Friday, December 31, 2010


New Year's Eve. Another year comes to a close. 2010 was a big one for me. This time last year I was living with my cousin; my first term at BioWare had just ended and I was starting my 3 month break between contracts and learning the Unreal 3 Engine. I'd put on weight and decided it was time to do something about it, and began working out, though it took a while to figure out just how to get what I wanted out of it. I applied for a full-time position on the Mass Effect team, but didn't get it (my good friend Reid did). I'd been living in Edmonton for just over a year and figured things were settling down. I had a life in Edmonton and was ready to stay there. But life, it seems, had other plans.

After my 3 months off I went back to BioWare to work on Dragon Age 2, and hope this year would bring a full-time salary position. But if it didn't I was happy working terms at BioWare as long as it took. It was my best shot at getting into the industry (or so I thought) and I liked Edmonton. And Chad was planning on moving out to Edmonton that summer, so good times were ahead.

I created a term-tester progress report at work and quickly made it onto the content team, responsible for one of the major plots in the game. The economy seemed be lightening up a bit so I had at least a small hope that a full-time QA position would open up.

Chad moved out that summer. We rented a really nice apartment from my good friend Dave and I drove to Saskatoon to meet them half way, and we transferred all his stuff from his Mom's car to mine. It was great having my best friend living in the same city again. And it made Edmonton feel even more like home. Olga would be moving out soon too. Life was looking great. Chad met all my friends, started working at BioWare with me, we started working out together after work. It was the kind of life I'd always wanted.

A few months later Kristina and Olga came and visited us in Edmonton, and it was a total blast. Edmonton was my home now, and having my friends from Winnipeg visiting and meeting my friends in Edmonton was amazing.

At work there was talk of some QA positions opening up, and I felt I had a real shot at one. Several of the higher ups let me know I wasn't far off in that assumption. I started to get very optimistic. But it wasn't long before a major bombshell was dropped on me. EA had instituted a 2 term limit for contract workers. And I was almost half way through my second... That meant if I didn't get full-time within the next 7 months I could never work for EA again as a term, and it would make it MUCH harder to get into the industry in a full-time salary position. It was all or nothing for the rumored full-time QA positions opening up.

Sure enough, 3 positions were opened. Hundreds applied. The QA department was bloated with terms, all chomping at the bit to get in full-time. 2 positions were in Edmonton and 1 in Montreal. I cast a wide net and applied for all 3.

They made a short list for all 3 positions, about 5 people per list, out of the hundreds that applied. I managed to make it onto 2 of them. One for the Edmonton position and one for the Montreal position. Needless to say I was really hoping for the Edmonton position. It was for a content lead position, something I was already kind of doing, and there was heavy emphasis on management, which my term tester progress report showed I had the vision for.

It was a tense week as I waited for the news. Nathan and Chad were both very supportive. And finally, after one of the longest weeks of my life, I got called in by the QA Lead. He let me know it was a tough decision but they went with someone else. It was devastating. I knew what I was really finding out was my life in Edmonton was coming to an end. Once my term ran out at BioWare I wouldn't be able to come back for a third, and I knew the chances of another QA position opening in the next few months was extremely unlikely. If I wanted to stay in the industry, and make a career for myself doing something I loved and was good at, I'd have to move.

Around this time I got in contact with someone I'd worked with at BioWare who had moved to Halifax to work at a new studio, Longtail. She recommended me for a QA Lead position that had just opened up. I expressed my interest and had a phone interview which went really well. As the gears turned and I was informed they were going to fly me to Halifax for an in person interview, it was very bittersweet. On one hand I was on the verge of getting a full-time salary position in the industry, something I'd been fighting for for almost 2 years now which had started to feel impossible, but it meant leaving behind the life in Edmonton I'd spent the last 2 years building. I had some great friends in Edmonton, including my best now that Chad had moved down. I loved my life there, and did not want to leave.

