Miguel Nieves – Senior Developer
The most important thing to know about me is that I LOVE video games. Even more than playing them, I love building them. Putting together all the parts and seeing a whole new world take shape is something I just can’t get enough of. I was fortunate to discover this early in life, and have been at it since I was 7.
My Saturday morning cartoon time was instead spent coding in BASIC on a TRS-80 Color computer. The games were simple exercises pulled from Boys Life and any computer book I could get my hands on. As my knowledge grew I strayed from the predefined molds and started creating my own variations on the different themes.
Sample racing Game Output:
X = Borders! Don’t crash into these
Spaces between Xs change to form the Track
Oh ASCII, I just can’t quit you.
As I was coming up, there wasn’t much in the way of formal education for aspiring video game developers. Instead I spent much of my time learning music, art, animation, drama, and absorbing as many postmortems and interviews as I could get.
This really exploded during my time at Drexel University, where I studied Computer Science with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Design. I was pretty fortunate to be a guinea pig for classes that have now become part of a Game Design Program at Drexel. Unlike many current college level devs, I focused on growing my business and art knowledge instead of building code.
I joined with a brilliant artist and we starting working together up and down the east coast drawing and coloring custom images for people. Over the years we created hundreds of characters and really learned how to focus on meeting client needs.
It was awesome and humbling to work alongside people I’d idolized as a child.
He wanted a full game design doc and demos on his desk in two weeks. 14 sleepless days later, he got it, and I was on my way out of test and into full game production! Schedules were tight and budgets were tighter, but together we created some real fun. (Check out Hot and Cold for your Nintendo DSi )
Afterwards, I focused on creating my own studio and worked on a bunch of fun tech demos for 3DS. As more people flocked to iOS and Android, I took up the call to arms and helped develop XenoCube. It reviewed well and has been downloaded more than 250,000 times! (Check that out too)
Being a Jack of all trades hurt me a little though. In running my own company, I found I had to spend much more time being a businessman than being a programmer. The guys here at Shenandoah sniped me with the promise of being able get back to focusing on my passion, creating games.
As for my favorite games, I’ll only list a few big ones that helped shape me as a designer.
1. Xenoblade – An amazing Wii RPG that is far grander in scope and depth of gameplay than I have seen in games. This single handedly changed the way I view games as a medium
2. MegaManX – Great mix of speed, gameplay. Great Level Design
3. StarFox 64 – Multi-path shooter, fun campy story
4. Half-Life / Team Fortress Classic – Loved the AI communication and Multiplayer
5. Pinky St. KiraKira Music Hour – DS Avatar creation, Midi based rhythm game with a “story”, super cute
6. Ar Tonelico – Hilarious tongue-in-cheek, double entandre filled JRPG
7. Pyshconauts – Another super funny game with a bunch of variety and great writing and Voice acting
8. Quake 3 – Not for the game (didn’t run on my crappy PC), but the AI mod tools let me build bots that could play like me in or my terrible college chums.