Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
A new playlist, something I’ll be listening to on the drive.
- Jack Conte – Gulf
- Gold Panda – You
- Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
- The Bird and The Bee – Again & Again
- Battles – Tonto
- Mute Math – Typical
- Kate Nash – Merry Happy
- Lupe Fiasco – Go Go Gadget Flow
- MC Frontalot – Origin Of The Species
- Ratatat – Loud Pipes
- The Cribs – Men’s Needs
- USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) – Anti-venom
- USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) – Cloudboy
- USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) – Visionary Science Patrol
- Linkin Park – The Catalyst
- Metric – Black Sheep
- Cary Brothers – Ride
- Arcade Fire – Half Light II (No Celebration)
- Failotron - Tristan
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Check this out. Linkin Park member Joe Hahn directed a music video for their newest song The Catalyst. It’s the main song used in the Medal Of Honor advertisement campaign. Music with movie tie-ins is old news, but we’re only really seeing it begin to happen for gaming now. Eminem did it for Call Of Duty: Black Ops, we did it, regrettably, with Marilyn Manson for Dragon Age, Linkin Park now with the new Medal Of Honor. But this is the actual music video for the song, and it’s made up of game footage and live action featuring the main character from the game. This much is new for gaming/music tie ins. I can tell they were going for something more poignant than a simple music tie-in business deal. Not sure if they achieved it or not, will have to watch it a few more times. What do you think?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
So, it’s may last week at BioWare, and in celebration of that, a ton of cool BioWare stuff:
I’ll start with the one most relevant to me. The first trailer for Dragon Age 2, the game I’ve been working on, is out. Check it out!
And some more cool concept art from the game!
Next, some Mass Effect news the PS3 owners out there should be very happy about!
And finally, space combat on Star Wars The Old Republic, BioWare’s first MMO. I have several friends who are working very hard on this game, and I’ve even played it a bit. It’s gunna be great. Check out this new video of space combat in-game!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
So, I got the job in Halifax! It is official and final. I am moving to Halifax. My life has taken me on some twists and turns, and I never know what to expect next.
It’s a fulltime salary position, and while I don’t think it’d be very classy to say how much, I will say it’s significantly more than I’ve ever made before. It’s also a higher responsibility role than I’ve ever had, but I’ve been ready for more responsibility for a while now, so I’m really looking forward to doing everything I can within the position!
I found out a few days ago, and have been scrambling to get everything sorted out. They pay for moving expenses, and have a corporate apartment they offered to put me in for a few months while I find a place to stay, but it looks like I’ve found an apartment already. It’s a piece of crap, but that’s ok because it’s exactly what I was looking for. I could afford a nicer place, but my plan is to rent a shithole for a year or so and use my extra money to fill it with nice things, and once I have some nice stuff, THEN move into a nice place and have nice things to fill it with. If I moved into a nice place first, it’d seriously offset the extra money I’ll be making and the place would remain empty.
My first day is August 30th. I let my leads at BioWare know next week would have to be my last, and thanked them for everything. BioWare is a fantastic studio. It really managed the impossible by becoming a huge studio without losing its core values and culture. It’s filled with amazing, talented people who were always willing to go out of their way to help. And they make GREAT games. It’s a truly bittersweet moment to be leaving them. And I truly wish them all the best. My 2 years with BioWare have been an invaluable experience, looks great on my resume, and honestly were the best 2 years of my life thus far.
It’s also bittersweet in that my best friend JUST moved to the city, after a year and a half of counting down the days until we’d live in the same city, working at the same dream-job. And after only 2 months I need to move even further than we were when he lived in Winnipeg. It REALLY sucks. Chad was a great room-mate and living together, let alone in the same city, has been awesome. It’s gunna suck to go back to only talking on MSN, playing online games and organizing the odd visit. And now with a 3 hour difference, instead of just 1. Fortunately I’ll be making enough money to help pay for friends’ trips, and since I’ll be pretty lonely at first, you better believe I’ll be paying for a few!
And not just Chad, I also have a lot of great friends I made here in Edmonton over my 2 years here, and I’m really going to miss them. I managed to carve out a life for myself here, and I really loved it. It was mine. It’s a true tragedy to have to leave it behind. My time in Edmonton will always have a special place in my heart. I really grew up here. I found my ambition, my independence and my passion here. In the same way that if I hadn’t gone on my road-trip I never would have had the courage to move out here, if it weren’t for my 2 years in Edmonton and at BioWare I’d never have the courage to move to Halifax for a high-responsibility position at Longtail. It’s kind of fitting that my original destination on my road-trip, all those years ago, was Halifax. And when I realized I didn’t have enough money or time to make it that far, as I turned around and headed back West, I said to myself “My life WILL take me to Halifax some day…”
I did, however, absolutely love Halifax on my visit, and am looking forward to living in such a beautiful city. It will be my first time living by the ocean. And the day I spent at Longtail I got a really good vibe from them. A small group of people passionate about what they do, they have big dreams and are working together to achieve it. I also ran into Neil Bailey there, an old friend from Winnipeg, and he told me he lives there now, so we’re gunna go for drinks sometime once I get down. It’ll be nice to have a familiar face there!
