Hello everyone! We have another Learner Success Story interview to bring to you! Today’s chat will be with Julian Perry, an ambitious developer pursuing both web and game development.
We’re so excited to get to chat with you, Julian, and thank you for joining us. So we can get to know you a bit better, can you tell us what got you into web and game development in the first place?
Really the thing that drew me into programming (for both web and game development) was the ability to create something from nothing. It really is like a blank canvas, and I found it inspiring that anything I can imagine, I can write code for and “bring it to life”. It felt almost like a superpower that I could learn if I just followed tutorials and gained this ability – which is programming.
While game development is a bit newer for you, you’ve been pursuing web development for a while. Can you tell us a bit about the sorts of websites you’ve created?
The sort of websites I’ve been building lately are eCommerce shops using WordPress and WooCommerce, such as StarterTanks.com, ColdBrewMakers.com, GardenPacks.com, and Hatchets.net for clients. I’ve used the knowledge I’ve gained from Zenva courses on web development to customize content in a way I couldn’t before that allows me to meet client expectations and customization requests.
I’m currently working on a full-stack project that allows users to create wishlists and share gift ideas with friends/family for birthdays, events, holidays, etc. using QR codes.
Are there any challenges you’ve had to overcome while making these websites that have helped you longterm as a developer?
Many times I will start with a big idea and quickly feel overwhelmed. I’ve found that programming and writing code is about taking a big problem, and turning it into many small problems. If you think of it in terms of a video game, it might be hard to fight a boss with 100HP, but it’s much easier to fight 10 monsters with 10HP each one at a time.
“Getting Stuck” is something that happens to everyone who develops websites or games. Being a good developer isn’t about never getting stuck, it’s about what you do WHEN you’re stuck, because trust me, it will happen. A Lot. Learning how to be resourceful and use resources like Google, Stackoverflow, and official documentation is essential in breaking down these problems.
First, see if someone else has had this problem and how it was solved. If you cannot find an answer, as a last resort you can reach out to the community. Sometimes simply walking away from a problem and returning to it with a fresh take on it can help you find an answer as well.
In what ways has learning web development helped or inspired you as you now pursue game development?
Having started with web development and once thinking it was “impossible”, I realized that other goals of mine might not be as impossible as I’d once thought. When you’re younger you think of jobs like “game developer” as a dream of this distant goal that is never within reach. We’ve all heard the joke about, “My uncle works at Nintendo!” and you never think YOU could make games. The biggest thing holding us back is often ourselves.
In the previous question, you asked me about overcoming challenges. Just as I described breaking down big problems into smaller ones, I applied this mindset with taking on game development. Instead of starting with a big game idea, I started with a small “micro” game. Instead of creating something like a massive RPG I literally made a tree.
That’s right. A tree.
I used the Unity game engine and the default “cube” object and morphed about 4 of the cubes into a very cube-like tree. Just learning how to do that taught me a good bit about the camera, toolbar options, shortcuts, and more. After that, I learned how to make a “player” object using yet another cube. Soon I was applying a C# script to the cube that allowed it to move around the scene with the tree. Next, I learned how to make the player “jump” and so on, but it all started with a tree. We all have to start somewhere.
I was surprised by how similar Unity and C# was to web development. A lot of the “logic” behind WHY things work carry over into both worlds. You have variables like “$loginMsg = “Welcome to my Website” in PHP and then “string gameJoinMsg = “Welcome to my Game” in C# – and both create a variable with some value assigned to it.
Once you learn one language, it becomes magnitudes easier to learn another because so much of what you learned the first time is being used again but with slightly different syntax. It’s a lot easier than it seems from the outside.
We are glad to know that Zenva’s courses have played a role in both fields of development for you. What made you choose our courses, and how have they helped you on your journey?
Using Zenva has helped me a lot on my journey by filling in a lot of the gaps from other tutorials I tried on sites like YouTube that may not be as comprehensive as Zenva. With what I’ve learned at Zenva, I’ve been able to use that as a launchpad to test new ideas, create prototypes, and further learn with resources such as Mozilla’s MDN, GitHub, StackOverflow, YouTube, many open-source projects, and so much more.
Zenva course worked for me because I needed short, concise videos without the “fluff” in other lesson providers with 30+ minute videos. At Zenva the videos are shorter and it held my attention better for the long term and helped me to not give up or feel overwhelmed, which is important when you’re starting off.
We know you have some big plans for both web development and game development, as you’ve already hinted at, so can you tell us a bit more about your future projects?
As far as web development, I’m hoping to further pursue Node.js with Zenva until I can complete my wishlist application that lets users find gift ideas and scan products using QR codes. I’m hoping to expand on this by having the app “learn” what products the user is interested in to recommend other related products, but I’m starting small and will build from there.
I was inspired in the early 2000s by a popular browser MMORPG filled with knights, dragons, and a medieval theme. I think there’s a lot more worlds and demand for browser-based games as people play on Facebook and other web-based outlets that don’t require a download to play. Browser games can make gaming more accessible as well for those without gaming consoles or those looking for more casual, fast-paced experiences that feel rewarding in short bursts.
It looks like we’re out of time, but we can fit in one more question. Julian, do you have any advice for other students out there who are trying to learn web or game development to build their own projects?
NEVER. STOP. LEARNING.
Challenge yourself to learn at least one new thing a day. Developing for both web and games is an ever-changing pursuit. You must learn to adapt to new challenges while also taking advantage of new technologies, methods, and the successes of others. Build on top of the shoulders of giants. Every day we are inspired by the genius of others and the incredible things they have built. Find something you enjoy and ask yourself, “How can I make this better?”.
I truly believe the best way to learn something is to just DO IT. Whatever that thing is that’s holding you back, you must learn to let go. All fear of failure must be set free. Learn to fail, and then learn to get back up again. You will fail. Many times. Every time you fall down, you will learn something that will make you better tomorrow.
Also, start small at first, and then work towards a project that you are passionate about. It will force you to learn new things along the way. Break that project into smaller pieces and don’t give up. Whatever your million dollar idea is, do that. If others tell you you’re crazy, then be crazy. You will start to fill in the blanks and, eventually, you will have created something from nothing. It’s a wonderful feeling. Every bug in your code is a lesson to learn from and use to improve yourself.
Learn how to be resourceful and take full advantage of being one of the first people in history to have the entire collective knowledge of mankind at your fingertips. The sky’s the limit.
Thank you Zenva for everything!
And this concludes our wonderful interview with Julian, who we’re very grateful to for chatting with us!
Be sure to check out Julian’s About.me page for further news on both his web and game development projects.
You can also bookmark the homepage for Julian’s future wishlist application.