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About Drew Sikora – Computer Game Development: Programming Genesis

Originally, Drew wanted to be a Navy F-14 pilot. Then when his vision became impaired in 4th grade, he wanted to just be a charter/airline pilot. Then he switched career aspirations again to architecture. His interest in game development was never planned, but an indirect consequence of two factors in his early life that affected him later on. Firstly, since his dad worked for AT&T (Bell Labs back in the 80’s) there was always some sort of PC in the house that he could play around on, messing with DOS and learning the difference between a hard drive and a floppy disk (which were actually floppy back then!). Secondly, playing basic games like Kings Quest, Oblivion or Flight Simulator II on the computer and Space Invaders (he can’t remember what other games he had) on Atari lit the torch on his love for gaming. He continued to game and learn, but his learning was mainly about how PCs functioned, not why they functioned. So he learned quickly how to use Windows 3.11 but he never really thought about the code and technology behind the programs it ran.

In middle school, when he was 13 (and still aspiring to be a pilot/architect), a friend happened to bring to school a book called “QBasic Programming for Dummies”. Curious, Drew paged through and realized that he was looking at ways to create applications that can do many of the things he’d seen on a computer. For two years afterwards Drew coded dozens of small QBasic applications ranging from simple experiments (like a conversation agent) to small text-based adventure games (in which he totally abused the GOTO statement). Drew upgraded next to Visual Basic to much the same effect – playing around with creating small apps like a tray application to open/close his CD tray, a simple media player, and a nifty form-less text box with which to steal his father’s dial-up internet password 🙂 More random apps, along with 3D mazes and simple 2D games, rounded out his VB experience for the next 2-3 years.

At the same time he was still fiddling around with VB, as he entered high-school he started to pick up C++ and learned to program Win32 with DirectX 7. VB and C++ learning continued side-by-side over his entire stay in high school, as he would use VB to create tools with which to use on his C++ projects. He took two advanced placement computer science courses his junior and senior year, and planned to enroll in college for a degree in computer science. However when college finally rolled around, his enthusiasm for classroom learning had diminished significantly. Having taught himself for 6 years already, after 2 years of college he decided to continue on in that manner and dropped out to spend more time doing what he liked doing most: Programming.

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