I flew to Halifax and was picked up by a limo at the airport. I was put in a nice hotel for my stay and had my interview, a whole-day ordeal that had me interviewed by 2 people from every department. But I felt it went really well. I spent the rest of the day exploring Halifax, and it really stated to dawn on me. I would probably be moving here.

When I got back to Edmonton Chad and I sat on the balcony and discussed the crazy turn of events. We spent over a year imagining how great it would be for him to move down, for us to live in the same city again, and both work at BioWare, one of the best companies to work for in the world. And just a few months after he arrived, I might be leaving. And I really didn't want to. It was pure sacrifice for my career.

Sure enough I got the call from Longtail offering me the job. I accepted. I'd be moving in 3 weeks. I gave my notice to BioWare. Life became a dream I was drifting through. It was like Edmonton was rejecting me like foreign matter. I trained my replacement at work, and moved offices. I was back in the office I started in. I hung out with my friends as much as I could, and on my last week Nathan threw me TWO going away parties. Such a great friend, and one I didn't want to have to leave.

But as I sat at the bonfire at the second party and looked around at all my friends and reflected on how far I'd come since that depressing night in my cousin's basement when I first arrived in Edmonton, I knew I'd be ok. I'd done this before, I could do it again.

And after an extremely stressful ordeal with some incompetent movers and an emotional goodbye with my best friend, I left for a week in Winnipeg before leaving for Halifax. This really sucked. When I moved to Edmonton from Winnipeg there was some personal reason to it, I felt I had to leave to grow, find my place in the world, etc. There was no personal reason for leaving this time. I wanted to stay. It was purely career.

My week in Winnipeg didn't help. It felt great to be home, I missed it. I felt so lost, and Winnipeg felt so familiar. But after a week I got on a plane and left it behind. When I landed I was in Halifax, what felt like a completely random city. But I wasn't on visiting, I wasn't leaving, I lived here now.

I spent a month in a corporate hotel, before moving to the worst area in town in a shitty apartment. The startup costs of moving meant I was completely broke all the time. Work was intimidating, and at first felt unwelcoming. I felt completely lost. I couldn't go back to my life in Edmonton, BioWare was no longer an option. I couldn't go back to my life in Winnipeg, in a lot of ways it wasn't there anymore. I'd drifted apart from a lot of my friends, and one of my best friends there wasn't there anymore! Chad had moved to Edmonton! I felt like there was no home anymore. All the things I missed couldn't be retrieved. My first few months in Halifax were among the darkest of my life.

But, I'd done it before, and even though it ended up being a lot harder than my move to Edmonton, I did start to form a life. Work began to get better, and eventually became fun. I made friends at work, and even outside of work. I met Ryan through a friend and ended up moving in with him in a nice place in a much nicer area. Money really started to flow. Things were finally starting to feel better. And I had a career now! And while the lifestyle required by this industry has been very taxing, it's also been very rewarding. Life is an adventure. I've done so much I never thought I'd do, and seen some things I never expected to. I've walked the waterfront during a hurricane. I've sat and dangled my legs off the edge of the continent while the waves crashed down below. It's been a wild ride so far!

After almost 5 months in Halifax I came back to Winnipeg for a visit, and Chad did as well so we got to meet up. I'll write a more in depth entry for my trip, but I will say it's been great to be back. I reconnected with Tim, Brett and Linda after a 2 year estrangement. But my friendship with Kristina seems to be hitting a low point, which is very disappointing. But that's what 2010 has been. Ups and downs, surprise detours, life lessons, and change. Progress.

The year ahead is so different from the last. Longtail, QA Lead, Halifax, Atlantic Ocean, new friends, career and adventure! Here's to 2011!

Written on my iPad.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane!

I’m at work for half a day, then Ryan is picking me up and we’re going for lunch and then he’s dropping me off at the airport before he heads to work!  Then I’m off to Winnipeg for the holidays to see friends and family!  So excited!  Going to be weird not thinking about bug databases and build deliveries for 2 whole weeks after working so hard! 

Flying a lot these days, this will be 10 planes in 6 months!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dragon Age 2 Combat Walkthrough

Combat is looking great in DA2!  Can’t wait to play it as a regular consumer and see how far it’s come along since I worked on it!

