A few days ago I was boiling some tea. I lifted my arms high into the air to do a stretch and I became incredibly light-headed. I gently fell to the ground.
In this moment I glanced up on the wall, at a photograph of my father. The frame was shattered, right through his eye. Beside it was a painting of my father that I had made for an Indie Go Go campaign, but was never mailed to the recipient.
I contemplated my own mortality and as a defence mechanism, I accepted my mortality. My body rushed with endorphins, I guess. If you are one who is subject to panic attacks, I hope that you can will yourself in a similar direction that I took. It was very calming.
This is the second time this has happened to me. read
I sort of jumped head first into the Destructoid community at PAX prime - and it was awesome! I thought I'd share some things about myself that you probably don't know. Yeah, it's cheesy and overdone, but fuck it. We're doing it. Let's go. :3
0. I've been making games for a really long time.
My first games were pen and paper, card games, and modifications on existing board games. I started programming in High School. I found it really fun to play with code. I started making text adventure games and other simulation software (Snowman Generator 2000) in Quick Basic. I've produced nearly a dozen or so Indie prototypes in a handful of languages and frameworks. I've helped ship 2 commercial games for the LeapPad device: Roly Poly Picnic 2, and Splurgle. I'm currently wrapping up a 4 year degree in Software Engineering at the University of Victoria.
1. I'm a hillbilly.
Although it's not really a self-applied label - I was raised on a farm in small town Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. I had pigs and goats and all that shit. I spent a huge chunk of my childhood exploring the forests and and hidden areas around my house by myself. That time has shaped my personality to an uber-quiet introverted type of guy (to strangers anyway). We were pretty god damn poor for a while there. Our relatives called us "The Clampets". I had dial-up Internet until I was 18.
2. I've gained and lost hundreds of pounds. I invented a fitness game I call FitQuest.
I was (and still am) a pretty fat guy. By which I mean - fat on the inside. Even when I was mad skinny I still struggled with my desires. I've spent a lot of my life wickedly depressed. I won't start a pity-party over here, but let's just say that I'm a bit imbalanced on all fronts and I'm working hard to fix my problems, but I can't completely change overnight. I accept and appreciate criticism on everything that I do - but I am a pretty sensitive boy so just be careful.
FitQuest is a simple game that has a focus on strategy, and helps enable players to choose to do the right things for the right reasons. I wanted to take everything that I'd learned from my personal experiences and boil them into a really tight simple package. I feel that FitQuest is my most solidly designed game. I have no plans to code it any time soon, but I play it every day on little pieces of paper. The game is hugely inspired by Jane McGonigal's work. I'll blog more about the game some time in the future.
3. I love Double Fine.
When I was just a 'lil guy I was often babysat by my neighbors kids while my parents did parenty things. I was first introduced to Day of the Tentacle at their house. All my prior gaming experience was old school DOS games with incredibly simple aesthetics. This game blew me away. It truly felt like you were a part of this crazy cartoon world where anything could happen. I still play it from time to time. Later in my life I learned more about Tim. I started following his company. After I finished Psychonauts I made a serious decision: I moved to Victoria to learn how to program games.
When I tell people that I want to move to San Francisco and program games for Double Fine they bring up Tim's name. There are so many awesome people working at that company that it's a bit of a shame. Tim has done something truly magical - I honestly feel like the Double Fine model needs to be the new standard for game development studios. I don't want to get too deep into the area of system design but I'll just say this - It makes sense.
Meeting Anna Kipnis, Tim, Ron, and a bunch of other DF staff at the Hard Rock Cafe PAX DF meetup was AMAZING. Please continue to support this amazing crew. I have a year left of school, and a butt-load of stuff I still need to learn. They'll get a copy of my resume real soon.
4. I love metal.
I've been playing guitar for 10+ years, but I also play bass, bongos, scream, sing, and any other left handed instruments I can get my hands on. My emphasis is on metal. The cacophony comforts me. It helps me sleep. It relieves my headaches. It calls to me :3
I write music when I can, but good metal is a bit tricky to compose while you're busy with school.
Storm The Gates - This song took a long time to compose. It's still not finished really - The female vocals are my own, but pitch shifted to a feminine range.
I really like screaming, but I don't really do it properly yet. It's nice when I can use metal to advertise a game jam. :P
I do 5 Minute Metal Jams on my Youtube page. The idea is to produce and record a metal song in a really short time frame. Some times I make really silly music like this...
