I think I first needed a graphing calculator for a math class when I was a sophomore in high school, that would fit the mental time line I’ve got in my head. I didn’t get my own, though, I borrowed the one my mom used for her math classes in college. (She was taking college courses around the same time I was in high school — it’s never too late to go back!)

So I had an older, slightly-used graphing calculator, and everyone else I knew had a shiny, new calculator. This meant that whatever cool games were going around at the time were guaranteed to be incompatible with the calculator I was using. This bugged me enough that I decided I was going to have to make my own games for the graphing calculator.

I decided I wanted to shoot for a text-based war game. I scoured the user manual for the calculator. The end result was a game that tracked taxes and population happiness, let you recruit and train warriors by the hundreds, and raze villages to the ground. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I built in a mechanic that ended the game if you ever reached a particular low point in population happiness.

The game was entertaining enough that I gave it to a couple friends, who enjoyed it and pushed me to write a sequel. I actually did an updated re-release of the game that fixed some of the more annoying mechanics, but I never finished a sequel. Oh, and I wrote a program that used the quadratic formula so I wouldn’t have to.