Longtail is a smaller studio than BioWare to be sure. Their last major release was Dance On Broadway for the Wii. It’s selling quite well in the UK! The studio is growing steadily, and I get the impression it will keep growing. So getting in now could be very advantageous! Until now they outsourced their QA so I will be the entire on-site QA department at first. I got a great sense of camaraderie and teamwork, and look forward to joining the team! They also have a very appealing pitch process, where anyone within the studio can pitch a game idea. I’m full of ideas, so once I have one fleshed out a bit more, you can be sure I’ll be pitching it! Who knows, maybe some day you’ll play a game that originated in my murky imagination!
I leave Edmonton next Saturday. I looked at all my options and driving makes the most sense. It will be a LONG drive. Probably close to a week on the road. I’ll be making it to Winnipeg in 1 drive, as I always do, and will probably stay there for a day or two and hang out with family and my Winnipeg friends a bit before heading back on the road.
A new chapter in my life is beginning, and it’s very exciting. But as always, that means another chapter is ending, and that comes with it’s own sadness. But that’s what life is, and I look forward to a new set of challenges and rewards.
For a bit more info on Longtail, this is from their site:
Longtail Studios is a videogame developer started by Gérard Guillemot, one of the cofounders of Ubisoft Entertainment. The founding mission of the company is to create next generation of character driven video games.
Longtail Studios is comprised of four development studios: Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Halifax and New York City. Longtail creates games for the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and the iPhone/iPod Touch.
Quality of life
Longtail Studios doesn’t want to be the place you punch-in for work; we want to be place you are excited to go every day. The people who work at Longtail are passionate about games. They love playing games, talking about games, and of course, making games.
We believe better work environments, good tech and tools, open communication and a collaborative atmosphere make happy game developers and better games. Our teammates are the backbone of our company and we take care of them. Longtail offers comprehensive health, medical, dental and vision insurance programs for our employees and their families. Also during the summer, you can take advantage of a condensed schedule to allow you to have your Friday afternoons free.
Sometimes in game development, working over-time is unavoidable when you want to deliver the best game possible. But at Longtail Studios, we fully compensate extra hours with days off. When you give your best, we want to do the same.
Teamwork and Scrum
Creating the best video games is about collaboration, teamwork and good communication between the teams. Our offices are relaxed, open environments, designed for game development. We make sure that everyone has a way to communicate directly and efficiently with their colleagues.
For the management of its projects, Longtail Studios uses the agile development method known as Scrum. It allows us to greatly improve the productivity of our teams and rests upon our company’s most important values: team spirit, good communication, simplicity, efficiency, quality, and flexibility.
If this suits you, do not hesitate to consult the “Career” section for all the opportunities.
Moving to a new place can sometimes seem complicated. Longtail Studios will take care of paperwork for you, everything from job permits to applications for the selection certificate. We can even help you find a place to call home within your new city. Longtail will also provide you with financial assistance for your relocation, making sure you’ll feel great both at work and home.
Wish me luck in my new home and new workplace!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A collection of videos I took in Halifax. Pretty uneventful honestly, as any time I actually met someone interesting I put the camera away and chatted with them, but none the less, got some cool scenery! And there is a scene of a guy having a cinder block crushed on his testicles by a sledge-hammer. So, you know, there's that...
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Not that I had any real optimism on the subject, but it looks like what little industry growth there was in my home town of WInnipeg just fell short :(
From the Winnipeg Free Press:
Federal, provincial funding pulled from non-profit centre in city
It's game over for North America's first video-gaming-industry incubator.
Fortune Cat Games Studio (FCGS), a not-for-profit Winnipeg centre that broke new ground when it was launched four years ago, is closing its doors within the next two months after failing to secure any private- or public-sector funding for 2011.
And it doesn't look like it will be replaced any time soon, even though spokesmen for two of the firms that graduated from the centre said there's still a need for that kind of service.
"I think Winnipeg and Manitoba need some sort of program," said Tom Kaminski, president of Tomkorp Computer Solutions, which spent nearly two years in the incubator and is on the verge of launching its first game.
"I think there's a lot of value in it," said Khal Shariff, CEO of Project Whitecard Inc., another successful graduate of the studio. "There are all sorts of ways for that program to continue without closing it down. They should hand the reins over to someone else."
