Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wild Edmonton Nights

Well, I've had a few interesting nights.

Thursday after work my cousin wanted to drop by the pub on the main floor cause Diarmid Clarke, a big name in the video game industry and one of Bill's mentors, was retiring. We were only planning on staying for a bit. I met them there and as I walked in I saw Jack, one of my term group's supervisors, and Humon, the project manager of our group, sitting with Bill and Diarmid. This was gunna be a great way to get some face time in with senior staff.

It didn't take me long to realize Diarmid was trashed. He was dispensing all kinds of pointers to a newbie like me all night, and even though he was hammered, it was really helpful stuff. Humon, who was essentially my boss, was pretty tanked and kept saying things like "You can't tell any of the other terms about tonight!" and "You don't think any less of me do you??", lol.

It was really a cool moment. Sitting back having a beer with a bunch of video game designers talking shop, and Diarmid, a legend in the industry.

But the moment passed and eventually everyone was trashed. I only had one beer, so I was fine. Bill was good too, and when the night came to an end (hours later, not the few minutes we were expecting) Humon and Jack were in no condition to drive. So Humon asked me to drive him home, lol. Yes, I loaded my drunk boss into the back of his super expensive car and drove him home, loaded him out and walked him to his door, lol. He was hillarious, and was not looking forward to running into me at the office next week when he'd be sober, lol.

Bill had followed us so I jumped in his car and headed home. The next day I didn't tell any of the other terms what had gone down. The terms training was over so we all moved up to the fifth floor and got set up in a new office with a new project manager, Zack. Went to lunch with some of the other senior staff. Bill and one of the other terms, Nathan, came with us. Taco Del Mar, very good stuff.

After lunch I approached Zack and told him if Marketing needed any screenshots, videocaptures or savegames, I'd be very interested in supplying them since I have a background in photography and video-editing, and think I have an eye for it. He seemed very impressed and passed the message along to Nathan, the lead on the game I'm working on.

6:00 came and it was Friday night, so I headed down to the pub and met up with a bunch of work people. Friday night the pub is FILLED with Bioware people. Nathan and Bill were there with a group of others and I joined them and got pretty drunk. Good people, and we had a great time, some seriously awesome conversation.

Now it's the weekend, and to be honest, I'm bored. I wish I worked today :P

Pic is of Dann, one of the other term testers. I might go to his house warming party this weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Morning Person??

Yup, I'm a morning person now. I get up at 7:30 AM every morning, and tonight I'm probably going to bed after I write this blog, by 11:30 PM. I actually really enjoy being a morning person. Well, day person. Still takes me about an hour and some caffeine to de-zombify in the mornings, but fortunately I get to sit around and do nothing at work while the build updates for the first hour.

My life has been pretty much nothing but video games. Weekends and evenings, all the great 360 games online with Chad and Bill, weekdays, working on Dragon Age at work, playing games at break. G4 Tech TV is on 24/7 in this house, and Bill and I talk shop all the time. Many people won't get this reference, but a few gamers might appreciate how much this lifestyle has effected me through the following story:

I had a dream last night that I was going around my daily life, until I noticed at the bottom left corner of my vision there was a fraps FPS counter, yellow numbers flickering around. I then realized I was in a videogame, and started looking for tell-tale bugs. Seriously. I am becoming a videogame.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

From Work

So every morning when I get to work I have to update the build of the game I'm testing. Essentially I have to download a huge game every morning at the same time everyone else is, so it generally takes about 2 hours. It's quite nice, because I get paid for those 2 hours but there's no way to do any work. So I go down to our amazing lunch rooms on either the 2nd or 5th floor and get myself some free breakfast, generally a croissant and Cinnamon buns, but there's cereal, waffles, toast, eggs and bacon, etc... I catch up on all the video game sites like Kotaku, chat on MSN, check facebook etc... Some days everyone in the office will play games like Left 4 Dead or Team Fortress 2 while we wait for the update. Today I decided to write a blog entry.
Once the update finally finishes I check on a program we have if there's any tasks assigned to me (test this, re-test that, what do you think of this, etc) and then start hunting for bugs. Yesterday I submitted around 10, and today I got my first responses. I even got a few "hey, nice catch!" comments from senior staff on the responses! I play through the game, which is still pretty incomplete but fun none the less, and report any and all bugs I see. I try to submit them with screenshots, video and/or savegame files.

Throughout the day I'm free to head to the lunch room and play some pinball, go for smokes on the really nice smoker's balcony, etc. We get an hour lunch, but I usually only take 20 minutes to half an hour. With a job this easy I don't feel like I need a break.

