Last week included some really big news for me, so I thought I’d discuss it here on my blog.
My current employer, Cold Iron Studios, was acquired by FoxNext Games, a division of 21st Century Fox. And with that announcement came something else: we are working on a shooter in the Alien cinematic universe. Woah!
In terms of the above, well, that’s what I can say at the moment. But it is great news and I’m super happy about it! However, I’d like to take a moment and write about how this fits in the grand scheme of my career, so far.
So what has been my journey, anyway? Maybe it would be interesting if I broke it down by year, highlighting major milestones along the way.
I’m in year one of a jazz studies Master’s at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. I play BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic. Suddenly I want to make games.
Since I’m familiar with music, I approach the video game industry by that avenue. However, I know I’m meant to do more. I spent way too many hours analyzing games on message boards. I tinker with Unreal 2 and Neverwinter Nights. I applied to BioWare a few times, with no idea how to possibly present myself as a real candidate.
I land a professional contract working on the score and sound FX for The Broken Hourglass, a CRPG by Planewalker Games. I complete the score and the contract, but the game is eventually cancelled. I did basic scripting to implement sound, which along with the modding I was doing in Unreal 2 and Neverwinter Nights, ignited a love of game development beyond the scope of audio. This project was, alas, way ahead of its time. Had it been attempted in the early days of Kickstarter, it would have been a success, no doubt, since it essentially looked to mimic classic BioWare style RPGs like Baldur’s Gate. I attend GDC, go to a publisher’s party, and realize I absolutely have to be in the game industry, and not just as a musician/sound designer.
I attend SMU Guildhall and attain a Master’s degree there, in design. In those days, the program was a delirious 17 months (it is longer now). I’ve never worked harder in my life, regardless of any crunching I have done since. I continue learning Unreal technologies, but also spend a great deal of time in Hammer (Half Life 2’s editor), The Elder Scroll’s Construction Kit, and Call of Duty Radiant.
My first “proper” game industry job, as designer at Vicious Cycle Software. I work on some really fun stuff and learn a lot! Undoubtedly Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon will always be a favorite project of mine. I also get to work on platformers and kart racers.
Next, I move to Human Head Studios to work on Prey 2. I couldn’t anticipate that I would eventually get to work on Bioshock Infinite, Batman: Arkham Origins, and a premiere project for Amazon’s new gaming efforts, a top-flight survival horror experience for mobile called Lost Within. I even get to dabble in music again, writing music for a technical demo for Samsung devices. The music is recorded by a symphony orchestra! My skills as a designer, scripter, and programmer grow. I also had a very rewarding stint at Madison Media Institute teaching game design at the college level.
That brings us to right now! Crazy to think the journey began back in 2004. Cold Iron has built something really special (of course, I feel a tremendous affinity for all of my past employers as well!) and the team is fantastic. I start a podcast with an environment artist there, Kip Carbone, who I relentlessly remind (much to his embarrassment) that he worked on Metroid Prime 3 (a personal favorite of mine). He returns the favor by stating I worked on Bioshock Infinite (a personal favorite of his!). I think we are both gratified to see both of these games get mentioned in most of the press releases about Cold Iron.
What a fun ride so far! And I’m not done yet 🙂