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Dev Diary #2

Posted: September 20th, 2017, 3:49 pm
by TurdPile
Introduction

Ahoy! My name is Chris Bonnell, and I’m the website developer and a game programmer here at Digital Meatloaf. In the company structure, I am under Schalk, and work alongside Hibma and Horne (see About Us for biographies). By day, I am a DBA (database administrator), by night I am a developer and, like most of us here, an avid gamer.

In the beginning

Similar to many, I got caught up in the world of gaming at a young age. My father brought a computer home one day and after that point I was hooked. I remember playing some Star Wars game that I do not remember the name of for hours. And by hours, I mean probably half-hour sessions over the course of days; hey, I was young and restricted from such "obsessiveness". Fast forward to about 2003(?), I was utterly addicted to StarCraft: Brood War. At this point, I was old enough to actively ignore my parents (who knew?) - I would spend countless hours playing this game, including many all-nighters. However, it wasn't the game itself as a raw, stategic, RTS that drew me in. It was the custom games the players could create that kept the fun and variety in the game. It was the fun and friendly community in which you could group up with to play games of similar interests. The reason I am expanding on this part of my life is because this was the single biggest turning point in the direction I wanted my life to head in. There was a subsection of custom games called "Bounds" in which the unit you controlled had to navigate a series of "puzzles" to get from one spot to another. The journey from those spots, however, had a pattern of explosions that you had to watch, learn, memorize, and try and navigate through them with the correct timing and accuracy. It could get quite difficult if the timing between explosions decreased and the margin-for-error significantly lowered. It is this game mode that kept me hooked for years, and into which I started my first foray into creating my own. It was making these games that I realized that creating games is where I wanted my life to head.

The start of a journey

After years of creating maps for SC:BW, looking back, it seems I suddenly stopped around the time I entered high school. For reason I don't quite remember, I had quit the game for the most part and ever since had extreme nostalgia whenever speaking of it. (Fun fact: I did bring the game into school and got half my class to start playing LANs). Also at the beginning of high school is when I decided to start to delve into coding. Freshman year of high school was learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL. Later on was jQuery and integrated developments with the technologies combined. College consisted of programming courses enough to graduate with a Bachelors in Computer Science. As well as my Senior year internship with Blank Media Games.

Blank Media Games is an indie game development company who created the popular game "Town of Salem". I was (and still am, technically) involved with them for a couple years prior to my internship. As administrator of their official forums, I was in contact with the developers almost daily; which made pitching my idea of an internship an easier task: especially since they had a web project that needed to be completed, and I happened to have the skillset needed. Over the course of the semester, I created for them the "Trial System" which pretty much parsed in-game reports to allow the community to judge whether or not the offender should be suspended from the game (of course moderators had final say whether to go through with a suspension).

Today

It was this Trial System project that I showcased during my interview that eventually snagged my current position as a DBA. Being able to work with the data of millions of players in an environment that dealt with billions was a plus and it also showed I was motivated to learn on my own. So listen kids, if you want to make a good impression, take the time to learn and delve into self-made projects on your own. My day job has me working with a whole variety of database engines: MySQL, Microsoft SQL, Netezza, Hadoop/Hbase, Teradata and more recently AWS/Azure/Redshift. However, as aforementioned, it is what I do when I come home that is of interest. Being heavily influenced by the days of StarCraft, with its Bounds and Dodgeball, I was extremely motivated to bring that nostalgia to the present and create a freely available mobile game that takes after its legacy. It was within my endeavors to build "Star Dodgeball" that Sean contacted me and asked to join their team. Since I had hit a roadblock with my game due to server capability issues (the game is real-time against real players), I agreed to come on board. Since being here, I implemented the website that was kindly designed by Rich, and am finally starting on the actual coding of the project itself. Hopefully in the coming weeks we'll have something to show!

Stay tuned for more info regarding Project: Black Raven!