Hi, my name is Paul James Mannering and I have been programming video games since the age of 14 (the year 2000). When people ask me why I started doing this, it's quite simple. I loved playing video games so much that I had to find out how to make them.
The first thing that inspired me to take this route in life was when I brought a Sony PlayStation One console (in 1998). It was the first time I'd experienced true 3D game environments, and the idea of creating my own, for the rest of the world to play, was all the inspiration I needed.
Back in the day I started off by trying to learn to program in C++ and created a few simple text based video games. However, starting off with C++ as my first programming language was a bit like being thrown in at the deep end before you can swim. It was really hard, and with no real tangible output (after so much work), I eventually threw in the towel.
However, it wasn't long before we started doing some programming at school with Visual Basic. As a side project I developed a simple card game called Target Cards (the aim was to draw up to 5 cards from a pack, then add them up to get as close to the randomly generated target number as possible).
Target Cards, developed in Visual Basic (2001)
Now with this simpler/higher level programming language under my belt the C++ didn't seem so daunting. So I gave it another shot and this time it made much more sense.
Next came the step up in class. Moving from creating C++ text based video games to creating C++ graphical based video games. I started by learning MFC (Visual C++) to achieve what I'd done in Visual Basic with C++, but it soon became clear that 3D video games went way beyond drawing buttons and dialog boxes.
So then at the age of 16, I brought a book on DirectX 8 (Game Programming All-in-one, 1st Edition) and made the dream of creating 3D worlds a reality...well it was a start anyway (I couldn't model 3D geometry of my own then so use your imagination). Again, the step up in difficultly was hard to get my head around (especially while balancing School work at the same time), but I persisted. As a side project, I also experimented with the Half-Life Hammer Editor to create a few maps for Counter-Strike.
Click on this picture for more Counter-Strike map screenshots (2002)
Then just as I started University (in 2004) I brought a book called Programming a Multiplayer FPS in DirectX, written by Vaughan Young. Somehow this book made everything to do with the C++ game programming easy to understand, and it was the catalyst I needed to not only create my own simple FPS, but also to develop my own game engine (if you're reading this Vaughan, I can't thank you enough).
Early books that were a great help along the way
Then time passed (2 years), and the end result was a 3D shader based game engine, which I called Project Realism (written in C++, using DirectX 9.0c and HLSL shader model 2), and an accompanying map editor called the PREditor (Written in MFC...so it did come in handy after all). The only thing missing was a game to show it off. Now at University, I was set a final year showcase project to complete my degree. The only thought in my head was to write a 3D video game.
The game that resulted was called Boy Racer, a 3D street racing game based on bashed up old cars (something not seen very often in the gleaming world of most 3D racers). For this I also teamed up with 3 other people (who worked on the 2D Artwork, 3D Models and Audio). The Boy Racer website is now hosted here.
Boy Racer, released March 2007
After completing my degree, I needed a new challenge in life. So, I decided to look for a commercial job making video games. I especially wanted to program games for PlayStation/Xbox/Nintendo games consoles, and I even turned down a really good PC based programming role because I REALLY wanted the experience of developing for games consoles (NOTE: Game console development wasn't as open as it is now, and games consoles weren't just made of PC components back then. They were difficult to work with!).
My first job in the video games industry was at Zoë Mode (formally known as Kuju Brighton) as a Junior Programmer, then Staff Programmer, and finally Lead Programmer, between 2007 and 2014 (Although I also went back as a part-time contractor in 2015 and 2016). The games I worked on here (that shipped) were:
- Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2
- Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
- Powerstar Golf
- Risk Urban Assault
- Risk Domination
- The Voice
- Crush 3D
- Chime Super Deluxe
- Office Daze
- Zumba Fitness World Party
- Zumba Kids
- Zumba Fitness CORE
- Zumba Fitness RUSH
- Zumba Fitness 2
- Disney Sing It
- Disney Sing It: High School Musical 3
- Disney Sing It: Pop Hits
- Disney Sing It: Party Hits
For more information about these games, see the games I've worked on page here
Commercially I worked on video games for the following platforms: