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A Game Driven Life

I love video games. They’ve been a part of my life, my existence since I was younger than I can remember. I think 6 years old. I understood money and the cost of a game system. But I was also a bad child and the “good behavior” jar never filled up. Hence, I never got my first game system from my mom. Thankfully I had a grandfather and when Christmas came,  my first console was wrapped up nice and neat under the tree. I can’t express the excitement this brought me.

the console itself wasn’t important it’s what it lead to that was. One of the biggest issues of the technological dark ages was that nothing was plug and play. Everything we did needed a form of screwdriver, aluminum foil and lots of swearing. No one knew how to hook up the console to the TV, the signal adapter and to switch it to channel 3. There was an array of wires and clips abound, so in order to game I had to learn real world skills.

The Load High era.

MS DOS presented it’s own issues. On top of that we had to learn how to build and upgrade our own computers. A skill I still use today. I’ve never bought a computer whole, just a part here and there, a new case, some fans… At the heart of every gamer is a person who builds, creates and solves puzzles. Learning DOS was all command line. We also had to edit the startup files to push drivers for mice and keyboards into a different “memory space” so the game would actually run. This was called “Load High”. A memory space above the 640k basic memory. I found an old mouse driver that only took up 4k of this space. That driver was gamer gold in a memory starved world. ID Software released Doom around this era and is springboarded us into the modern age we’re in today.

At this time, if a gamer wasn’t playing games, their time was spent managing the computer and storage. We only had 40MB drives back then. High Density floppy disks that weighed in at 1.5 megs each. Doom I believe, took up 6-10 disks and was about 20 megs in size. So we had to pick and choose which games we had on the computer and play it till we were done in order to delete and install a new one. Thankfully about 4-10 games a year came out back then. So it was easy to keep up with. Today I can fit almost all my 530 Steam games on my 10TB drive array.

Installing most games took a good 30 minutes to an hour. This was if all the disks worked and dust was kept out. Otherwise it was corrupted and you’d need to buy the game again or get a copy of that disk from a friend at school. We also had Norton Utilities, which back then came with some amazing tools. A hex editor, disk recovery and a multitude of other tools that we could use to fix corrupted files. Today it’s Norton by name and nothing like the amazing feature packed swiss army knife it was born of.

That’s when I learned programming

Playing games was a lot of fun. But modding them and programming them was even more fun. We had BASIC at school and had to enter everything in line by line. So our little green square could move around a cheap maze. I however lucked out, my mother brought home Microsoft’s C compiler and gave me the kerniham and Richie book “The C Programming Language”.  I spent  years and thousands of dollars after that buying up every game programming book (André LaMothe and the Gems series…).

I discovered Neural Networks and Fuzzy logic which lead me to a world of AI. Back then there was no Tensorflow. It was all done in raw C++. Not being a mathy person I had to rely on other’s algorithms and interpretations of them to code. We all have our weaknesses. But I plugged along and did some cool things with AI. I was young and instead of going out drinking and scoring, I stayed home to play games and program.

A strange call and offer of $5 Million.

I started Chaos Rift games back in 2001 era to make games. But it evolved over time, became a game blogging/review site and later Youtube gaming which I still do on occasion. Right in that sweet spot after the Dotcom bust I got a call from an investor. I put out word I was seeking funds. Wrote up a really good business plan on Episodal games and microtransactions WAY before they were even a thing.

money shower, showering in money, make it rain
money shower, showering in money, make it rain

My business plan was to make or use a single game engine and release a small game at a lower price than the standard $40-$50. Then release $10 game addon packs to continue on with the story. Back then that was unheard of and he loved my plan. But there was a catch! Nothing is free, no money comes without hooks. I had to fly out to California that week. Like drop everything, get on a plane and go.

I had no money. My family was struggling with their own borderline bankruptcy issues or child support or whatever it was. I went to my Karate Instructor, a consultant to top CEO’s across the country by day and Kyokushin Branch chief to the entire USA by night. He said that guy was shit. If he wanted to invest he should be flying out to me. Yes, to see my cat fur filled, 600 square foot apartment. I respected the man, but this was $5M on the line. I sure as hell would have flown to Japan or Australia for that money.

I didn’t meet his deadline and he pulled the offer.

The Call of Cthulhu (the Real World)

With all that was going for me you may ask why I wasn’t in the gaming industry earlier. Or what happened? It wasn’t without trying. I tried so hard to get into Sierra, they had a small game development studio who’s name I forgot in Cambridge MA. But most gaming studios were far away from me and I was too poor to up and move. So I took jobs building datacenters and designing infrastructure for Dotcom companies.

Gaming made me good with computers, programming and the Unix world. So I was quite naturally able to make a career out of it all. That’s where I am today. But I woke, and realized my dream of working for Sierra is long past. That I needed to get in gear and forge my own career path again. It was time to take control instead of being controlled.

I have a day job

Oddly enough, I have a very decent paying day job. It allows me to invest in game making. It pays my bills and lets me eat for now. But as with any company we’re always in a state of looming layoffs and being outsourced to another country. It’s not something I’m worried about for the time being. Heck, being laid off may be the best thing for me! I can focus full time on my game making and get the zombie game released. Then move on to my ambitious game Immortal Realm, which will give Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series a run for their money.

I won’t say No

To funding that is. I need anywhere from $1m to $5m to really start off. It’ll free up over 200 hours a month to invest in making the game a payroll for artists and 1-2 more programmers and one kick ass marketing plan. There really is a lot of Billionaires and mega-millionaires out there that this would be a turd in the bucket investment. Just figured I’d put this out there. Hope is a powerful thing.

Thank You again.

I understand there’s not much in the way of writing and communicating at the moment. I’m a one person show and life around me can’t fall apart. I need to keep the day job for now as well. But I’m going to make that honest effort to communicate more and better. I’m at a point where I can free up time to show more updates as the games are moving along really nicely.

Thank you for being there for me, even if you are just a “number” in the stats of page views. You still mean something to me.

About Craig

Craig is the founder of The Chaos Rift and developer of the games published here. In his spare time he'll also write about games, play games and dream about games. Being a Game developer has been a dream of Craig's since he was 14 and after some detours has finally started to realize his dreams.

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