I started using the engine fairly early on. First, there's a little bit of backstory: Before I knew that there even existed a Hamster Republic, an OHRRPGCE, or a James Paige, I was experimenting with my own game engine concept. Using Turbo Pascal 7.0, I managed to produce a crude graphics editor, map editor, and scrolling engine. The latter was jerky at best, and the only graphics were solid 16x16 blocks. After admitting to myself that I sucked at programming, hard, I hit the internet in search of guidance...and I found the Hamster Republic.
Since then, I haven't touched a programming language. I've had no need to; everything I ever sought to achieve through programming was all right here in this tiny, free-yet-priceless package. It exempted me from that one huge, painful step, and allowed me to manifest my ideas that much more instantaneously.
Then, I discovered the community aspect. In its internetish context, I found the word community
to be a bit daunting. I'd never been the socially intrepid kind, and talking to strangers online was no less uncomfortable an idea. Yet, I figured if I was going to make and release games, I'd need to put myself out there and get involved. So I took that big, bold step.
That's when, as you slimeholers would put it, the slime hit the fan. Looking back on the trail of shame left in my wake - the ridiculous games, the goofy forum antics - I wish I'd have stayed in the shadows until I had some competence, instead of lobbing piece after piece of lame, shot-from-the-hip crap onto the gamelist. Even after all this, though, I still try.