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Indie-game developer offers Internet game Infiltration — and advocates open web design

Zach Johnson sees a bright future for independent game development. “There are plenty of applications from entertainment to art to even civil engagement,” he says.

The mind of Zach Johnson is an interesting place. While much of it remains unexplored, it’s filled with plenty of ideas, projects and fun.

We last talked with Zach about Scribbls, a great site where doodles can give birth to hilarious results that he and his Watermelon Sauce partner Paul Armstrong developed.

His most recent work comes from his own Zachstronaut, which he describes as a “web rocket-lab” site to showcase his love for the Internet and gaming as well as his experiments. The result of that work is his Internet game Infiltration.

Infiltration was built in response to blog Boing Boing‘s call for games to be developed that were inspired by “chip music“. Most likely very familiar to gamer cycles but not far beyond, chip music is inspired by early video game soundtracks. Think Asteroids, Pac Man and a host of Nintendo games. Grab a Casio keyboard and hang on …

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Johnson, a fan of this unique musical genre, has spent more than his fair share of time listening to chip music and envisioning the game activity that it might accompany. A User Experience developer at Worrell, he says, “Video games contributed to shaping my entire career in computers.” It was clearly a natural for him to develop a chip-music-inspired game.

Indie-game-developer game designs tend to be very simplistic, with an almost nostalgic look and feel. “Part of the design is a nod to the old-school music, but it’s probably more about the amount of time and money indie game developers have to spend on the games.” He goes on to note, “It took nine people a year to write Pac Man; I wrote this in about 30 hours.”

Johnson also saw an opportunity to advance his passion for open programming. “I wanted to make a game that didn’t need a plug-in.” Hence the use of Javascript, allowing the ability to play the game directly from your browser. “Javascript- and browser-based games offer a very low barrier of entry,” notes Johnson.

The use of coding language like Javascript and HTML5 is on the rise as many see the use of Flash diminishing. “I don’t hate Flash, but it’s obvious it is going the way of the Dodo.” according to Johnson, referencing the ownership and closed nature of the language. “I always bet on the openness of the web.”

When developing the game and entering the Boing Boing contest, Zach thought that the use of Javascript would allow him to be more unique and give him an upper hand. But “The use of Javascript was more prevalent than I thought … which is good.” Nearly half of the games submitted use it.

The design of the game and the participation in the contest serves Johnson in number of ways. First and foremost, it’s a hobby. It also clearly promotes his programming skills and many projects while allowing him to share his passion for open web design. In addition, while he could have spent much more time on the game, he appreciates the short-term goal. “The competition set a deadline. Otherwise I can spend a lot of time on it. I need to make a game I need to get done.”

Where does he see this indie game developer movement going? “There are plenty of applications from entertainment to art to even civil engagement. Imagine someone demonstrating the need for better routing of traffic through a game.” He also notes a very basic result: “If I can make little tidbits of joy for someone, that’s great.”