Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Has My Career Been a Success??

Over the years I have found my career in the gaming industry a strange mix.  On the one hand I’ve without a doubt devoted myself to my career having started back in 1997 as a lowly phone rep at Activision and clawing my way to design in 2000.  From then to today I’ve worked on many AAA titles and have the respect of many of my peers.  But on the other hand I’ve found a kind of emptiness in that I’ve only worked on what feels like other people’s ideas.  Certainly I’ve had creative input to the content of Wolfenstein, Quake, Farcry, titles but none of them are what I would call “my game.” They weren’t my concept.

Do I have my own idea?  Wow! Certainly!  I’ve been documenting my design ideas since the early days and have many fresh takes and completely new concepts.  Back in 2000 I and a small group of people from what was Gray Matter studios pitched one of my ideas to Activision.  They loved the idea but we were really “green” and they wanted us to get a few more titles under our belt before they would be willing to fund us as an indie company.  So we all drifted into our separate careers in Ubisoft, Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and others.

 With the accessibility  of game engines like Unity, Unreal, and others why haven’t I jumped in and started doing my own thing?  Well that is a question that haunts me daily.  First of all it’s often hard to work on games all day and then come home and work on games all night. I know it’s a very popular assumption that working on games isn’t work but it really is.  Like the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Also it’s one thing to work in a particular role and something very different to assume all roles.  The stack of work gets rather high when you realize you have to do it all yourself.  I can certainly handle the game design and level design.  I have an art degree so I could fill the role of art and modeling.  I have done scripting so I could handle some light code.  But I am certainly NOT a programmer.  Numbers and I have not been friends in the past and I’m not thrilled with the idea that I need to learn serious programming.  My experience has been that if what you want to do is not something you’re engine can do then you’re on the right track.  You’re not going to break new ground doing what everyone else is doing.  But to bend the rules you need to program a way to do it.  So in that lies the turmoil.  The obvious solution is to get a programming partner but I am soooooo reluctant to involve someone else. 

Another hurtle is that as a designer most studios don’t allow us to have side projects.  You are in breach of your agreement if you are either designing for someone else or yourself while working for a studio.  Luckily Ubisoft has an option.  You can pitch your idea to them and if they are not interested they will sign a “Right of First Refusal” agreement that allows you to freely work on it.  Of course there is a chance they would be interested which for me would be tragic.  You could say I have trust issues and that would be pretty true.  Like letting your child out into the world, really you can only hope for the best and I’m just not ready to do that yet. 

So I should be able to sit back, proud of my career accomplishments thus far and the big AAA titles I’ve worked on.  But I really envy the little indies that aren’t following the money making trends and are chasing their dreams.  I might get there eventually fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


No posts for awhile because crunch mode is upon us! I'm helping make Farcry 5 for the world, but check me out on Twitch if you want glimpses of my rare free time.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HEY! I Can Still Draw!

We've been in crunch at work so I haven't had much time for anything however I did get some time to fix my Wacom tablet. The way Windows 10 handled the stylist was driving me nuts but I finally got it working really better than it ever has.  So I took some free hours to enjoy a functioning Wacom and see if I can produce anything.

Many that know me don't know that I graduated from art school with honors so I was on my way to be an artist.  Unfortunately I thought I would to into advertising which I quickly hated and got diverted into animation and then into game design.  So it's bee awhile since I did any drawing beyond some doodles.

I just started free handing a sketch and I feel I got it to a nice place.  Maybe I should switch back to art.  Felt really good drawing again.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Weird Webcam Experience

I had a strange experience with my SJCAM camera SJ5000.  I made a video explaining the situation but I can't figure it out.  Maybe you know?  Two independent cameras do the same thing together without being linked in any way.

Unfortunately there wasn't enough footage for a Daily Drive episode so I'll need to try again.  We'll see if the issue repeats.  I think we all know what caused it though....

Monday, June 12, 2017

Farcry 5 E3 Game Play Footage

Here's the game play footage from E3 of my current project Farcry 5.  I hope you're as excited as I am.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Arrrrrrggggghhh!! Internal Office Moves

I just wanted to say that I absolutely hate not having an office at work.  I understand all the studios are into the touchy feely team environment but I find it to be so unproductive.  Everyone chatting all the time, I have to live with my headset on just to focus.  The open office space environment is sold as, "We want you to be surrounded with your fellow teammates" but I feel it is really "We'd like to keep an eye on you." and I find it insulting that they would feel they need to.  I'm not a kid, I know I have work to do and why I'm at work.

Ubisoft Toronto is all open office environment.  There is just one "office" in the entire place and that is for the studio head.  So I try and manage but Ubisoft does something I've never seen any other studio do and that is move your desk about every 4 months.  I truly have no clue why they feel the need to do this.  So you get yourself into an area, and a workflow.  You get use to the people around you and figure out a way to be productive around them.  Then POOF! A few months later you're moved to a new location with new people and have to do it all over again.  I've got to be honest it enrages me.

I would assume Ubi's logic is that as the team size and structure changes they want people to sit near people relevant to what they are working on, but this is not necessary.  Especially in our current day and age it absolutely does not matter where you are sitting.  There is email, there are messenger services, there is video chat, and Ubi has them all available to keep people connected.  So why to they still feel the need to rearrange my environment every few months??  AAAaaaarrgggghhhh!