jun
23rd
Posted on June 23rd 2011 at 1:32pm by SKN3

So this is my first official post on the blog as part of a fulltime indie development company. Exciting times! As of about two months ago I decided to leave my web developer job of five years and take the plunge into developing games. A scary new venture but it had to be done! I thought I would kick-off this blog by sharing a little of my history and how I got here…

About nine years ago I was in the position where a group of hobbyist game developers I belong to needed an updated website. At the time I was a keen freeware game developer and my web skills were limited to horrible and garish static pages. The so called “web 2.0” trend did not exist and the large majority of sites where only just starting to experiment with being interactive. I took it upon myself to learn PHP and produce a website from scratch! Little did I know that this small decision would shape my career for nearly ten years!

Five years ago I had the choice to break into the web industry or break into the game industry. I had two job offers available in the same week. One close to my hometown of Cambridge, a web related job about an hour away; the other was to be a 2D game artist in Scotland! It was my choices and decisions from many years before that unwittingly took me down the web development path; away from my dreams but to a new and exciting prospect. Here are the original graphics I had to create in-order to impress the people at the Scottish job.

portfolio_city_realistic.pngportfolio_city_cartoon.pngportfolio_spirte_realistic_detailed.png

The five years as a web developer taught me a lot about business and things such as quoting, proposals and project time keeping! However the idea of game development lay dormant ready to claw me back in. The instant gratification of having complete editorial control of a game was too much to resist.

Two years ago I nervously wandered into the Cambridge Apple store, apparently looking like a student (a twenty-six year old student) and asked the over-friendly-and-un-humanly-helpful store employee if I could purchase an iMac on finance. I got a look as if to say “you wish” from the Apple-man but proceeded to go through the steps to check my credit rating. I was told that I needed to wait about twenty minutes for the check to complete so I went outside. As I was still smoking at the time there was really only one thing to do! I must have drained through about five. On my return and probably stinking of stale smoke I was greeted with an over-enthusiastic shake of the hand and an explanation. The guy explained how they get a lot of students trying and failing to get apple computers on finance; Apple really have the education computer market covered don’t they! Minutes later I was striding out of the shop dragging the gigantic iMac box out the door and to the car park.

Things did not go smoothly progressing back into game design, I spent many evenings and weekends learning to use xcode and studying Objective C but inevitably life and the day job took over and took priority. It was increasingly hard to maintain all three things and the web development once again swallowed me! My dreams of developing games settled back down into hiding waiting to escape! I had not lost hope and my efforts here learning the lingo and dipping my toe back in would lead to bigger and better things!

The summer of 2010 was a turning point! For uncountable years I have been a massive fan of a language called Blitzbasic/Blitzmax http://www.blitzbasic.com. This is a language which provides a very clean way to experience object orientated programming and lets you rapidly create applications and most importantly games; Blitzmax has the advantage that it can compile to Windows, OSX and Linux. I had decided in about April/May of 2010 that I was going to create some cross-platform tools in Blitzmax to complement the xcode/cocos2d combination. The tools would give me a solid engine and world/asset creator for pumping out games on various platforms.

Soon after I had started writing the tools, as if by a sheer-miraculous coincidence, Mark Sibly (the creator of the Blitzmax language) announced that he needed beta testers as he was developing a new language that could compile to iPhone and many other platforms. This was very exciting news and I managed to worm myself onto the testing team!

The moment I got accepted into the beta test for the new language was at about 2am GMT via an email alert on my phone. I was moments away from dozing off to sleep when the email came through. It was a Sunday night, it had been a very busy weekend and I was looking forward to the not-so-exciting prospect of a very busy week…

I stayed up until 6am reading every last scrap of information that was available to the beta testers. Let’s just say that work the next day was a mix of massive excitement and coffee!

After a few months of beta testing, the language had adopted a name. Monkey http://www.monkeycoder.co.nz. I decided to throw caution to the window and start programming “the game”, a game that I would see through to the end and publish on the iPhone. This was like a light switch in my brain that I had not experienced properly in a long time. I had switched on and tapped into an unusual amount of dedication and motivation. I had one goal in my mind and nothing was going to stop me! This was an exciting but exhausting time and I spent every evening, weekend and lunch break either working on the game or helping to test the new language!

Late February 2011 I had progressed to such a point in development that it was almost as if there was no going back. Whether I liked it or not this was my new path in life. I wasn’t told about this massive decision, my brain just decided for me and kept it quiet. I still had the illusion for a few months that I could carry on burning myself out doing everything and anything to get this game finished.

It hit me a couple of months later. I was plodding along working on some very large scale web developments at work and developing games at night. It was a good balance but something would eventually tip either one way or the other. It had happened two years before towards the web development and it would happen again now. My mind was made up! I was going to do it!

In the second week of May 2011 after five years of employment as a web developer, I handed my notice in and set sail on my new adventure!

Looking back on the span of ten years I feel proud of my achievements and I look forward to the new and exciting prospects our company has. It sounds cheesy but the most important thing I could pass on from my 10 years recounted here is that no matter what you do, your dreams and passions will catch up with you. It is up to you whether you ignore them and remain unfulfilled or whether you act on them.

by SKN3 on June 24th 2011 at 5:29pm.

is this still working?

by cazpoo on June 24th 2011 at 6:54pm.

Inspirational!

by Jimbob on June 26th 2011 at 4:00pm.

Follow your dreams!

by Jimbob on June 26th 2011 at 4:01pm.

And aww, why can't my name be in fancy font?

by IamReallyRhodesy on June 27th 2011 at 8:46am.

I GETS ERR0R!

The name you used belongs to a registered user.

by Rhodesy on June 27th 2011 at 11:42am.

I'm BACK BABY.

by Jimbob on August 22nd 2011 at 10:45pm.

Dude's waiting for a new blog...

by SKN3 on September 1st 2011 at 4:00pm.

dude there is a new blog ;)

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