Since I was a 6 years old child, my father has taught me how to use the computer and access some of its functions. My first ever computer I used was a Windows 98 computer. From that time I showed interest for computers. It was love from the first sight. During the time with the help of my dad I learned how to use the calculator and how to use Microsoft office suite like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I used to create animation and click to play games using PowerPoint and not forget to mention also my own world wide web that consists of few slideshows linked together and writing stories and magazines using Word. I was doing the craziest stuff on the computer that time and it was one of the most things I have ever enjoyed in my life.
It all started in the year of 2012. That year my father has decided to have internet in the house. I was very excited because I can finally access internet. I was a person who likes to discover and learn new stuffs, so I was always searching answers for whatever crosses my mind. Since I was 6 years old I was in love with video games as any child would do and I really enjoyed using the computers.
One day in summer, I was playing my favorite video game and I wondered that day how games are made? My curiosity has lead me to surf the internet and learn how it’s made. After a two hours research, I came across a game engine for 2D HTML games. I got excited and especially it was the first engine I found on the internet. Quickly, I created an account on their website and downloaded the engine. I got thrilled that day because I will be able to create my own video games! The first day I used the engine I used an image from Microsoft office clipart that I found which was a butterfly or wasp as I remember and I struggled to understand the UI of the engine and how it work. After some time I managed to make the wasp move forward. I was super happy that I made my sprite work! From that time, I started to learn more about the engine. That engine used visual coding (blocks) for building the game logic, even though I learned a lot. I learned about sprites, arrays, dictionaries, animation, design, UI and more. The visual programming was a strong foundation for me to quickly learn programming later on in my life.
Day after day, my passion for creating games has grew wider, and I started developing games and made my first few games which where mini-games and prototypes and then I started showing them to family and friends. But the thing I was discouraged by my father. He used to tell me that what I’m doing is useless and it leads to nowhere. I was feeling down and discouraged, and I came to a point I wanted to quit, I wanted to stop making games. My sibling on the other hand supported me they told me don’t listen to dad and keep on making games.
I decided to continue game development despite I was feeling low because of what I’ve been hearing. I got involved more in the game development community. The website of the game engine had a forum where developers can discuss anything about game development and there was also a tutorials page where any developer can create his own tutorial. I began to post on the forums, discuss game development with other game developers and helped other developers plus I published several tutorials on different aspects of game development. I was very happy because everyone there told me that I’m ambitious for a 13 years old boy.
I began to create my own games, I would spend 6 hours a day to make my game and that during the summer time. I started finish game after game and published them online on web game hosts. All my first games were inspired from games that I have played before. Veggies Saga was inspired from papa pear saga by King and Tappy Bird obviously flappy bird which I made with a friend who provided me with art. My favorite game series Stupid Chickens which is inspired by stupid zombies game series. I loved developing stupid chickens which motivated me to finish the whole game within a month despite it would’ve took me longer but I was determined to finish it and show it to the world.
After some time I started to lose faith, I barely had few plays and nobody appreciated my games and my dreams just faded away. I began to say that my dad maybe was right. Games are useless and what I’m doing is silly and waste of time. All I wanted is to make him proud of me but I thought I was going to disappoint him and me.
One day, I was checking the forum again as I usually do. I saw that someone has sent me a private message. I thought it was a warning message from the moderator who used to warn me because of some of the things I did in the forum that is wrong or useless because of my over excitement about game development (Which I did frequently). I opened the message and I was surprised. It was a message from a person who lives inside my country Lebanon. He wanted me to contact him on Facebook. I talked to him there. He was a college student who is learning business management who also shared a passion for video games but he didn’t have the time or skills for making such games, so he asked me to make games with him and he will pay me money. I was not comfortable at first and I thought he was kidding with me and he will never do that, but I made him his game and told him he needs to send the money then I will send him the game. I wanted to make sure he was not a fraud or a con man. What I was totally in shock that he did what he have promised, he sent me the money and I have received it. I was super happy that I made my first few bucks from game development. After that we became even more friends and I started to make him more game as he requested. After a year he suddenly stopped talking me, he didn’t want games anymore.
