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May 2, 2011 / jwaxo

Klik ‘n’ Play II (Business Ownership)

This was originally a snarky comment about how long this game took me to make, but seriously, this re-creation clearly states that any length would be too long.

So last week I gave a long, boring essay about this game you’ve probably never heard of called Klik ‘n’ Play, punctuated with pictures that, while not necessarily informative, were entertaining in a mild way. Don’t worry, it was all leading to the most epic events of my elementary school life. Or at least they seemed that way at the time. The jury is still out on if my trip to Germany was more epic.

Hmm, Germany. Remind me to make a post about the wonders of the GameBoy.

So, Klik ‘n’ Play. As I gradually realized my basic programming skills, mostly revolving around recreating a simple platformer I had come up with called Caterpillar Apples over and over again with the demo, I caught the attention of a few of my friends. One friend in particular, my best friend for probably a good ten years of my life, was extremely similar to me in many ways: we both loved fantasy and science fiction stories, we loved making up stupid, imaginative games, we loved being roped into being the lackeys for whatever stupid thing my brother would convince us to do that week–

It was almost crazy, how difficult it was to be promoted in that made-up precinct!

–but we really loved finding new ways to exercise our creative abilities. Whether it was by crafting really stupid minigolf courses or by creating intricate rules for a game we played with a big world map, we did all kinds of things.

There was one main difference between us.

So picture this: it’s fifth grade. Best Friend and I are finally in the same class together, after five years of being “mysteriously” shepherded to different teachers. We’re asked to fill out tiny surveys about ourselves at the start of the school year, with the most interesting question being the usual one for ten-year-olds: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer in these cases was usually “a writer”; I was already spending stupid amounts of time crafting what I would eventually find out is called fanfiction. In fact, my strategy for falling asleep was to continue chronicling the adventures of a fictional version of myself who kept slipping between alternate universes where my favorite video games and books were real.

It was kind of a lame, easy answer, and I already knew that most people didn’t go to college just to get a degree in writing, but I had an approximate plan and I figured it would work out.

Best Friend wrote that, when he grew up, he was going to have a business degree with a minor in graphic design.

Yes, Best Friend was, and is still, anything but goal-oriented, and tended to be the one that would come up with the best way to get from point A in our latest fun idea to point B. When we decided to join the free online game where you could roleplay a kid who attends Battleschool from Ender’s Game, he had his entire backstory written within a few hours, and knew exactly what he was going to do to get promoted to Commander of an army. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.

So it was really no surprise that, upon me showing him Klik ‘n’ Play, we had decided on a business name, a plan for the next few years, and a logo.

This is what we came up with:

I didn’t really understand what “being incorporated” meant, but I knew it was important.

Sidenote: I neglect to draw it, but from first grade all the way up until I was a junior in high school I wore glasses. In fact, for most of those years, they were embarrassingly huge, to the point where I cringe at every photo of me until seventh grade, where I temporarily tried contacts before switching back to much smaller glasses. I don’t draw them in the little doodles I have because, seriously, I already dressed (and dress) similarly enough every day to be instantly recognizable by everything else. The Bull’s cap, the sweatshirt wrapped around my hips, the green shirt; I don’t need much more. Plus, glasses are hard to draw on characters with huge eyes.

Artist’s representation of what an artist’s representation of Li’l Jeff might look like.

I subtitled the last post “Creation Rights” and then completely failed to talk about them much more than a slight comment near the end, but am now writing the rest of the story and realizing that would be a boring part, and I’ve already done three drawings and they take forever and I don’t want to do many more, so here is a quick summary:

1. I emailed Clickteam, knowing they had gone bankrupt or been bought out in recent years, asking how I could acquire the rights that the inside of the Klik ‘n’ Play manual said I needed.

2. I got a response from some nice lady who I have always pictured with a blond ponytail telling me that, by purchasing Multimedia Fusion, the program by Clickteam’s new owners, I would then have the rights to sell Klik ‘n’ Play games.

3. I borrowed about $80 from my parents, pooled it with my life savings, and bought the still-fairly-popular MMF.

4. ???

5. Profit!

Seriously, though. MMF was an expensive thing to buy for a kid in fourth grade, and I had to take money out of my bank account to get it. When I did finally get it, I excitedly installed it, hoping it would be an awesomely upgraded version of Klik ‘n’ Play.

I was right. It was so upgraded that it was being sold as a huge multimedia-creation suite for businessmen and large corporations alike.

This would really be another story, but bottom line: I was intimidated.

I was frustrated with MMF nearly to the point of tears for a few days, but will always remember the nearly sickeningly heartwarming thing my mom told me on those nights that I would retire, beaten, from the computer room: “When smart kids like you find something they don’t get right away, they get even more frustrated than they should be. You’ll get it.”

Man, I should have saved that for my Mother’s Day post. That’s almost making me nauseous with sweetness.

It’s pretty beside the point, anyway. Geeze, today is a tangent day. Before I finish, though, I would like to point out that the legendarily-frustrating I Wanna Be The Guy was made with MMF, thus bringing the program full-circle for millions of geeks across the world. Or something.

The bottom line is, I then had the rights (or at least a promise that I had the rights, which was just as good, Best Friend was more than willing to assure me), I had the means, and I had a classroom or two full of kids who wanted, not just cheap video games, but custom-made ones.

Two years later, I was leaving elementary school for middle school. I was a little wiser about making promises to people that I couldn’t keep and I had made a total of three games that were sold. The most famous was today’s featured picture, from the amazing and absolutely awesome DNA Disaster; I sold about fifteen copies to kids in my weekly advanced placement class. It, erm, had very little to do with DNA.

One of the others was a very cheap SkiFree ripoff, which Brandon Gossett still owes me $2 for. One day I’ll get them.

The second was another lame platformer, not technically sold, but made as a birthday present. So I guess it wasn’t technically sold. You also turned into a horse that would then race. You know, as horses do. In race cars.

I won’t make any implications I can’t prove, but this formula possibly broke my video game making skills.

Epilogue: I still operated my “business” in middle school, but it quickly died down as more and more kids requested me to make 3D games, a feat that stymied me. I wouldn’t return to making games for profit until high school, at which point we are no longer in the land of nostalgia. Maybe I’ll write about it in five years or so.



Leave a Comment
  1. Sean / May 2 2011 10:27 PM

    Oh my. This was one of the most nostalgia-inducing things I have ever read in my life. Ever.

    I like that you capitalized “Best Friend”.

    • jwaxo / May 2 2011 10:28 PM

      We only aim to please!

  2. Isotope Ent / Aug 23 2011 11:49 PM

    I too started with Klik n Play, although I lacked your entreprenurial spirit at the time. It’s great to hear it’s still around in some form. I’m actually a pro now, making my own mobile games, with a new one in the making. I’m hoping for a retro platformer feel, so maybe it’ll appeal to you.

  3. JRMII / Nov 23 2011 8:04 AM

    I bought one of those games. It always froze on the same level. Can I get a refund?
    It was fun, and I remember thinking how cool it was that someone my age was making and selling games.

    • jwaxo / Nov 23 2011 8:07 AM

      Let the buyer beware, Rob! We did release a fully-working version in the form of DLC, only three dollars to you.


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