26 Pounds!

I started packing a few things for my Winnipeg Xmas trip (leave to the airport right from work on the afternoon of Wednesday the 22nd!).  As I was going through my clothes I came across my old Edmonton jeans and tried them on.  That made my day, they used to fit without a belt, now they won’t stay up without me holding on to them.  It’s awesome to know I’ve lost all that weight since then!


Xmas Parties

Went to the Longtail Xmas party earlier this week.  Was lots of fun!  Everyone met up at Loca’s, a local bar and billiards place.  We had free drinks, free food, and good conversation.  I’m much more comfortable with the people at work these days, and it was a really fun night.  Played some pool, and even won a game!  Got pretty drunk by the end, my room was spinning that night…

QA PoolReset!Free Food!A Good Night

Was good times.  Last night BioWare had their Xmas party.  The BioWare Xmas parties are legendary, and last year’s was one of the best nights of my life.  Chad is at BioWare now, so it was his turn to experience the epic night that is a BioWare Xmas party.  I hear he got pretty plastered and made a bit of an ass of himself.  Exactly the right way to enjoy the night!


I spoke too soon…



December 17th aint bad for the first real snowfall though!  And it’ll probably melt by the end of the weekend.  Supposed to by +6 on Monday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010



Photo Dec 16, 7 53 58 PM


Photo Dec 16, 7 54 31 PM

The Grid


  1. Daft Punk – The Grid
  2. My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na
  3. My Chemical Romance – SING
  4. Neon Trees – Animal
  5. Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody (RAC Remix)
  6. Frankmusik – The Fear Inside
  7. Kids Of 88 – Everybody Knows
  8. The High Wire – Odds & Evens
  9. Rich Aucoin – Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.
  10. 1,2,3 – Confetti
  11. Daft Punk – Fall
  12. Young Liars – Marathon
  13. Young Liars – Colours
  14. The Decemberists – Down By The Water
  15. Caribou – Odessa
  16. My Chemical Romance – S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W
  17. My Chemical Romance – Party Poison
  18. My Darkest Days – Porn Star Dancing
  19. The Smooth Maria – Abandoned Town
  20. Daft Punk – Derezzed
  21. Owen Pallett – Don’t Stop
  22. Parlovr – Hell, Heaven
  23. Computer Magic – About You
  24. My Chemical Romance – Planetary (GO!)
  25. NazcarNation – Beeswax (Star Slinger Remix)
  26. Police Academy 6 +unouomedude – Icarus
  27. Daft Punk – TRON Legacy (End Titles)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GamePro DA2 Cover

Went to the mall for some coffee with Ryan and we browsed the shops after and I came across this.  Dragon Age 2 got the cover of GamePro!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Goodbye Edmonton!

Finally got around to making a video of my last days in Edmonton.  Made me really nostalgic.  Edmonton was the best time in my life so far, it was really hard to leave it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mass Effect 3 Debut Trailer!

Mass Effect 2 was one of my favorite games of all time, and I’m truly not just saying that because I worked at the studio.  And today, at the VGAs, Mass Effect 3 was announced!  =D

They’re coming!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All About Halifax

A funny video about Halifax:

A less funny video about Halifax, one many Canadian friends will remember:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Making Of Dragon Age II Part 1

The first part of Dragon Age 2’s Making Of video.  As much as I love where I am now, I miss this team and franchise.  Good times!

Dragon Age 2: Making Of

The video is a little cut off on my blog, but is totally watchable.  If you can see it in all it’s glory, in HD at Gamespot.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Bug’s Life

An interesting article that gives some insight into what it is I do!

A Bug’s Life - GamePro


Saturday, November 27, 2010


I’m on the Longtail website!  Check it out!

On the main page it shows one of 7 people that work at the studio, so mine shows up sometimes.

Main Page

From there if you click the Mission link at the top it takes you to this page, where I’m on the first row of people, including a testimonial I wrote!

