I’ve always loved games. I got my start playing Crystal Quest and Dark Castle on a Mac SE and never looked back.
I’d love to say that when I was 10, I wrote my first game in some ancient language that no one uses anymore, but the truth is that it didn’t even occur to me that I could make games until I was in high school. Some other students and I had to petition the school to have a programming course. When the petition succeeded, we started learning “Turbo Pascal,” with which I made my first game.
It was a Bomberman clone, but since I was new at this, I didn’t have any idea how to process input. My solution was simple: wait for someone to press a key, then perform that action and advance time by one frame. This resulted in some interesting strategies; one player would place a bomb, and the other player would mash the keyboard as fast as they could, trying to advance time enough for the bomb to explode before the first player could move away. In other words, I had created one of the most frantic turn-based games ever. The game spread like wildfire. At one point the entire computer lab was filled with people playing this game. The librarians in charge of the computer lab were less than impressed, and I was instructed to never distribute any of my programs ever again.
A short time later, I discovered a new local school that specialized in video game programming, or, as they called it at the time, “Real-Time Interactive Simulation”. I applied and was accepted into the DigiPen Institute of Technology. Diablo 2 came out about this time, and would vie with my classes for my attention over the next four years, but I managed to graduate.
I first met Jeff about 10 years ago, when he hired me for a programming position at ArenaNet. At the time, I was fresh out of college and was willing to work on anything, so I started out sitting next to John Zipperer, fixing bugs in the sound code. In the following years, I worked on everything from installers to CD-Keys to billing infrastructure to server administration. At times, working on all of this critical-path code was terrifying, because no matter how much you test your code, you can never really be sure that there won’t be a bug that will break everything for everyone forever. Luckily, that never happened to me, but it was an amazing learning experience.
When Jeff asked me if I wanted to work at Undead Labs, it was a no-brainer (did I mention I love puns?). I was ready to work on something new and fresh, so I started a few weeks later, sitting next to John Zipperer, fixing bugs in the sound code. Wait, what? I thought this was supposed to be new! Well, one of the neat things about a small studio is that you get to work on a wide variety of tasks. Since then, I’ve worked on outposts, music, the world map, user interface, localization; pretty much anything that needed doing, and that’s what I love to do. So whatever we are working on next, I’ll be there, getting my grubby programmer fingers into everything.
Check out Jeff’s introduction of Lewis, and then tell a Lewis joke on our forum by clicking the comment tape!