5. Jack of all trades. Master of none.
I'm not just a programmer. I can do a butt-load of stuff. At this point I've pretty much touched every single area of the game development spectrum. For a while, I wanted to go "full indie". When you're Indie, the more skills you have the better. Unfortunately I just don't have the strength to go at it alone. I've spread myself too thin.
I've since restructured my goals. I want to be an expert gameplay programmer with a keen sense of game design. An ideal gameplay programmer isn't really an expert programmer. If you have a brilliant programmer than you want to give them a systems job. I'm way to chincy to be that kind of brilliant.
In short: I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier.
6. I don't really have fun playing games.
I'm way too analytical to enjoy almost any experience. I rarely play games to completion. I play them long enough to understand the mechanics, learn from them, and move on. I'm honestly a pretty pathetic gamer. I cannot game for extended sessions.
I recently visited Universal Studios Florida for a holiday with the folks. I spent most of my time analyzing the ins and outs of the park. You will never see me with my hands up in the air screaming on a roller coaster. You're more likely to see me taking notes.
The exception to the rule is when I play games for other peoples enjoyment. ;) And sex. I refuse to spoil sex.
7. I've got a little buddy named Lee.
Pretty much anything that I've ever posted to the Internet that sounds really nice has been thanks to Lee Gauthier. We are creative partners - We got eachother's back. We are currently sharing a house built on our dreams and aspirations. I can't thank him enough for helping me get to where I am today. I'm going to cry salty man tears the day our paths diverge. His band Willows practices in our garage twice a week. I feel like Led Zeppelin is practicing in my garage - they sound incredible. If you're at all interested in programming, sound design, or digital signal processing give him a follow on Twitter you won't regret it.
8. I'm adorable.
9. I'm a chincy bastard.
I've spent way more time manufacturing game development than making games. I've spent a luxurious amount of time indulging in social media.
When I moved to Victoria I was really disappointed that the University didn't have a GameDev club, so I helped form one. I spent a good year or so as club President acting a role I really don't fit: Coach. I've also coined myself as a Producer.
I'm neither of those things.
I just don't have the enthusiasm to be a coach. I'm not a rabble rouser. I love games. I love making games. I just am not capable of spreading that excitement. I'm too imbalanced. I need to (finally) begin focusing on myself. I have done a lot for the club, so I don't feel guilty. But I will miss them all when I'm gone, and I'll certainly miss wearing the coach hat.
Oh yeah. I'm growing my hair out again. Metal man, fuck yeah.
Hey! I love meeting new gamers. You guys are my fuel and I live to entertain you. Add me on Steam and we'll play some games! :3
I'm a software nerd, not a word-ologist. I'd love to get some criticism on this piece.
It starts with something small.
A strike that lights the fire.
And the hunger burns.
If you do not ache,
Then do not light that fire.
Your first will be simple, almost laughably so.
From pure thought-stuff, you will build a castle in the sky.
You will build a snowman generator.
Or, something like that.
Your second will fail.
Nobody will know that you were supposed to go there,
nobody will see the thing, and nobody will
“kill dead dog”.
Your third will be brilliant,
If you are smart enough to know,
What it is that you know.
Broken in countless ways,
But with undeniable charm,
It will be your ugly duckling.
Your fourth will be a technical marvel.
You’ll have learned so very much,
yet nothing at all.
It too is broken,
But you can probably count the reasons why.
Your fifth will be deliberate, clean, and focused.
It might even be fun.
It might not be broken,
But you won’t finish it.
Your sixth will be a showcase of your creativity.
The pinnacle of your imagination.
You cannot make this game.
Not yet, at least.
Before you can face the Colossus,
You too must build a castle in the sky.
And you will.
And it will be glorious.
Your growth will be exponential, and exhilarating.
A Katamari of creation.
An explosion of possibility.
But it will be hard.
And maybe even lonely.
You will work more for less, less often, more.
And if you aren’t aching, you’re not doing it right. read
Before I get into this, I'd just like to thank everyone that was involved with organizing the Concentric gaming convention. I'd especially like to thank KANO APPS for sponsoring the UVic Game Jam. Without our sponsors we would be nothing. If you're in the Victoria area next year, you should definitely check it out because it was a blast. We'll see you lot at GottaCon!
I actually had posted the podcast completely unedited to the Internet before I was aware of the #1ReasonWhy phenomenon. You may already be aware of the #1ReasonWhy hashtag represents, I'll give you this article to provide some context.
