The Surprisingly Influential Game About Creating Other Games


Many modern games are very open to players poking around and taking the ideas and systems that are already there and tweaking them to create unique and sometimes brand-new experiences.

A Minecraft modding course is often a great way to start learning how to code as you can see almost immediate results and creation platforms such as Roblox are designed almost entirely around their players making games within their game platform.

However, one of the most important and influential early games which relied heavily on user-generated content was neither the first (which was Jet Set Willy) nor the most famous (Doom) but was how many important developers today got their start, including its developer.

On the face of it, the game ZZT is exceptionally simple even by the standards of 1991. During a time when people were playing Street Fighter II, Another World and Civilisation, ZZT used primitive graphics and sounds from the beeping PC speaker.

The gameplay was also fairly simple, with the playable smiley face limited to moving and shooting in four directions.

And yet, the game developed a surprisingly solid following for a game that sold 5000 copies during its lifetime despite minimal promotion and intense competition, with a devoted community still creating unique levels to this day.

Its greatest legacy was that it was the first game developed by Tim Sweeney, who would use the money made from ZZT to found Epic MegaGames, which would create games with the philosophy of allowing other people to use their foundations to create their own ideas.

This led to the hidden level editor in Jill of the Jungle, Epic’s first game, but more importantly, was the reason behind the development of the Unreal Engine made for the 1998 game of the same name.

It is also the reason why Tim Sweeney’s most successful and famous game, Fortnite, has an extensive creation mode built into the game, which allows players to develop their own experiences from within a game that feels very familiar.