I’ve played video games since Bowling on the Atari 2600 back in 1980. I’ve played on most major consoles here in the U.S. (the Neo Geo is the one I skipped… that thing was stupidly expensive, though I loved some of its games in the arcades of the day), though I’m still stuck in the PS3/XB360 era due to lack of funding. I’ve played PC and Mac games, from simple DOS games like Sleuth up through Star Control 2 and The Dig, and later, Batman: Arkham Asylum (I know, it’s a port, but it’s my most graphically intensive PC game) and Minecraft.
I discovered a taste for design in the Dark Castle days, drawing out new levels on graph paper. I further refined my interest in mechanics when I did some serious work designing a world and game systems for a RPG in the King’s Quest days, though it wound up being more of a Final Fantasy Tactics sort of game. I really, really wanted to make a good sequel to Chrono Trigger, and made many notes on what I’d do. Chrono Cross, great game that it is, just didn’t scratch the same itch.
I’ve always enjoyed games, both playing and designing. In many ways, creating new games is more satisfying, since I’m a creative sort and would rather produce than consume.
My BFA is in Computer Animation, and while some of my classmates have worked for Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Blue Sky, Dreamworks and Weta, I wound up in the game industry. I’d have loved working at Pixar making Disney films, like I planned to do as a kid, but circumstances led to other choices. I still love animating, though I’m most experienced at modeling, texturing and solving weird tech issues, since I’m a “Technical Artist”, comfortable with tech and art.
I worked for Headgate Studios, largely working on EA’s Tiger Woods games. Then I worked at Wahoo Studios, making a few Kefling games along with a smattering of other projects both internal and contract work. I have a list around here somewhere of the 15 or so games I am credited in, which qualifies me as a veteran of sorts. That said, as is so often true, time and economics caught up with me, and I’m now “retired” from the industry after almost a decade working on the art in games, with a bit of dabbling in design.
These days, I design my own games, write about what I’d do if I had pie-in-the-sky budgets to design games, do graphic design, make cool game accessories and try to find ways to make a living in a freelance world since there just aren’t career opportunities at the moment. Once in a while, I even get to play games (though some of that time is just playtesting my games… I really need to update Chromaround).
Games and I, we have history.
Anyway, I’m in between serious contracts, and while I’m scrambling for something new to pay the bills, I have a few minutes here and there. So, given that I’ve been collecting games over the years, adding to my Steam collection and assorted game bundles, I have more than a few games to fill that time with.
So, I’m going to be systematic about it and just start plowing through my game backlog. I’m going to give each game 15 minutes to really grab me, then do a quick writeup of what happened, probably with a screenshot or two, and with some commentary about the design and art. Pith may be present. I might revisit the games, but I probably won’t. Still, I want to do a bit of exploration. It’s good to see what’s out there, and how other games are designed.
I’ll post those writeups here, though I’m not committing to any regular schedule or format. Perhaps this is the sort of thing YouTube is for, but I hate being in videos and hearing myself. Writing, that I can do. We’ll see how it all settles out.
I know, I know, some games really need more than 15 minutes to get a proper shakedown, but, well, I can’t be the only one who only barely has time to graze games. I could devote dozens of hours to the latest Final Fantasy when I was in high school, but these are different times. I think it’s a good game design that has the ability to do something to earn further attention within those 15 minutes. I simply won’t be doing some games justice, but that’s life in this saturated, cutthroat market. There are still lessons to be learned, I think.
See you next time with a bit of commentary on what I’ve been playing, then I’ll mostly shelve those games and start trekking through the wilds.