Keeping an eye on the help wanted ads paid off for Oakdale resident Ben Ward in the pursuit of his career goal of becoming a video game programmer and a break into the lucrative video game industry.
“I had been doing some work for different people with some small mobile games for independents,” said Ward, 21. “I came across an ad from Team Notion of Texas asking for a programmer to help ‘port’ a game they developed.”
In software engineering, porting is the process of adapting software so that a program can be created for a computing environment that is different from the one for which it was originally designed. Software is “portable” when the cost of porting it to a new platform is less than the cost of writing it from scratch.
Ward stuck with the company even after some of the programming got transferred to others more familiar with Nintendo systems.
“It was disappointing, but I asked to stay on and work other projects,” said Ward, an OHS 2010 graduate. “I eventually earned their trust and ended up replacing the programmers that replaced me.”
The game, Super Ubie Land, will be released by Nintendo in 2014 and, according to Ward, may have a different title on the WiiU eShop.
“It’s a ‘retro-platform’ game,” said Ward, comparing it to Super Mario Bros. “It’s a happy-go-lucky type where you run and jump on your enemies.”
Ward said he worked on the Super Ubie Land project for about eight months and one of the high points was working with the Nintendo development hardware, software and on their website.
“I felt like I was at the top of the ladder,” said Ward.
Ward said “porting” a game takes less time than making the game from scratch, but there can be complications when converting the code.
“I would say there are more complications for the Wii U version than the original because the automatic features we relied on for the original game were no longer there,” said Ward. “We were also using a more advanced computer program than before, so it naturally took more work.”
Ward became interested in computer programming when he was in middle school. He’s done some web design and software programming, but said computer gaming was more his forte.
Ward was recognized by Microsoft last year for one of his mobile games for Windows 8.
“That was a big accomplishment,” Ward said.
He added that after the Super Ubie Land project he has plans for more development to include games directly for consoles such as Play Station, Xbox, and Wii.