About Me

Overview

My name is Ryan "Berserkguard" Norby and I've been interested in videogame development since I was 11 years old. I had an epiphany when my best friend showed me RuneScape back in fifth grade. This was my first time playing an MMO, and I was instantly captivated by its complexity and the sheer volume of players scattered about the world. I very clearly remember going onto the Jagex (the company that developed RuneScape) website and looking at the job openings. Immediately upon seeing that they were looking for computer science graduates, I started teaching myself how to program. Although I have since outgrown RuneScape, my passion for videogame development only continues to grow.

The first programming language I learned was ActionScript 2. I downloaded the 30-day trial of Macromedia (back when that was a thing!) Flash MX 2004 and made a whole bunch of simple games on my own. I still remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when I used trigonometry to make it so enemies always looked toward the player (hey, I was twelve at the time!). Unfortunately, I had not learned about source control by this time, so I don't have any surviving code for my early creations. Since then, I've learned Java, HTML/CSS/JS, PHP, Visual Basic, C/C++, C#, LISP, IA32 & MIPS assembly, Lua, and Python. I have played around with various game engines, such as Unity and UDK, but, in my opinion, nothing beats making games from scratch with plaintext. Much of my interest in game development is in the underlying code that acts as the glue between various game components. I have a lot of fun writing my own game engines and frameworks.

When I'm not programming games, I'm usually playing them! My favorite franchises include Ratchet & Clank, Fallout, Mass Effect, Diablo, and World of Warcraft. And when I'm not doing either, I am probably watching anime (my absolute favorite series being Clannad) or listening to Finnish metal (Sonata Arctica, Nightwish, Korpiklaani, etc.).

I will be graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2015 (two semesters early!). I am growing more and more excited to pick up my career as a professional game developer!

Work Experience

During most of my summer and winter breaks between 2010 and 2014, I worked as a software development intern at Direxxis, Inc., a company that makes marketing software. While there, I learned a great deal about how to effectively develop software as part of a much larger team. I worked primarily in ActionScript 2 (using Flex), but also did some server work in Java. Some of the major tasks I worked on during my time at Direxxis includes implementing the localization system, developing an integrated help system that is used everywhere, and porting over the admin panel from Flex to HTML5. During one summer, where there was a huge backlog of QA tasks, I performed quality assurance and tested over 200 bugs & features. Languages I used throughout the internship include ActionScript 2, SQL, HTML5/JavaScript/CSS, Java, and PHP.

This past summer, I interned with the Madden NFL Mobile team at EA Sports in Orlando. I can officially call myself a professional game developer! I worked on the team as a software engineer intern and influenced both the gameplay design as well as the technical design. During the 12-week period, I put in over 550 hours and loved every microsecond of it. I learned so incredibly much and met some very talented people who will continue to inspire me for years to come. My managers had me work on all different aspects of the game, including 3D gameplay, 2D user interface, server logic, database queries, automation test client, automation results webpage, and more. One of the tasks I was most proud of completing was implementing dynamic search functionality for the Leagues update. I was given the freedom to design the SQL tables needed, and I performed load testing to make sure the queries were acceptable for large datasets. Languages I used throughout the internship include C++, Java, ActionScript 3, C#, SQL, ASP.NET, JavaScript, and Python.

Education

I attended Hopkinton, MA public schools up through the 10th grade. While enrolled at Hopkinton High School, I took every AP class I could, with the rest being honors. AP Computer Science wasn't offered, but I studied the subject on my own outside of school and received a 5 on the AP exam. For my electives, I took a year-long computer programming class (my final grade was a 102), where I used Java and Visual Basic, as well as a web design class, where we used HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I was awarded the Technology Departmental Award at the end of my freshman year for my significant achievement and interest in these classes.

After my sophomore year, I transferred to the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics & Science (MAMS), a specialized two-year high school affiliated with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. For my senior year, I took 36 credit hours of classes at WPI, including 4 levels of calculus and 3 computer science classes. I earned a 3.83 GPA while at WPI, making the Dean's List all 4 quarters.

I enrolled in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2012, and entered with 48 credit hours of transfer credit, allowing me to jump in as a second-semester sophomore. I was admitted as a James Scholar and received the University Achievement Scholarship. I'm on track to graduate by May 2015. I currently have a 3.77 GPA. For my computer science electives, I'm taking game development-related courses, including interactive computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and user interface design.

Extracurricular

I was in Boy Scouts throughout middle and high school, earning my Eagle Scout rank at 15 years old (I set the record for being the youngest boy in my troop to do so). I was on the varsity math team during my two years at Hopkinton High School, and also spent my freshman year on the varsity swimming team, earning the Most Improved Swimmer award. I was on the robotics team my sophomore year, where we built robots from Vex kits and competed in local tournaments.

At MAMS, I participated on the speech & debate team, and even competed in the Massachusetts National Forensics League state tournament. Three students and I participated in a Vex robot tournament hosted by WPI, and our robot won the Sombrero Award, which is given to the robot with the best defense mechanism. I was an active member of the American Computer Science League and participated in local programming competitions, such as the Fitchburg State University programming competition, where my team took 3rd place among 20 teams.

At UIUC, I spend a lot of my free time with ACM Gamebuilders, a student organization dedicated to videogame development. I created a 3D tower defense game in C++ with a couple of its members during my first year at UIUC. We participated at Engineering Open House 2013, an annual event for students to show off engineering-related projects to the public. I ran for president of the club at the end of my first year, and was unanimously elected. While president, the other officers and I created a mentor/mentee program, redesigned our website, and built up relations with videogame developers. Within the Gamebuilders group, my friend and I also created a 2D dungeon crawler. I am currently the secretary, and I'm working on making Gamebuilders the best I can before I graduate in the spring! I am helping coordinate a group trip to the upcoming GDC 2015, an event I've wanted to attend since I was 13.

Resume

You can download my resume in PDF form here.