When I reached 14, I had published around 6 to 7 games then. That time I had a new math teacher in my school. My old teacher who was a close friend with the new teacher, told him who was I and what I do. Turns out that he studied computer engineering in college and knows about programming. He advised me to learn a programming language and he would help me out. He told me which book I should read. The book was Java How To Program which as far as I remember over 1300 pages. Because I was so highly excited I finished most of the book within a month leaving only two chapter about networking. It was an experience filled with knowledge. I have depth information about computers, arrays, primitive types, classes, inheritance, threads, object-oriented programming, control statements, recursion, files and data structure. It was a great experience indeed which made in love with programming. I started to learn more and read more books from then.
Then it was year 2015, which I consider one of the best years of the life. That year I have published between 10 and 12 games. You might say, wow twelve games are a lot. Well, to me it’s not. I have a strong passion for making video games and I never had enough of it and I need to make games to fulfil my passion. The more I do what I love the stronger I got. My passion was like a fuel to me. That time, I have downloaded and played a great game, I knew later on it was developed by a Lebanese game studio. “Wow game developers from my country!” that were my first thought as I knew that. From that time I started to try out their other games and I eventually I became a fan. Later on, I had liked them on Facebook. I posted on their timeline that I was a big fan and I really liked their games and I told them that I also make games and linked my website which was also my portfolio. Few days passed, they replied to my post and said they wanted to see me! I got thrilled and excited and I got curious to know what will happen there.
Before I continue, that game development studio is GameCooks and I really want to thank them all for all the support they gave me and their help for making me a better game developer. Also a special thanks for Lara Noujaim, the director publishing at GameCooks for being the one who gave me big support, she’s a great person indeed.
So from that day I told him that a game development company wanted to see me. Dad thought I was joking and didn’t take my words seriously. But after a while I convinced him to take me there. There I met the GameCooks team and we talked and told them how I got into game development and showed them my games. The best news I heard that day is that I’m going to have an internship at GameCooks after I finish my exams with high grades (an average over 14/20 in total). I studied hard for my exams day and night until I finally passed the exams with the grades I promised to get.
Then it was finally the summer! I went to GameCooks and there I had an internship that was for a month and half. During that time I have learned a lot and had a great experience. I learned how to use Unity and to program in C#. All the team has supported and they were nice to me, I consider them part of my family. I have really enjoyed the experience at GameCooks and I was able to finish a game in a month and a half although I hadn’t any previous experience in Unity game engine. At the end of the internship I learned something important, it’s not the tools that makes a great game but it’s the teamwork and the team spirit.
Along that year, through GameCooks I was introduced to StepFeed who wanted to make an interview with me and write an article about me. I was pretty nervous because it was my first time but I did pretty well eventually. After few months the article was published and it was featured. I shared it on my Facebook account and then it was shared among my friends and family on social media. The next few days and I saw that the article has spread on social media and people were talking about. Also it was posted on a very popular local TV channel Facebook page. Everyone said they were proud of me and to keep going. I didn’t expected that at all. I thought it will be only a post on Facebook that will get few likes and everyone will forget about it. But again, I had an interview with another famous TV channel and I was on TV during the news followed by another interview for another TV channel that was watched in USA.
From then, I finally made my dad proud and proved him wrong. I have learned that nothing is impossible if you have ambition and passion and when you work hard to achieve your goals whether it was small or big, it is only matter of time and patience and dedication.
As for today, I’m focusing on my education and school but along I’m developing a new game at my free time which I hope I will be publishing it for mobile in this summer. I’m also running a blog on my website for game development where I post articles frequently to help other game developers on different aspects and topics in game development. Sometimes it’s not about you it’s about helping other and the community around you.
Yes, I’m an indie game developer and proud, I’m not going to stop developing games and pursuing my dreams. For all the indie game developers out there, just keep going and never give up because when there is a will there is a way. At last, I want to thank everyone who supported me and I want to tell them that I hope I can make them even more proud with other achievements in the future. It’s only the beginning of a long journey…
Thank you all for reading my story