As you are no doubt aware already, my name is Ricky Curtice. I was what I liked to call a nonviolent game programmer - that is to say that I wrote nonviolent games. The decision to remove violence from the primary goal of the games I create provided me an interesting set of design issues, but more often proved an advantage than it has a hindrance during my school years. Since that time I’ve gained a stronger interest in virtual/augmented reality systems and how they’ll likely change our lives dramatically over the upcoming year - if the world lasts that long.
I chose game programming about midway through earning my Associate in Science in Computer Science degree from Sierra College in Rocklin, CA. That semester I took my first “art” class: Introduction to Multimedia Production. Which turned out to be a long-winded way of saying “Intro to Flash Animation.” Midway through the class our professor introduced us to ActionScripting. Now, just to let you know, I’ve been writing software since my dad could convince me that it would be fun. That was almost two decades ago, and about 12 years before the class. So I was suddenly back in my element: code! We had a final project to write for the class: a full mini-website. I decided to try my hand at a simplified MMO - not a simple task as you are probably aware. I commandeered my dad to write the web-service in ASP that I would communicate with from my flash-based “client” program, and spent the next two weeks having a ton of fun and frustration: food and sleep became necessary annoyances; family interaction didn’t happen, except where I was working out the communications protocols with my dad; etc. That is when I suddenly realized what my goal was. I had long known it would have something to do with programming, but now I knew it was game programming.
Once I was nearing graduation, I found myself not knowing where to go next. As I am a Christian, I turned to the Lord to help me and guide me. At that time Sierra had its annual school faire, where a bunch of colleges came and tried to attract some students - the type of thing that I normally avoid, as the noise and bustle is jarring to me. However, my personal preferences were overridden by an urge to go investigate. This was when I got my first contact with DeVry University - where I would then spend the next 3 years, taking all my classes online, before graduating Summa Cum Laude with my Bachelor of Science in Game and Simulation Programming. All I can say is that the Lord guides and blesses.
I used to play a lot of FPS and RTS PC games, being a PC gamer for almost all my life, but several years ago I made the personal decision to not play any games that deal with death and destruction. Since I’ve made that decision, I’ve actually come to an appreciation of several other genres I used to not care for: such as the racing sim and adventure genres to name a couple. For instance, I delved deeper than I ever expected into Myst’s storyline! This is mostly due to the fact that the later games in the series, including URU, were based around FPS engines and so were very familiar to me.
This has provided me with some rather unique games during my course work at both schools. One course in particular was a heavy trial for me, but one that the Lord helped me through by inspiring me with one of my more unique game concepts. The class required us to produce a “First Person Shooter” - it didn’t specify what kind of FPS, only that the basics of an FPS had to be used: first-person, rooms with obstacles, power ups, etc. The result was that I simply added an extra word into the genre title: First Person Photography Shooter. This was the game Aperture Attack - a game where instead of shooting to destroy, you took pictures of objects in a timed trial. The game-play turned out to be quite addicting. The most fun part came from the design of the code: I had to do some intensive research into the mathematical model of how light, aperture, shutter speed, and film ISO all correlated and turn that into a gameplay algorithm. Very fun work.
Since that time I’ve moved myself away from fiction: it tends to provide too strong of a distraction for me and makes it so that I cannot reach my spiritual and life goals. I’ve re-targeted my existing skill-sets and knowledge into designing an advanced Augmented Reality system that for much more than just games, but the progress has been slow with my minimal free time.
I’ve had a fair amount of experience in C++ as I am both an open source contributor to the Second Life client, and co-developer of the NLS Engine - an open-source, permissively licensed, game engine started and maintained by myself and Adam Martin. My Java experience, gained at Sierra College and continued in many of my own projects, has ingrained many OOP principles into my mind, mostly obliterating my GW-BASIC and QBASIC roots.
I’m a programmer. I have multiple pet projects I code on that change as time goes by - ask me what I’m working on! I was into “classic” sci-fi (ST:TNG, BSG (the original - not the modern mess), FireFly, Star Wars, you get the picture) for many years. I listen to large, majestic orchestral classical/classical-esque music, such as Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition: The Great Gate of Kiev,” older Mannheim Steamroller tracks, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Ressikan Flute” piece, The Jurassic Park theme, and the music from the original Bard’s Tale (PC edition) adventure game. My tastes at times seem older than I am… I also have a lot of fun building and, of course, scripting in Second Life and InWorldz. If you haven’t been in SL, get an account - it’s free - and get in contact with me: my SL name is Cron Stardust. Working with the scripting in SL sharpened a lot of my programming skills and broadened my understanding of things such as vector math, quaternion rotations, state-machine and event-based programming, and much more.
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