As the resident *new guy* I thought I would take some time to write a personal blog to let you guys know a little more about who I am and how I got here.
So up until recently I was 'living the dream' as they say – making video games. It wasn't until last month that I had the realization that I was very unhappy with what I was doing and it was time to move on from that and try something different. I didn't really care about the project, my art, or anything anymore. I couldn't even go home and do anything but stare at a wall and wonder why I was devoting countless hours to something I wasn't invested in. Somewhere down the line I lost the spark that really made me want to pursue game art in the first place.
In college I had worked on my own game with a few friends. I almost can pin point that as one of the last times I was really proud of some artwork I had made and truly seen it progress from beginning to end. This was the second game I had been a part of – the first being Insomniac's Overstrike (later renamed Fuse). Im sure not many of you played that one. A lot of my time there I had spent geeking out over the early Sunset Overdrive demo, casually submitting concepts to aid the team.
Joining Harmonix was the best thing that could have happened in my life. As a fresh college grad I was eager to work at the studio who's games had truly inspired me as a game developer and a musician. It didn't hurt that everyone around me was also some sort of talented rockstar either - In fact I don't think GRIMECRAFT would be as successful now if I wasn't inspired by those people (who are still some of my favorite people to this day). I really came in at a weird time though and saw a lot of people leave. I knew the industry was like this, but it didn't really hit me until I was part of one of those huge layoffs in December. It actually broke my heart — though it wasn't long until the talent let go were off to interview at other companies all over the place. That is actually how I ended up here in San Francisco. With little time to prepare I was offered a position to work at Crystal Dynamics and was to start almost immediately.
In the process of moving I also went on my first tour as GRIMECRAFT, hitting up the Northeast after an amazing performance at MAGFest. I spent some of the best times with Dj CUTMAN and Mega Ran that week before boarding a flight to move into my studio apartment that I had never seen.
Shortly after starting as an official Square Enix employee I had witnessed (over the interwebz of course) many of my friends lose their jobs as Irrational Games closed its doors in Quincy. At the time I was outraged that one person could just make that call. However, many people were 'excited to see what Ken Levine was up to next!'. This was one of those moments that I truly had to rethink what I was doing. As an artist, Im one of those gears in the machine putting in all the blood sweat and tears to make these AAA video games happen, and in the end some Ken Levine character is just going to swoop in, take all of the credit, and then layoff the entire team responsible. What is the point if this is how the business works?
So now i'm here, looking at things from the other side of the game industry (which is way less stressful for sure) and also freelancing as a Creative Director accepting contracts as they come along. This gives me more time to focus more on myself and my music.
Somehow this personal blog got pretty personal and I didn't even talk about some of the most obvious questions that would I would have answered if I wasn't feeling so introspective right now. Heres a video interview to make up for all that time you've wasted reading my personal business.