I was asked to do an AMA here. Ask away!

Proof Proof 2

edit: Alright guys, I'm headed to bed. I'll try to respond to any new questions in the morning. It was fun to answer all your questions and really interesting to see how many people got a hold of it over the years and how popular it still is. I certainly never expected it. Thanks for the great reception!

edit2: I'm back and ready to answer some more questions!

edit3: It's been great hearing from everyone, and thanks for all the questions. I really enjoyed answering them and all the support you guys have shown. Thanks again, Reddit!

Comments: 416 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

Foot_Herpes279 karma

Dude... Geometry class goes by in a heartbeat because of you. Puzzle Frenzy is my game! Anyway... Which game is your favorite of the four?

UberBlockDude289 karma

My favorite is definitely Block Dude, but of course i love Puzzle Frenzy too. Some of those puzzles are so difficult I forgot how to do them after programming it.

topcheesehead120 karma

so im just gonna brag to you. i was the only person in my highschool, that i know of, that beat block dude. it was quiet a feat at the time. thank you for the hours of enjoyment and no girlfriend. :)

UberBlockDude250 karma

Maybe you should have tried using that as a pick up line?

ScientistPresent99 karma

I would just like to thank you, that game was so much fun in my childhood.

UberBlockDude77 karma

You're welcome! Glad to have provided you some entertainment!

fattykray74 karma

Block Dude was the best! My entire class in New Zealand used to play it :D

UberBlockDude64 karma

That's awesome to hear it made it so far!

zoby9657 karma

What gave you guys inspiration to create a game for a calculator? Previous boring experiences?

UberBlockDude105 karma

I loved playing Tetris, Fall Down, and Penguins while I was in Algebra. After I learned how to program for the calculator I wanted to help other people get through those boring classes.

zoby9624 karma

That's a pretty interesting story, I didn't expect tetris at a young age (unless you meant college level).

How much income do you make for programming these games?

UberBlockDude47 karma

I didn't make much on Puzz Pack and those were the last games I programmed. However, I'm still programming professionally.

L-dubz37 karma

Did you intentionally make "wTF" the password to level 11 of Block Dude?

UberBlockDude57 karma

Absolutely.

MaleCra34 karma

Frikkin small world, man.

Sophomore here. Just hopping in and saying your puzzle games are extremely popular in my school (Midwest USA). I found it ironic for TI to add games to their calculators, haha.

Anyway, thanks for making math a little more fun for those of us who finish work early. :)

UberBlockDude51 karma

I'm glad you and your classmates enjoy it! Was it originally pre-loaded on your calculator? When I was in high school we transferred the games from calculator to calculator, does that still happen?

fosterwallacejr16 karma

From what I gather in the comments below your games are now pre loaded on Texas Instrument calculators and yet you didnt know and they dont pay you for it? Wtf???

UberBlockDude33 karma

Texas Instruments' use of Puzz Pack is completely legal, I'm glad they continue to provide it.

sashikers7 karma

That's how it happened in my school! Which leads to the question of whether you ever managed to monetize this?

UberBlockDude12 karma

I didn't make very much money off of this. I even tried calling some of my software "postcard-ware." I only ever got two.

foreignfishes31 karma

What's your high score on Dino Puzzle?

UberBlockDude53 karma

My version was a little bit different than yours... I was in the millions. I never released that version, haha. I think my actual score was something around 2k though.

matthew_boyd30 karma

What advise would you give to a 15 year old that doesn't know any compiled languages (as in the concept of OOP) and would you know any websites that could aid me? : )

UberBlockDude56 karma

It's not a compiled language, but I think learning Python is a great way to start programming. I'd recommend that everybody eventually learn C++ but it may not be the best language to start with. The important thing to do is start a simple but fun project and try to learn from it.

matthew_boyd14 karma

Haha, thank you, I know the minimum of python but I don't know OOP and really need to learn it :(

Thanks anyway!

