself. My name is Martijn and I've been involved with game development for most of my life (from about age 8 on, so that’s about nearly 30 years). Here is a short history:
The early years:
I started out when I was really young and noticed some kids next door playing on the then popular (and expensive) Commodore 64. After a few months my dad came home from work with a Commodore 64, probably one of the most joyful days of my life. Although my dad did his very best to keep me away from the beautiful piece of machinery, it didn't take long for him to see that was rather pointless, so instead he helped me on my way with programming BASIC. Computers back then had BASIC integrated in the system ROM and the computer instruction manual had about 8 pages on setting up the thing, and about 50 pages on how to program it. So a lot of computer-owners back then actually did a bit of programming themselves.
So the following years (up to about age 13) were spent with programming fairly simple BASIC programs, animations and very simple games, and i mean SIMPLE, like: 'dodge these objects' or a very simplistic topview racing game (not much more than a 'dodge these objects' variant). My dad had photocopied a bit-raster paper from the Commodore manual which allowed me to define my own 'sprites' by adding bits. Tedious work, but at that age you have all the free time in the world so it didn't matter much.
When i moved to highschool i met up with a few fellow programmers through a friend of mine. It clicked immediately and we started our own 'programming group' and designed our own games and demos in QuickBasic. By then we had an original IBM PC-XT at home, complete with the original green-monochrome monitor that would burn your eyes faster than napalm. I was eager to confiscate the PC as soon as possible and i was on my way. Programming the PC instead of the more popular Commodore computers might seem like a strange choice, but Commodore's BASIC was too limiting and the Commodore's assembler was a bit too much for me back then. Also, on the PC it was much easier to save and store your work (a 20MB hard-drive made you king of the world back then).
So we started off in QuickBasic and quickly moved to Pascal combined with 80x86 assembler. This was the only way you could actually do decent graphics-stuff on the slow-PC's you had back then. PC's moved from 3.77Mhz XT's to 386's and after saving up for a long time and in 1991 i was finally able to afford my very own 386 PC with color-monitor and all. PC games were also slowly progressing but were no way on par with games on the Consoles and Amiga back then, so i also bought myself an Amiga just for playing games and watching cool demo's (i also kept playing the good old Commodore 64 ofcourse). Now with 256 colors available to me, the possibilities seemed endless and i spend a great deal of my highschool years thinking about new concepts, game designs and demo effects.
In the beginning of 1994 we started our very own demogroup. Me and my programming friend met up with a guy in the south of the Netherlands and Logic Design was born. I was mostly focussing on the design, graphics and music side of things, as they were more skilled in programming a 100% pure assembler code (the only way to go back then if you wanted fast graphics). We've released 2 demo's that year: LA Intro (which was a small advertisement intro we did for a local BBS who was hosting our stuff) and the demo "Prologue" which entered a demo competition, only to finish second after a technical malfunctioning of the competition computer. Right there and then we decided never to finish second in a competition again. A promise we've managed to keep.
In the following years, we created various demo's like: Spring! (1995), Performance (1995) and Fashion (1996). However the pressure of having to win each competition would cause a lot of stress for all of us (we had a core-group of 4 people) and therefore we would release more funny and less stressful productions under a different name. We had this unique hoax where each programmer shared the same nickname of a guy who was supposedly a 'super hot programmer' from Sweden (even though all of us lived in the Netherlands). We had a blast at the different parties where this mystery programmer was rumored to 'show up'.
Around this time I started to get involved with some commercial game and graphics programming activities. Together with a programmer of the group we did some menu programming for PC CD-ROMs, and in 1996 i was asked to do the programming for a platform game called "Junior". I got to work with one of my favorite Dutch graphics artist on the PC at that time called "Menno Seegers", who also happened to be a personal friend of mine (and still is to this day). It was my first commercial game and we had a fantastic time designing and creating it. From this moment on i knew i wanted to do this for a living.
Making a carreer:
After the completion of the game Junior, i was serious about making games for a living. I started various projects and got into console programming as well. Unfortunately at that time games were quickly moving to 3D and teams were expanding from small teams of 3 to 4 people, to larger teams of 20-30 people. The revolution had begun.
I got into Gameboy Programming and when i graduated in 1998 I started my own game studio in Arnhem: Karma Studios. I had saved up some money from my other projects and with some help of my parents and the prospect of doing some Gameboy games i was able to get things off the ground. I met up with a graphics artist that i met through the demoscene. He had some experience with game graphics and he joined the company in 1999. The Dynamic Duo was on a roll.
We did various Gameboy Color projects, many of which unfortuanatly never made a release becuase of the unstable situation in the Game Industry. We also had several interns and with the release of the Gameboy Advanced our team had grown from 2 to about 6/7 people. However, the market was quickly flooded with a lot of low-quality games. Studios would just buy licenses and have some cheap studio develop a crap game for nearly nothing, as the game would sell anyway on its big license alone. Due to the quality of the graphics we were still able to do a couple of branded games for large studios who were willing to pay for quality. The market was quickly changing and in 2002 we went back to 3 people and started focussing on mobile games. Although the mobile games was rapidly growing it wasn't strong enough yet to pay all our pay cheques, so in the summer of 2003 I was forced to continue alone.
Now and the Future:
These day I'm involved with educating other people about game design and game development, which is why i am currently teaching at a gamedesign school, and wrote various courses in gamedesign. I hope I am able to help a lot of new talent find their way to the game industry.
I'm also still playing on my Commodore 64 and other retro systems from time to time, and in 2004 i started the label 'revival studios', a hobbyist label that focuses on releasing games and demos for classic systems like the Atari , Colecovision , Commodore , MSX, Sega , Vectrex, Videopac, ZX81, etc.