Patrick Marchand

My path to programming

Posted on October 5, 2017

This post is simply a look back on my experience with modding videogames and how it led to me becoming a software developer.

Four years ago, I was studying politics and economics at the University of Montreal and I had absolutely no idea why. I had this vague notion about finding work in an embassy, but besides that, I was completely aimless. School was not going very well, as I struggle with ADHD and had yet to develop some good habits to work around it. Now I had always been a gamer and over the years had started playing a few paradox interactive titles. Their games were complex and often used history based gameplay to great effect. The first paradox game I actually played was Victoria 2, a grand strategy game set in the victorian age. It was a striking game thanks to a very good use of the political and economical climate of the era. But it wasnt until I played Crusader Kings 2 that I really hit my stride, a complex game that models the personal relationships of a medieval dynasty. The game featured excellent emergent gameplay and since aged like a fine wine. One the best things about these paradox games is that they were trivial to modify, you could take a small part of the game and modify it to your hearts extent. This led to a lot of interesting modifications being published on the game’s forums.

At one point, growing more and more depressed about my struggles with self-organization and school, I decided to try to change my mind and build a small ck2 modification. This led to a project that I called High Kings and Consuls. A small localization mod that gave more flavorful names to the various titles your characters could attain through the game. These titles were mostly regional flavor like Teyrns for welsh dukes and Malik for armenian dukes or Empereur for the french. I had a lot of fun with this, reading about different regional kingdoms at different periods trying to find interesting names to use. But the scope of this mod was small, and so one day I decided to build a bigger project.

My new project was called Ancient Religions Reborn. It allowed a player to roleplay the resurgeance of a few long dead religions, like celtic and hellenic paganism. I started work on the celts and learned a lot about event modding in crusader kings 2, I interacted with the community and even started having a few hundred users. At some times, I even got contributions from other modders! (For instance, most of the hellenics mechanics and a bunch of artwork). This was a first for me and it really informed my future love for open source communities. It’s also were I was introduced to Git by a fellow modder. I ultimately had to stop working on these projects because they had given me a need for more and I had decided to apply to a computer programming program at the Institut Teccart in Montreal and I no longer had the time to work on them. But Ancient Religions Reborn had actually become quite popular and had also been incorporated into other mods, so I tried my best to maintain it, but got bogged down in feature creep and never managed to make another release. With time another group of modders decided to fork the project and start maintaining it again.

That ended my involvement with modding in crusader kings 2, but it left me with a love for open source communities, better auto-dicdat capabilities and a strong interest in programming.