Preslav Mihaylov

Speaker, Software Engineer, Technical Trainer. Passionate about computer science, presenting and playing board games

My inspiration to become a developer

As a follow up to my first post about what to expect from my blog, today I am going to tell you the story of my first encounter with programming and what my inspiration was to continue doing it until this very day.

I will start out with what my background was beforehand, some of the first steps and finally – my first great achievement!

Thank you David for the idea of this post! 🙂

The background

Back at the time, I was still in school (12th grade, this is the last one) and I had been studying economics. Well, calling it “studying” would not be so true for my case. The reason for that, is the fact that I had been totally discouraged to study economics as I found it incredibly boring and monotonous. I could not imagine myself filling up some documents all my life.

My school looked pretty neat though:

The school I had been going to

State high school of economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria

I still remember how I used to achieve my accounting class grades. The teacher would make me go to the board to explain the lesson. Of course, I had no idea what it was about, but I would do my best to make her laugh by acting like a really stupid guy (well, you can hardly say it’s acting) or tell some stupid jokes. Well, that strategy turned out to be successful at times. In those happy moments, I would get a grade 4 (from a scale of 2 to 6), but if the teacher was not in the mood (she was female) then nothing could save me.

How it all started

I somehow survived. But at one point, while I was in class, I found an online lecture about programming. In it, the lecturer made some magic and sent some mysterious messages on the terminal window such as “Op” and “Op sa”. I found that to be pretty amazing. So I decided to give it a try. I started watching lectures at school, doing all the exercises at home and bit by bit, I was becoming better. But at that time, I wasn’t thinking of picking this up seriously. For me it was just an interesting thing to do to keep me busy.

The first lecture I had seen

The inspiration

But at one point, I had to create something which was entirely different from all the tasks beforehand. It was an actual computer game and was left as an extra task in one of the lectures. When I saw it, I remembered what one of my IT teachers at school once told us. We used to play all sorts of games during our IT class such as Counter Strike, League of legends (I loved to beat my classmates at that game) etc. So he forbid us to play games anymore and said that we will play a game only when we create it ourselves. And that was my strong motivation to create this game!

So I started studying how to make a game, watched a couple of videos and did some trials which weren’t so successful. But 2 weeks later, after a lot of effort, I had finally completed my game!

Now, don’t imagine something complex with 3D graphics, particles and all sorts of scary words in it. It was a simple terminal based game made by raw dashes and brackets:

My first game. My inspiration

That pair of brackets at the bottom, is the thing you are controlling and it has to avoid all these falling “rocks” (all the other random symbols). So as you see, it wasn’t anything too complex. But when I created it, I had the feeling I am the best developer in the world! I felt like nothing can stop me now, and there cannot be any harder task than making this game.

What did the community think of it?

I was so confident of my work, that I even published it on stackoverflow. But you can’t just publish some code right?

Since I was a fairly intelligent kid for my age, I came up with the brilliant idea of asking the question: “What’s your opinion of my code?”. Of course, I wasn’t asking it to really search for an opinion, since I was so sure that my code was brilliant, but rather to have an excuse to showcase my awesome coding skills.

So… Due to that brilliant idea, everyone furiously started clicking on the “down vote” button. And let me warn you, that when you get enough down votes, you cannot post any questions on stackoverflow any more. Due to that experience, I eventually had to create a new profile (currently I have 3) to be able to post questions on the site again.

But that didn’t kill my enthusiasm! Even though the game was simple, I was really proud of it and later on I realized that this endeavor with the game was the point at which my spark of passion had been lit. I have had other projects and difficulties ever since, but nothing could stop me as my passion has grown greatly. I continue this journey ever since and yet another task is waiting for me right after I finish writing this article.

Conclusion

I believe that a person can become great in his work, when he does it with passion.

Want to try out programming for yourself? There is a great resource I have found for this occasion: code.org

You learn to program by playing games in this site! You have to solve programming tasks in order to get a zombie to eat some human brains. There are also some thematic tutorials with disney characters or some popular games – such as Minecraft. So if you have never tried programming, I encourage you to spend an hour on this site. I believe that if you do this, you will have the opportunity to discover a new favorite game to keep you sleepless at nights!

Already a professional? What got you inspired to do what you do?

4 Comments

  1. In my opinion the quality of code and programing skills are just a point of a view, though!
    I am curious (it is not only me I guess) to see your first code posted on stackoverflow which have gained so many down votes. Would you share a link here, if the code is still available, of course?
    Thanks!

    • Hello there TESO,

      back then I made several versions of the game trying to improve the code quality by simplifying it and currently I keep the latest one, which you can find here:
      https://goo.gl/21X16V

      When I look at it now, it seems like a lot of the stuff could have been made simpler, but I still feel proud when I look at one of my first projects. 🙂

      PS: The down votes were partially because that kind of question was not meant for stackoverflow, but for a derivative of it called stackexchange.

      When I posted the code there, it actually went well and I got pretty good feedback, which I eventually used to make several better versions of the game in terms of code.

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