My name is Patricia Curtis and for the last 43 years I have been making games and at the age of 65 I still spend most of my time coding games. My philosophy on life is to use my skills to help others which is why I have have done a few other non-games related projects like setting up a winter homeless shelter in East Acton (London) and a school in Saigon (Vietnam) where I taught many subjects through teaching English. Other times I help friends get where they want to be which is how I came to help create the Big Daddy magazine for its first few issues during 1999 and 2000.
In September 1982, I went to a friends and saw a commodore 64 for the first time, spent a day typing in and playing with the balloon program from the book of basic that came with it! I loved it so much the very next day I went and got £250 worth of credit at Dixons and brought a C64 and tape deck. After that I spent every free minute playing with my new toy, as soon as I got home from work till the early hours in the morning and all weekend.
It took a while to master, but I did manage to write a couple of half decent things in basic. The first one was similar to scramble with spaceships on the right and your ship on the left that could fire at the spaceships and only collision detection was for the bullets and ships. My next project was a sprite editor in basic, so I could make better game sprites, It was not long after that was finished that I discovered machine code.
The speed increase of programming in machine code was astounding to me at the time and I started writing code directly into the machines memory using a monitor cartridge which had a very limited debugger and direct access to the memory. The first project I wrote was a clone of Hunchback by Ocean, which was basically a character having to get from the left side of the screen to the right overcoming obstacles, my character was called Cyril and was similar but not a copy as I had different obstacles but looking back now it was not that great but it was a good demonstration of my skills.
It was at that time that I saw an advert in one of the games magazines, Telecomsoft wanted games, so sent Cyril off to them to see if they would publish it, after a couple of weeks I received a phone call asking me to visit there plush London offices. I asked for a day off work and my boss at the time said no, so I resigned and left work there and then.
I went to the meeting in London where they showed me another game called Happiest Days of Your Life on the Sinclair Spectrum, they asked my opinion and I told them is as a good game, but to be honest it was average, after leaving me with the game for a while they told me to go home and the meeting was over. I remember going home fed up and confused however a bit later that day during dinner I received another telephone call from Colin Fuidge at Telecomsoft, who offered me £2000 to port Happiest days to the commodore 64, and it had to be done two months, so of course I said yes. It took me about 10 weeks and I lost £500 in penalties, but it was the start of a career lasting over 35 years.
As well as a few original titles such as Scorpius, Street Warriors and Bushido I also did many conversions during the 80s and progressing from the Commodore 64, to the Amiga, Atari ST, and Mega Drive. I carried on porting games like Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Xenon 2 and Sensible Soccer to name a few.
As the work increased I started my own company employing a few other coders, artist and a musician, it was at this time we became our own publishing house producing games like Super Methane Brothers, Marsupilami and Death Mask. In 1993 I started to change gender, and being as the games industry at that time was mostly male I found some hostility and the work started to dry up. After my final transition in 1995 I found I could not get any employment in the industry which left me in a dire situation where I had to give up my home and sleep rough for some time.
At that time there were no protections for trans people like there are today so I thought it was the end of a wonderful career as I could not get a job as a coder for any company let alone the games industry, but with time, perseverance and help from some good friends I have managed to get a decent life and eventually started making games again. With my first game in 10 years, Tonga and the cult of the bird man being published on Big Fish Games.
We live and learn
It was a tough road back but I used the time to learn many skills such as 3D modelling, photoshop, desktop publishing as well as learning new programming languages including C++, Java and PHP. I even managed to start mining some Bitcoin in 2009, but I did not stick at it long enough to make myself rich as at that time I did not see the full potential of it. In 2013 I built a proper mining rig with three Sapphire Radeon 280x video cards, which later got upgraded to five video cards, where I was mining LTC, VERT and DOGE, unfortunately this only lasted 6 months as we were forced to leave our home for 9 months due to full renovations and for some reason I broke the mining rig down and used the parts for other projects.
I know that this will probably turn many people off, but I have a strong belief that the USA and probably the UK are run by a deep state and that 9/11 and 7/7 were both inside jobs designed to get the public motivated for this endless war we are currently taking part in, therefore I believe that we are the baddies, which I find rather annoying as I want to be on the side of the good. I know there is not much I can do about this as I don’t want to disappear, but do tend to mention the controlled demolition of the World Trade Centre from time to time in a hope to raise awareness.
I am hoping that cryptos will eventually prevent the deep state from funding wars and killing people in my name, but in the meantime I support the UK Labour party in an effort to get socialism in the UK and stop us bombing innocent peoples of the world. Don’t panic though I will not be posting my political views here, as that will be mostly limited to my programming and game dev, with a little bit of my life just for a spot colour.
Sorry for the long post, this was supposed to be a brief introduction but I got carried away.