My journey towards becoming a game developer continues onward and upward! As of the fall of 2011, I am now a graduate student in Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center program! I am very excited about this amazing opportunity and I look forward to making lots of new friends with similar interests, learning all sorts of things about programming and game development, and working in groups to create things I hope to be able to share with you here in my portfolio in the years ahead. Wish me luck!
The original text of the about me page when I started my portfolio here back in 2009 is preserved below:
Welcome to the online game development portfolio of Ken Hilf. Here I’ll be presenting information on some of my personal projects, with a focus on things I have been working on over the past year. First, some background info about me. I’m 29 years old and have been an avid gamer for almost my entire life. I’ve seen it all, from the early days of Sid Meier’s “Pirates!” and Westwood’s “The Mars Saga” on the Commodore 64, to growing up with Final Fantasy, Ninja Gaiden, and Metroid on the NES, through the dawn of 3D on the Playstation as I graduated high school and the rise of online multiplayer games like Quake III and Diablo II as I worked and played my way through college, to MMOs like Dark Age of Camelot, Planetside, and World of Warcraft in the years since then which have redefined the size, scope, and persistence of games and virtual worlds. I will even confess to rocking out with plastic guitars from time to time! In my lifetime, as I have grown up, I have watched gaming grow alongside me. I feel that gaming has always been a part of me, the way I perceive the world, and the way I live in it.
Creating games and programming have also been a huge influence on my life. I remember trying to type the assembly code for simple games printed inside of Commodore 64 magazines into the old C64 as a kid. I don’t think I ever got any of them to work, but the whole process seemed magical and exciting! I have fond memories from when I was in junior high of tinkering with a game creation kit on my first PC called Unlimited Adventures, which let you create your own Gold Box style D&D games. My love of computers and technology lead me to enroll at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 1998 as a Computer Science major. In my first year there, through the magic of the internet, I met and befriended Nathan Yam, a fellow CS student attending the University of Victoria on the Pacific coast of Canada. In our spare time, we worked together yet apart in entirely separate time zones on recreating classic games from our respective childhoods along with others in the game creation group Nathan founded called Firebell. Our motto was “Cloning More Than Sheep,” and our goal was always to hone our skills using the games of our past as blueprints, and to then take what we learned and make entirely new games of our own. Several members of Firebell have gone on to be successful members of the games industry, some here in North America, others like Nathan in Japan. Unfortunately, I have not yet been one of them. I intend to correct that.
2009 was a big year of many changes for me. Physically, I started January of 09 weighing 225lbs. Putting on the pounds over the years was a slow, gradual process, but shedding them proved to be quite the opposite. One year later I sit here typing this at a svelte 155 after making some simple lifestyle changes including a better diet and a moderate exercise plan. Mentally, at the beginning of 2009 I came to admit that I was unhappy with the career path I had stumbled into and vowed to take action towards refocusing myself towards a career in game development once again. I present here some of the projects I have been working on in that vein.