Monday, June 2, 2008

In the beginning..

To start off, here’s a little introduction about me and where I’m coming from.

I’m a 22 year old Information Technology major at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I began working on games in my early teens with a piece of software called RPG Maker 95. Although a lot of the programming was hidden behind the scenes, the software let me produce games quickly and focus more on story and character development. I never finished a full game, but I learned a few key concepts for future use.

After that, I took a hiatus from game creation to focus more on creative writing. The programming side of games seemed really complex and impossible to me, especially with some of the math related stuff. I would look at someone’s code and try to understand it and come up empty handed and disheartened. So, I did something that was relatively easy for me and wrote random blog posts, songs and stories. Some I was proud of, others made me feel silly for writing them.

What got me into programming, as much as I hate to say it, was a Visual Basic class taught at my high school. The simplicity of the language made it possible for me to better understand the beginnings of how computer programming worked. I didn’t know it then, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

After graduation, I moved onto Community College where I learned to program in C and found myself writing much less than I once did. I really began to feel the tug between the two sides of my brain: the creative writer and the logical programmer. Programming gave me the freedom to create useful things, where my writing was a tool to expand my vocabulary and express myself.

Throughout this period, I hadn’t thought about getting back into game development until I bought a Nintendo DS and stumbled onto the huge online homebrew community and the open source library Palib. I soon found myself back working on games.

There was just one problem: I wasn’t very good at programming. But that didn’t matter! I would use it to get better. And that’s exactly what I did. As I programmed stuff, I learned about structures, memory management, and other stuff that was really foreign to me in the unimplemented context. I also got the courage to go through the Calculus sequence and, although I managed to only get a C in a lot of those classes, I took away exactly what I needed to learn from them through implementation.

Since then I’ve moved between the Nintendo DS and PC game programming. All of this got me an internship working for a company called Black Lantern Studios in Springfield, MO, which is the reasoning behind this blog. It’ll be used as an account of my time spent at BLS, what I’ve been doing, things I’m learning, and other things I think might be useful to my future-self and maybe some kid looking to get into game development.

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