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The Big Nerd Ranch Way


John Shea

Editor’s note: John Shea is a two-time Big Nerd Ranch alum and is the creator of Kondrian, an action game for iPhone and iPad. For more details about the development of Kondrian, check out John’s blog.

Alumni: If you’d like to share your success stories with us, please leave a note in the comments.

Taking Sides

If there’s one thing that the dev community is good at, it’s picking sides and choosing a dogma to follow. We love finding some new development philosophy to adopt and proselytize.

On the one hand, that passion helps drive us to continually adapt and learn—and on the other hand, it creates barriers and disfunction.

The Big Nerd Ranch Way

I’ve taken two courses at Big Nerd Ranch, bought seven of their books and watched many a screencast. For me, the Big Nerd Ranch way is refreshing because its not dogmatic or divisive. Instead, it pushes a love of building and creation, no matter the tools or methodologies.

My decision to make a game was validated by the open-mindedness and curiosity encouraged by Big Nerd Ranch.

The Big Nerd Ranch teachers and students would say, “You are making a game! Fantastic!” whereas others might say, “Is that going to look good on your CV?” or “Is that a serious thing to do?”

Or, from the other side of the divide: “You aren’t one of us! You aren’t a game programmer or a even a hardcore gamer!”

The Big Nerd Ranch way takes no sides, and just says, “Go forth and create.”

So that’s what I did. I created Kondrian, an action game for iPhone and iPad.


In Kondrian, we are being attacked by a villain from another dimension called Lord Kondrian, who is stealing energy from our world. Your job is to track Kondrian down and stop him from stealing our stuff.

Orange Assassin game

Kondrian is the first game I’ve made from start to finish. It took a lot of work to finish the game, but in the end, it was so worth it. When I play my game, I look at it and say, “Wow! I made this!” I feel like I created a work of art. It’s definitely one of the most fun and rewarding development projects I’ve worked on, and I wouldn’t have begun without the encouragement from Big Nerd Ranch.


John Shea

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