Larry-Web Programming Extraordinaire

Larry Root

As part of our ongoin effort to bring you closer to the people behind Armor Games we sent off 10 questions to Larry Root, the Head of Web Development (Armor Games user lroot). He was kind enough to provide the following responses. We hope this helps shed some light on his role here as well as provide a small glimpse into the future of Armor Games.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do at Armor Games?

My name is Larry Root and I am the Head of Web Development at Armor Games. This role basically means that I am responsible for the technical development, maintenance and architecture of our online services. This includes the website, in game services like high scores & game shares as well as new online features still in development.

What was the first programming language you learned and how were you exposed to it?

The first language that I was exposed to was probably BASIC. My dad was, among many things, a programmer and we always had a computer in the garage (not sure why it wasn’t allowed in the house). He would purchase programming magazines that would contain the source code for simple games written in BASIC. I would copy the source code by hand into our old Intel 8088 DOS PC and eventually with a little luck and a lot of debugging I could play these games.

I would not say I ever “learned” BASIC I was not capable of writing anything from scratch. The first language that I officially learned was probably ADA when I attended Fullerton College. I haven’t used it since but that was my first real introduction to structured programming concepts and object oriented principles.

When did you realize web programming was something you wanted/would do?

That was something I decided on while attending college in San Francisco at the Academy of Art University (I transferred from Fullerton College). Growing up I had always been drawn to both computers (system moding, gaming, BBS’s) as well as the arts (drawing & illustration). Discovering photoshop brought both of these passions together and I new that a creative, digital medium was something I wanted to do. So off to San Francisco I went.

My major at the time was called “Interactive Digital Media”. It was a broad study of creative digital media including desktop publishing (illustrator, photoshop), Video editing (SGI Oxygen systems), Director (and advanced Lingo programing) as well as a relatively new class at the time called “Web Design”. The web class fascinated me because of its newness and its immediacy in publishing and broad reach. Before this I figured I would specialize in CD Rom development of some sort. But the web class changed all that. I started freelancing outside of school doing web projects and eventually landed a job at a small company as a web designer/developer and never looked back.

When did you start working at Armor Games, and how do you like it so far?

My first day at Armor Games was January 26, 2009. Up until this time I had worked for interactive consulting firms for over 10 years doing web development for all sorts of companies and brands (cat.com, nissanusa.com, mazdausa.com, snow.com to name a few). Leaving the consulting field and joining a small team of passionate and inspired gamers was thrilling to me. Being able to work to work directly with the team to shape and implement the future of Armor Games online was both a daunting and exciting challenge. The first few months were busy. Being the only person in house that did web work meant that I did everything. That includes fixing spelling errors to reworking the entire caching strategy for the current site to stabilize slow pages. All in all its been great and I am still as excited as I was when I first started.

You have created many additions and improvements to the site and system so far, what are some of your favorites?

Looking back over the past 1+ years since I started quite a bit of work has gone into Armor Games. The first job was to stabilize the current armorgames.com website. There were many issues with slow pages, especially within the forums section. A rewrite of a some code and a new caching architecture (using Memcached) helped us accomplish that. Armor Games has some ambitious plans so I began architecting and developing a new web platform that would better meet our requirements for the future. The first tangible result of this platform for our users was our in game services which we dub the “AGI” (Armor Games Interface) which of course is a play on the acronym API (Application Programming Interface). This brought High Scores and Game Sharing features into some of our most popular games. We have accomplished quite a lot since I first started and these are just a couple of my most memorable so far.

Do you have any new features planned for the website?

Absolutely. I cant give everything away but I can certainly share a few things. Look for more improvements and features to our AGI (ex: Authentication & persistent game data & stats storage cross browser). Also don’t expect the AGI to be limited to just Flash games either. We are looking to rollout a completely revamped multiplayer platform with new multiplayer games to follow (and yes this includes updating the current Colony multiplayer system). Finally some of you may have seen glimpses of our new brand here and there or have discovered this peculiar site http://beta.armorgames.com. Stay tuned…

When you are not busy working at the office, what are somethings you like to do for fun?

Outside of work I do enjoy spending time with my family (my wife Laura, 3 year old son Owen and 5 year old daughter Amanda). I am also a pretty big computer geek as you might imagine so I do spend quite a lot of time on the computer. I also play ice hockey, something I got into as a kid. I usually play a couple games a week. However recently I suffered my first major injury so I have been off the ice for a bit.

Could you tell us a little more about the Hockey you play? What is your favorite NHL team?

I play most of my hockey at Anaheim Ice, the same place where the Anaheim Ducks practice. I play on the Chiefs. The name was taken from the team in the movie Slap Shot. I would also have to say that I’m a pretty big Ducks fan.

What’s your favorite Flash game? What are your kid’s favorite Flash games?

One of my favorite flash games of late is Crush the Castle Players pack. I spent many hours building all sorts of structures in that game. It was very addictive. Owen is still a bit young for flash games, however Amanda loves just about every game on the Nick Jr.’s NOGGIN site.

Whats are some of your favorite websites? (Besides ArmorGames.com :)

Most of my social needs are satisfied with:
http://facebook.com
http://twitter.com (@lroot)

For all my geek news and gadget cravings:
http://lifehacker.com
http://slashdot.org
http://boingboing.com
http://gizmodo.com
http://engadget.com
http://digg.com

Some of my web development favorites include:
http://www.alistapart.com
http://www.phparch.com
http://highscalability.com

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