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Oculus Connect Talk

Posted on Nov 4, 2015 in Feature | 1 comment

I recently spoke at Oculus Connect about the development of Turbo Button’s first game, Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vZ8SfXOlpI

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What I Played: 2012 Edition

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 in Blog, Feature | 1 comment

So remember when I said I would have this writeup finished back at the end of January? Yeah, that didn’t happen. But it’s finished now! I find that my responsibilities and opportunities as a full time developer have made me write less not because I don’t want to, but because I’m around developers all the time and talking about these kind of things scratches the same itch. I’m at work on a postmortem for Stick to It, the recently released iOS game I worked on at Magic Pixel, and a couple deconstructions that have been in the oven for far too long. But back to the point – here’s the list of all the games I played in 2012. “Played” in this sense means I gave them more than a couple hours (where applicable) or in many cases completed them entirely. This console generation has gone on for so long that I’m still catching up on some of the hidden gems I missed in previous years, and I know not all of these games are new for everyone. I hope this list will give other people a good overview of my gaming habits (and background), but more than that, I hope I might tip someone off to something they might not have otherwise played. 10000000 (iOS) 10000000 is a dungeon-crawling puzzle RPG with a very unfortunate name, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun for the few hours it lasts. The game is a constant grind where you go on short runs, earn resources, and upgrade your character to go on slightly longer runs – like any number of early 2000s flash games – but this particular implementation of the match-three puzzle mechanic grabbed me. The icons matched on the bottom half of the screen determine what attacks or spells you use against monsters on the top half of the screen. I don’t think I’ve gone back to the game at all since hitting the score goal indicated in the title. Assassin’s Creed Revelations (Xbox 360) Another Assassin’s Creed game, another opportunity for me to run around and clear a bunch of dots off of a map. The epic...

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What I Played: 2011 Edition

What I Played: 2011 Edition

Posted on Jan 27, 2012 in Blog, Feature, Now Playing | 2 comments

I’m a little later than usual getting my “year in review” list up this month. 2011 was my first year working full time in the games industry, and I expected the idea of “making games means playing less games” to apply. It didn’t apply all that much in the end – maybe I played games for less time, but I still played a lot of different ones. If this is your first time reading one of these lists, let me preface it like I always do: I’m not an expert critic, and this is mostly an exercise for me to analyze my own gaming habits. I share it publicly so my peers can better frame my background and biases as a designer/producer/geek. With that, onward! Anomaly Warzone Earth (PC) Nifty take on “tower offense.” The formula grew a bit stale for me on PC because I felt like I didn’t have enough to do while I was waiting for my troops to reach the towers, but that might feel better on the iOS version where touching and panning is a bit more action-heavy than dragging a mouse. Atom Zombie Smasher (PC) The first of many Humble Indie Bundle pickups on this list, Atom Zombie Smasher is a charming top-down defense game. The presentation value sells the experience, much like in Firemint’s Flight Control. It’s a fun time-waster, worth the price of admission, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the genre so I don’t think I learned much from it as a designer. Barkley: Shut Up & Jam Gaiden (PC) Fantastic indie RPG that took me way too long to get around to playing. It’s absolutely hilarious from start to finish and features a battle system that rivals the Paper Mario games. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate an epic drama in which the events of Space Jam are considered canonical. Batman: Arkham City (PC) It’s like Arkham Asylum, but more Batman-ier in all the right ways. Arkham City was probably my “game of the year” in terms of moment-to-moment joy while playing it. Again, like Saboteur and Assassin’s Creed, it gave me a map with a ton of dots on...

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A Student’s Guide to Getting Into the Games Industry

