Piggy Sandbox was a 2-dimensional bird’s-eye view Java Game Engine on which students could build their own full featured games. I made it from scratch as a 16-year-old, on my own time, before it became part of IBM.

In high school, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend my summers working at IBM in the Center for Advanced Studies, a department in IBM that deals with advanced new research technologies, and is also the primary interface between IBM and universities.

I showed my boss the engine that I had built on my own time, and asked whether I could bring it in to IBM, and use IBM’s brand and distribution to popularize it as an educational resource.

Video games were what led me to teach myself to program at an early age, so I was convinced that presenting high school students with a simple way to program their own games was a great way to teach them programming.

My boss agreed, and I brought the engine into IBM, naming it Piggy Sandbox.

The engine got quite far. It had a nice graphics suite, an easy way to make maps and levels using Tiled, some simple physics, including collision detection, and a simple dialog system. It was a great engine that was simple and clean enough to be accessible and extendable by novices.

It proved to be very tough for me to release open-source code in a company as large and complex as IBM while possessing the political gravitas of a high-school student, so the engine never got released. It’s probably laying in a hard drive somewhere at IBM.

Building it taught me a lot about programming, game engines, and also what it takes to push a project through in a big company. Check out the Piggy Sandbox demo!