UberBlockDude31 karma

Sounds like you're off to a great start, just want you to know that Python can be written in an OOP style. Try looking up some tutorials on that.

curlymike27 karma

I spent far more time playing your games than I ever did paying attention, and I know I'm not alone. How does it feel to know you've made lots of people worse at math due in part to your incredibly addictive games?

UberBlockDude67 karma

Oops. But on the bright side at least you're good at problem solving. Right?

MoAlAg26 karma

1) What are you working on now? 2) Does your resume say that you created these well known games?

UberBlockDude58 karma

I currently develop software that performs image analysis. Yes, these games are still at the bottom of my resume and I get a strange look when I try to explain it to someone twice my age.

MoAlAg17 karma

What does image analysis pertain to?

UberBlockDude24 karma

Teaching computers how to see and read things. Your desktop scanner probably has OCR (Optical Character Recognition) capabilities, which is a simple example.

UberBlockDude26 karma

Not to brag, but one time I even got 15.9%.

TaylorDNinja22 karma

Because of these games, Math (for the first time ever) became my favorite subject. I thank thee...

UberBlockDude31 karma

I suppose that I would have even liked English had I found a way to use a calculator in that class.

IMALEFTY4520 karma

Are you aware of how little learning has gone on in math class because of your creation?

UberBlockDude40 karma

I am not responsible for the decline in standardized test scores! Besides I tried to undo the damage by developing Symbolic.

doswarrior15 karma

[deleted]

UberBlockDude17 karma

I once mirrored the entire screen on a friend's calculator. That really freaked them out.

bannanacup15 karma

Did TI install PuzzPack on all calculators? If not, how did you get such widespread distribution?

How much money has it made?

UberBlockDude39 karma

It was quite popular on TiCalc.org. I believe Texas Instruments included it on their Ti83+ Silver Edition. I nearly gave it away being a poor college student at the time, I would have sold it for a 12-pack of Ramen. I wish I had a dime for every copy out there.

buck45osu11 karma

I can blame not understanding algebra for most of high school on you. You are a great man.

UberBlockDude20 karma

Thanks... I think?

Dalimey1007 karma

Why did you decide to create entirely new games for the calculator, instead of just making the standard fare like tetris and snake?

Thank you by the way, you're the reason my geometry teacher hated me.

UberBlockDude3 karma

Well, all the classics were already written by the time I had started programming for the calculator so I had to think a little harder about it.

Captain_Teemo7 karma

Thank you for making such addicting games. What inspired you to make these games, and how did you get into coding the calculator?

UberBlockDude18 karma

I got started programming for the calculator during a Pascal programming class in High School. I finished up the work for the class about 2 months early and wanted to see what else I could program.

smikims7 karma

What have you done since PuzzPack? What do you consider to be your "magnum opus" so far?

UberBlockDude15 karma

I'm very proud of Symbolic (which I linked earlier) which I wrote in my freshman year of college. I can't say much about what I'm developing these days, but I'm working in machine vision; it's an exciting and challenging field.

egnaro20076 karma

do u know there are iphone versions of blockdude?

UberBlockDude22 karma

Nope! I have an Android, haha.

I'm glad people enjoyed it enough to do something like that.

popsodaguy5 karma

I actually failed math because of my block dude addiction. Wouldn't have it any other way.

UberBlockDude10 karma

I didn't do so great in Algebra II myself. I had a crazy (see: awful) teacher, let's call her Mrs. T. I also had a bad Trig teacher that kicked me out and told me that I would "never get anywhere in math." I later went on to get a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering and a Masters in Mathematics despite how terrible they were. Apparently they both still have jobs, though. Go figure.

JmTCyoU5 karma

wtF?

UberBlockDude15 karma

Easily my favorite password.

Sjgolf8914 karma

Has anyone you know actually beaten all of the levels in Block Dude?

UberBlockDude5 karma

My little brother has!

cfoust3 karma

How did you get started programming specifically on the TI-83s? I've looked at the SDK but their examples are vastly confusing even for basic things. I'm well versed in languages but their particular blend of assembly-esque commands boggled me. How would you recommend starting? I'd love to program my calculator past the shitty TIbasic.