Posted on Apr 12, 2011 in Blog, Feature | 7 comments

There’s one question other students ask me more often than anything else: “How’d you get your foot in the door?” The economy sucks. Companies say they aren’t hiring. There are a ton of job search tools out there, but none of them seem to help. Sometimes we don’t even get automated responses to our applications, much less any feedback from an actual person. Yet somehow, some people are still getting jobs straight out of school. I’m one of the lucky few, and now that I know where I’m going, I’ve had time to reflect on how I got here. There’s no clear-cut path to getting in, but there are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances – hopefully my experience will help somebody else. Create an Online Portfolio Way too many people wait until just before they graduate to make a portfolio and toss it online. You should do this as soon as you start college and add to it every semester. Add class projects. Blog about your experiences. It’ll make networking easier down the road. Shell out the ten bucks a year for a real domain name. It looks a lot more professional and it’s easier for people to find. If you can get your domain to match your name, it’ll also raise your Google karma. If you’re a programmer, producer, or designer, it’s completely fine to use a prebuilt theme for a content management system like WordPress. If you’re an artist, you can still use something like WordPress, but you should think about customizing it to show off your skills. Use your website as your opportunity to craft an experience that displays exactly what you want people to know about you. Network Early A lot of students seem to think that networking is the hardest part of the job search process. You don’t start off by knowing the the CEO of a major game company or someone who has the ability to directly land you a job. It’d be nice, sure, but it isn’t realistic. Start off by getting to know your fellow students. They’re a fantastic foundation for networking. I made a game with...

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What I Played: 2010 Edition

What I Played: 2010 Edition

Posted on Feb 1, 2011 in Blog, Feature | 0 comments

I’m in my last semester of college, and I’m excited about what the future has in store. I’m also working on a couple more games that will hopefully be out the door soon. And of course, I’m looking forward to GDC in a few weeks. Here’s the second entry in what I’m trying to make an annual piece – a complete list of every game I remember playing in the previous year, along with a few impressions about it. I especially enjoyed comparing this list to last year’s to see how my gaming habits have changed (more on that in a future post). Alan Wake – Remedy (Xbox 360) As someone who was never a huge fan of Max Payne, I was more interested in the game’s perceived similarities to Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space. The “use light to kill” mechanic was really cool for the first few hours before it became tedious and repetitive. I was also disappointed by the script and the plot – it seemed to think it was a lot smarter than it was, and I guess the developers expected it to carry the experience when the gameplay couldn’t. That said, it’s original, it’s beautiful, and it’s very playable – that is to say there aren’t many bugs or control issues. This fits nicely with Resident Evil 5 as a good game that could have been great. Finished: NO APB: All Points Bulletin – Realtime Worlds (PC) Read the decon for my detailed impressions.  I had fun with APB despite its flaws. Looking forward to seeing what changes are made when it relaunches later this month. Finished: N/A Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – Ubisoft Montreal (Xbox 360) This is actually the first Assassin’s Creed game I’ve played for more than an hour or so. After hearing so many people talking about it for the last two months of the year, I decided to pick it up right after Christmas and I haven’t been disappointed. I love it when open world games give me a map with a bunch of dots that represent things to do outside of missions – I feel like I don’t have to make...

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Game Deconstruction: APB

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 in Decon, Feature | 0 comments

If you work in the games industry, you’re probably already somewhat familiar with APB. It’s known as the hundred million dollar bust that sank Realtime Worlds, and it’s easily the biggest failure story in MMO history. It was almost universally panned by critics, and most gamers stayed far away from it. But you might also remember a time when the game was the one of the most anticipated titles around – back when it was revealed at GDC 2008, in a presentation by GTA creator and RTW CEO Dave Jones. That presentation happened to be the first talk I ever attended at a GDC, and it left an impression on me. I remember the entire room erupting with applause and cheers every time they showed a new feature in the character customization system. I remember the people around me instantly calling it a “WoW killer.” Then it suddenly disappeared from the media, and we heard almost nothing about it in the two years between that talk and its release. I’m not an MMO fan, but I really looked forward to APB. I was working at Visceral Games when it came out this summer, and everyone in the office was shocked by the beating it took on Metacritic. We all wanted to play it to see the damage for ourselves, but due to the reviews none of us wanted to actually buy it. The cycle of doubt fixed itself when my lead presented me with a copy of APB as a going away present on my last day of work. I played it, analyzed it, and tried to come up with some insights that can be gained from it. APB: All Points Bulletin Developer: Realtime Worlds Publisher: Electronic Arts Genre: Shooter / MMO Metacritic: 58 Price: $49.99 Subscription: $7/20hrs or $10/month Background APB is the first (and last) MMO by Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds. It places players in the city of San Paro, a modern metropolis where criminals roam the streets and everyday citizens have been given the go to bring them to justice. Players can choose which side to align with – “enforcers” or “criminals” – and do their...

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