Hello, my name is Franck Poulain, i’m 30 years old and I am the founder and the only full time developer at Lonely Bits Games. Let me share a bit of my story with you.
When it all started
My passion of video game making began at the age of 11 years old when I played Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation. When I saw the end credits I knew that I wanted to be a game developer. As I come from a humble background, my parents didn’t have the possibility to pay me some studies in computer science (in fact I don’t even have any diploma related to computer science to this day), so I began to learn game programming by myself.
The self learning quest
As I didn’t had any computer yet I have begun to learn programming on the Playstation 2. Yes that’s true ! On the demo disc that were provided with the console you could find the “Yabasic” application, a programming language derived from basic. Believe me, that was quite a tedious work to type programming lines with a console controller by using a virtual keyboard ! When I knew how to do some “simple” things like drawing simple 2D shapes, move them and such, I received my first computer (I was 14). Then I jumped immediately in the PC modding community, I started to learn level design by using valve Hammer tool to make various levels for half life 2 / counter strike source and I also started to learn C++ by looking the Half Life 2 SDK code. I didn’t read any programming books or web tutorials to add some challenge and because i am kind of a crazy guy. During this period many games have influenced me and continue to have influence on my work even today. Half Life series, Operation Flashpoint, Deus Ex… That was a golden era for PC gaming.
A job in the video game industry
From the age of 16 to 19 I have released various maps and mods for various games. Then my modding skills paid off and I was hired in the professional video game industry at Bohemia Interactive Studio to work on ArmA 2 and ArmA 2 Operation Arrowhead. This was probably one of the best period of my life as the Bohemia Interactive team is awesome. But I always wanted to do my own games, to start my own indie studio so I left Bohemia Interactive Studio and started to work on Dangerous Rays the first game of the future studio that I was about to create, Lonely Bits Games.
Building Dangerous Rays foundations
The development of Dangerous Rays started in 2011, from the beginning I knew that I wanted to build my own game engine. It was way more fun for my brain ! The engine base code was finished at the end of 2013. Then from this date I started to develop a prototype version of Dangerous Rays. Those were quite hard times as I was doing some various small jobs (post office, cleaning…) to be able to keep my studio out of any financial issues.
Dangerous Rays Alpha 1 version was published on 27th of April 2014. I was able to make enough sales to be able to work on full time on the game. Although the game has been received well and i was able to build a base community, I was not very satisfied by the engine anymore because I had gained a lot of skills during the development. I was pretty sure that I could make a way better engine and a way better game. That’s why I started in 2015 to make a brand new engine and game code for Dangerous Rays. That decision was difficult because it would mean that the existing players would not receive any new updates for a long period of time. But in the end that decision was very good because the new engine is way better, way more flexible and could be upgraded during many years.
I am still working on this new engine and the new Alpha 18 update featuring this engine will be released this autumn.
And here I am, writing this short story about myself. It’s been a long road and now im working very hard on Dangerous Rays to make it the best game possible.
Thanks for reading me,