I was born in Macau, China and attended an all-boys high school, Ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with the computer with my cousin. Ever since then, I always had a special interest and affinity for technologies. Like most kids, I enjoyed computer games, When my parents gave my very first computer as a gift for being at the top of my class when I was in form 2 at my secondary school. I mastered DOS and Windows within six months, then I went on to teach myself some simple web page design and programming basics through self-help books. It was fun when I made my first program and simple games in Adobe Flash back in the day.
I was raised by my deaf grandma in my early childhood and my grandpa passed away before I was born. Although there were many sadness and inconvenience in her life, she still tried to bring the best and happiness to me. Therefore I dreamt and decided to work and help weak people and bring happiness to them with future technologies ever since then.
I came to Australia in 2004 for better education and higher career prospects, thanking my hardworking father and the casino boom in Macau those years. By the time I graduated foundation year, I knew I wanted to study computing. And by chance UNSW has a double degree in Computer and Biomedical Engineering, so I determined to put my dream into reality. From that point on, everything fell into place. My life revolved around computing and programming.
It was not an easy time throughout the university. However, I have made it through with satisfying results and was awarded Honours Class 2 Division 1. Moreover, I have also obtained a commendable achievement on publishing two academic journal papers as the second author, thanking my thesis supervisor for keep motivating me and pushing my limit.
I have also finished a four months internship as a web developer in Rockable Apps in 2009, developing its second-hand exchange platform on the standalone website and its Facebook app. This position allowed me to learn about web development and Facebook graph API and motivated me to work as a web developer in my later career.
To be honest, it wasn’t easy to find my first job as an overseas fresh graduate. After some rough time, I finally got into an e-commerce company as a web developer. I worked pretty much individually on a website that had thousands of traffics and hundreds of orders every day. I maintained and developed both the frontend and backend of the website, as well as created internal tools for better order management and faster process. We used an old open-source e-commerce platform called osCommerce, and I open-sourced a few of our systems and dedicated them back to the community. I also take part in researching and prototyping the newest e-commerce platforms such as Magento. Furthermore, I have also learnt a lot on website knowledge such as search engine optimization (SEO) and Google tag manager and strived to make our website to be the top among our competitors.
I played many video games throughout my childhood. I dreamt to be a game developer but never expected this would come true. My university friend, Brian, came to me one day and ask if I want to make a game together for fun. Although I’ve been a web developer for years, I was eager to learn how to make an actual playable game that can bring fun to people. Without any hesitation, I agreed and started making our first game in our spare time. We came up with many ideas and finally, we settled down with a game combining the two most popular gameplays at that time, endless running and card collection, Go2School.
We put all our strange thoughts into the game. The main character was a super baby and he goes to school every day at the age of 3. His father is a very famous mad physicist created a black hole that became a portal between different parallel universes. So on his way to school, his father asks him to save the world by the way.
After a few months, we finally completed our prototype and decided to try our luck to get funds from a Kickstarter campaign. We had a lot of fun filming for an intro video and putting everything together. Unfortunately, we were too optimistic and failed the campaign, but we did get a lot of attraction and people did like the concept of our games. We decided to take the chance, quit our full-time job and put all our effort into it, we founded Sweaty Chair Studio in 2013.
It was a stressful decision and I spent almost all my saving and I had to take some freelance jobs along the way. Thank god, we finished the game and somehow gained the angel investment and publishing partnership. Ever since then, everything fell into place. The second game we made, No Humanity, only relay on organic downloads and acclimated 4 million downloads. Rainmaker – The Beautiful Flood, was featured by Apple multiple times and took the top 50 paid games. Projection – First Light, was selected to be one of the first 100 games launched with Apple Aracade. I believe creativity is always the key in products that keep Apple coming back to us.
Founding a startup is definitely not easy, we had made a lot of mistakes and learnt a lot from there. Our first game had a lot of bugs that even occasionally stop players from playing and we have been striving hard to make sure our code to be robust and stable. I designed and built up the coding architecture for the team, so code dependency and the chance of mistakes can be decreased, as well as reuse the code across projects to provide fast prototyping.
We do not satisfy with just one or a few successful games, we are very also keen to try different gaming technology such as AR/VR and multiplayer, as well as different types of gameplay. I believe keep evolving and being creative are always the ways to success.
Blockchain and Education
In 2018, while crypto-currencies were really hot, we saw a lot of potentials in blockchain gaming. We decided to step into the new and vacant industry. After a few months of learning and exploring, we created our own coin, a dApp prototype and a standalone application. The dApp was a simple land bidding game where players can buy and trade lands, with a chance to win the jackpot. While the standalone application was aiming to be the movie Ready Player One, players could create and trade 3D assets and use them to create their worlds. Everything seemed going smooth and we even got a crypto investor backing us. However, at the end of 2018, the crypto market fell dramatically and we had to put our ICO and the game on hold because we wouldn’t get any promising investment or a strong tech team to continue the project development.
After a few months of struggle, we really didn’t want to waste our effort while there’s still a lot of uncertainty in blockchain, so we decided to pivot the product into an Education application, Block42. It became an easy 3D animation tool for kids and 3D amateurs, while we could use most of the 3D creation tools we developed for the blockchain game. It turns out to be a small success. We were selected into the UNSW 10X program 2020 and got 10 schools subscribed to our workshops. It could be very slow to get the education industry to adapt to new technology and tools, we believe Block42 still have a long way to go.
After 7 whole years of running startups, I decided to jump out of my comfort zone and took a new adventure going back to the industry in 2020. It was not an easy decision but I was very keen to gain more insight and skills from other companies in the industry, instead of making games within our small team. I became a VR developer in LAI Games working on the first VR title, Arcade Legend. I believed VR will be the future of gaming and this experience really helped me understand every aspect and potentials of VR.
That’s only half of my journey and I look forward to continuing this in the soon future…