So ya, work has been going well and I really like it.

Yesterday after work I talked with Kyra almost all night, first on MSN then on the phone. That was nice. I miss her. I miss everyone.

Well, that's taken up 10 minutes. My update is at 32%, I doubt it will be done before my lunch break. Back to facebook I guess!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

1st Day

First of all, I made the playlist on the right a few days ago but the service was down. It's a playlist of songs I listened to on my drive out here, and been listening to a bit since I got out here. Very "life is changing" songs.

So today was my first day at Bioware. I can honestly say it's the best job anyone's ever had anywhere. Ever.

Woke up at 7:30 AM! That's a new one for me. Had my morning smoke outside while I watched the sunrise. Then I caught a ride to work with Bill.

Today was mostly training and paperwork. It was me and 3 other new guys. Nathan, Pieter (his last name is Parker... Spiderman!) and... Can't remember the other dude's name. We waited in a meeting room and played 360 and PS3 on big LCD tvs. There were posters everywhere of Bioware games, framed articles from the best video game magazines about their games and interviews with some of the staff I'd be working with.

Met my mentor Richard who showed me the ropes. It was cool meeting the people, in person, who are responsible for some of the best games Chad ever played...

Come lunch the senior staff, including my cousin, took us noobs out to lunch. Went to an awesome Asian place called OPM. We ordered tons of food and all just talked about video games and other nerdy stuff. Loved it.

For the second half of the day we started setting up our computers at work. We had to do an initial build update which takes hours, so while we waited we just went on Facebook, MSN, etc... We're allowed to use those things all the time at work, so long as we're focussing on work. I chatted with Kyra, Chad and Craig on MSN while it updated. When it was almost done it failed and I had to restart. So I didn't get to do much, kinda disappointing.

At 4:30 all the staff suddenly burst through the door with all kinds of nerf guns, including a gattling gun, and we got seriously hazed. For like 5 minutes we were chased around the office taking a shit load of nerf bullets to the face. Funny stuff.

Towards the end of my shift the update finally completed and I got to try the game I'll be testing, Dragon Age. Only got to play for 10 minutes before the day was over though. Hopefully tomorrow I can get some more hands on stuff instead of just browsing the net and chatting.

Bill wasn't quite ready to go so I hung out in the AMAZING staff lounge. A wall full of arcade games and a pinball machine, all free. A tv with all the systems on it. Ping Pong table, pool table, etc... Awesome. And a really nice smoker's balcony.It was an awesome first day. It doesn't feel like work, cause when I come home I do the same thing. Work on some project with MSN and facebook open on the side, periodically going out for a smoke. I work with a ton of cool people, and we all joke around about the same stuff. I work in an office where it's perfectly acceptable to chase each other around with Nerf guns (it's a big thing, there's an ongoing nerf war). I got home and realized how backwards it was that I was counting down how long till I could go back!I love my job.

P.S. We got these cool pass cards that we wave infront of a sensor to unlock our doors. Lots if sensitive I.P. (Intellectual Property for those of you who don't know... lol) and secret stuff. Makes me feel all important. Goes right to my head, lol. It's hanging off my belt in one of those cool little zip line things. And you get a pleasant little beep as the door unlocks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Life

So another day of exploring Edmonton, and getting settled into my new home with Bill and Tia. Loving it so far. It's such a cool feeling to be surrounded by new opportunity. Bill had been telling me more about the job and I'm just plain excited to go to work tomorrow morning. I really think I'm going to love it, and be good at it.

I've been thinking of this since I got out here. I'm normally very meticulous and have everything planned. I usually thrive on a routine. But I left my entire life behind, and out here I can't really say what's going to happen. So many things in my life I'm playing by ear, taking it day by day. Who knows what the future holds. It's a new feeling for me, and I'm loving it.
On the drive out here I stopped and slept at a motel in Brandon. After taking a shower I was looking at my tattoo in the mirror, and realized how significant it was. I had so many reasons not to go on that road-trip, but I knew it was something I had to do. And looking back I realize if I hadn't done it, there's no way I'd have had the courage to move out here. Even though I am here to pay off the debt I accumulated from the road-trip, it's so much more than that. It's opportunity.

