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How I got into games development, by Tony Albrecht

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Submitted by souri on Wed, 14/09/11 - 12:28 AM Permalink

Sorta similar to how I got introduced to computers. My eldest brother got an Apple IIe, and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever. It came with a monitor which showed only a black screen with shades of green text and graphics, a separate disk drive with 5 1/4" floppy disks, and paddles for extra input. It had some awesome pinball game called Night Mission and a few other really simple games.

I spent a whole afternoon typing some code from a magazine for it, and all it did was show some jumbled up graphics and not a game which I was hoping for. I messed up writing the code somewhere but couldn't be bothered fixing it.

I was lucky enough to get my own personal computer in '84, and that was a Commodore 64 with datacasette drive. I felt like the luckiest kid on the planet. Spent a whole bunch of time reading the manuals that came with it which covered a bit of basic and sprites etc. Wrote a simple game, sort of a choose-your-own-adventure thing with ascii graphics. Got bored with that and spent a whole lot more time with Koala pad and drawing pictures, which is why I steered towards the art side of things. Saved up all my coins to get a 1541 disk drive which was like $400 back then - a massive amount just for a darn disk drive and costed as much as the C64. That, however, opened the gates to a world of games, demos and the demoscene, and many failed attempts at future composer and assembly.

Tony Albrecht, founder and Director of Overbyte and veteran programmer with past stints at studios such as Ratbag, Midway, and Pandemic, has written a fantastic entry for AltDevBlogADay detailing his unusual journey into games development.

It seems like an unlikely choice for a lad who grew up in a small country town in South Australia where most aspired to drive trucks or work on the farm for a living, however, when Tony was first introduced to a Apple II computer, he knew right away what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

After studying Computer Science and Physics at 17, then working in the mining and defence simulation sector programming visualisation applications, as well as porting code on the slaughter floor of an abattoir whilst avoiding carcass splatter), it was his father's illness that made Tony re-evaluate what he really wanted to do in life. From altdevblogaday.com...

(Albrecht) Deep down, I knew – I wanted to write games. So I started writing games for myself and entering game writing competitions. I bought one of the first 3DFX cards in Australia and wrote demos for that. I spent every spare moment coding. I loved it. It was exciting. I was learning. I was having fun. I was writing games.

So I quit my job.

Tony's plan was to fly to GDC and show off his work with the hopes of getting hired, but luckily that was the year (1999) for the first ever Australian Game Developer's Conference which was held in Sydney. From networking at that conference and applying for a position closer to home at Adelaide based games studio, Ratbag Games, it marked the beginning of his twelve year long journey in the games industry. It's been one marked with plenty of ups and downs, but he'd have it no other way...

(Albrecht) I now run my own company, and I have the pleasure of travelling the world teaching and working with young, eager programmers (as well as their older, more cynical brethren). I love what I do; I love the people I work with. Yes, I have considered leaving the industry for a more secure, well paid job. But you know what? While I would be working at that job, I’d be thinking about writing games.

It's an excellent write-up, and I hope a lot more local games veterans out there can share their stories like this with us. Head on over to altdevblogaday.com for the whole story!