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An Interview with NWE Creator Alain_Bertrand


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Hi Alain before we start with the geek speak tell me a bit about what you do on a professional level..

<a_bertrand> I'm 39Y old, live in Switzerland and work full time as project leader and developer in a gov research institute here in Switzerland.

<a_bertrand> I develop web applications, integrate different data sources

<a_bertrand> offer custom visualization systems

<a_bertrand> develop a monitoring system

<a_bertrand> and, a specialized routing software.

<a_bertrand> I use normally C# / .NET on windows system while it happens I need to switch back to PHP, Python, C or other languages

<a_bertrand> as well as run some software on Linux


When did you first become interested in computing/Programming and was it your first choice as a career move..

<a_bertrand> I started programming at the age of 12, with Basic on a sharp MZ700

<a_bertrand> http://www.sharpmz.org/mz-700/first700.htm

<a_bertrand> was doing some pretty stupid programs involving bips and drawing stuff with the integrated plotter

<a_bertrand> I got then access to a PC... quiet a couple of years after

<a_bertrand> still in Basic, then switched to Turbo C (Borland)

<illusions> What was your first computer you ever owned. ? for me it was the zx spectrum but what was Alain doing back in the 80s when most the kids were playing outside ??

<a_bertrand> As career I started working for a bank when I was 17

<a_bertrand> as apprentice, and stayed 5 years there

<a_bertrand> The first computer I owned was a PC... the others was from my grand dad (the MZ 700) and the PC was owned by my dad

<a_bertrand> but doing the apprenticeship I was able to put aside some money and buy my own personal PC.

<a_bertrand> Dos and windows 3.1 if I remember right

<a_bertrand> actually maybe even without windows XD

<illusions> where they the old green monitor types ?

<a_bertrand> amber was the color of the first PC

<illusions> I remember the green screens lol

<a_bertrand> the first colors on my PC was like... "Incredible!"

<a_bertrand> yet was what... 16 colors? XD

<a_bertrand> amber was the color of the first PC


Which languages can your program in and i dont mean French or German :) ?


<a_bertrand> I learned over the time:

<illusions> Which was easy and hardes to lean ?

<a_bertrand> Basic, C, C++, Java, Python, TCL/TK, JS, Basic, VB, PL/SQL, PHP, C#

<a_bertrand> C was really hard to learn... specially coming from Basic

<illusions> can you remember what BASIC stood for back in the days of computer languages ?

<a_bertrand> but then it was all more or less just learn the basic syntax (1-2 days work) and I could at least do some with the language

<a_bertrand> what do you mean?

<illusions> well the word BASIC actually meant something

<a_bertrand> It was one of the "base" language you would find on all kind of computer

<illusions> Beginners Alpurpose Symbolic Instruction Code...... B.A.S.I.C

<a_bertrand> was relatively easy, and could do quiet some.

<a_bertrand> yet slow, and... clumsy to maintain big codes

<a_bertrand> forget define your own functions it wasn't possible

<a_bertrand> 10 GOTO 10

<a_bertrand> was a good example ;)

Do think programming back in the 80s gave you and edge on todays coding methods ?

<a_bertrand> Learning to code in C does give me a HUGE edge over most of the new comers

<a_bertrand> new programmers don't even understand how the memory works, variables, arrays without talking about the mighty pointers.

<a_bertrand> for them, references, pointers are simply something they don't grab

<illusions> didnt you ever use the likes of Commodore or Zx Spectrum as a learning process example using their machine code. ?

<a_bertrand> also, understanding that code can be written in multitudes of different ways gives me an edge too

<a_bertrand> nope I didn't had access to a Commodore nor never coded in assembler


What advice would you give to any bedroom kid learning to programme ?

<a_bertrand> start with simple goals, if you don't understand what a variable, and array are, and don't understand a if and a loop forget about going any further. Until you have FULLY understood those bases you can't code.

<a_bertrand> New comers tends to believe programming is easy, and they will pick it up in a couple of days or week, then suddenly discover they don't know how to do things, and stop

<a_bertrand> they cannot really start by fiddling around with pre-made codes, nor simply watching some tutorials on youtube will make you a good programmer

<illusions> di you read plenty of books before hand or did you prefer the hands on approach when learning ?

<a_bertrand> When I started, you didn't had internet, or not in the sense we have it today. It wasn't possible to have access to all this knowledge for free. So I started first by trying bits and pieces with a book on my knee, and then bought more books for all the subjects which was important to me

<a_bertrand> a good chunk of my money went into books at that time.

