2004-02-04: Comments from speedman

Comments from speedman

Feb 4 2004 3:14PM

This was originally posted to Development at [1]

Where did the name "speedman" come from?

I picked the name "speedman" out of the blue in high school. It really came from the reckless manner in which I piloted my modified 1989 Toyota Supra Turbo and often exceeded the speed limit (Kids, don't try this at home!). Another influencing factor was my first favorite PC racing game (Need for Speed, another fine game from Electronic Arts) which also had a Supra. If you haven't guessed yet, I like Supras.

So, what do you do for Origin?

Here at Origin, I am on the UO Live Team maintaining the Ultima Online server-side code. This allows me to do what I really like—work on massively distributed Unix-based C++ code. The server programmers are responsible for implementing game rules, providing the designers the tools they need to script the game, and ensuring continued reliability and support, contributing to an enjoyable playing experience. Whenever a software problem crops up on a shard, you can be sure that a server programmer is feverishly looking into the problem.

Have you always lived in Austin?

Originally, I'm from the Kansas City area (Overland Park, KS). I attended college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and from there moved out to Colorado Springs. I've only been in Austin for a few months now, and the nature of the work I'm doing is much better, but I miss the scenery and lighter traffic in Colorado.

What's your background in computers and programming?

I started playing around with an old TI 99/4A when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, which is where I found my love for both programming and games. I started writing cheesy BASIC programs and simple little games (Yes, I was a nerd in school.). When my dad bought our first home PC (an IBM XT clone with a 4.77/12 MHz 8088 CPU and a whopping 640k of RAM), I started taking my programming to the PC in GWBASIC. When DOS started including a QBASIC interpreter, I was hooked on programming. I taught myself simple C programming while vacationing at my uncle's house. The beauty and power of C was so appealing to me that I purchased my own C compiler and started writing more and more complex programs. Then C++ started becoming more mainstream, so I purchased books and learned as much as I could about Object Oriented Programming. By college, I had already written applications, such as a graphing calculator on the PC, my own 3d graphics wire frame engine and grade tracking software for my high school. Assembly language and machine code have always fascinated me, and I've written several CPU and hardware emulators and even the beginnings of my own Operating System.

How long have you been in the game industry? What did you do before coming to Origin?

This is my first job in the game industry. Before coming to Origin, I was a lead programmer with a point-of-sale company in Colorado working on heavily networked client and server-side financial management and transaction software. I've also had jobs doing contract-type work and some database programming.

How did you get your current position with Origin?

About six years ago, my friend introduced me to this revolutionary new game called Ultima Online. I was hooked. When I started getting busier with college and other areas of my life, I closed my accounts, but always remained fond of my times in Britannia. About a year and a half ago, I reopened my accounts and was hooked yet again. When I saw a position open up for server programmer, I jumped on it and sent in my résumé. Ironically, a week after I had completed a request for code samples, I received word that I would be traveling to Austin for a contractor. Bewildered by the coincidence, I phoned HR at Austin wondering if they wanted to meet with me. After an intensive dinner interview with nearly the entire UO Live Dev Team and a few phone interviews later, I received and accepted an offer nearly three months after putting in my résumé.

Do you play Ultima Online?

Yes, I first opened my account in October of 1997, but have played recently for the past year and a half. Since working at Origin, I tend to play less for my benefit, but still attend a few player guild hunts as my schedule permits.

What have you worked on (or are working on for the future) that the players would recognize?

Bandwidth optimizations in Publish 22 were probably the most visible to the players. A lot of work has gone into seeing less of the repetitive/unnecessary data sent to players. This results in less lag for players (especially players on slower connections).

We have a lot of great ideas from a wonderful team in store for the future of UO. I look forward to the time when we can make them more public!


UO Server Programmer

Origin Systems