My First Introduction to Coding

Just like many developers I played a lot of video games growing up, primarily PC games. This hobby (addiction) started when I was in 4th grade. I made a couple of friends and they were always talking about this game in class called Runescape. At some point that year I decided to join them and created an account. Runescape was a popular MMORPG in the 2000s. It is still around today but nowhere near as popular as it was when I was playing religiously. If you haven't heard of Runescape it was similar to World of Warcraft except more cost friendly in terms of membership and grade of computer/graphics card you needed to run it efficiently. I didn't start coding in 4th grade but I think its worth mentioning because it laid the foundation.

Lets fast-forward a couple of years to middle school (7th and 8th grade where I am from). This is where I wrote my first line of code. As I mentioned earlier I started playing Runescape religiously with a group of friends. These were different from the two classmates who introduced me to the game initially but about 4 or 5 new friends I met over the years that also played on the same schedule I did. Obviously logging thousands of hours on one game gets boring. Around 7th grade we started playing other games. Around this time we were also experimenting with private servers which were replicas or copies of the game but with extreme modifications. For example maybe you would level up 100x faster or rare items dropped from NPCs more often. Anyone could join your private server and you could even make money from them if you had a server good enough that had an active community behind it. I was very curious after playing a few different private servers and none felt exactly right to me. There always seemed to be a couple of flaws or ways I would design the server differently if I had the opportunity to do so which made me curious.

I researched how to create private servers and eventually found out the way to do so was through Java. You would start from a ripped version of the source code from the actual game. We are talking about a huge system with thousands of files from code to images that all worked together to create the server. There was a pretty big community around creating private servers with a dedicated forums which served as a stack overflow when you were trying to accomplish a goal or a certain design there were plenty of people willing to help you do so. So on my private server if I wanted to change the spawn location, the place you arrive when you die or start a new account, I would need to find the code where that was accomplished and modify it using coordinates based on the world map which you would find from community resources. It would be similar to place certain monsters or NPCs around the map. You would again have to reference the location coordinates and NPC identifier through a resource provided by the community. We can go on and on but that is the basic gist of what it took to create private servers and more importantly how I ended up writing my first line of code and in return finding a love for the art form itself.

The most fascinating thing about software development is that with little costs you could architect an imaginary world where a community could form, a utility application that could help millions solve common problems, or a system that could help a company save millions of dollars with very little upfront costs.

Drew Demechko

Drew Demechko

Dallas, TX