A Programmer's Blog

The path how I became a game programmer


I haven’t been writing for the past 4 years. The reason is that I had really problems in motivating me to update the blog. I think it was primarly because of my career’s focus. This post is about the past 4 years of my life.

Last time I wrote I was still working for Memonews/Sentric on our big data project, with Hadoop, Ruby and such. Shortly after this, I eventually began to start working for their unbrella company, YMC. There I worked mostly on various mobile projects (Android & iOS, checkout my blogposts here). But focus shifted more and more towards web between 2014 and 2015. I developed mostly pretty small PHP websites with the Symfony Framework. During that time I realized that, while my most experience so far is indeed web development (I write PHP code since 2000), it wasn’t really not what I wanted to concentrate my future on.

That’s only part of the story, the other part is that since 2013 I already was a bit depressed at YMC, as there was just not so much sophisticated work and I felt pretty subchallenged. So I began with a new hobby, a hobby I tried often before, but never kept going. That hobby was game development. That’s how Moyo was born.
After working a couple of months on Moyo, I lowered my job at YMC to a 60-80% position to give my new hobby more time. I was very glad that YMC was so flexible and I am very thankful for that. 60-80% from a Switzerland salary is still enough to have a good life, especially if you live nearby the German border, where you can buy things cheaply. But having so much extra time helped me to develop my game development skills a lot.
I never went up to 100% at YMC again. I released Moyo in May 2014, as a free browser game and a (optional payed) desktop game with better graphics and gamepad support.

It was fun to create Moyo, but it took me over 1 year to build. Most of the time was spend working on the engine. I knew, in order to produce games more quickly, I have to learn one of the popular game engines. That’s why I began trying new engines like Godot and Unity. For the next year or so, I attended many online gamejams, which helped me to learn Unity a lot ( you can check out my projects here ). I think the coolest games I produced at that time were Alice in the Mushroom Hole, the VR title The Captain took your Ducky and probably Dragon Fightress or Ace of Traze.

Programming games is what I like more than any other work, so I started to think about how I could make my living out of it. I often thought it might be cool to quit my main job and just work on the stuff I like most, but I knew it’s gonna be hard. Very hard. Probably too hard. I am not good at Art, Sound Design and especially Marketing. And it were already hard times for indie developers, as there were just so many of them.
I checked out other options. My (now) wife and I wanted to leave Switzerland anyway to get back to Germany, that’s why I started to check out if there are probably some game companies nearby I could try. I found only one in Offenburg, which was around 150km away. It’s Black Forest Games and it’s where I eventually started working for 🙂
I earn a lot less than before, but it’s still enough to have a good living and I finally do what I enjoy most.

In the future I will write about game programming topics. Right now I work mostly with the Unreal and Unity engines. Especially for Unreal there isn’t enough information available in my opinion. Unreal has a lot of features with little documentation and it’s often hard to figure out how the stuff works. This was the main pusher why I decided to start blogging again. I want to write about these things that took me ages to get working and wished I had found more information for upfront.

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