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Biography of Erik Hermansen
What's that? You want to know about the almighty Erik Hermansen? You wish to be informed about the Babe Ruth of puzzle games? You inquire about the mind that put you through the best 25 levels of any game you've ever played? You do? Well then! Here you go! A mini-biography of the creator of DROD: Erik Hermansen!
Erik lives in Seattle. While once a non-DRODer, Erik has since managed to con(?) her into the world of DROD. In fact, he even managed to get her to record dialogue for DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold. He was born September 12, 1972.
Erik spent his early days in Oregon. As a young lad, Erik's parents hardly ever let him watch television, and for a long time they didn't own a computer. He had a weird fascination with graph paper and spent many hours creating intricate dungeons on paper. Then he would try them out on his little sister, Heather, who would rather play with her stupid Barbie dolls. Erik: "You are in a room that is 40 feet long by 20 feet wide. Goblins attack! What do you do?" Heather: "This is boring. I want to stop." Erik: "You can't stop! The best part is coming up in the next room!")
When he was 11, the family finally got its first computer--a Kaypro II. Young Erik learned to program and made more games, this time on the computer, and bothered Heather with them. "Come see my game! I just finished it! It has Barbie Dolls in it, and orcs!" Later Erik earned enough money to buy an Atari 800XL, which opened up a whole new world of player/missile graphics and four voice sound. His favorite birthday present of all time was a disk drive for the Atari from his Uncle Lee. Before the disk drive, he had no way to save his programs and spent a lot of time retyping them after the computer was turned off and on.
Erik had no fun in high school until he started hanging out with the local Oregon City chapter of the Trenchcoat Mafia. They wore trenchcoats and combat boots, and they were into Black Flag, chemical explosions, and 3D computer graphics. He spent a lot of time at Shari's, drinking coffee and talking to these new friends, who introduced him to fascinating stuff like Salvador Dali, Herman Hesse, fractals, Mormon conspiracy theories, and Powell's Technical Bookstore. These people were geeks, but they were much more fun to be around than typical teenagers, and Erik realized that being a geek wasn't a bad thing. You have to seek out your own kind.
At 19, Erik was corrupted by Clackamas Community College and their Godless modern notions of ethics and morality. He got kicked out of his folks' house for being an atheist, and promptly moved into his first apartment in Milwaukee with Dave, an aspiring rock musician. Dave had the sheet music to Metallica's "One," and repeatedly played just the easy parts on his electric guitar until people wanted to stab him. There was also this depressing Jennifer chick that suddenly started hanging around. Erik still can't figure out if she was his girlfriend or just a depressing chick that suddenly started hanging around. He was pretty broke at that time and ate a lot of baked potatoes and ramen. He drew graphics and wrote music for *I Was a Cannibal for the FBI*, an adventure game written by John Olsen. IWACFTF was bundled with Visionary, a programming language for making adventure games on the Amiga.
Erik was tired of not having time or money for school. So he went to Seattle and got a fishing boat job that was supposed to pay out all the money needed for school with some extra left over to buy a small house. He spent six slimy 112-hour weeks out on the Bering Sea, yanking fish from a conveyor belt and cutting off their heads. For this, he earned around $500, which mightily pissed him off. He then broke contract with the company and jumped ship at Dutch Harbor. This happened to be the day of his 21st birthday. Dutch Harbor is a little town on an Alaskan island. It wasn't clear how he was supposed to get home, since the company would no longer pay for a return plane ticket. With incredible luck, he met a series of friendly strangers that helped him. A big guy named "Tiny" let him stay in his motel room the first night and got him a boat-loading job the next day. And another quickly-made friend, Malcolm, let Erik sleep in a living room and gave him rides to work. Within a week, Erik had enough money to buy the expensive ticket from Dutch Harbor to Seattle.
Back in Seattle, Erik stayed at his friend Lucas' house. (This is the same Lucas that later worked on DROD.) Without any money for school or even basic living expenses, it seemed too depressing to go back to Portland. If he did that, he'd probably also need to ask help from his parents, which stings the pride. So for these reasons, he bummed off Lucas for a while and looked for work in Seattle. The jobs he worked on eventually put him into computer programming. After a few years of lucrative coding work, it was clear that a return to school would be a waste of time. Seattle was shaping up to be the center of the software world, so he decided to stay.
When Erik later wrote DROD, he installed a copy on his family's computer so they could see what it looked like. Heather, who was about 23 at the time, unexpectedly spent hours playing the game and is a confirmed DROD fanatic along with her husband, Denton. So finally, he made a game that his little sister liked to play.
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