It’s been a number of months since I decided to open up the good old word processor and consider writing, but then again a lot has been going on in my life. I don’t know a pretty way to put this, but then again life is too short to mince words.
I joined the gaming industry over 13 years ago because in my heart, games were a powerful form of expression. In my life they brought me so much joy and excitement. I remember working hard each weekend to earn a few dollars that I would stash away so I could buy a new NES or Genesis game. I remember making a mix tape of all my favorite game tracks and sending it to SEGA telling them they should publish it as long as I got a free copy.
My memories even travel early on into the realm of multiplayer gaming, but with single player games (if that even makes sense). A few friends and I sat around playing Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade on the PC and worked together to solve all the puzzles. Watching was just as much fun as being in the driver’s seat. I was so excited by the experience that I bought Indiana Jones: Fate of Atlantis and invited all my friends over in the hopes of recreating the moment again. It didn’t happen. It turned out I shared that enthusiasm alone that night…a fleeting thrill for my friends, but an unusually powerful experience that was not about to die because of one failed gaming adventure.
It didn’t matter. I was in love. I had found my home in the world of games. The thought had not hit me to consider being a game developer exactly yet. I loved games for sure and even was starting to gain an interest in programming. A few more years rolled on and my passion grew, but I had no way to use it other than in being a fan in buying games and being a gamer.
Living in the SF Bay Area I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by not only technology, but game companies. Lucas Arts was one of the closest and most well known and I was a huge fan. In 1995, the Marin County Fair was doing a special theme on technology in Marin County. They did a run in the paper each day of the fair listing all of the amazing companies that the county supported. I can’t remember if it was my mom or if I got the idea, but since the companies listed their address I decided to pour my heart out in a letter saying I was a passionate kid who wanted a job in games. I scrapped together a resume for the first time in my life and sent out as many letters as I could.
Time passed and I waited eagerly for the day when a letter or a call came in. I got a few standard post cards (“Your info will be on file.”) and even a personally written letter from the now defunct Stormfront Studios basically saying how cute it was for a 15 year old to be so driven and to get in touch with them in a few more years.
Luck will have it, one company, Ronin Entertainment, called me and eventually brought me in and hired me as a level designer. It was really level scripting and messing with AI scripting. It was awesome! I was in.
So 13+ years later I’ve been all over. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in design, art, programming, production and sound. Now I find my home in design, but I also don’t quite know if I am satisfied…which brings me to why I have taken a few months off of writing here.
Last time I wrote I was employed by Snowblind Studios. Today I am a contractor for Titan Studios, working on Fat Princess. Before I share how damn much I love Titan and Fat Princess…I need to share a bit about why I jumped ship.
I joined Snowblind because of their track record of 10 years and 5 really solid games. That’s 1 game every 2 years and being that I am in a shipping slump, Snowblind seemed like a perfect place for me to make a difference.
I joined in Feb. 2008 with high hopes for making a game I can’t talk about and have buried in my mind. I was excited about it. There were a lot of problems at Snowblind, but nothing that was guaranteeing a bad game. I took on the adventure as the Lead Level Designer as an awesome challenge. I even brought on one of my former Perpetual Entertainment Level Designers, Matt Holdener, as my first team member and let me tell you him and I kicked some ass. I saw how we brought new energy to the team and proved that a great game lied just beneath the waves of the red tape sea. Snowblind has some great talent and the right person who knows how to harness it will kick some ass…but I was not going to be that person. In fact, I was never even considered. My heart sank as I realized I was in an “old boy’s” school where those who were around from the beginning were worth more than new peeps who might actually have more leadership skills. It’s not to say in any way that Snowblind won’t make a good next game, but they are a little too blind to allow someone new like me to make a radical difference…and for that I have no time to sit around and wait. Much love my Snowblind friends…you will make a great game. I just know that it won’t be with me as a prominent lead so I might as well get out of the way.
Ok, so the real question is how did I escape. Well, my good friend Mike Hines worked for Dark Star Industries in Colorado with some awesome friends. When Perpetual kicked the bucket for me, Mike said I should check them out, but Noelle and I were in no way interested in moving to Colorado. We love living near the water. It just so happens that Dark Star was brought to Seattle by Epic Games China who bought them and changed their name to Titan Studios. Because I knew Mike, we hung out on Friday’s after work and I got to meet about ½ the Titan team just hanging out over drinks. Come time for them to need an additional designer they fortunately thought of me.
I contracted with them for two months to test things out and just in the last two weeks they brought me on full-time. I can’t wait to share some games of Fat Princess with you all.