Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to Rule the World

Evil: When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different, because I have understanding.

Robert: Uh, understanding of what, Master?

Evil: Digital watches. And soon I shall have understanding of video cassette recorders and car telephones. And when I have understanding of them, I shall have understanding of computers. And when I have understanding of computers, I shall be the Supreme Being!
-Time Bandits

So you want to rule the world. Is that it?

The old way of getting started would have been to read Sun Tzo’s “Art of War,” but really you’re not going to get anywhere with spears and not even with guns or F-15s. Look at Google, do they have guns? No, but they’re pretty close to ruling the world, so you better step on in it.

The first book you need to read is...

“Macromedia Flash MX Game Design Demystified” by Jobe Makar.

It is true that people are doing some cool stuff with digital watches, but really I think it's safe for you to skip to computers.

So, you’re going to need to program, right? Personally I like Flash. Everybody’s got a Flash plug-in installed on their browser these days. You don't have to worry about jamming your message down the world's throat only to find that the world got an error message instead.

And just look at what a Flashmaster can do.

Programming in Flash can drive you nuts sometimes, but it handles all sorts of the really annoying stuff for you. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage from “Macromedia Flash MX Game Design Demystified” by Jobe Makar. (This is actually a newer version than I used.) The book came with a trial version of Flash MX. When you’re ready to really rule the world, you may have to cough up some dough for the official version.

Starting with a book like this is the way to go. The CD has many of the sample programs on it, so you can rip out code and use it to jumpstart your own programs. If you run into something that's not in the book, you can probably find help online to get you over the hump.

Makar takes you through the geometry behind the games. The Pythagorean Theory is at the heart of a video game and he shows you exactly how and why to use it. It's mind-expanding stuff.

The work in here on tile-based worlds is incredible. I used it to create this faux 3-D train simulator (at my wife's Website). And remember, I'm just a rank amateur. Or I was until I read this book.

In addition to making games, banner ads, web apps, etc..., writing programs is going to make you smarter. You'll become a problem solver. A thinker-arounder. A Gordian Knot cutter.

And you're going to need to be all that when you do rule the world and mortals come to you with their petty problems.

Next time on How to Rule the World: Attracting Minions.

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