Mission Screen

I just thought that was kind of cool!  Fun fact: I took the pictures of everyone!  Dale Furutani: Longtail’s resident photographer!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where You’re Coming From

Made this playlist last week but forgot to post it.

Photo Nov 19, 2 02 36 PM

  1. Phantogram – Futuristic Casket
  2. Matt & Kim – Block After Block
  3. Le Tigre – After Dark
  4. The Egg – Nothing
  5. Wintersleep – Weighty Ghost
  6. Finger Eleven – Stone Soul
  7. Collide – Razor Sharp
  8. Lady Danville – Kids
  9. Matt & Kim – Where You’re Coming From
  10. Wintersleep – Laser Beams
  11. Sunday Radio – The Things We’ll Miss The Most
  12. fun. – Walking The Dog
  13. Matt & Kim – Wires
  14. Wintersleep – Mausoleum
  15. Volcano Choir – Still
  16. Jonsi – Boy Lilikoi
  17. Phantogram – Voices

As always, available on Grooveshark!

Interview With AJ & Sandeep

An interview with 2 of the guys I work with at Longtail Studios!

AJ and Sandeep do their thing!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finally Here

I moved in to the new place on Thursday!  The move was pretty painless, Ryan, my new roommate, helped.  The new place is SO much nicer.  And the area is waaaay better too.  The first night after moving in we ordered some pizza and rented videogames.  Life finally feels real here.  I’m not some shadow of myself trying to survive.  I actually had fun, and felt like myself.  Maybe it’s because until now my weekends were sitting alone in my apartment, not speaking a work until I was back at work on Monday.  Making a new friend and living with someone is 2 birds with one stone!  Over the weekend we caught a movie, and Ryan still hadn’t checked out downtown so we did that as well.

While we were downtown I did some window shopping and found some nice clothes I want get, namely a really nice jacket.  And now that money is freed up, I’m looking into joining the gym down the street from work.

I seem to be caught up on all my expenses as well, so I FINALLY have money again.  It was pretty bad for a while with all the initial moving costs (remember I moved TWICE).  But money is freeing up and I have actually quite a bit of spending money left over on each check now.  I finally get to see the money of my new job.  And I’ve decided I’m going to park my car.  I finally got around to calling to switch my car insurance to Nova Scotia and they wanted to charge me 250$ a month!  I paid 150$ in Alberta.  I rarely use it as it is, like maybe three times a month.  And that’s usually for grocery shopping, and Ryan said I can just tag along with him when he does his grocery shopping.  The odd time I do need a car I can just pay for a cab.  There’s no way I’ll use 250$ a month in cabs, so I’m still saving money.  Still, I love driving, never thought the day would come when I voluntarily gave up the right.  We’ll see though, I can always change my mind and insure it later. 

In the meantime I don’t mind taking the bus.  The view from the bus stop outside our place is amazing!  We living up on a big hill so we get an amazing view of Halifax.  Especially at night when all the city lights are glimmering below.

The one downside of not driving is no road-trips.  But I suppose I can rent a car, it’s not too expensive.  Next Spring I’ll probably do that so I can go on a mini-roadtrip to Prince Edward Island, it’s only about 4 hours away.  I’ve always wanted to drive across the Confederation Bridge.

But ya, life is feeling so much better out here.  Having a friend and roommate, living in a nice place in a nice area, and having spending money again all add up to make things much more manageable.  Life was pretty dark for a while, but I’m really beginning to enjoy life out here.

So on that note, I leave you with a video tour of the new place!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Transient

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth...not going all the way, and not starting.”

The week before I left Edmonton I remember sitting on the apartment balcony with Chad discussing the coming changes.  I was expressing my conflicted feelings.  While I was extremely excited to be moving up in the industry, getting a salary position at much higher pay with much more responsibility and the adventure of starting over in a new city again, I also had to admit I was very apprehensive about the first few months.

