I Used to Write Video Games

Sometimes people ask me which program I enjoyed writing the most, usually expecting me to say either HomeSite or FeedDemon.


"Moon Runner" was the software I most enjoyed creating. It was a game for the TRS-80 Color Computer that I wrote in 1986, when I was 18 years old. Back then I was hopelessly addicted to video games, so being able to write one myself was an enormous thrill.

"Moon Runner" was loosely based on the arcade game Moon Patrol which I wasted countless quarters on as a kid. It was coded entirely in 6809E assembler and took me several months to create. I still have a printout of the source code on my bookshelf, but it’s gibberish to me now.

I formed my first company ("D & N Software" – my Dad was the "D" and I was the "N") to sell the game, and had wild dreams of striking it rich. But despite receiving rave reviews in popular TRS-80 publications, "Moon Runner" was a flop. It barely earned enough to keep me stocked with peanut butter and Ramen Noodle Soup for a week.

But you know what? I didn’t care about that. I just loved the fact that I created something good enough for others to use. To this day, nothing has compared to the rush I got at age 18 when I saw "Moon Runner" reviewed alongside software written by professional software developers.

I imagine that’s similar to the thrill so many young coders feel today when they contribute to an open source project or post something that ends up on the front page of Hacker News.

That thrill is why "Moon Runner" will always be the software I most enjoyed creating.