Gamifying Software Development with Moosader

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about gathering profiles to feature on KC Geeks is learning about the fascinating stories behind people’s hobbies – how they became interested, what they love about it, and the relationships they’ve built because of the hobby. What’s also interesting to me is what they later go on to build based on that hobby, whether that’s a podcast, meetup group, or startup company.

Moosader is a Kansas City-based software development company, specializing in games – all built from one woman’s love for programming. Read on to find out what makes Moosader special, and how they’re getting kids into programming.

Learn what makes Kansas City indie game developer Moosader unique on KCGeeks.com.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Rachel J Morris. I’ve been in the KC area for 15+ years. I went to Longview and UMKC and have worked locally as a software/web developer for the past 6 years. Right now, I’m working on building Moosader, and working as an adjunct instructor.

When did you get into programming and what do you love about it?

When I was a kid, my mom used to take me to these children’s museums. I fell in love with the computer there, which was running Millie’s Math House. Around the age of 10, I began programming (poorly) in Power Basic, and continued learning so that I could make my own video games.

Game development in particular is really fulfilling because there are so many facets to it. It is a puzzle, in the programming and how you structure your code. It is an artistic challenge, in creating the art and music. It is a sensory challenge to make something that flows well and feels good to play. There is also organization involved, because you have to plan your development road-map.

Tell us about Moosader.

Moosader has been around since 2008, though started more informally; mostly just my personal website and projects. In mid-2015, I officially registered it as an LLC, gathered a small team of friends, and we have been working on games.

Our focus is on making “indie, alt, and educational games”. To start out with, we’ve been working on arcadey mobile games. In the future I want to make more educational fare, and story-driven games with alternative perspectives.

What made you want to found Moosader?

I’ve always wanted to have my own company – I’ve always had a lot of ideas for software projects, as well as ways to teach through technology. Growing up in the 90s, I played a lot of really great educational games, and they’ve always been an inspiration for me. I also like video games as a medium for sharing experiences and stories. I’ve been craving games that are more representative of actual people, instead of just the stubbly grumbley male action protagonist.

Who is on your team? How did you gather them and what roles do they play in Moosader?

Right now Moosader is made up of myself, Rebekah, Tea, and Jessica. They are all learning to program and help out with design and level creation, but they also each have their own strengths.

I met Jessica on an online message board eons ago and we used to collaborate on Flash animations back in my Newgrounds days. She is a huge movie buff and I love her eye for campiness. Jessica is our marketing person.

Tea was my mentor when I was learning the Esperanto language, so I’ve also known her for years. Her specialization is in translation and localization.

Rebekah is my cousin and we’ve grown up together doing everything from playing piano-cello duets to making crappy home movies as tweens. She has organizational and business experience.

And as for myself, I met myself around the year 1988, and I’m the lead programmer and artist for the group.

What do you love about what Moosader does?

I love that we are in charge. This means we get to design our own games based on what we want, but we also are building our careers and experience without having to have very specific prior training for any given position. We train ourselves and train each other. By building up Moosader, we give ourselves the opportunity that other companies may not traditionally have provided for us.

Tell us about a particularly memorable Moosader moment.

Last year we published our first game together, which was pretty exciting, and I look forward to more memories like this to come. 🙂

Tell us about the Boy Scout game design merit badge, and after-school educational programs. How did you get involved in teaching kids about programming?

I’ve always enjoyed teaching. My first job was as a math tutor for my community college while I was attending there. Along those lines I also started doing YouTube-based game programming tutorials, which were a lot of fun and also reached a lot of people.

With the Boy Scout merit badge program, I was approached by an acquaintance and asked to teach that, so I wrote a short curriculum with Scratch. Otherwise, I’ve made contacts in various places and offered to teach workshops or classes if they know a group of kids that would be interested in programming classes. I’m also open to teaching teenagers and adults as well, and have taught a few classes at various places for all ages.

Your About page says that “Amplify” is a Moosader core value. How does that play out for you?

We aren’t quite running at “full steam” yet, since all of us still have “day jobs” that we use to support ourselves. My hope is that we will continue building our team to include people of many backgrounds who want to tell stories from their point of view, as part of our “alt-games” focus.

For our team currently, we have various aspects of the LGBTQIA+ umbrella represented, so I would like for us to be able to tell stories about our experiences, but I also want our future team to be more intersectional.

What future plans lay ahead for your company?

Right now we’re working on an arcade-style game called Fin ‘n’ Kit, which I’ve been building with C++ and my custom Kuko framework, which allows me to build our game for Windows, Linux, OSX, and Android (and eventually iOS). Right now we’re tackling the basics – designing our first games together, building the technology for our future projects, and finding our stride.

In the future, I want us to create and publish more educational and alt games. We also want to continue teaching people around Kansas City, and even on the internet, about game programming and development.

Where can someone find more information about Moosader?

Our homepage is at https://www.moosader.com/. You can keep up with Moosader news and updates on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Moosader/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/moosader.

Anything else you’d like to share?

If anyone is interested in hosting a workshop or class on game development or programming here in the KC area, we can teach those for you! 🙂 Check out our “learn” page at: https://www.moosader.com/learn/

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