I recounted the story of my first few months in Edmonton and how alone I was, and filled with doubt I felt.  The doubt was the worst part.  To leave behind a perfectly good life for hope of a better one is a risky trade off.  To let go of something, hoping for a greater return in the future is a romantic concept, but doesn’t always end that way.  And to be haunted by these thoughts for months, while you sit alone, night after night, missing the family, friends and life you left behind…  It’s not easy.

He assured me it would all be ok, and I knew he was probably right.  But I’d been through this trial before, and barely made it out with my conviction.  By the time Chad moved to Edmonton I’d already formed a life waiting to welcome him.  My friends were looking forward to meeting him, and he had an apartment to live with me in waiting for him.  There were no dark lonely nights for him, just staying up playing Uncharted in our living room, and having house-warming parties with all my friends.  And Olga would be moving out to join him in 2 months.  He realized this, but stood firm that I’d get through it, like I had before. A good friend.

So here I sit in Halifax.  Alone in a dark apartment, desperately missing something as simple as sitting on a balcony with my friend.  This trial isn’t any easier the second time around, in fact in many ways it’s harder.  When I moved to Edmonton it wasn’t so much going to Edmonton but escaping Winnipeg.  I loved my family and friends, but my life had stalled out, and I needed a total change of scenery to grow.  Moving here was not escaping Edmonton.  It actually felt more like being exiled, what with my final contract at BioWare coming to an end.

The past 2 months have been some of the darkest of my life.  It’s been incredibly lonely.  The city feels very unwelcoming.  I live in one of the absolute worst areas in Halifax where I fear for my safety.  While I like the job and the people I work with, it’s been difficult to make friends even there, and sometimes I’m overcome with self-doubt about my work performance.  The city layout forces me to bus to work.  The costs of moving twice in 3 months including a cross-country move have left me feeling the poorest I’ve even been, despite making the most I ever have.  My nights are filled with the doubt that this was a bad decision, and everything I let go of is not coming back.

And this move feels different.  When I moved to Edmonton, Winnipeg felt “next door”.  It was where I just came from.  Now I’m twice removed from the city I grew up in.  I moved to Halifax from Edmonton, but I’m from Winnipeg.  Sometimes I feel so lost, like a transient with no home.  Home is beginning to feel like a foreign concept.  I knew what it meant once to have history somewhere.  A place where people knew you, where you came from, and how you became the man you are now.  Now I feel like I’m always the new guy.  I have no history, and I’m just passing through.

But I’m reminded of Chad’s words.  That I would make it through this, I have before.  And I’m beginning to realize he was right.

Things are finally getting better, and I’m feeling hope again.  I’m getting good feedback at work and I’ve made a few friends there.  I’ve made some friends outside of work as well.  I met a girl on the bus and have hung out with her a few times for coffee.  A friend of a friend just moved to the city as well, and we have hung out a few times, and I move in with him tomorrow!  Living with a new friend will go far in making this city feel more like home.  It’s a nicer place in a nicer area as well.  And on the next check I should be all caught up on moving costs and I should finally start seeing all the extra money that brought me here in the first place.  Having some spending money will also make this feel a bit more like home.

I’m finally beginning to be able to picture a future in this city.  And that’s a major turning point.  It was after 2 months of desperation that things finally started to fall into place in Edmonton, and in the end Edmonton was the best period of my life thus far! 

I think this trial is ending, and just like last time the only thing I managed to carry through it was my conviction.  And now I’m beginning to see the rewards.  The sense of adventure has returned.  I just moved to the East Coast!  To run a department and earn a salary!  I work by the ocean!  I WALKED THE OCEAN SIDE DURING A HURRICANE!  Yes, leaving Winnipeg set me on a path that has been harder than I anticipated, but it’s also been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

I remember as I packed the last of my things into my car in Edmonton, Chad and I had our manly handshake and did our best to hide our emotions.  It was all very Joey & Chandler.  “Enjoy your life here, Chad.  Edmonton’s been good to me” I told him.  And as I drove off I watched Chad waving goodbye, leaving him to the life I’d made in Edmonton, the life I never expected to blossom.  And yet it had become my home.  And while I knew it was Chad’s home now, and that he would have his own adventures there, I was off to start a new one of my own.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Natural Philosophy

A new playlist for those who like new music!