I've been finding a bunch of cool places here. Like South Ed Common. It's just a section of the city with a ton of cool stores in it, has a very similar feel to Kenaston in Winnipeg. There's a Moxies, Earl's, a Famous Players, Pita Pit, and (*GASP*) a Le Chateau outlet. It's really warm out here so Bill and I have gone there both days and just walked around checking out the stores. I really wish all my friends in Winnipeg were here, cause all I'm thinking is how fun it'd be to go shopping at Le Chateau, grab some food at Moxies or Earls, then go see a movie. Then again I came here to get OUT of debt and away from impulse spending... But Bill is a total tech-nerd like me, so this may be a little difficult.

One thing I'll give Winnipeg, it had BEAUTIFUL women. In the past 2 days I've been hanging out in malls, grocery stores, video stores, PITA PIT... I have yet to see one 10. I've never been surrounded by so many people with so little to look at... I think I might have to make a term "Edmonton Hot", meaning hot by Edmonton standards... A shame.
One thing I've noticed, and Bill warned me about, is service. All the young people here have rich parents working with oil or some other boom industry, and so the kids are all spoiled little brats. So entry level jobs are hard to find staff for because none of the kids work, and if they do they don't know what they're doing and don't care cause they're only doing it cause their parents are making them, and even though they just started, are about to quit. And no one signals when they change lanes. But maybe the gravity is just different here... (That's a nod to you Brett, even though you'll never read this).

I got Skype working and used it a lot today. Called Chad from my iPhone and chatted for a while, then called my Mom from the PC to tell her how things were, then Kyra and talked with her for half an hour. It was good to talk with her. Andi called soon after that and we ended up talking for an hour and half. Lol, we both went out for smokes at the same time. Even provinces apart we keep up that tradition.

But I better start thinking of getting to bed, I have to wake up at 7:30 tomorrow morning... Yikes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Edmonton or Bust!

So I made it to Edmonton. I live here now. Weird.

I left Thursday night cause I needed to get some thinking done, and I learned on my roadtrip that the road is the best place to do that. Alone in a car with nothing but music and scenery... You get some thinking done.

Leaving was weird. It had been an emotional day already, and then packing, and saying goodbye to everyone... Watching them vanish in my rear-view window... It was taxing, and definitely a 'moment' in my life.

Got to Brandon around 6:00 AM and checked in while everyone else was getting their free breakfast and checking out.

The next day I woke up around 11:45 and immediately checked out and hit the road. It was a LONG drive. I was on the road that day about 13 hours, straight. I didn't stop for anything except gas and bathroom breaks. Had to pull over once or twice for a quick nap since I was getting drowsy on the road. Got even more thinking done.

Saskatchewan lived up to it's reputation of being one boring province to drive through. Though I did drive past a Prince Albert exit sign which reminded me of my visits to Tim and his friends/band-mates when he lived out there in our teen years.

Got stuck in traffic in Regina for a while, just happened to be passing through around rush hour. And supposedly I missed a meteor coming down near Edmonton by 12 hours, that would have been cool to see! I saw a cool video on youtube.

As I was finally approaching Edmonton I saw what looked like a solid wall of lights with pillars of flame coming out the top at a few points, clearly visible from even 30 km away. As I got closer I realized it was all the oil refineries. Quite a sight to see in the black night. Once I hit the city limits I got another cool sight when a GIANT owl flew over the freeway, in the same direction as my car as a cool somber song came on. It kinda reminded me of that scene in Collateral with the wolf.

I met up with my cousin at a sev and he showed me how to get to my new home. It's so new it's not on GPS, google maps, etc. VERY nice place in a VERY nice neighborhood. He helped me unpack as we caught up on things, but I was pooped from the road and crashed in my 'room' immediately.

My room is essentially just a few sheets hanging from the ceiling in the basement, not unlike my living conditions back when I lived with my Mom.

This morning I woke up around noon (keep in mind Edmonton is an hour behind Winnipeg) and my cousin took me out to show me some cool places to get good deals. Working at Bioware gets you discounts at certain computer whole-salers and stuff! I also get 360 games for 20$.

Bought everything I needed to get my pc and Xbox online, had some lunch and talked about 'the industry' all day. My cousin makes it sound amazing, and I have no reason to doubt him. It'd be awesome to get a career in it. It was a really cool day. Edmonton is an awesome city so far. Granted the drivers are terrible, and all the minimum wage jobs are held by annoying emo tweens with rich parents who are terrible at their job and probably just started and are about to quit, but you can tell you're in a city with money. The recession feels like some sort of fable here.

After that I came home and did my best to personalize my room. Did what I could with the space I had. The room kinda has a 'teenage' feel to it, but what can you expect in the corner of a basement with sheets as walls. I'm not here for the room, I'm here to make some money at a potential career and get out of debt while having some cool experiences and meeting new people.

