In 2016, I was in my third year of high school and right in the midst of applying to as many colleges as possible. Up until then, I had been planning to go to a state school and major in computer science, eventually graduating and getting an office job in software development. Nearly on a whim, I decided to apply to Champlain College for Game Design. Eventually, I received my acceptance letter and had to decide what I wanted to pursue, possibly for the rest of my life. In that moment, I realized that I wanted to work in an environment I was passionate about, even if it would be full of risks.
Now, almost four years later, I can confidently say that I made the right decision. Since I started my time at Champlain in 2017, I've had so many opportunities to grow as a developer and as a person. Two years ago, I learned how to create basic 2D games in GameMaker Studio. Now, I can create complex 3D prototypes in Unity. Last semester, I worked as a technical designer at Power Level Studio on Soul Reaper, which will be releasing on Steam Early Access very soon. When Soul Reaper releases, I'll have the surreal experience of seeing my name in the credits of a commercial project.
On my own, I've worked on a number of recent projects that have vastly improved my skills as a developer. Most recently, I finished the prototype version of Meridian, which was my first foray into Unity's HD Render Pipeline. The finished version of Meridian features a unique reactive shader system that combines shadergraphs and physics in order to modify the appearances of objects based on a variety of different factors. Meridian was also my first experience with Unity's timeline system and Cinemachine, which was incredibly rewarding to use and learn about.
Over the past few years I've also had many opportunities to work with some incredible people, who've helped me grow as both a developer and a person. All of my professors, the team at Power Level Studio, and friends both new and old have been consistently at my side over the past few years, and I feel incredibly grateful to all of them for their support and friendship. Without them, I'd never have become the person I am today, and I look forward to continuing to grow as a person and confront greater challenges in the future.
There's a quote from one of my favorite books, Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, that describes how I feel about my journey as a game developer perfectly. "If we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fall, the journey ends. That failure becomes our destination. To love the journey is to accept no such end. I have found, through painful experience, that the most important step a person can take is always the next one." I've definitely had my fair share of failures and stumbling blocks, but so long as I love the journey I will continue to put my heart and soul into what I do. To me, the most important part of being a game developer is to always seek out new challenges, create new innovations, and tell new stories -- to always be taking the next step in our own personal journeys.