Winning

Interview: Nikhil Suresh on Building His Winning Canvas Demo

Editor’s Note: Back in November, Nikhil Suresh (@nklsrh2) from Sydney, Australia, won the MDN Developer Derby with his distinctive, non-violent 2-person shooter game Bouncy and the Apple. We thought it’d be fun to learn a little more about Nikhil and what inspires him.
Congratulations Nikhil, and thanks for your thoughtful words about Mozilla. We’re honored to showcase your demo.

Nikhil Suresh
Tell us about developing Bouncy and the Apple and where your idea came from?

I really wanted my demo to stand out from the crowd, so it had to possess a singular feature that would impress. Since my passion is game development, I decided to implement game controller support in whatever game I would build for the Derby. I built Bouncy to be a twin-stick shooter which would stand out as a demo for the Mozilla Gamepad API as well as Canvas.

Usually, I tend to stay away from violence in my games, so it was a bit difficult at first (a ‘shooter’ without any violence!)

Incidentally, it was the Mozilla mascots that inspired me to draw Bouncy (the spikes in the hair were directly from the brown dude with the hat!):

Mozilla Brand Toolkit images


How did you get started coding and hacking?

Funnily enough, it started in Microsoft PowerPoint, where I realized I could ‘hyperlink’ from a slide to any other one. I then created a quiz game, not unlike the TV show ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?.’ From that, I moved onto Visual Basic (in which I became Microsoft-Certified in 2008) C# and XNA, and eventually began learning JavaScript (after playing around with the Processing language).

What was your first computer?

I don’t really remember much about my first computer, except the fact it had a Pentium II, which was not powerful enough to run some of the new games I wanted to play.

What games do you play the most these days?

On the console, I prefer racing games like F1 2011 and Gran Turismo. On the PC, I like to play indie games like Super Crate Box and Jamestown. I also love Valve games like Portal.

Are you working on another demo or any other cool projects you want to share?

I’m currently participating in the Pokki 1UP game development competition, with a friend. We are building a 2D/3D arcade game called BLASTR:ARENA. It uses WebGL for 3D graphics and Canvas for the 2D fallback.

Blastrs Game in development

You mentioned that you recently graduated from high school? What’s next for you?

I have just enrolled in the Bachelor of Engineering (Software) course at the University of New South Wales. During my degree, I will also be developing games part-time, hopefully for a chance at breaking into the gamedev industry.

When you think about HTML5 and new Web technologies what are you most excited about?

As my game clearly demonstrates, HTML5 and other web technologies provide the browser the ability to render other traditional applications obsolete, replacing them with a unified system which can serve as the basis for anything from games to word processors.

As I’m most interested in game development, the introduction of the Fullscreen and Gamepad APIs, as well as performance increases in WebGL and Canvas give the Web a greater chance of overthrowing consoles as an effective game platform.

Anybody else who helped you with Bouncy and the Apple whom you’d like to give a shout out to?

My aunt, who had come over for a holiday, was a fantastic source of inspiration and ideas, so it was a great feeling to finally play the finished game with her on the big screen. I’d also like to thank my parents for letting me stick to my plans, even if I skipped dinner and stayed up until 1AM on some nights. I’m also grateful to my brother for putting up with my endless repeating game music.

You mentioned that you’re a big fan of Mozilla’s work on the Open Web. Can you say something more about why you think that’s important?

I think Mozilla is a fantastic, one-of-a-kind organisation since it works and innovates solely with the well-being of the Web and its users in mind. With such an open and direct goal, it means everyone, from the users to the developers, benefit from the development of Mozilla products and technologies.
Also, Mozilla’s work on HTML, CSS, Javascript and other web technology is for the mutual benefit of all, fostering the advancement of the open Web as a mainstream platform of the present and future generations.

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