Hi! I’m Pat. I’ve been in and around the business of making video games for as long as I can remember. I can recall, hazily, playing them on an Atari 2600 and a TI-99 when I was about six years old. I remember thinking that there must be a person inside the television moving the little colored squares around by hand.
I took my first computer programming class at eight. The minimum age for the class was sixteen, but my dad knew the professor. I remember very little about that class, but I remember the amazing discovery of the line of code that every beginning programmer learned back in those days:
X = X + 1
I would just sit and watch the computer count, spewing out the numbers one at a time on its green, monochrome screen. I wondered if it would continue forever or eventually stop. I guess I could answer that question now, if I had any idea what kind of computers they used in that lab in the early 1980s.
When I was eleven years old, the thing that I wanted most in the world was a Commodore 64. There was one on display at the local Sears and I had to stop and mess with it every time we walked through that store. My parents made me a deal. They told me that if I could save up half the price (which I think was about $250), they would cover the other half. I saved my allowance for what seemed like eternity to my eleven-year-old brain, and when I finally had my half ready, we went to the store and bought that Commodore 64. I had to plug it into the TV because it didn’t come with a monitor.
I taught myself to program in BASIC and a whole new world opened up to me. I discovered computer graphics and I knew that was what I wanted to do. It may have only had sixteen colors, but it seemed like the most limitlessly creative machine that ever existed. I would make (awful) games and demand that my friends and family play them.
I worked in a video arcade through high school and moved on to more modern computers like the glorious Amiga and eventually PCs. I went to college and studied Computer Engineering, then got my MSCE with a focus on computer graphics. One of the cooler projects I did in graduate school was a benchmark application that compared performance of different video cards in an unusual way – it tested frames-per-second versus triangles-per-second in different types of scenes. This was in early 2001, so the state-of-the-art in 3D hardware was the GeForce-2 and similar cards.
That project got me noticed by some recruiters and eventually led to me being hired at NVIDIA in Silicon Valley. Working there was an incredible experience. I got to see the inner workings of the gaming world as well as the inner workings of the some of the new games being released in the 2000s. I learned how the graphics hardware and drivers were so mind-bogglingly optimized that they could push millions and millions of triangles onto the screen in a sixtieth of a second.
I’m a long-time gamer who’s now in the business of making games. I like games that are open world and nonlinear, procedural generation, striking graphics (but never at the expense of gameplay), simplicity, subtlety, and the little details that show when a developer really loves the game he’s making.