Rants, computational biology, and software development.

It's Alive!

13 Dec 2013

At first I didn’t actually think about what to put in here. I mean, it’s been almost 4 years since I started developing web related stuff, improving myself in the latest tools and techniques to make better, faster, stronger blogs, apps, and little systems to (hopefully) improve someone else’s life by making their everyday work a little easier. All that while going through my undergraduate courses in Computer Science. But let’s get a little deeper into some of my thoughts.

#About Myself

I’ve always loved videogames, ever since my dad bought Atari 2600 for me and my brothers, we “wasted” entire days smashing that red button, pushing harder that joystick as if it would make Pitfall Harry run faster or make Pac-Man reach the super-power fruit sooner. Games taught me a LOT of things, and taught me better than most of my school teachers.

I discovered I loved learning, and videogames were the perfect way to make me learn. In school all I could see were meaningless numbers and random drawings with the sole objective of turning me and my classmates into zombie-like mindless little monsters. But back home numbers and letters weren’t random at all, they were Megaman’s life-points, every 100 coins in Mario means a life and it was USEFUL to think arithmetic stuff just to play better, it was just FUN to learn that way!

So, after deciding that all I wanted to do with my life was to play videogames, reality punched me right in the face with two little facts:

  • You can’t just play, you need to eat too! And in order to eat you need this evil paper called money. (this isn’t actually true everywhere, but it is here in Paraguay, where I live) well, but I want to play all my life anyways :/
  • Then you need to DO something so you can have the almighty money to buy games and food so you don’t starve and die! fiiiine, I’ll see what I can do u.u

So I started thinking of what I could possibly do to spend most of my time playing and avoid boring stuff like school, teachers, and becoming a mindless zombie. I searched and searched and then came up with the most awesome idea of all time:

What if… if… I…. start MAKING videogames?

My life was turned upside down, the idea was incredibly GENIUS!! I could almost kiss myself of joy, so I decided to start simple and program something doable, like GTA… and poking here and there in the Internet turned out that making awesome games wasn’t THAT easy. I found stuff like “level design”, “shaders”, “programming”, “platform”, “engine”, “Direct3D”, “3D-Modeling”, “CAD”, “AI”… I was overwhelmed, frustrated and back to square one. But this was the only thing that could actually make me happy someday!! So I didn’t give up, I started to code and made a LOT of mistakes. So I thought about getting into Computer Science so I could code better, faster and someday make awesome games! I started learning, and learning and coding and doing math and a lot of stuff and got lost in the Computer Science world. Being able to MAKE stuff with random words in notepad made me forget all about my dreams and hopes, I just loved to code!

During my code-fever I joined a little company where my website-making phase started. They were a team of two designers, one of them was almost able to code and it was super fun working with them. We made a lot of blogs, and even some little web apps, the company started to grow and eventually I joined them and even got to own a third of what had been my first job! I was very happy and thought that was the start of my future. But somewhere inside me, the flame for making videogames (which I think is the ultimate form of creativity) wasn’t ready to die yet. I planned a new course for the company and wanted to make little games. With my friend’s abilities to draw cool stuff and me being capable of coding (after almost 6 years since the original “I want to make games” idea) I thought we could actually do some fun games and maybe sell them and be able to make a living out of someone else’s smiles and wasted time in silly iPhone games, and maybe after that become the most awesome team in the whole universe and conquer the world funded by our own awesomeness!!

But life doesn’t always have the same plans as you do, and that start-up went down in what I think was a stupid argument (it wasn’t actually an argument, but I don’t know a better word to describe why we decided that it was not possible to work together anymore). So, we and the two programmers we hired finished the pending tasks and each one went his way. I was sad, and didn’t want to fail like that again. I considered the most horrible idea ever, the one thing I hated the most: go and work for some big scary telecom company and make tons of money in exchange for almost all my time and brain power, and of course, my soul. And there was I, sad about the “break up” with my buddies and considering joining the zombie-like brainless army of telecom coders (to be fair, I actually think telecom is awesome and know a lot of amazing people making good work in that field, it’s just not my thing so I rant about it here!).

After a month of not wanting to do anything work-related. Those two programmers that we had hired in the first start-up told me that they would like to start a new company with me. They were my classmates at school. At first I didn’t want to risk to be disappointed again, but in the end I decided to give that a try, and found myself relieved about not having to go to a scary telecom giant and ugly business, and keeping my soul clean was priceless.

We started almost where we left with the new team, they already knew some of the business mechanics and things were looking good, there was some money coming in, not a lot, but enough to make us feel like we were doing things right. We managed to make some upgrades compared to the previous company in the workflow and we didn’t even have an office (we were working from our houses, like some kind of secret coding society, plotting against Comic Sans, Microsoft and poorly written HTML). I am still part of that start-up for the moment, but I’ve already told them the current project (the biggest I’ve ever worked as a web developer) is the last one for me. I told them about my dream of becoming a game developer, and that working in other stuff was nice, but not enough. It was a really difficult decision and it took me months of thinking and about 17 drafts stored in my gmail for me to finally send that mail to my friends. I think the hardest thing I’ve learned in life is that you just can’t reach your dreams without some kind of sacrifice.

I would be lying if I say I’m not scared, but I’m also excited about my next steps. I’ve got tons of stuff to wrap up before working full time in becoming a true game developer (the project I mentioned earlier, my undergraduate thesis, and a lot of other stuff…), but I can feel now that little flame burning stronger.

For now I think this pretty much sums the important stuff about myself.

#About this blog…ish website

I’ve decided to make this with some pretty specific objectives:

  1. I’ve always wanted to create something to share with friends and family and everyone looking to read something about games and how much I love them <3.
  2. It’s been years now since I’ve told myself “how come you spend almost all of your time coding websites and telling people what to do to get more readers and make interesting stuff but do not do some of that yourself?”. The answer was always a mix of “I don’t have enough time”, “I’m not THAT interesting to start a blog”, “It’s not trivial work” and other excuses. I think this is finally the time where I can stop saying stupid stuff to myself and finally sit and write some stuff.
  3. It will help me keep a record of my “path” into game design and development, and give the people that help me or stand in my way to read and enjoy (or feel guilty) about.
  4. To keep me on track. If you’re reading this, you’ve seen how easily I get distracted by other stuff that seems to be interesting. I think ( and hope) that thinking regularly about my actual dream will somehow help me achieve it. It’s silly, but I won’t lose anything more than a few hours a week writing this and maybe some of my keyboard’s painting.

That being said… I will write one entry every two weeks (more or less). I’ll try to keep them simple and easy to read for non-geeks and non- programmers and give at least a hint of what’s going on.