Podcast Interview

Oh! I almost forgot!

Pete Mascio recently interviewed me over Skype, and we talked about a range of things, including NEO Scavenger, my career at BioWare, and the experience of becoming an independent developer. He's posted a recording of it on his website, Indie Games as an Art Form.

If you're interested in learning a bit of history on both NEO Scavenger and it's creator, give it a listen!

Comments

Angemon's picture
Angemon

Worth to listen indeed. Great interview.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

Glad you enjoyed it! It's a long one, but I think Peter asked some good questions.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Valek's picture
Valek

I just got a chance to listen to your interview. It was great! I really enjoyed it.

I'm curious, where did you learn to code?

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

Thanks Valek! I actually learned to code gradually, in different languages at different times.

My first experiments with code were as a kid, but it was mostly copying BASIC from magazines into an Atari 800. We also had Apple IIe PCs in our junior high computer lab, and we had assignments learning to code in BASIC there as well. I think that was the first time I actually wrote my own code, without copying from another source.

I took a course in C during university, which was geared towards engineering applications (heat transfer across a piece of metal, for example). That was probably my first exposure to C-style code. I also did a lot of web-related tinkering during that time, plus a bunch of modding (Dark Reign was a favorite of mine to mod).

I took a job as a web developer/designer after university, and that's probably where I started using code more often (usually HTML, javascript, jsp, actionscript, etc.).

And at BioWare, I was mainly a scripter (Maxscript), though I did a fair share of C# programming for tools, plus a bit of C++.

Overall, I just poked around and taught myself, for the most part. When I left BioWare, I actually went through AS3 tutorials for Flash games to get up-to-speed. Kongregate had a really good one that taught me the basics. It requires the Flash trial application, but you can also make Flash games without Flash CS_.

So I guess the short answer is, all over the place :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Valek's picture
Valek

Interesting. It sounds like you got tossed in the middle of things, becoming a developer/designer without really knowing javascript, actionscript, etc.

I released a crappy iPhone app (I call it a Crapp) last year. It was a game made with Corona SDK, which uses Lua. I've also made a website using Ruby on Rails. When I was young, I did a bit of coding in BASIC, Pascal, and C/C++. But I've never been able to get into any language very far. I always learn the very basics, and then seem to hit a brick wall. Have you ever had that problem (and if so, how did you overcome it?)?

Oh, I gave NEO Scavenger the thumbs up on Greenlight. That was good that you mentioned it being on Greenlight, in the interview.

dcfedor's picture
dcfedor

I think I've hit my share of brick walls before. Back in BASIC, I was fast on my way into a spaghetti if/else nightmare. Without some object-oriented techniques, I wouldn't have been able to get too far without losing track of my own code.

And C++? Well, let's just say C++ and I have never really gotten along. I always feel like I'm spending more time appeasing the language than I am making what's important to me.

I've also hit some framework brick walls. I've tried engines/frameworks like Ogre3D/Axiom, .NET/XNA, and Torque2D/3D, and often felt like I was running out of runway before really taking off. Each of those frameworks was still under construction when I tried them, so there were pieces that I either had to code around or build myself, and that often slowed me down (or drove me away).

AS3 has been, by far, the most enjoyable language to build in. It has object-oriented tools at its disposal, so it can do some powerful things. It's managed code, so we don't have to deal with memory allocation/deallocation. The syntax is user-friendly (very few weird symbols, unlike C++). The support network is unmatched (there are tutorials aimed at all levels of understanding ad nauseum). And it's mature. Stuff just works, because it's been around long enough to sort out the issues. And on three platforms + web, to boot.

Plus, if you're comfortable with pure code, you can skip the pricey Flash CS_ suite, and just use free tools like FlashDevelop (which is awesome, btw).

And flixel was a way for me to jump-start my game-building in AS3. It covers most of the game plumbing one would need, such as efficient blitting, state changes, basic UI (key/mouse handlers), etc. It really lets one focus on the game logic, instead of the framework. It has a few idiosynchrasies to learn, and I'm not sure how often it's updated anymore, but it's complete, and has served me well so far.

And thanks for the thumbs-up on Greenlight! I haven't been driving users there yet, since I still have a ways to go on NEO Scavenger. But at some point, I'l like to be on Steam!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games