Software Development

Why I love to create games and content for them.

As long ago as I can recall, I have always wanted to develop content for video games. Not quite at a professional level, but more as an amateur to share with friends and the online community. Dating back to Excitebike for the NES where you could create your own track, I have been hooked on level editors ever since.

With the purchase of our first family PC in 1997 (for the full story, check my other About Me page) this opened a whole new realm of level editors. One of the main reasons I purchased the full version of Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was the level editor. Having the chance to make levels for a sidescrolling game I was really in to at the time, I wasted no time delving in and learning the ins-and-outs of the editor. Having an entire community of people to share this with made me even more motivated to develop and share these levels.

You mean I can make my own standalone game?!

Eventually discovering RPG Maker 95 by a Jazz 2 community member who had made their own game demo using it, I decided to check this out as well. The idea of creating an entire game instead of just levels was way too appealing to not check it out. Nothing ever came of this, as RPG’s were a fairly new genre to me at the time with my only true RPG having been Mario RPG on SNES. That wouldn’t stop me from playing with RPG Maker 2000 however. I actually began a project here and put a fair amount of work in to the opening scenes of the game. But because I did not have a story, or any idea where I was going to go with it, it never got past a brief opening.

The jump to 3-D editors.

Fast forward to Unreal Tournament and the Unreal Editor. I loved playing Unreal Tournament so much, one day I decided to open up the Unreal Editor and see how it all worked. I was immediately overwhelmed and unable to figure out what anything did. Needless to say after opening an in-game map and looking around, I closed it out and never thought about it again.

In the late 90’s, I began losing interest in PC games and getting back in to the console scene. I eventually caught word of none other than Excitebike 64’s track editor. Because of that feature alone, I purchased the game. Even though the track pieces were limited, the thought of finally having access to a 3-D editor that wasn’t overwhelming was very exciting. I continued this track pieces editor system with Revolt on the Sega Dreamcast. Even though I would’ve loved to have made levels like the in-game ones, having the ability to make any levels at all for a Dreamcast game balanced it out. Mixed in the fray were other level editors, such as the skate park editors for the Tony Hawk games, but the above marked some of my more memorable level editors.

I would eventually find my way back to the PC as my primary platform, which opened up endless possibilities for editors. I fell in love with Valve’s Source engine, which proved much less intimidating than the Unreal Editor years before. I read some tutorials and forum posts to get up to speed and began working on maps in here. Experimenting with ideas and starting a few, but never actually finishing them. The true unmotivater however would come when I went to save one of my maps I had put a lot of time in to, and the file became corrupted. I had no backups of it, so I essentially lost everything I had made. I wouldn’t touch the Source Engine again until Left 4 Dead.

I would eventually approach the Unreal Editor again once Unreal Tournament 3 came out, this time using some tutorial videos to guide me through creating their small sample level. I had a grasp on mapping and working with static meshes, but because I wasn’t passionate about creating levels for Unreal Tournament 3, I never bothered to learn Kismet or anything more advanced.

Lessons learned.

So now we arrive at the present day where I am very familiar with the Source Engine and RPG Maker software, which are the base for all of my current projects. I have learned that planning is everything, as I have rarely completed any projects I started; mostly due to having no direction on where I wanted to go with them. I am still guilty of leaping before I look, but let’s just say it’s because I’m ambitious.

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