People are always asking my how I got started with computers, and how I learned so much. Some people seem to think there’s a book they can read or class they can take that will magically imbue them with the necessary skills. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.
I spend way too much time in front of a computer. It seems like I’m working on something all the time. Most of my projects are just things that I try to do to challenge myself and develop my skills, although I do occasionally create something useful. I’ll try to keep this page up to date with what I’m currently working on, and maintain a list of any interesting things I’ve done in the past.
Fill in the Site – This is my current monster project. It’s a web content management system designed for teacher web pages. It’s a CGI application, written in Perl, and uses XML data files. I never really meant for it to get this big, and it seems like it’s growing all the time. I’m planning on adding even more features as soon as I get time. Maybe someday it’ll do everything and I can just take over the Internet…
Unnamed Role-Playing Game – My current spare time project is a console style role-playing game. Currently it draws a background and your character can walk around and bump into things. The interesting thing about this is the fact that it’s cross platform. It uses SDL for graphics, input, and sound, and it uses Lua for scripting. I’m planning on adding networking, and making it multiplayer. When it’s finished I hope it will be kind of like Final Fantasy or Zelda for the Super Nintento except you’ll be able to play with other people online. We’ll see how far I get.
A note about the graphics: I didn’t draw any of the tiles used in this screenshot. They all came from a web site that I found a long time ago. If you own those graphics and would like me to take down the shot, just e-mail me and let me know.
Tony’s Blocks – After reading an article at GameDev.net called A Path to Game Development, I decided to try my hand at a Tetris-style game. The gameplay part was pretty easy to write. The hard part is making it look professional. Professional games have lots of extra features like spash screens, menus, difficulty settings, high score tables, etc. Once I get this finished to the point where I’m happy with it, I’m planning on using it as a base for developing several different puzzle games that I will someday sell online. Here’s what it looks like today:
Console Functions – Microsoft doesn’t provide an easy way to handle things like cursor position and text color in console applications. This means that most console programs are just plain gray text scrolling on a black background – very boring. I was trying to impress the instructor in one of my C++ classes, so I wrote these functions. All of the other programs where black-and-white and mine was in full color. Needless to say, I made an impression. I’ve also used these functions to develop a simple Rogue-like game…
Stick Fighter – My experience programming computers started in 1993. I was a senior in high school at the time and was fascinated by games. A friend of mine, Tony Foster, was an artist, so we got together whenever we could and worked on our game. Stick Fighter was (going to be) a 2D fighting game, similar to Mortal Kombat. Your character could walk, roll, jump, kick, punch, crouch, and block. We never made it to the point of adding an opponent. Tony drew the character, and I drew the background.
Shadow Bane – a 3D shooter in the style of Wolfenstein 3D. It was interesting because buildings could be more than one story high, and it had a parallax scrolling background behind the 3D rendered buildings. This made it look a lot more realistic than Wolfenstien. Again, we never got around to adding monsters.
Both of these games were way too ambitious for a beginning programmer, and they soon fell apart. They were also written for DOS (it was still 1993 after all), that means they won’t even run on today’s computers.