I was born in Rome, Italy on the 8th of September, 1986.
During the first years of my life, my father bought a personal computer (a 80286) which introduced me to the Information Technology world.
When I was 4 years old I was able to use DOS, a word processor (Word Star) and a simple drawing software (Sketch). And, of course, play most of the notorious videogames of the ’80s and early ’90s: Tetris, Pac-Man, Arkanoid, Prince of Persia, etc…
At 5 I wrote a quick guide on how to navigate the Filesystem in DOS, creating, moving and deleting files and folders and write documents in Wordstar (and print it, should a printer be available). This was intended mainly for my parents to introduce them to the use of a computer.
At the time I entered primary school I already had two videogame consoles (a SEGA Game Gear and a Nintendo Entertainment System) which introduced me to the world of videogames and electronic entertainment.
When I got into secondary school I had a computer room where I could go and learn the Basic programming language with the help of a teacher.
During the second year in secondary school I wrote my first software: a quiz based game where the player would be asked a question and given 5 answering options: if you got the right one, the system would award you a configurable amount of points, otherwise the system might either not award you any points or punish you by removing points (or a fraction of point depending on how it was set up).
This system was adopted by teachers to automate some tests and promote teamwork because there weren’t enough computers available in the computer room and, as a consequence, students had to team up in groups of 3 and cooperate to take the test together.
High School Years
My parents decided to let me choose which high school I would attend and I opted for a science high school (Liceo Scientifico).
During the first two years we had a class about computers and the basics of programming using the Pascal (and later Turbo Pascal) programming language.
I took this chance to update my quiz software with the “new” Pascal.
The new quiz software got somehow popular among other students (mainly due to most questions being sports, tv and videogame related) and they asked me to keep it constantly updated with new questions and put a random question generator in it so that each playthrough would produce different questions, along with more answers (ie: each question would have 10 possible answers but each time 5 random ones would be given to the player, one being the right one and the others wrong).
Despite the simplicity of the game itself, to my disbelief, it was quite a success.
I programmed other small softwares and developed a personal style of coding in Pascal by using lots of “go-to” instructions to structure the code in blocks and objects: by pure intuition I was programming with an object-oriented-like style, something which would then become the standard with C, C++ and Java programming languages.
During the High School Years, for the first time I got in touch with the Final Fantasy universe and it had a huge impact in my life: it deeply changed my views on videogames, mainly about their complexity in plot, mechanics and development.
Following the success of my quiz game, I decided I would give a shot in making a more challenging game: an RPG (Role Playing Game).
“Shadows” was born and soon left unfinished.
While I was programming it, I became aware that it was too much work for me alone and I needed help, but no one seemed interested in it. After writing the entire plot, recording a handful of tunes and importing some graphics from other games I left the game unfinished with just a world map, a couple of cities and places done, a dungeon and a share of monsters/enemies.
The game had its own website on the now defunct Geocities where people could follow the game’s development, download the game in its unfinished state (constantly updated!) and give feedback and suggestions on how to make the game better – a practice which has become the standard today, better known as “Early Access”, but was unheard of at that time.
After giving up on Shadows I decided to try developing a simpler game.
Street Fighter and “beat’em ups” always had a strong influence in my life and I loved the game genre, so I thought about giving a fighting game a try.
Street Fighter Millennium was created and completed in a short time frame thanks to the Mugen software which made the task quite easy.
The point of the game was “what would happen if several versions of the same character would confront each other?”.
The game had ~6 different versions of Ryu from Street Fighter (SFII, Super Turbo, Alpha, Alpha 2, etc…) along with several revisions of other notorious characters.
The roster was huge with 50+ fighters.
Music and stages were shamelessly copy-pasted from other Street Fighter games (just like the characters) and that made the distribution of the game a problem.
In the end, the game was burned onto several CDs and distributed hand to hand to other students that were interested in it which, in turn, burned it for themselves and passed the CD on.
People loved the game and word reached me that it was even used in a tournament in a game shop.
The concept of letting the player use several “revisions” of the same character was eventually adopted in Hyper Street Fighter II in 2003 and in the “Edition Select” mode in Ultra Street Fighter IV in 2014.
During the High School Years I was extremely productive and I created other games and softwares and mods for games like Half-Life and Counter-Strike. You can find more about them in the Works section of the site.
In 2005, when I got my degree, gaming was still a niche in Italy, with gamers generally regarded as anti-social nerds despite the Playstation phenomenon (almost everyone had a Playstation, but no one would admit playing it regularly), which led me to abandon the dream of being a game designer; so I chose to go to University to get a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering as this would have left me a way open into the gaming industry as a game programmer later.
This phase of my life is still developing, so I don’t feel like writing anything about it until I’ll close this chapter and start the next one.