John Cooney (Four Second / Ball Revamped series) – Interview

Categories: Interviews


John Cooney was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to do an email interview with FreeGamesNews (Thanks John!).

FreeGamesNews: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

John: Yeah, my name is John Cooney, or “jmtb02” to those online. I produce Flash games and animations for the web, as free content available to anyone. When I am not producing flash, I am a college student at UC Davis in California, where I am majoring in Technocultural Studies (a mix between digital media and the history of technology and mankind).

FreeGamesNews: When did you start developing Flash games?

John: I started when I was 15, when a friend showed me the program at school. I got into Actionscripting in Flash, and decided to continue doing it.

FreeGamesNews: Could you please introduce your most famous series, Ball Revamped?

John: Ball Revamped is a cross-genre puzzle/action/skill game that involves the guiding of a small ball to a portal (which in turn, goes to the next level). The challenge in doing so is that the ball is very fragile, and will practically break if it hits anything on its way to the portal… so the ball must pick up power ups to help aid it’s guidance to the end.

FreeGamesNews: Where did you get the inspiration from to create Ball Revamped?

John: I was in English class at the end of the school year before I left for college, and had all my work done, so I decided to fool around with applying physics to an object (I was taking a physics class at the time, so it interested me). I made a small little beach ball, and allowed the user to push it against the gravity. To create a challenge, I created little walls on the screen to avoid. Thus, the Ball Revamped concept began. I called the first Ball Revamped game, “Ball”, just as a simple title. When I went back to reintroduce the game to the public, I called it “Ball Revamped”, because I redid the graphics and the gameplay a bit.

FreeGamesNews: How much time did it take to develop Ball Revamped IV?

John: That was a massive 6 month project. About 5 of those months were just generating ideas for twenty power ups and a hundred levels, and because I wanted to make this game unique to the series, its gets difficult to think of so many power ups and obstacles for such a small idea.

FreeGamesNews: Let’s talk about your Four Second Series. Did it take a long time to develop the 20 different micro games of the first episode?

John: It did not take me long, actually, maybe just a few weeks. What took me longer was developing the backend of the Four Second Series, which allows users to create very simply coded games and have them instantly work within the engine. Because I made this engine first, it was easy to create the 20 microgames that went into this game.

FreeGamesNews: How did you get the idea to develop a sequel with several other developers?

John: Well, after the first one launched, I had a few people send me emails telling me that they would like to help out with a sequel. I decided it was a great idea, and that everyone should be able to participate and get together to create games.

FreeGamesNews: How did you manage to find 25 people all around the world to collaborate with you on Four Second Frenzy?

John: I posted a “call for games” in a few online communities, especially the Newgrounds BBS. There, many artists decided to submit their microgames into the system, and by the second week, we had over 50 games already. We decided to stop and submit the game at that point.

FreeGamesNews: Can you detail the whole process of this collaboration, with the “goods” and the “bads”?

John: When I am developing for my own engine, I have my own style of coding. The difficult part is that when 25 other artists develop for my engine, they discover the tiny flaws in the system which need to be fixed. That was the biggest problem. Secondly, keeping everyone in-check with how the project was going was difficult as well. Keeping track of 25 artists, their submissions, and their work is difficult.

The awesome part was that so many fresh ideas went into the system. There were programmers and artists coming together to create their own mini collaborations on individual microgames, which turned out to be a huge success. We had a massive think tank building from people giving us ideas, and authors brainstorming together on their games. There were even users who weren’t involved in the collaboration producing lists of tons of game ideas for the authors. It was a wonderful process.

FreeGamesNews: Do you plan to develop other games with several people in the future?

John: Actually, yes! I am planning on launching one more Four Second game starting on September 1, and all users are welcome to submit!

FreeGamesNews: Can you give us a few words about the final sequel of the Four Second trilogy?

John: The last in the series will introduce the possibility of using the mouse for microgames, which should add a whole new style of gameplay. Also, this version will have a speed variable, which will introduce faster than four-second gameplay, which will be an even bigger added challenge. Expect possibly 100-200 microgames for the final release.

FreeGamesNews: You games are sponsored by Armorgames. Why Armorgames and how did you start this collaboration?

John: Armorgames started sponsoring my games after the Ball Revamped series started, and they have been kind enough to sponsor every game release since then. When Four Second Frenzy came around, I asked Armorgames if they would support the collaboration, and not only did they support me, but the other 25 artists for their hard work. Many of these authors had never been sponsored before, so we are all extremely grateful for Armorgames and their support for the Flash community.

FreeGamesNews: Your games can be found in a lot of games portals. What is your position/feeling about that?

John: I have always allowed my games to be featured on any website for free. I always visualized that my game would be enjoyed more if it was more accessible, so I protect my games with a very limited license that allows for distribution but not sale.

FreeGamesNews: What about your future games related projects? And when do you plan to release the next episode of Ball Revamped?

John: I have a few games brewing right now. I have a medieval surgery game I am working on, in which you must help patients with wounds and other ailments using medieval technology. I also have a puzzle “Myst” style game in early development. The next Ball Revamped game is currently sitting in a notebook, waiting to be coded and put into action. I see that happening starting in October, and working into early 2007. This will be the final Ball Revamped, so it will be a sad departure.

FreeGamesNews: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?

John: Yeah, I love Free Games News, keep up the good work on the site! For anyone looking to see some of my other work, check it out at Spread the love!

Eric (FreeGamesNews Editor): Thank you for your kind words, John. We are looking forward to your next game!


5 Comments to John Cooney (Four Second / Ball Revamped series) – Interview

  1. DillieBob says:

    Spread the love jmtb02….nice. LOL!

    Everyone reading this should totally check out, it’s really awesome. It inspired me to make Flash, and it should inspire you too!


  2. penguin says:

    jmtb02 rocks! his recent “minigame” style games like dark cut and scribble are awesome, they keep you coming back to beat your scores again and again!
    there’s only one problem with jmtb02, the forum crashes. they arent his fault but they can get irritating and the last one messed up my account…

  3. Scythe says:

    John is an inspiration to young developers across the globe.

  4. Taylor says:

    When will Ball Revamped V be released,

  5. webdesign says:

    wow nice game! Thanks