October 18, 2013
Note: This article is from October 18, 2013. In addition, MakeGamesWithUs has now formally changed their name to Make School.
This summer, I spent a large portion of my time interning for a small startup in Palo Alto known as MakeGamesWithUs.
Firstly, let me tell you a bit about what a normal day is like at the MakeGamesWithUs Headquarters. The internship was held inside a house close to the border of East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. Most interns got to the “office” around 10am, and left around 5pm. The schedule for the internship went a bit like this: interns work on game until about 1pm, lunch served via food truck at 1pm, occasionally some entrepreneur of a well known startup would give an inspiring talk (Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian even spoke!), and from then on until 5pm interns work on their games. The workspace is very relaxed (as you can see in the picture), and that is one of the key things I really enjoyed. There is always lively talk about some new code snippet, iOS game, gadget, or product taking place.
Now that you know what an average day was like at the internship, let me tell you a bit about my personal experiences. Building a game is not easy. I can tell you that. But it is a great learning experience and is VERY fun. I started the internship on June 17th (the first day), and found that there were many interns like myself who had never built a game with Objective C (primary language used for building native iOS and Mac Apps) before. I had already had some prior Objective C knowledge, but had never finished a game before. The first day was quite simple. You chose a game idea, pitched the idea to the other interns, and started hacking away at the game. I chose a relatively simple matching game idea, consisting of colored balls coming from different areas of the screen, approaching a circle split into three colors. The goal of the game was to match as many of the correctly colored balls into the corresponding sector of the circle. The game idea seemed simple enough, and by the end of the first day, I had a circle on the screen split up into three colored sectors. The controls weren’t very good at the time, the user could only swipe left and right to rotate the circle, and the collision detection wasn’t perfect. During the early stages of the game I would ask one of the MakeGamesWithUs teaching assistants for debugging help, but I got myself on track soon enough. As the days went on, the game progressively got more advanced. By the end of the first week, I had most of the major algorithms thought out, and I went on from there. By the end of the second week, I had a game where the user got points based on how many colored spaceships they landed into the correct sector (at the time I was looking for a space themed game). As the weeks continued, I also made a few friends, who I would seek advice from for ideas. Gradually, the game went from a space themed game to a game about elements, and as the summer slowly went by, and as the game continued its way towards completion, the game’s theme was destined to be related juice. One of the best things about developing with MakeGamesWithUs is the fact that they provide art and sounds for your game, for a fractional amount of the revenue. They help you find an artist, and help you theme the game. This is where the theme of “juice” came from. About midway through the summer, MakeGamesWithUs held their first major event for interns, SF Day. SF Day was a day when all 80 interns from both MakeGamesWithUs locations (MakeGamesWithUs has offices in Palo Alto and in San Francisco) met up in San Francisco to hear Alexis Ohanian’s (founder of Reddit) story as an entrepreneur. As a result of SF Day, I got a chance to meet more interns, discuss ideas, and work on my game in a totally new environment. The weeks rolled on into August, and summer was coming to an end. As a grand finale to the internship, MakeGamesWithUs hosted an internship demo day. At demo day all of the interns got a chance to show off their polished games to venture capitalists, startup founders, and the general public. I had brought my family that day and had managed to bring my younger brother along to help bring people to my booth. I got a chance to meet some pretty interesting people and see some pretty awesome games at demo day, and it was an experience that was really fun. The awards ceremony was the most interesting part, when I was struck by the fact that my game actually won an award for game excellence.
As the weeks rolled on after the internship and into the school year, there was one goal I had the urge to achieve. That goal was getting my game published on the App Store through MakeGamesWithUs. MakeGamesWithUs is not only a game producer, but a game publisher, so this was a great opportunity to try and get something out on the App Store. I struggled to finish with schoolwork, but finally managed to finish my game, now known as “Blend”, last weekend.
I am also very proud to announce, that Blend was submitted for review to the App Store today. I would like to say thanks to MakeGamesWithUs, and its founders, Ashu Desai and Jeremy Rossmann, who helped me get through every step.
By the way, if you have experience with Objective C or some other object oriented programming language and are really interested in mobile games, I would highly recommend the MakeGamesWithUs internship! I would start by checking out some of MakeGamesWithUs‘s tutorials on game development!
P.S. (shamless plug alert)
You should check out Make School’s new college replacement and summer academy programs (https://www.makeschool.com).