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Programming as a career
Denzil Long, Jr., is a senior programmer at Westwood Studios. He has worked on a number of best-selling video games.

Could you list some of the game titles that you have worked on?
  • Dune II (PC & Amiga versions)
  • Kyrandia 3 (PC & Mac versions)
  • Monopoly CD-ROM (PC & MAC versions)
  • Command & Conquer (PC & Mac versions)
  • Red Alert (PC)
  • Red Alert Aftermath (PC)
  • Blade Runner (PC)

What made you decide to work in the game industry in the first place?
I didn't really decide to work on games it just ended up that way. My formal education is actually in electronics, but programming has always been a hobby of mine. I always had an interest in games and loved to play them, so one day I submitted my resume to a game company (not Westwood) just to see what would happen. To my surprise I received a call and the next thing I knew I was in California working on games. That was 7 years ago.

What advice can you offer to people who want to get started with game programming, perhaps to turn it into a career?
Learn how to teach yourself. The computer industry is constantly changing and it requires keeping up with the latest techniques and technologies. Work hard on developing good programming habits and code design. Being able to finish projects is VERY important. If you can not or have not completed what you have started then your potential value to a game company is minimized. Game companies want results, there is no money in starting a game only in finishing one.

What in your opinion makes a good game?
First thing is it has to be fun! If a game isn't fun no one will want to play it, no matter how cool the graphics are or how fancy the programming is. It has to be fun! Second the game has to be polished, that is, it has to look and feel finished. Attention to detail is what counts here. I can't tell you how many games that I have played that I thought needed to remain in development longer. Take the time to do it right.

How do you see games in general advancing in the next five years?
I see hardware taking over a big part of speed critical operations. We have already seen this with 2D and 3D acceleration, I see this trend becoming more widespread. Internet multiplay is going to continue to grow. The thing people tend to complain the most about in soloplay games is the computer AI. This has been an under developed area for quite sometime, but I see this getting better.

What do you really hate about your job? =)
Unrealistic deadlines!
Programmer: "That will take 1 week"
Manager: "You have 2 days."

What languages/software libraries do you program with?
Visual C/C++

We typically do not use retail programming libraries. Almost everything at Westwood is done in house.