Welcome to our continuing series of Code Project interviews in which we talk to developers about their backgrounds, projects, interests and pet peeves. In this installment we talk to Matthew Brand who, along with Michael Hopke and a few other Champlain College students, recently launched their own game studio.
Who are you?
My name is Matt Brand. I live in Burlington, Vermont, and am just finishing my 4 year Bachelor’s degree at Champlain College for Video Game Programming. It is my second Bachelor’s… I went back to school after getting a degree at the University of Vermont in 1998 and working for 10 years creating order processing, accounting and inventory management software. I am now a part owner and programmer for Birnam Woods Games, a new startup in Vermont.
What do you do?
Our new game, Loc, was released in April. We have been working on it outside of school for the last year and a few months. There is a free demo available.
What is your development environment?
The primary development environment I work in is Unity. It is a game development tool, and the language I use within it is C#. I develop on a Windows PC, and am also familiar and have worked with C++, XNA, and more heavily through school.
I also have developed a game player database for storing user data using PHP and MySQL that will keep track of player data for their own purposes (leaderboards that show best performances in our game) and for our purposes (helping us to view the difficulty curve of the game by seeing where players are getting stuck and where they have it too easy). This data helps our designer to modify levels to create a game that does not feel too easy, and does not get too frustrating.
I also use Photoshop sometimes to refine or modify art assets as they come in the pipeline from the game artists. I primarily code within Visual Studio 2010, but have recently been turned onto Sublime Text 2, which I think is a great tool.
We are going to port Loc to the iPhone and iPad, so that is the framework I am interested in. In the same vein, I would like to learn Objective-C in order to develop straight into iOS.
What is your coding pet peeve?
Pet peeve… I have a few.
- Having publicly declared variables
- Messy, inefficient code
Naming convention: for functions, camel case. For variables, using m as the first character for variables declared within a class with the rest camel case, using p for pointers, just camel case for smaller scoped variables, all capitals separated by underscores for constants.
My indentation style is using tabs, and after a function name or if/for/while statement have a return character before the opening bracket.
How did you get started programming?
I have been programming since I was in 2nd grade. I began in BASIC, writing my own word games that were fully functional…wish I still had those! I had an Apple IIe.
I have recently begun to delve more into the online community, but until now it has primarily been strictly an educational resource – in other words, a place where I go to ask questions when I am stuck. Now that I actually have a solid product that I am proud of, I feel more confident to bring myself into the community more.
What advice would you offer to an up-and-coming programmer?
Learn C++, pointers and data structures. Once you have a solid understanding of that, everything else comes much more easily.