Met my cousin's girlfriend and we ordered pizza and watched Family Guy. Afterwards I played Gears Of War 2 all night with Chad, which is a fucking amazing game. I'm really looking forward to getting into gaming in a big way while I'm out here. Always loved video games, but been pretty casual about it. Now I can play with no guilt, knowing that
A) I have no social life so what else would I be doing.
B) It's career-related.
C) It's fun!

So that's been my experience so far. When I first got here last night the reality of it all finally sunk in and it kinda scared me, but after today I'm realizing how much of an amazing experience this is going to be. Who knows how this will go. Will I get a career with Bioware and stay out here? Will I be able to leverage myself with this work experience into an awesome job in Winnipeg? Will I make new friends out here and form a second life? I know I miss my friends and family already... Regardless of where this all goes, I'm proud of myself for following my curiosity out here.

On a side note, I signed up for Skype, 3$ a month for unlimited long distance in North America. AND I found an app that lets me use Skype from my iPhone. So calling everyone in Winnipeg will be easy-mode. If you ever wanna shoot the shit, text me and I'll call you back. Chances are I'll be calling you a lot anyway. Unless I'm at work, which from the sounds of things I will be getting a TON of overtime. It will pretty much be my life.

Also, that digital photo frame I got was such a great idea, I have it set up in the corner of my room and it just cycles through all the good times with friends and family. I look over right now and see a pic of Brett playing an Xbox game with an army helmet on and a headset mic, lol.So, I start my new job on Monday; wish me luck!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Change On The Horizon

It's getting real now...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sending Off

Had my going away party. It was a blast. Thank you to everyone who came, it meant a lot! Had such a good time. Olga had 2 12 hours shifts but made time to show up, which I really appreciated. Andi moved a bunch of things around to come. Kyra actually stayed up 24 hours cause she opened at work the next day. Well she did fall asleep in my arms for a while, but I didn't mind :)

We all got pretty drunk, and had some good conversation, some good laughs. Afterwards several people came back to my place and watched Tropic Thunder. I was too drunk to drive so Chad drove. The steering wheel was so cold he had to borrow Kyra's little blue mittens, lol. We were all pretty pooped and eventually Craig and Lauren took off, and then Andi, Chad and Kyra split a cab. It was a really good night, and meant a lot to me.

Now it's sinking in I'm actually leaving. I went out for a smoke today and just watched the snow come down. I pictured standing outside my cousin's house, looking down the street and not knowing what was even around that corner. I imagined walking back in and sitting in the basement with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I know I'll meet people, and settle in, but it will definitely be weird at first, especially after such a send off. I'm going to miss everyone.

I bought a bunch of 360 games to keep me busy in Edmonton, plus I have WoW. I think Chad and I may have convinced Kyra to give WoW a try. It'll be another way to keep in touch.

Tonight Kyra and I are going to dinner and movie. I'm looking forward to it. Gunna miss her. Life is funny.

So for those I don't get to see in the days before I leave, I'll hopefully see you again in about 3-4 months!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


So I've started preparing for my departure. The final get-together is still Friday at 11:00 PM at Earl's in St Vital, I have a family thing on Monday, my Mom, Dad and brother will all be there, which is nice. Probably going to Olive Garden ("It's like dining in the kitchen of a lovely Italian stereotype")(Shut it Craig). I gave in my 2 weeks a while ago, and Tammy was really cool about it. Today I went to the bank and had my interest rates lowered significantly, so it'll be even easier to get out of debt.

After the bank I came to my Mom's for supper, which is where I am right now. I found some old clothes in the closet of the room that used to be mine. All black, with lots of straps and chains, lol. Yikes.
Chad convinced me to buy the new WoW expansion pack last night and him, Craig and I stayed up till 5:00 AM playing and chatting on vent. I'm going to be playing a lot of online games over the next few months, the perfect way to keep in touch with my nerdier friends (which is most). I need to fix my sleeping pattern before I go out there, the job is 9-6 and I'm usually up till at least 5... A lot of people have been telling me they cannot picture me waking up that early (*nod to Lauren).

