Life before game development
Before I got here, I used to practice mechanical engineering in a well-known motorcycle manufacturing company in the Philippines. I was first assigned to one of the manufacturing departments, where I dealt with product line operations and maintaining the machines used in the line. Despite these duties and responsibilities, I got underutilized during the second half of my stay in that department so much that, whenever I go to work, I usually just roam around the premises of the production line every day. (I think underutilized is an understatement at this point, but I could not think of a better term). Anyway, I eventually got transferred to one of the departments in sales and marketing, where I got more hands-on work such as testing out new products and traveling around the country to demo these products to our clients and end-users. Unfortunately, it was also around this time that my career in mechanical engineering started to decline. And no, it’s not because I did not like what I was doing (I did and I was quite happy), or that the people around me suck (they don’t), or that I suck at what I was doing (well, partly. HAHAHAHA! Just kidding).
See, before I got hired, I was already diagnosed with this thing called IgA nephropathy (you can read more about that here) that messed up my kidneys, but in a very slow manner. Long story short, I was doing great when I got hired but, despite trying to live more healthy and doing constant check-ups with my doctor, my health was slowly deteriorating until the time came when I had to resign for my job. At that point, my doctor told me I should prepare for either dialysis or transplant, which I did by having a fistula (read here) in my left wrist for the former and searching for a donor for the latter. Eventually, I was able to find a kidney donor after some months of searching and, a few months after that, I was able to undergo a kidney transplant. I’m happy to say that it’s been about two years since my surgery and I never felt better than I did when I first got diagnosed.
With all that said, not everything is rainbows and butterflies as soon as I tried to go back to pursue my mechanical engineering career. Almost every company I applied to rejected me because of my health issue (well, that’s how I believe it, given that I was not able to work for a long period) and it got me thinking, “Well, now that it seems that no one wants to hire me, what should I do next?”
Hmmm. Video games, huh?
Let’s side track for a bit, shall we?
Video games have been a part of my life since I was around 5 years old when my dad bought a Famicom (the Japanese NES). Up until the point when my sister and I destroyed it (hahaha!), I remember having fun playing Mario and Karateka (if you haven’t played that game, you should), and, as a kid, I didn’t really care about gameplay, graphics, music – all that stuff that people either complain or praise in a game nowadays. As a kid, what matters is that you have fun with whatever there is, and video games are no exception. However, as I was getting older, it really got me thinking about how these games are made. Obviously, the story, graphics, and other things come into how these games come to life but what really got me curious about video games are the mechanics that come with it. Whenever I play a game, I usually ask myself questions such as, “How do these characters move?” “How come jumping on the enemies’ head kill them? And how does it work?” And, probably the most important question, “How do people make games?”
And so it begins…
Right, video games.
At first, I wanted to study programming because I was thinking that programming, like engineering, requires logic and analytical thinking. But, at that point, I wasn’t sure what kind of programming I want to do since you can do a lot with it – making a website and setting up another operating system just to name a few. Then I was playing “Persona 5” one day and thought, “Huh, maybe learning how to program video games would be fun,” so I went ahead and researched for schools that offer short courses for game programming. (Side note: I love JRPG’s) Then voila! Nothing! Hahahaha! Well, at least not here in the Philippines. So, after digging some more, I was finally able to find a school… in Singapore. At this point, I was 27 years old and quite reluctant to leave my home (or country, for that matter) but I thought to myself, “If I want this to happen, I got to make it happen. This is my redemption tour now!”
So, Singapore it is!
As with anything in life, learning something new for the first time is difficult, and learning how to make video games is no exception. And don’t even get me started on doing game art! Man, that was the point in life I realized that I have no place in doing art! Kidding aside, I decided to pour all my attention and effort into learning how to program games and fortunately for me, the logic and analytical thinking that I acquired as an engineer, as well as the passion for making video games, made the learning process a LOT easier than I thought. Save for some occasional breakdowns, either from my game or emotional breakdowns because of my game. (LOL!) Along the way, I was able to meet people who were with me during the journey. In particular, I got to hang out with two people whom I got extremely close with, one of them being Beli, nonetheless. One thing I admire about Beli is that his way of wild way of thinking (which is why the company is named as such) is very contagious, and in a great way because he inspires the people around him to do the same.
A random test I was doing in my off days.
So one day, I was just searching for jobs online – I already finished my course at this point – when Beli suddenly contacted me. We were just catching up on each other at first then I told him that I was struggling to look for a job, in which he told me to have a call with him on Skype. If I was expecting something at that point, it was for him to give me some sort of a freelance job so I could help him get through things, but when we had the call, oh boy! I expected wrong! He offered me a partnership with the company! Anyway, I’m gonna share a bit of our conversation:
Beli: “Hey Miguel, want to be my partner in the company?”
Me: “Are you serious now? You want me to be your partner? Me to be developing the games? Because dude, I still have to learn a lot of things.”
Beli: “That’s okay man, we can learn how everything works together.”
And that, my dear readers, is how I became the lead developer for Wild Think Games.
If you have read Beli’s post earlier (if you haven’t, then what are you waiting for? Read it here), then I’m sure you have heard that we’re making a game called “Life Revisited”. It has been quite challenging for me because apart from it being a huge game, there are a lot of concepts in making games that, while it was taught in school, you won’t realize it’s needed until, well, you get stuck. That is why, while making the game, I have been relearning and reviewing these concepts. And throughout this whole process, I make it to a point to learn something new as well. If you ask me, these kind of situations, while difficult, are quite fun. And it keeps me from going.
So, there you have it! I hope you support us on this journey! Cheers!