<a_bertrand> now it's so easy to just google something and find a snippet of what you need


Can you recall the very first programme you ever coded and what did it do ? and more to the point how did you feel when you saw it come to life on a monitor... ?

<a_bertrand> the first program was something in the lines:

<a_bertrand> what's your name?

<a_bertrand> hello XXX!

<illusions> im getting a vision of an over excited child called Berty lol

<a_bertrand> then I went on, like "protecting" my mighty program by adding a question on start, if you didn't answered correctly it would not let you pass it

<a_bertrand> and if you pass it, then it would play some bip scale ;-)

<illusions> I first came across your name when I visited a game you created called Nowhere Else And Beyond (NeaB) Was this just a pastime for you, or had you played online games and thought youd like to create better ?

<a_bertrand> I played a web game called "The Kingdom of Loathing" after reading an article about it on tomshardware

<a_bertrand> I played it actually for a couple of months... before being bored by it and thought: come on, web games MUST be better than this

<a_bertrand> and therefore I created NEaB


Are you proud to say NEAB is your baby or do you look at it now and think i could have done this better or made that better... ?

<a_bertrand> I'm happy I did it, yet it took me loads of time

<a_bertrand> and... of course I think "I could have made this better, map loading is just too slow, there is too many annoying things etc..."

<illusions> When you inserted the last line of code who was the very first person you told about it ?

<a_bertrand> mmm on NEaB?

<a_bertrand> I don't remember honestly

<a_bertrand> I stopped working on it at least 2 years ago... if not more

<a_bertrand> and I could have said it on the chat, I don't remember


Would you say your achievments with the NeaB engine inspired you to create other things that users are not aware of and if so what things have you done that will make our lips tingle..

<a_bertrand> well, some people think that creating just a game like many others and change just a bit here and there is the way to go

<a_bertrand> I'm quiet different here, as I do a game for me, the kind of game I personally enjoy, not to make money or to be known or whatever

<a_bertrand> so I think what I personally want and then do something to try to reach it


Do you ever find that when your creating something that you sometimes hit a brick wall and have to revert to an alternative approach to fix the problem

<a_bertrand> I hope that NEaB shows that much more than a simple text web game is possible, even if today we see more and more complex web games

<a_bertrand> every days basically ;-)

<illusions> is that cos you have me on your team lol

<a_bertrand> and that's why I love programming, because I need to think how to solve things, not simply put together the same old lines

<a_bertrand> no, I don't need you to create bugs ;)

<illusions> Married life.. do you take work homw with you or do you as soon as you leave the office then work stays at work ?

<a_bertrand> no, when I leave the office, I close this part of my life

<a_bertrand> also I don't do over hours...

<a_bertrand> yet I'm considered really productive and a fast worker


Is it true that illusions is related to you cos theres a rumour going around that your related ?

<a_bertrand> illusions? who is he?

<illusions> not sure ;)


Now that youve learnt scripts/code what else would you like to develop into your games example music, graphics ?

<a_bertrand> I love 3D art and music..


Your newest creation NWE (New Worlds Engine) what was the puropose of the creation and the idea behind it from your point of view.. ?


<a_bertrand> As I'm on Make Web Games forums since a good number of years now, and I'm really SICK of hearing about how bad McCodes is, and see that people are still waiting of a never coming version

<a_bertrand> I thought, ok, it's time to wake up those people, and show that something can be done, that it's possible to have a different approach, and try to solve a couple of issues

<illusions> i know im one of them ;)

<a_bertrand> for example, show that you don't need to edit existing code to add new modules

<a_bertrand> that modules don't need to be hard to code

<a_bertrand> and offer overall a simple infrastructure to build text games on

<a_bertrand> For this I believe my goal has been more than reached, many people uses it now

<a_bertrand> and... McCodes is not the only solution

<a_bertrand> even the number of modules offered by NWE starts to be high...

<illusions> do you think in your own words that if MCC had kept their promise that NWE would never have exsisted ?

<a_bertrand> I would never have done NWE if McCodes owners would have been more active and actually more open to the community

<a_bertrand> I personally, I'm not such a big fan of text games

<a_bertrand> and I'm not all so much interested in create yet another engine in PHP


NWE has taken off in leaps and bounds where do you see NWE heading in the next year or so ?

<a_bertrand> no clues actually

<a_bertrand> I hope to see at some point a game running based on NWE

<a_bertrand> if nobody will do it, I will have to make one myself

<a_bertrand> but I'm not really keen to run yet another game..

Edited by illusions
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