Last month I wrote about the names that come up most often when developers discuss the world’s greatest living programmers. One of the names on that list was John Carmack, the co-founder of id Software and creator of such classic FPS games as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake. Carmack, of course, has a number of strong competitors for the title of greatest living programmer, people like Linus Torvalds, Jeff Dean and Richard Stallman. However, he may soon have pretty strong competition right in his own home, namely his children.
Ryan Carmack, his 9 year-old son, is now in the coding game with the recent release of his first video game, called Angry Face The game is, basically, a clone of Pong, with two players each controlling a vertical paddle with the keyboard to try to bat a ball (or, in this case, a smiley face) past their opponent’s. Ryan made sure to include a “Grandma mode” (slower play) and “Expert mode” (faster play) in the game, which can be played on PCs, Macs or laptops; there is no mobile app version.
On his blog, Ryan writes that the game was written in C# using the Unity game engine. His dad taught him how to code and his mother (a former mobile game designer and director of business development at id) helped with the design. Ryan and his 4 year-old brother did the voices and sounds (my favorite part of the game), so it was a real family affair. Aside from playing and creating video games, Ryan writes that he also likes D&D, piano and yoga.
I’m not much of a gamer (though, back in the day, I had a few long bouts of playing Wolfenstein and Doom), so Angry Face is about my speed these days. I’ll be interested to see how young Ryan’s coding and game design skills develop in the coming years. He’s certainly got the blood lines for it, not to mention the ultimate in-house mentor. Who knows? Maybe someday when developers talk about the greatest living programmers, a different Carmack will make the list.
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