My Life

Making Games

For as long as I remember I have been making games. It started with writing stories during elementary school and evolved into creating fantasy maps of mundane locations. This was well before I started to play Dungeons & Dragons — I had lots of fun navigating the magical spaces of my imagination and trying to communicate them to my friends and family. But when I discovered other kids playing D&D, I finally found a foundation upon which I could structure my imagination.

And at this point I should add that for the first little bit I didn’t even have the D&D books. I just saw what the other kids were doing and then went home and developed my own rule system, maps, etc. Obviously once I got my hands on the books I was able to be more productive in regards to building campaigns…

I began playing D&D regularly with my friends — many weekends were spent navigating the official adventures from TSR or playing through our own. We tried many campaign worlds — Ravenloft, Krynn, and the Forgotten Realms. And we tried a few other gaming systems as well. It was time well spent, though I suspect the adults in my life at the time would have disagreed.

I started to learn how to program using the Basic programming language (I believe on my old Adam system). A resource I found invaluable was the various computer magazines with premade adventures that you simply had to type into your system to play. (This article has a good write up about it — I was far from alone in learning to program from these magazines).

I also bought copies of Dungeon magazine when I could find it, really appreciated the example adventures and maps. When I figured out how the map data for the Basic adventure games worked I would “reconstruct” the maps from Dungeon magazine, creating digital versions of them. In one fit of madness I even added all the classes and races from Dungeons & Dragons, including all the accessory books that were being released. There wasn’t much gameplay other than going room to room and fighting random creatures but you could make any D&D character you wanted…

Anyways, what’s the point of all this rambling? I’m not sure! I was just amused when I came across an old copy of Dungeon. And it was a nice reminder of how much influence game development and roleplaying have had on my life

p.s., many years ago I wrote a blog about learning to program and how to teach kids to program; readers added many interesting suggestions in the comments, I encourage you to check them out.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

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