Hello & Welcome

 Hi, I’m Chad Bordwell. I've been working in the game industry since 1997 and I specifically started my design career in 2000. As a designer I've shipped over 10 AAA titles, such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Quake4, and most recently Farcry 5.

Primarily my roles have been in game design, level design, and mission scripting. Most of my work has been for single player titles that also support cooperative game play. The majority of titles have released for Playstation, Xbox, and PC.
In 2020 I started my own company Dark Arts Development primarily to work with game developers as a contract game/level designer.  Currently I work remotely as a Senior Level Designer for Squanch games while living in Toronto Canada.




Ubisoft News & Recent Harassment Allegations

As I'm sure many of you are aware Ubisoft has had some issues come to light regarding employee allegations of harassment and poor management.  If not you can follow the link. HERE to learn more.

I worked at Ubisoft Toronto for 8 years and worked with some of the individuals in question.  That being said I do not find these allegations surprising. The writing was on the wall for a long time with this individual and no action was taken.  Seeing interactions between this person and others from the outside I couldn't tell if they were welcomed or not.  I suspected issues (from seeing him following various women around like a puppy) but I never witnessed more.  However I also didn't attended company social gatherings.

Ubisoft Toronto in my opinion spent WAY too much money on booze and parties.  They had an after hours party in the building once a month as well as individual team parties after most milestones.  With multiple team this was a lot of partying.  All parties included beer and many times hard liqueur. I rarely attended these because I had a long commute and could never see how I could party then drive the hour home.  I would much rather the money had been given as an employee bonus instead, so we all could enjoy the rewards.  Plus we now see that these parties gave potential office predators a prime hunting ground.

For me personally I found HR at Ubisoft to be a COMPLETE failure as a place to go when you're having personal or career issues.  For instance I entered the game industry to make games, not to become a manager.  However I found Ubisoft unable to handle a veteran developer uninterested in moving into management.   It seemed if you're content in your role you will be replaced.  I went to HR about these issues and look, I don't work there anymore.  Guess how that went?  Of course these issues I encountered are nothing compared to the sexual harassment others encountered working there.

So now that this dirt is all out there in the public eye, management is suddenly very concerned.  CEO Yves Guillemot made a statement about how shocked he is and how change needs to happen.  His statement HERE.

In closing I'm thrilled to no longer be employed at Ubisoft Toronto and am truly saddened to hear some of my co-workers had to endure this type of treatment daily. UbiTor is a place which publicly created an image of being at the forefront of equality & LGBTQ issues in the gaming industry, but internally failed them.

NOTE: HR is there to help the company.  The company signs their pay checks, their job is to protect them.  They aren't there to help employees with their problems.  They're there to stop employee problems from hurting the company.  Be on your guard, question the things they say.  My girlfriend went to her company HR department about a harassment issue.  They express how important it was that she came to them and scheduled a meeting with her for the next day.  Magically she was "laid off" that afternoon.  Was it wrong and illegal?  Sure but it still happened and she didn't have the funds to fight it.  So really consider that before going to them with an issue.  I'm not saying don't address the issues with them, I'm saying be prepared.  HR is not your friend.

Time to Announce a Squanchy Career Change

I'm pretty excited to share that I have accepted  a contract role as a Senior Level Designer for Squanch Games to work on an unannounced title.  You may know Squanch Games as the company started by Justin Roiland, co-creator of Rick & Morty.  Their most recent shipped title was Trover Saves the Universe which I personally loved.

Also in more exciting news since I've chosen to work remotely here in Toronto.  Because of this I needed to start my own corporation due to international legal mumbo jumbo. So I registered one in Ontario and called Dark Arts Development Inc.  That technically this means I've also created my own game company!  So far 2020 is looking pretty exciting.

I'd also like to thank Ubisoft Toronto for inadvertently forcing me out of the dead end job doldrums I was stuck in while working there.  Making the same title again and again and again, that's the stuff which crushes your creative soul. So thanks for not caring and good luck to those still trapped in the Ubi "game factory."

Ubisoft & Coffee Gripe

So this is kind of a dumb thing but it bugs me. I've been around the industry for awhile & worked at several companies.Usually the studio wants to encourage you to be at your job, happy, and working.  So they offer little perks.  Raven for instance had free coffee and free soda 24/7.  Gray Matter was really over the top. They had a full stocked fridge and would go get anything you wanted upon request.  Hell they even bought me a pillow and blanket so I could sleep on the floor of my office.  But the standard at all companies I've been at is free coffee.

Ubisoft however doesn't really give you free anything.  Sometimes they have fruit. But snacks, coffee, soda, are all through vending machines.  And pretty high priced vending machines.  A candy bar would cost you $1.50, chips $1.25, and a can of soda $1.  So screw that, we'd go out for coffee.  Going out gives you a chance to step away from the monitors and take a breather.  Since Ubisoft has around 800 employees several coffee shops sprung up within walking distance. So you also were supporting the local economy which is the whole point of Ontario giving them tax breaks, to help boost business overall.