I've also looked into Skype, which is a cheap way to make long distance calls over the internet to actual phones. And I can get Skype on my iPhone. Only works on wifi, but Bill had Wifi, where I'll be living, and I hear the Bioware offices have Wifi, so I'll be able to make long distance calls for very cheap. Trying to decide if I want to change my phone number for while I'm in Alberta. I've had this number for ever and it's on all my business cards. And I may only be out there till March...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


So I haven't really written about this on here, because I didn't want to jinx it or speak too soon. But about a month ago I decided to look into moving to Edmonton because jobs pay higher out there and I have family out there. It'd be a great way to get out of debt, especially with no distractions or social life. Julie and Jenna gave me the idea.

I called my relatives and my cousin Bill said he has a basement in the new house him and Tia bought going to waste, and that I could stay there for cheap rent. He's out there working for a video game company called Bioware. Any gamers know who they are; they've made some really big games like Star Wars Knights Of The Republic and Mass Effect.

He told me he could even try to hook me up with a job as a term tester!!! 12$ an hour, 40 hours a week, guaranteed overtime to play video games all day!!! Couldn't think of a better scenario to get myself out of debt. So I sent in my resume with a reference letter from my cousin.

It wasn't a sure thing though, far from it. For a month I didn't know if I'd be staying in Winnipeg or moving to Edmonton. But yesterday I got the call. Accepted! I start November 24th! So I move in less than 2 weeks!!!

I'm a tiny bit nervous, but mostly super excited! Gunna be an awesome job, the pay is great, especially with the overtime, going to be living in a new city for the first time in my life, I'll meet new people and try new things... This is going to be awesome.

I will miss my family and friends though. A lot. I think they mean more to me than the average person. I've invested decades with some of my friends and all my family. It's going to be hard not to see them for months at a time. I know I'll probably be back in about 3-4 months, but I've heard this position often leads to permanent employment, and I don't know if I could pass on that opportunity should it come up... So heading out there, I don't know if I'll ever be back.

I'm throwing a 'party' before I leave so I can see everyone together. Going to be Friday at around 11:00 PM at Earls in St. Vital, just like the good ol' days. Everyone reading this is encouraged (and expected) to come!

Sign contracts and send them back to Bioware: Check!
Give 2 weeks notice to Rogers Video: Check!
Tell family and friends: Mostly Check!
Throw going-away party: Check!
Start packing: ...I'll get to it!

So here's to the future!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nerd --->

The Far Cry 2 level editor is so awesome! I got addicted to it, and in no time Brett and Chad were hooked too. I made an awesome level everyone seems to love, and since Chad and I bought it we played it online in a full 16 person game. It was so fun!

I so deserve this video-game tester job!

Friday, November 7, 2008


So excited Obama won! Here's hoping it all goes well for him. Seems I'm not the only one who believes he'll rock:
Before Obama
And after Obama
-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sweeet. Chad and I will be playing this on coop, just like old times!
-- Post From My iPhone


This is November!?
-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween o8!!!

Halloween was serious fun. Rock Band 2, good friends, slutty costumes, and lots and lots of alcohol. Some of us were up until 8:00 AM! Our apartment was a mess by the next day, but we got it cleaned up. Well Linda did...

I tried to dress up as a 50's gangster but I think I ended up looking more like Elvis Costello, lol. But it was all good as there was an Elvis Costello song on Rock Band 2. So it all worked out.

Some costume highlights: Chad just put a name tag saying "Hi, my name is Michael Buble", cause everyone tells him he looks so much like him. Olga bought a slutty referee costume (high five to Chad, cause she's keeping that!) Tim just duct-taped a Shreddies box to himself and went as a box of Shreddies, lol. Craig went as a robot, but the costume was so hot he didn't end up wearing most of it, lol. A shame cause it was a well made costume, he even spray-painted his Adidas shoes silver, lol. Andi went as Tom Cruise from Risky Business, just wore a dress shirt, sunglasses and guys' tighty whiteys. Lauren went as a dead doll. It was good stuff.

The next day more than a few people were hung over. I got a huge pay-cheque so I went shopping with Brett, Linda and Chad. Bought some clothes at the Le Chateux Andi works at and got her some commission! Got some good clothes! I think I officially need to start dry cleaning though... Ugh.

After shopping we went to Pizza Hut and then saw Zack and Miri Make A Porno, which I thought was awesome. A Kevin Smith movie with Seth Rogan in it, what more could you want?

So it's been a fun couple of days. The whole time all I could think of was that if I get this job in Edmonton this might be the last time I really get to hang out with all my friends like this, at least until Summer. I found out Bioware had some unexpected downsizing and stuff, so I don't know what that does to my chances of getting the job, but I get an email by Tuesday telling me if I got the job. I still really hope I get it. And now it's off to work, I close with Julie I believe, so should be fun.