gaming since 1997

The Programmers – Part 5

Another week, another interview 🙂
Today’s man answering our questions is James Thrush from SuperX Studio’s, known of their game Far Gate

How did you start in the gaming business ?

James : Somewhat by accident – I was very much into 3D programming through college and shortly after leaving Microsoft to do consulting, I landed a contract for Zombie here in Seattle working on a simulator ride for Disney. It was there I saw the light and realized that games really are the cutting edge of computer technology.

What’s first ? The idea for an engine, or the idea of a game ?

James : Definately the game. Feature ideas can come from abilities and limitations of the engine, but the core has to be a game that would be fun even if done with ASCII block graphics (okay, that’s a bit extreme, but true – think about Diablo… anyone remember NetHack or Moria?).

How do you start on programming for a game ?

James : Personally… take the DirectX spinning cube sample and go from there. Funny to think that’s how Far Gate’s engine started out. We added functionality for the first year and a half until we had something resembling a full game engine. Then another year to finish and polish the game. Definately important to have tools done early, like exporters from modeling packages, level editors, etc.

What programming language do you use for making/modifying an engine ?

James : C++. Period. I haven’t found a compelling reason yet to use anything else although that may change soon.

What the most difficult part about programming a game ?

James : Everyone else in the project depends on the tools and engine you create to finish their jobs, so you are normally the critical resource.

What do you like most about programming games ?

James : Games encompass the cutting edge of EVERY computer science discipline – AI, 3D graphics, user interface design, networkings, database design, etc., etc.

What is the ultimate goal for a programmer ?

James : For a game programmer (for me anyway): to create a game appreciable by everyone, familiar enough to understand yet completely distinctive, which runs on every piece of hardware at a very fast frame rate.

Any last comments on your job for future game programmers ?

James : DO IT! Its the funniest programming job I’ve ever had


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