Now I see Ubisoft Toronto added an "in house" coffee shop.  Not a free coffee shop, hell no.  A full fledged pay for coffee and pastries coffee shop, with a freakin' menus on the wall and everything.  What the actual fuck??

It totally reminds me of the old mining companies that would setup a town around the mine.  Then charge their workers for food, rent, supplies, medical care, which was basically taking back the money they pay them.  I believe these practices were deemed illegal?  lol

Then there are all those local coffee shops.  They will be going out of business shortly.  That's gonna be a huge hit on their livelihood. So much for supporting the local economy.

But seriously not cool.  Just have plain standard FREE coffee machines in-house, then let people go to the local businesses for the special coffees and pastries. Their employees work long and hard, literally making Ubisoft millions of dollars. Buy them a fucking cup of coffee.

Better Late Than Never

I finally bought a Nintendo Switch. 

I've never been a Nintendo guy, I was Team Sega.  Master System, Genesis, Dreamcast, that was my jam.  Nintendo was always I little too family friendly for my liking.  I wanted games with an edge. Ironically though the Nintendo games I loved were freakin' Pokemon & Animal Crossing which aren't very edgy at all. haha

But the Nintendo Switch is different.  As we all now know it offers loads of games from all kinds of developers & it's super convenient as a hand held or living room console.  So I wanted one.  I'm a sucker for special editions and jumped on the Animal Crossing Edition when it went up for sale at midnight.  Luckily I got one!  Now I just have to wait for March. But I'm pretty excited to finally get one.

My girlfriend was not impressed.  She said it looks like it's for babies. But I explained to her that the cute raccoons on the dock are Tom Nook and his nephews.  He's basically a slum lord asshole that takes all your money.  lol

Check Out This Position. Crazy!

I saw this position posted for a level designer at Fat Shark. CLICK

Application details
Location: Stockholm
Form of Employment: Temporary position
Start date: February 2020
End Date: September 2020

Since this is an on-site & temporary position, we will unfortunately not be able to provide any relocation assistance and won't be considering applications for remote work.

We will be reviewing applications and interviewing candidates continuously throughout the application period.

So they aren't accepting remote work. They aren't going to help you move to Sweden. And after a complete relocation out of your own pocket they're letting you go after 8 months. Seemingly the reward is for the privilege of working with them??

They should just accept remote work if they aren't willing to pay for relocation.  You just know some desperate kid is going to try to make this work.

Your Experience Has Little Value

I've been searching for a new position these last few months. I've seen an interesting trend that I didn't expect, and I find it pretty disheartening.

If you've been working at a big AAA game developer more than likely you've been using their proprietary engine.  In my case I was working with Dunia which is a far deviated version of the CryTech engine.  I've worked with this engine for almost 9 years.  My role was to build and script game play areas and missions.  I did not consider however that while I was working with Dunia the industry was changing.

Unreal 4 & Unity made game development so much more accessible for small startups which is was great!  Big AAA publishers are really more of a money machine who's goal is to churn out cash rather than taking risks with innovative ideas.  Giving these little studios access to make something new not only helped them, but it helped the industry as a whole. The competition forces AAA out of their comfort zones and drives the whole industry forward.  So when the time came for me to move on I jumped out into the job market with 20+ years of game development experience expecting that I'd be in demand, but that was the wrong assumption.

Working for 8+ years with a proprietary engine translates to zero experience for most companies that use UE4 or Unity.  They're not interested in dealing with anyone that would need to get up to speed with their production.  They want someone that has been living with their engine daily for years. Sure, I've used UE4 and I can create a map and script it but this is not a major part of my portfolio. I've been building in Dunia and id Tech engines shipping titles like Farcry 5 but this is of no value to them.  I had one developer straight up tell me, "My years of experience means nothing because it was with proprietary engines.  I have no useful knowledge for UE4 / Unity devs."   He went on to say, "You need to be using UE4 every day for 2 to 3 years min."

Let me be frank about this shortsightedness.  Most game engines are similar.  They all basically do the same thing.  For a person to move from one to another does require some time to get up to speed. An experienced designer generally knows what they are looking for, they just need to learn where to find it in an unfamiliar engine environment.  This would take two weeks, maybe three.  After that you then have a designer that has shipped top selling AAA titles since before you even started in the business.  Isn't that worth it?  Are two weeks going to be such a setback?  I shared this feedback with a friend and studio Creative Director he replied, "What a load of bullshit. That excludes so much of the industry workforce."

This attitude isn't just in regards to engine experience, its with platforms as well.  People that have worked on PC or console titles are at a huge disadvantage if they're looking to change to mobile or VR development.  Mobile studios aren't interested in console devs and vice versa.  Even within familiar platforms if you've only worked on single play VS multiplayer or if you've never worked on a free-to-play game you're immediately less desirable.  So what are these developers looking for?  I think I've found the answer.

Right now the majority of studios don't seem to be looking for creative, experienced people to help improve their titles.  They want someone who can quickly fill a seat and close some JIRA tasks.  No thinking required or even desired.