Petri Purho and the Art of Creating a New Game Every Month


Today we’re talking with a game developer called Petri Purho.

About a year ago Petri decided that for the next year he would make a new game every month. And not only that: each of the games would be created no longer than one week. He created a blog called Kloonigames and got to work.

Now that year has passed and Petri has created 12 unique and interesting games. Let’s hear what he can tell us about the project and his interests.

Jarkko: You are insanely interested in making games. Why?

Petri: I’ve been interested in creating games ever since I played Super Mario Bros. on NES. After I had played it, I wanted to create my own version of the game. I was something like six at that time, so I harassed my father to get me a computer so I could create my own games. I couldn’t do anything with it, but I had loads of imagination on how the games would work.

I think the reason why my interest in making games has lasted this long is because making games requires a huge range of different skills (especially if you do nearly everything by yourself, like I do). You have to know how to program, do graphics and animation, game design, create a story, music, sounds…

There’s always something new to learn, and it never gets boring.

Jarkko: Are you interested in playing games as well? Or is it only about creating them?

Petri: Yes I’m an avid player of games of all sorts. My gaming habits include everything from computer games to pen & paper role playing games to obscure party games.

But I have to say that my interest in playing games is mentally more stable than my interest in creating them.

These days I spend less time playing games than I used to. But the number of different games I test is higher than before. I rarely play one game for more than one hour. Of course there are exceptions, last one’s being Guitar Hero 1 and 2.

Jarkko: Are there other things than games that you are insanely interested in?

Petri: Another mentally unstable hobby of mine is magic tricks. My father is also a magician and when I was growing up we didn’t have any real toys, so I ended up using my father’s props as toys. This lead to my first public performance at the age of one and half.

I’ve maintained my interest in magic ever since. I think the reason why I’m still interested in magic is pretty much the same as why I’m still interested in making games. Performing magic requires also quite big range of skills. You have to practice your fingers like a musician, write your own script, you’re also the actor and the director, and your also the engineer and researcher. Just like making games there’s always something new to learn.

Jarkko: Your method of game making is quite different from the normal long projects. In just a year’s time you have made twelve games. That’s quite an achievement. How do you do it?

Petri: In the summer of 2006 I decided to test out a game development model originated from the Experimental Gameplay Project. They described it at a paper called “How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days“. The result of my test was Jimmy Lost His Marbles, my first game I’ve ever created in under 7 days.

During the summer I created one other game (Slimy Pete’s Singles Bar) and then I decided that I’ll start doing these games on monthly basis.

So in September 2006 I put up my blog and started cranking out games every month.

Jarkko: Was it hard to motivate yourself into making a new game each month?

Petri: Actually it was much easier than I had thought it would be. Of course there have been times when creating a game (even if it takes under seven days) has been a real pain in the butt. But overall it’s been much smoother ride than I had expected.

I think a lot of it is due to the fact that I publicly announce when the next game will be out, even though I haven’t created it yet. It’s a nice way to motivate myself to creating games on monthly basis. Also I’ve received a lot of supportive comments that have helped me keep up my schedule.

Jarkko: Where do you get the ideas and inspiration for your games?

Petri: I was a little afraid that you’d ask me question like this one. Because there’s no simple answer. Most of my game ideas come from outside gaming, from everything else, some come from movies, television, books, random daily stuff, Frank Zappa’s songs, comic books, jokes…

But for a more through out answer:

In games you have the mechanism of the game, which are the abstract rules of the game. And then there is the skin / presentation / theme. A bit like a RTS is a RTS even if it’s set in scifi or in fantasy or in a world of jelly.

The mechanism part is the one I’m always having trouble coming up with. Because it’s the thing that says how fun the game is to play, and because so many of the mechanism have already been done in the past.

The theme or the skin is always quite easy to come up with. Usually I came up with both the mechanism and the theme at the same time, but in some cases (like Druid Soccer) I have the mechanism of the game, but I don’t have a theme. So I just play the game and imagine different things that would make some kinda of sense with the mechanism.

A fun thing is that you can really go crazy with the themes. It’s pretty easy to come up with a theme that hasn’t been done in games before, but coming up with a mechanism, that’s the difficult part.

Jarkko: Your initial idea was to keep making these games for a year. That year has passed so what’s happening next?

Petri: Right now I’m allowing myself to have a small break from making monthly games. Or at least I was until I bumped into the TIGSource B-Game competition and decided to participate in it. But I’m planning on not releasing a proper game next month. Right now I’m thinking that I’d love to do a board game for next month. But they are really time consuming to do, so I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m planning of continuing monthly games from November onwards.

Jarkko: Then it’s time for the “insanely interesting September” question: What will make this September insanely interesting for you?

Petri: This September marks the one year birthday of Kloonigames. Which means I succeeded in my original goal for the project. That’s one of those once in life time things.

Especially for me because I’m quite pessimistic, so I was pretty sure that the whole project would fail :)

Jarkko: And finally, any last words to my readers?

Petri: The one thing I’ve learned from Kloonigames is that it’s amazing how much you can accomplish if you just do it. Not making any excuses or postponing stuff. If there’s something you want to accomplish just get on with and learn as you go along.

This month we’re celebrating Insanely Interesting September. Check out the announcement and participate in the group writing project: What do you find interesting today? What makes this September the most interesting so far? Why are you insanely interested in something? Share your thoughts and see what others have written.

9 thoughts on “Petri Purho and the Art of Creating a New Game Every Month”

  1. Good interview!

    I love that he has a sense of humor about his games, such as George Bush trying to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction, or his spoof on the Shining where you have to swear into your microphone and pound on your keyboard with your fists.

    I’ll have to check some of these out.

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  3. Hey Jeff, I totally agree with you – the humor is a big part of Petri’s games, as well as his unique art style.

    My favorite is still the Pluto game… It’s just so much fun. And again, the humorous idea rocks!

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