UberBlockDude11 karma

The best way to learn how to program is to download a simple game with source code and to try to understand it. Then try to make small modifications to it. If you try to read the entire SDK before you start programming you'll be very confused.

UberBlockDude3 karma

It's been great hearing from everyone, and thanks for all the questions. I really enjoyed answering them and all the support you guys have shown. Thanks again, Reddit!

tumbleflumps3 karma

Thank you so much, your games got me through geometry, algebra 2, precalc, and now calculus.

UberBlockDude12 karma

Glad I could help! I never expected people would still be playing these games 12 years later.

KindOne2 karma

Are these games source code somewhere?

Ever think about making another pack of games? TI is coming out with these color graphing calculators. I think a color version of these games would be awesome.

UberBlockDude2 karma

No, the source code is not available. I don't think I'll be creating any more TI games, but I'd certainly support anyone that wanted to create a color version.

BETTYxxWHITE2 karma

Did you create this as a project when you were in school or something? Or were you already an employed programmer when you created this?

UberBlockDude10 karma

I started programming these games as a sophomore in high school and wrote the last puzzle game as a senior in high school. Texas Instruments contacted detached solutions while I was a freshman in college and asked about including Puzz Pack on their calculators.

CycleNinja2 karma

I went to college with the kid who made Block Dude The Movie. I'm trying to get him to put it on YouTube. I believe he sent it to you when he was in high school. Do you remember it?

UberBlockDude2 karma

I loved that! It was really funny, I'm not sure where my copy is anymore. I hope he does post it!

Jfqian2 karma

Hey, a kid in my school beat Block Dude while blindfolded, and I personally got to level 6-7 without looking. What's the strangest story you've heard from a player of your games?

P.S. - Thanks for getting me through Algebra II

UberBlockDude6 karma

The most interesting thing I've heard pertaining to my games was when someone sent me a DVD titled "Block Dude: The Movie." I got a good laugh from that one.

Fury_2 karma

Dude, your amazing. Block Dude is great, but i never got into.Never tryed Puzzle Frenzy though. Pecs is defiantly my favorite though.

Do you plan on making any other games? And do you know Fred Coughlin?(Pecs creator)

UberBlockDude2 karma

I never really talked much with Fred Coughlin. Fun fact: He was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire once.

d01059501 karma

Dude, you got me through Algebra I!

Do you still happen to use TI calculators? What are your thoughts on ndless and the like?

UberBlockDude3 karma

I'm no longer very involved with the calculator programming community, though it does look like a great idea.

buddhabro1 karma

Does this mean you didn't create Pecs? If that's the case, how did it end up in the Puzzpack alongside your games?

thanks!

UberBlockDude5 karma

PuzzPack was a group effort by Detached Solutions. I originally developed Dino Puzzle, Puzzle Frenzy, and Block Dude as stand-alone applications. Fred Coughlin developed Pegs as a stand-alone application. Then when TI started supporting flash applications, Jason Kovacs decided to create PuzzPack which packaged all four of the games into a single app. It was a great idea.

ujiin1 karma

I'm just here, as I'm sure many of us are, to say thank you for making pre-smartphone education tolerable. I'm sure I've logged a month or two on all the games combined, and truly for the system you coded them for, they are masterpieces.

UberBlockDude2 karma

Thank you! A lot of time went into the development of these games, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

autopilot_failed1 karma

What real-world job did your skills translate into?

UberBlockDude2 karma

I now work as a software engineer.

Fishstx1 karma

Could you possibly explain why the calculators still have a relative high cost after the long time the technology has been out?

UberBlockDude10 karma

Welcome to Capitalism. You still bought it, right?

monkeyman801 karma

somewhat nerdy, but how do you optimize code programming on a ti?

specifically, i went through high school over a decade ago, but my senior calc project was making a program. while it worked as i thought it would it would take ~30 seconds - 1 minute to run (if you input a function, it'd find the net positive area under a curve).

UberBlockDude2 karma

Experience. Complexity of algorithms also helps. But mainly experience.