Truth be told, I’ve been a nerd for a long time now. Growing up in Texas, I found myself spending hot Texas summer afternoons in the air conditioned house playing computer games. The first one that got me hooked was Delta Force by NovaLogic circa 1998. In the early years of first-person shooters, Delta Force was one of the first games to introduce large outdoor terrains for strangers to play shoot-em-up over dial-up internet connections. I can still remember the sound of the 56k modem connecting and could tell a bad connect just by tone.
While to this day I still enjoy taking 15 minutes at a time to zone out and blow sh…stuff up in games like Call of Duty, I’ve never been one to be satisfied doing the same things over and over again. Pretty quickly, I set out to modify (“mod”) Delta Force to contain elements of a game I’d like to make myself. I join in with the reverse engineering “mod” community.
World at War Mod circa 2001
By the time the third iteration of Delta Force (Land Warrior) was released circa 2000, I was determined to release downloadable additional content for the game with a World War II Theme. I even ran a website for it and thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20010701210532/http://www.sniper-shot.net/dfmods/ww2/team.shtml.
I just did a quick search for any information on the old World at War Mod that ended up being released publically (as bad as it was), and there is still a site up where you can download it! http://df.aus-squad.com/downloads/waw.htm
Laboratory for Recreational Computing 2006-2007
In 2004 I graduated from high school and entered the University of North Texas. I read an issue of GamePro that included an article on videogame programming schools and UNT’s Laboratory for Recreational Computing (LARC) was on the list and IN STATE! Considering the State of Texas was going to pay for my education through financial aid, that sealed the deal. I went to UNT with the expressed intent to study under Dr. Ian Parberry in the LARC.
After getting through the foundational Computer Science courses, I took two semesters in the LARC (2D and 3D courses). In the 2D course we were given an example of a 2D platformer (Ned’s Turkey Farm) running on a DirectDraw engine, then told to form a team of 2-3 programmers and 1-2 graphic design students to create a game demo by the end of the semester. For the 2D class, I chose the wrong team. My programming partners were more interested in playing games than making them, and the artist was a ghost. I managed to create a Rock’n Roll themed platform game, but it didn’t consist of much more than a character with a guitar running side-to-side on a stage while killing bugs through the power of Rock!
Cognizant of the value of a quality team, in the 3D Game Programming course (Spring 2007) I joined a team with two motivated programmers and the most professional artists in the graphic design section. To cap it off, we all actually got along, calling our team Digital Symmetry. Through a combination of beer-driven planning sessions (on wing nights at Riprocks) and nights of caffeine-induced coding, we managed to create a full demo of a third-person Sci-Fi adventure game, Awakening3D starring a badass alien named Ted. I still look back on Awakening3D as my greatest achievement at UNT. Dr. P even posted the video here.
Naval Postgraduate School
Following UNT, I attended the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School as was commissioned as an Ensign in November 2007. I was fortunate enough to spend a tour in Hawaii deploying to the Western Pacific and then to the Western region of Afghanistan. On my return to the U.S. in March 2012, I entered the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA to working on a Master’s in Computer Science. I ended up taking the Autonomous Systems Track which focused on data mining, machine learning, and applications of artificial intelligence systems. I studied under Dr. Craig Martell and earned recognition for Outstanding Computer Science Thesis for “Evaluation of data processing techniques for unobtrustive gait authentication.” Essentially, I set out to evaluate previously studied techniques for authenticating an individual based on their gait signature collected by the accelerometer of an Android phone while the individual walked a set distance. It was an interesting study and I learned a lot about data processing, however, I’m still not fully convinced that gait signatures are viable for authentication current due to the significant impact of interfering variables.