- Full name: Zachary Banack
- Birth date: April 7, 1996
- Birthplace: Syracuse, New York
- Current residence: Brewerton, New York
- Education: Rochester Institute of Technology ('19)
- Qualifications: view resume
- Favorite color: blue
- Favorite type of food: Indian
- Favorite AAA games: Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Pokemon Crystal, the Jak and Daxter series, Super Mario Maker
- Favorite indie games: Zenith by ArcaneKids, Karoshi 2.0 by Jesse Venbrux, Garden Gnome Carnage by Daniel Remar, Mondo Medicals by Jonatan Söderström, Innoquous 3 by Andrew McCluskey, Jumper 2 by Matt Thorson
- Favorite artists: Lorde, Tobacco, Ratatat, Fatboy Slim
- Favorite films: Requiem for a Dream, Birdman, American Beauty, Moonrise Kingdom
- Hobbies: general programming, drawing, speedrunning (Super Mario 64, in particular), lost media, body building
FROM PAPER TO PROGRAMMING
Ever since a child, I had been fascinated by video games. It was not so much the games themselves that I fell in love with, but rather the concept of controlling a character in an alternate world. I grew with a Nintendo 64, a Game Boy Advance, and a wild imagination. From the moment I put my hand on a joystick, I knew that I wanted to create my own adventure, my own story -- I was dead-set on making a video game. The problem was that I had absolutely no idea where to begin. Being young and without access to a computer, I thought video games were consecutive drawings, much like that of an animation. I was under the impression that every possible "frame" had to be drawn individually. It was an absolutely absurd assumption with the hindsight I now possess (and I view these creations as a storyboard of some sort), but that's exactly what I did: hand-draw hundreds and hundreds of frames. They weren't perfect, they weren't pretty, and there was no way of actually "playing" these so-called games, but I felt like I was doing something to get closer to my dream.
I managed to find at least a dozen or so of these "paper games". Pompinenys (later shortened to Pompineys), a game series spanning several games and a few thousand pieces of paper, was most obviously my take on Pokémon games. It copied many, even the most minute, details from the franchise: the protagonist wore a baseball cap (heck, his name was even Zash), creatures would evolve when trained in a turn-based attack system and they could be stored in capsules (called "Blocks"), one would progress by beating "gyms" and earning badges, each game was named after a color, you were instructed by a professor, etc. From an originality standpoint, there was little creativity, but coming from the mind of a six-year-old who had designed hundreds of "Pomps", complete with names, stats, and information, what I was doing was neat to say the last. My elementary school friends certainly enjoyed what I was doing with my hobby!
Each one of these games used about an entire ream of paper and a pack or two of markers and/or crayons. My parents didn't get mad at all the resources I went through, but rather praised my creativity and dedication.
Below are some images from various projects. You can see how, even at such a young age, I tried to be realistic in my design and add in menus, character selection, naming systems, flowcharts, and so on. I was such an ambitious toddler that I even made a Pompineys' show (though it's quite difficult to classify some of the stapled packets as "shows" or "games").
These are my roots, and I'm proud of them. Game making and the passion it sparked in me would eventually lead to my now-entrepreneurial mindset. I am an advocate of getting code in classrooms and firmly believe programming is an invaluable skill for people of all ages. It's already taken me so far in terms of both providing entertainment and creating products to solve some of the world's modern problems.
Much like a Pompiney, I've evolved.