Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Life Story (abridged)

Oh come on, it’s my blog, I can be self-absorbed.

I was born in England at a young age.

When I was about 8, we got a ZX Spectrum computer (similar power level to the Commodore 64). This came with a version of basic pre-installed, and it was at this point that I started trying to code. I also decided that ‘when I grew up’ I was going to be a games programmer (as well as an artist and an author – two areas in which I’m no more skilled than I was when I was 8).

Ten years on, I still wanted to be a games programmer, but really, my skills were pretty poor. I went to Sheffield University to study Software Engineering, and then managed to land a job at Gremlin Interactive. I’d done some 3D graphics in my dissertation but hadn’t done much C coding.

I worked there for two years. It was the time when 3D accelerators were starting to appear, and everyone on PC was moving to DirectX 3. After my two years there, I’d become somewhat disillusioned. We’d spend a year or more slogging our brains out to make a game, which then has a shelf life of two weeks and sinks without trace (which happens for a lot of games). I wanted to work on something with more meaning!!!

So I packed that in and went to work for a company that made software for call centers! I learned Java, beans, server stuff, COM, JSP, ASP and a ton of other stuff I have almost no recollection of. It was fun for a couple of years, but then I came to the realization that, short of joining/forming programmers without borders, there wasn’t a lot of meaning to be had, and that I was finding serious software, seriously boring.

At this point, my old workmate from Gremlin called to invite me to a new studio that ‘Rage’ started. It didn’t take much deliberation. I was back in games, and I enjoyed it more than ever.

I planned on staying at Rage for a long time, but after a couple of years the company folded. We were all allowed to spend our last days of work time applying for other jobs, and someone mentioned to me that experienced people could get jobs in America. I applied to a few companies, and after a few months secured my position at Heavy Iron.

At first I did some porting of games to Xbox, then I was lead programmer on a couple of games, and now I manage the programming department. I’m glad to say that I’ve been at Heavy Iron for four years so far.

Without this turning into an Oscar speech, I really appreciate the cards I’ve been dealt so far. Having a job that allows me to work overseas is great. I find living abroad to be a wonderful experience. Also working in games is inherently interesting to me, and presents constant new challenges to be overcome.

Yay life!

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