The #1ReasonWhy movement really speaks to me. I have unintentionally offended or disrespected women in the industry from my own careless words. I have organized a game development club nearly devoid of women. I have watched women come into our club, and subsequently leave. It breaks my heart.
"There's a lot of things, that if you're a woman and you want to go into it, if you have boobs... It's done. You're done. You better stop now" ~Jessica Paquette
I don't have too much to say on the subject of besides this:
"Creepy is a reaction to a behavior, not a behavior itself. If someone thinks you're being creepy, you are!"
I hope we can all find our own way to make women more comfortable around us while we continue to do what it is we do. At UVic GameDev we love and respect Jessica for her unique personality, her hard work, and her dedication to her art. We have so much to learn from her.
Remember - As game developers we're here to make you laugh and have a good time. But you can't make everyone happy all the time, and sometimes we will unintentionally offend people with our words and actions.
I could have strategically edited the podcast to remove any awkward areas but that sets a terrible precedent. Every action has a reaction. We have to monitor our own behavior.
The UVic GameDev Podcast is as art is - a reflection of life.
Let's just make a royal promise to do our best and talk it out. We can aspire to be build better stronger infrastructure where we are all comfortable to thrive.
It was wonderful to meet you lot at PAX. You're a motley crue if there ever was one.
A month ago I started a simple campaign on Indie Go Go to help raise money to purchase a personal license of Game Maker: Studio. Game Maker is a Windows program that allows you to quickly prototype and distribute games to PC, Mac, web and cross platform mobile.
Game Maker is a ton of fun and I recommend it to any new game developers out there. It's actually a powerful 2D game engine and it seems to get better and better every year. If you get excellent at Game Maker and 2D spriting, you'll be a superstar game jammer in no time.
It's not all gravy and french fries, though. It almost never is.
Game Maker stores the entirety of your game (code and assets) in a binary file - basically just a big-ass dump of ones and zeros that GameMaker parses to initialize your project. This is not how software is typically constructed. In fact, it's pretty fucking ass-backwards.
Typically a game is stored/created in an entire file directory of game assets, game and engine code, and ya know, all that charm and whimsey. Anyway, without getting technical, making Game Maker games with a team is kind of a pain in the arse, and using helpful version control techniques is impossible.
I could have looked passed these shortcomings and embraced Game Maker fully, but my light copy of Game Maker Studio was unable to port games made with previous versions of Game Maker. Since a big part of the campaign was to port existing UVic GameDev Game Maker 8 games to web and mobile, I decided that Game Maker Studio was no longer worth the $500 price tag for me. I immediately stopped campaigning.
Let me be clear - I still intend to reward my contributors with the games they have paid for. I will be making them using Chevy Ray's Flashpunk game engine. I find that Flashpunk is just as fun as Game Maker, so I'm thrilled to use it. I'll be working on porting Flashpunk to mobile right away. Flash is actually really big in Victoria, so being able to teach UVic GameDev members will be a valuable use of my time.
Anyway, the whole point of the campaign was to sort of let you know that I'm a real dude, and I'm looking for contract work! I will code you lots of good stuff for $$$!!!
No, but seriously. If you want to make games, you need to a) make games, and b) tell people about 'em. Part b) is the greasier and scungier part of the process. It just feels so weird, ya know. "Hey Internet - Here's this half finished game project I made that sucks because I have just started making games and have no fucking clue what I'm doing." But you NEED that feedback. That is what my campaign was about. I guess. I still have no fucking clue what I'm doing sometimes.
Thank you so much to my contributors, you mean the world to me. With your sweet-ass cash and motivation I've renovated a lot of the house, and learned a hell of a lot about game development in a month. Thank you to Knut and Mags who let me sleep in their glorious house and eat their sandwiches during PAX. I'm so blessed to say that I am getting the feedback I need on a daily basis to continue what I am doing. Hell, I got a free couch the other day.
Being an indie-dude pays off in it's own ways. Some times you get sandwiches. Some times you get couches. What is most important is to keep giving.
It's a multiplayer text adventure shooter game! I couldn't actually connect to a room, but if you can figure that out leave a comment and let me know what commands you used!
Reminder to the game developers out there: A console (As in Command Prompt, or Terminal in Linux) game is the best place to start. My first 2 or 3 games were all made entirely in the console. The concepts you will learn will directly transfer over to your future projects.
In high school I created a text adventure in QBASIC, and one of the commands you needed to execute to finish the game was "Kill dead dog". If you didn't kill the dead dog, it would kill you as you left the room.