The Power of the Force

Since the age of nine, I have wanted to be a game developer. I’ve wanted to make games ever since I realized that the TRS-80 Model 1 sitting in the corner of my classroom at school was technically the same device as the Pac-Man and Asteroid machines I played on down at the 7/11.

It’s been 25 years since then, and while I came close several times, getting jobs at Origin, 3DO and Human Code, I never managed to make the jump from tester or support person to developer. I did finally manage to get my first programming job about three years ago. I guess you could technically call it game development – the company I work for uses C++ and DirectX to make video bingo games for Indian resevation casinos. It’s actually a very good company full of very good people, and they did give me, someone who wasn’t able to finish college, a programming job.

But I still wanted to do real game development, and I began to think that going indie on the side might be a good idea – bring in some extra money (hopefully) and scratch my personal itch to make real games.

So I moved forward. I chose the design for my first game (a very cute puzzle game using colored water droplets and some design elements from Marble Drop and The Incredible Machine). I picked a name for my company. I bought some webspace. I cleared what I was going to do with my boss, who was very supportive. I started on my prototype and got to the point where I had some balls rolling down the screen across platforms in a fairly realistic manner.

And then one night I was idling in the #gamedev channel on irc.afternet.com, and someone came in and asked, “Any game developers from Austin in here?”

And I put my hand up and said, “Uh…I’m a game developer from Austin.”

And he implored me to apply at his company! They had recently lost some programmers to another company and desperately needed to staff back up. So I blew the dust off my resume, added an entry for my current job and sent it to him.

And they called me in for an interview, which went great. They showed me some of the games they were working on, which looked awesome. I hadn’t been looking for a job so I had no demo, so instead they asked me for a code sample. I sent them the sample and then chewed on my fingernails for twenty-four hours.

And then they called me and told me that they wanted me to work for them.

You may have read Steve Pavlina‘s articles on Dexterity.com. You may have read The Power of Positive Thinking or Think and Grow Rich or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. You may have heard succesful people of all stripes tell you that no matter how big the obstacles seem, as soon as you resolutely move towards your goals they will fall all over themselves getting out of your way. You may have dismissed it as bunk. It’s not. You want a Force? This is the true power of the Force. I moved resolutely towards my goals – and I mean really moved, not just reading books and hanging out in IRC and wishing. I took real, concrete, irreversible, fear-overcoming steps towards realizing my goals, even in a circumscribed way. And when I did, the universe dutifully rearranged itself so that the job I really wanted fell right into my lap. I didn’t even have to look – it came to me.

I’ve had self-confidence problems my entire life. In the past I have managed to overcome my fears and self-doubts long enough to do some great things, but afterwards I always reverted back to type, thinking “Whew! Glad I got away with that, now let’s never do that again.” This has kept me from seeing the truth – that everything I’ve really tried to do, I’ve succeeded at. And every time in the past that I have conquered my fear and moved resolutely towards my goals, the results have always been positive. But now I know. This most recent experience is simply the icing on the cake. I’m not going to be afraid any more. In a few years I’ll be speaking at the GDC. Just you wait.

Another cute story about my kids.

Last night my three-year-old son was walking around naming the colors of everything.

He touches my shirt. “Blue!” he says, and we all say, “That’s right, good boy, etc, etc”.

He touches my daughter’s hair. “Bwown!”

“That’s right, you’re such a smart boy!”

He touches my hair. I’m fully expecting another “Bwown!”

“White!”

I am officially sick of Greg Costikyan.

“Iwata-san has the heart of a gamer—and my question is, what poor
bastard’s chest did he carve it from, and how often do they perform
human sacrifices at Nintendo HQ?”

Greg Costikyan said that during his GDC presentation this past week. The “Iwata-san” of whom he speaks is the current President of Nintendo and the creator of (among other things) the Kirby series of games. If I had been in the room and heard Costikyan say that, I probably would have given him the finger.