For my second Community-Engaged Learning activity, I worked with the student-run game development group called GlowLime Games. In the Fall of 2016, I participated for 40 hours as a programmer in the development of a video game called His Excellency's Chef.
Admittedly, I was very nervous when I first joined GlowLime Games. I had joined it in mid-October on a whim, and I was worrying if it was a mistake. Due to taking four demanding classes, I was already very busy, so I was unsure of how much I could contribute. Much to my happiness, I quickly learned that my worries were baseless. My presence as a programmer was much appreciated by the producers.
Working with other programmers on a project was a new experience for me. Developing a game as part of a team was something I wanted to experience as part of my Division II, so this CEL-2 activity was very relevant to my concentration of computer programming and video game development.
Early on, I learned how to use GitHub, which is a version control tool. It took me many hours to figure out the basics, but it is a very popular tool in the programming industry. The fact that I know how to use it will prove to be invaluable in the coming years of my career as a programmer, and has already helped me greatly.
Soon after I joined GlowLime Games, I attended my first all-team meeting of His Excellency's Chef. Many other people who worked on the project were there. There were artists, producers, sound designers, musicians, programmers, website designers, and game designers. It was extremely cool to see people from so many different disciplines come together to work towards one common goal. Somewhere in my ice-cold heart, some sort of warm, fuzzy feeling was stirring. Don't worry. I got over it. Ice forever, everyone.
I quickly became familiar with the concept of keeping in touch with the rest of the team on Slack, which is a chat client. As part of GlowLime Games, I felt like I was a part of a real, professional team. It was super cool, and I went on to use Slack and similar chat clients for work-related matters in the future.
Eventually, many of the other programmers got too busy to work on the project, so it came down to me and the lead programmer to pick up a lot of the slack. It was hard and took many hours of my time. However, due to having to spend a lot more time thinking about the game and experimenting, I learned about several important concepts of game development. Some of these concepts include using anchors to design user interfaces that would scale with the window size, and also adjusting the aspect ratio to better accommodate a desired design.
Speaking of design, everyone on the team had to follow a game design document that specified exactly what had to be in the game. It was clear that everyone who was working on the project had a large involvement and influence on the rest of the group. That is to say, we were a tightly-knit group, which was great. Sometimes it was unclear what the producers wanted, so I communicated with them as often as I could. That's good practice, since professional programmers often have to fulfill the exact requests of their clients.
I'm absolutely certain that my coding skills improved over the course of Fall 2016, at least in part due to my work with GlowLime Games. I came back to some of my old code that I wrote for the game and I completely rewrote it. When I was done, the code was many times better than it originally was.
Ultimately, working on a project relevant to my concentration with a bunch of other community members made me feel very productive and good. My skills as a programmer improved, as did my bonds with the rest of the community. It was overall a very fulfilling experience.