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Eric Ahnell
Eric Ahnell

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Coding: the great mystery, just waiting for you to solve it

I will happily admit that I love coding. I have been at it for long enough now to get at least some exposure to a huge swath of languages... from AppleBASIC on the IIgs, to TI-BASIC on the TI-89, to C, C++, Java, C#, Python, Prolog, Assembly, and now Lua too! What I find most motivating is that I can make a difference for someone, somewhere, with some code that solves a problem, whether it's speeding up a tedious task or just giving someone entertainment. As a programmer, you truly CAN make this world better - and as a group, we tend to forget this, as the development process itself is uniquely challenging.

If you have ever spent 3 hours staring at output from a debugger, for something you intended to allocate 30 minutes to, you know how puzzling coding errors can be to ferret out and solve. Yet, I feel a sense of satisfaction and even excitement when I finally debug an elusive issue. The best example I can give comes from one of my earliest games: Fantastle. In the process of building v2.0, I wanted to add layers to the game's map model (so you could stack a key on top of any type of ground you want, for instance). Implementing the map changes was easy. Getting the drawing code to display the results properly... wasn't. It took me 4 weeks of sheer persistence before I finally figured out what was wrong: I was drawing the layers bottom-to-top, rather than top-to-bottom, so the bottom layer was the only visible one. A few changes later, and IT WORKS!

One thing led to another, and now I'm working on games 33 and 34! It's truly amazing to me that I got so sucked into coding... to the point that, despite never expecting to find myself in web app development professionally, let alone personally, I find myself doing both nowadays!

New coders reading this: May you be inspired to attempt great things... and don't be afraid to fail. As coders, we learn a LOT through failures.

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