Monday, June 22, 2015

I'm No Rock Star

With a new baby and three other children in my home, it's been difficult for me to do any coding projects outside of my day job lately. It's difficult just to make sure the comics are there every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It's difficult to wake up in the morning.

So there might not be a lot of good programming-related content on here for a little while. Maybe there never is any good programming content. Today's comic once again pokes fun at the need for organizations to hire mythical software developers that can perform 10 times the work of "regular" software devs like myself. I'm no Rock Star Programmer. But then, who is?

I spent a lot of time here.
Maybe Tim Sweeney. I would have to say that his 1991 game ZZT is one of the main reasons I am a software developer today. I spent uncountable hours not only playing that game, but also using the bundled editor to create my own game worlds. I never saw a need for games to use anything other than Code Page 437 for their graphics.

Code Page 437 - The only graphics you'll ever need
Many of my early programming projects were making my own game engines like ZZT with features I had wished for in Sweeney's game. It inspired me to write more software. When I started writing BBS door games in the early 90's, I dreamed of making an online multi-player game like ZZT using ANSI escape codes delivered via 14.4Kbps modems. Unfortunately, I had to go to high school and stuff most of the day and I never really got very far with it. I had to settle for making a few dollars off of in-game modules for Legend of the Red Dragon. The lesser-known sequel to LoRD ended up being extremely close to my vision, but never saw the kind of popularity of the original.

ZZT has always stuck with me as a gaming ideal.
  • Why don't all games come with editors for making your own worlds? (I've had to seek out some unauthorized editors like Lunar Magic in the past, but Super Mario Maker looks like a winner)
  • Graphics don't matter as much as player engagement. ZZT's ASCII graphics were already dated when it came out. Who cares?
  • Community matters. People shared their own ZZT worlds on BBS's. It wasn't a "forced" community like the Facebook-integrated games of today.
That's enough of my ramblings and nostalgia for now. Check out today's comic. As usual, it asks the tough questions. Like why do we hire Rock Stars instead of Country Music Stars? I know why we don're hire Classical Music Stars (they've all been dead for hundreds years and are therefore less than desirable team members).

Amphibian.com comic for 22 June 2015