  1. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Painted Sun In Abstract
  2. Hooray For Earth – Comfortable, Comparable
  3. Penguin Prison – A Funny Thing
  4. Penguin Prison – Something I’m Not (BretonLABS remix)
  5. Broken Bells – Trap Doors
  6. Dumas – Passer A L’Ouest (au-dela des frontieres)
  7. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Intriguing Possibilities
  8. Kings Of Leon – Radioactive
  9. The Courteeners – You Overdid It Doll
  10. Pyramiddd – Boy Toy
  11. Pyramiddd – Medicine
  12. Big Spider’s Back – Perfect Machine
  13. Broken Bells – The High Road
  14. Broken Bells – The Mall And Misery
  15. Kings Of Leon – Pickup Truck
  16. The Courteeners – Cross My Heart & Hope To Fly
  17. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Complication With Optimistic Outcome
  18. Robbie Robertson – This Bitter Earth

New Place Soon!

So this weekend Ryan moved into the new place.  The plan is for me to move in mid-to-late November because I’m paying rent at the current place until December.  Ryan moved from Fredricton, which is about a 4 hour drive.  His Dad came as well to help move all his stuff.  He very generously offered to help me move the big things from my apartment to save me moving costs.  So we moved my couch, computer desk and bed frame.  It was really nice of them to help with that, and saved me a LOT of trouble.  It does mean for the next few weeks I’m back to living without a couch or desk though.

When I’d last seen the place before signing the lease it was having a lot of work done it.  The landlords promised us it was going to look really nice, and they weren’t lying!  It looks great!  Hardwood floors in our rooms and living room, new vinyl tiles in the kitchen, bathroom, etc.  They put in new windows that are huge and let a lot more light in, which was one of my only complaints about the place before.  I’m really psyched to move in, the place looks great!

After his parents left, Ryan and I hung out in the new place for a while.  He’s a really down to earth guy, and easy to talk to.  I have no doubt we’ll be great friends in no time, which is great cause I needed some friends here!

I took a few pics of the outside, but pics of the inside will have to wait till I officially move in!



Gundead Defense

One of the games Longtail Studios made before I started here.  It’s free on the app store.  It’s really fun!  It’s a tower defense game, with a bit of a story and multiplayer!  I don’t know of any other multiplayer tower defense games.  And it’s FREE!  So go download it and give it a shot!



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dragon Age 2: Rise To Power

A new trailer of Dragon Age 2.  Looks like the game is coming along great!  I can’t wait to play it!  I really miss working on the Dragon Age franchise :(

Saturday, October 23, 2010

An Amazing Adventure

I’ve heard the cathedral bells ring in Old Montreal.  I’ve walked the busy streets of downtown Chicago.  I’ve overlooked Toronto from the CN Tower, felt the mist off the Niagara Falls.  I’ve seen the mountains of BC and the winding hills of Northern Ontario.  I’ve driven the flat plains in between.  I’ve felt the warmth of Canada’s Centennial Flame at the Parliament Building and seen the flames of the Alberta oil fields. I’ve been to Fringe Fest in Edmonton and Busker Fest in Halifax.  I’ve walked the crowded corner of Yonge and Dundas, and stood alone on the rocks of Peggy’s Cove.  I’ve watched the sun rise over the Atlantic and set on the Pacific.

I’ve had a pretty interesting life.  Many people have seen more and done more.  But I appreciate every moment of it, because I never thought I’d have the courage to do any of it.  10 years ago I was borderline agoraphobic, and never expected to leave my hometown of Winnipeg, rarely even my home.  Since then I’ve been all across the continent, mostly on my own.  I’ve led an amazing life and met some amazing people along the way.  And I’m thankful for it.


Me In Front Of Parliament



Busy Yonge-Dundas Square

 Niagara Falls






DSC09781 DSC09807


I’ve seen so much beauty in my life, and I never expected to.  My life has been an amazing adventure and I can’t wait to see what comes next!