All journeys begin with that first step…

I just turned 51 last week.

I feel old.

No…maybe “old” is not the right word? Rather, I feel wise. In my current work environment, I’m surrounded by young men and women who were not yet born when I first enlisted in the profession of arms. That seems like a long time ago, that first night of boot camp, sitting on the edge of my cot asking myself if I had done a huge mistake. Fast forward 33 years, and I would tell you it wasn’t a mistake. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and to do the most amazing things! And I still have a few mandatory years of service remaining before I’m asked to remove my uniform for good.

So, with the end of my first career looming on the horizon, I began to reflect on what I would like to do once I reach that milestone. I mean, 55 or 60, you’re still young, right? Lots of mileage left (or so I hope)? It got me thinking about returning to my roots as a young kid, living in that slice of time where the first video games made their appearance. Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong…Every kid wanted an Atari or Coleco game console, or a Commodore Vic 20 or C64. I learned to make this silly turtle draw lines on an Apple II desktop computer. I spent hours typing programs in ML or Basic, saving them to tapes (yes…tapes), replicating simple games with 8-bit graphics on a monochrome screen which left my eyes sore. As silly as it sounded, that is what fascinated me back then.

Computers were cool. The games were cool. I was a bit nerdy, so I fit right in! Yet somewhere along the path, I took a different turn, went on a journey down a rabbit hole. Then, when the first iPhones came out, I found myself merging back toward my original interest.

I had a lot of trouble finding a foothold after so many years away. I mean, the landscape was so different. Started looking at tutorials online, many promising to crank out a dozen or so apps, but the quality of the content was often lacking. At the root of it, any monkey could duplicate a set of instructions, and I became an extremely gifted monkey. But I didn’t understand what I was doing, why it was working, why it was crashing…

Then I stumbled on Jonathan Weinberger and his first Unity tutorials on Udemy. I finally began to understand a bit of the “why”. This became the spark that rekindled my interest in game development.

I love the idea of creating with Unity and learning how to script behavior. It is such a rewarding feeling when you successfully figure out a way to make stuff work, and then taking that solution and delving deeper in order to optimize the code.

Tonight is my first article on Medium. It is my “first step” as I begin my “journey” to tackle the Professional Unity Developer program of GameDevHQ. Between the conflicting obligations of my current profession and the demands of this program, I aim to steadily progress and develop into a solid software engineer.

I hope you tag along on my journey. It’s going to be a lot of fun!