So I’m not a very good blogger. Three posts in five years is… oh, a tiny bit pitiful. But, well… I’ve been up to a lot!  About two and a half months ago, I left my job as a museum STEAM educator to venture into the world of computer programming! Now this is something my father has been encouraging me to get into since… well, several days after my birth? There’s a picture of me, taken on one of my first days home from the hospital, where I’m sitting in his lap and he’s putting my hands on a computer keyboard. This is a long time in the making. He even bought me a shirt recently that says, “code is poetry” so I can pretend that my two creative writing degrees have anything to do with what I’m doing now! Well and it isn’t even really pretend. I’ve been writing games! I started out experimenting with Twine – a tool for authoring interactive fiction. Wrote a few little stories and flexed my prose muscles, which haven’t been used since that time I wrote like three short stories in undergrad… I never really thought I had the patience for prose, and now I’m trying to find the patience for complicated branching prose that has 16 different endings, but it’s actually going pretty well!

 

Omi Pet has a stylish party hat for the occasion.

Omi Pet!

And today I’m marking a pretty exciting milestone in my coding journey – I published my first Amazon Echo skill! The Echo is an Amazon voice-controlled device that can play music, read you the news, the weather, set your alarm clock, control your lights, all kinds of stuff. And with my new skill, it can be your virtual pet!

I remember getting my first Tamagotchi when I was maybe nine years old. It couldn’t do much, and I’m pretty sure it just looked like some kind of amorphous lump, but I was thrilled. I made my mom babysit it during the day when I was in school because I was so paranoid that it was going to poop or get sick or die – ah, all of those exciting things it could do! I made her swear to care for it as though it were a human child. And truth be told, she did a far better job with it than I ever did. I had a bad habit of losing it for long enough that it was nothing but a little animated tombstone by the time it was recovered. But it was a cute fad, and probably responsible for my Neopets obsession, so I remember it fondly.

With that in mind, I decided get into Echo skill writing by creating Omi Pet! Omi is a tiny green blob from a magical database far, far away. You can feed her meals or treats, pet her, and play a guessing game with her, all of which will contribute to her overall health and happiness! Unlike those cruel Tamagotchis, she can get sick, but you can’t actually kill her. So she’s already better than a plant! You can even see little pictures of her in your Amazon Echo app. She’s been quite the learning experience for me, and while there’s definitely a lot more I could add to her, I wanted to get out a working version to see what the complete publication process was like. Omi was published on May 20th, and there are already 217 Omi’s out there in world! You can download one if you have an Echo, and let me know what you think! That would be awesome!

I’m working on Android app development now, so hopefully I’ll have some Android apps to show off soon as well! And someday, when I publish my epic space opera turn-based strategy RPG, I’ll look back and remember that this was where it all started 😉