But the FCGS's executive director said he can't see the incubator being revived any time soon.
"If it starts up again, it will probably be in 10 years' time," Ryan FitzGerald said in an interview.
The studio relied on federal and provincial monies. The federal funding dried up about a year and a half ago and FitzGerald said the provincial funding was ending this year.
He said both levels of government are cutting back on their spending in an effort to reduce their recession-induced deficits. And provincial officials also felt the studio wasn't living up to expectations.
"I cannot blame anybody (for the studio's pending closure). The worst thing I can say is that we had the right idea, but bad timing for federal reasons and provincial reasons and for industry reasons."
He said North American video-games-industry players he approached for funding said they're also still hurting from the global economic downtown.
"They said come back in a year... but that would be too late," FitzGerald added.
The provincial government said in a statement Monday it provided a total of $662,954 in funding to the Fortune Cat Games Studio between 2005 and 2010.
"A number of companies were incubated through the Fortune Cat Games Studio and have gone on to success in developing commercially viable products, including Complex Games, Myzan Research, Nightshift Interactive, Perentie Games, Project Whitecard, Red Reptile Studios, Tomkorp & We Heart Games," it said.
The province said it continues to provide support for the digital-media industry through the Manitoba Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (MIDMTC), a refundable Manitoba corporate income tax credit of up to $500,000, or the equivalent of 40 per cent of eligible labour costs, for an eligible interactive digital new-media project.
FitzGerald said he was hired last September to develop a new business strategy for the studio. Instead of focusing on helping start-up video-game developers develop a product, he thought the FCGS should be helping firms who already have products get them to market and to grow their businesses.
But that was going to take time and money -- two things the FCGS didn't have, he added.
Kaminski said his company wouldn't have developed its Clones video game without the help of the FCGS. He said he'd like other start-up game developers to have that same opportunity.
Michael Legary, founder and chief innovation officer for Seccuris, a local firm that provides security and other support services to gaming companies, is a former FCGS board member. He agreed a lack of money was the studio's biggest problem.
Another was the small size of the industry. He estimated there are fewer than 20 video-game developers with three or more employees operating in the province at the moment.
Would have been cool if the industry took off in my hometown. Although I’m really enjoying the different places the industry has taken me, it would have been nice to know my hometown was an option in the future.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Ok, I can’t give away all the details yet, but I just got back from a free trip to Halifax! I had an interview at a studio out there, Longtail Studios, and they flew me down on their dime, put me up in a really nice hotel and even had a limo waiting for me! I really appreciate it, and really hope I get the job. I find out within the week, but I shouldn’t say anything more on the job until I find out one way or another.
The trip was great. Flew out on Thursday. The flight had a layover in Toronto, and it was cool seeing the CN Tower on the skyline in the distance and knowing I’d been there. Also flew over Grand Beach on the way, was really neat looking out the plane window and recognizing a beach I’d been to several times!
The plane was delayed in Toronto so I spent a few hours there, pretty boring. When the plane reached Halifax it was extremely foggy. I was looking out the window, into pure gray, and assumed we were still in the clouds, and suddenly I saw the ground, seconds before landing. Kinda shaky, and the entire plane applauded for the pilot.
I went out and waited for the limo in the fog, was very creepy. Once we reached the hotel I got set up and then went down to the waterfront. Looking out to the ocean in the middle of the night was kind of terrifying. It was like the world just ended. I could hear the wind and waves through the darkness, and it really creeped me out.
The next day I woke up early had a free continental breakfast and then headed to my interview. I shouldn’t say too much, but I think it went really well. I find out this week if I got it. They took me out to lunch at a restaurant where I had some delicious food, and because Halifax is full of breweries I ordered a raspberry beer, and it may be the best alcoholic beverage I’ve ever had.
After the interview was done I had the rest of the day to myself, so I explored the city. Halifax is a small city, so if you’re in the downtown area, almost everything is reachable by foot, which was awesome. The entire city was on a hill by the harbor, so no matter where you are in downtown you can see the water. It’s a beautiful city.
I made my way down the waterfront checking out the Busker Festival that was going on. Once a year Halifax holds it, and talented buskers from all over the world come to show off their talents for some spare change. I watched a hot tattood chick fire-juggle, and 2 guys who looked like metal heads perform stunts, including smashing a cinderblock on one of their testicles, lol. It was a fun afternoon on the waterfront.
From there I climbed the hill to the Citadel, an old army fort at the top of the hill that was first established when the British pioneers settled in Canada. It was to defend the harbor, as it was an important strong point due to its position for shipping routes to Europe, and entry into the new land. Really cool being in a city with so much history, the birthplace of Canada. I spent an hour exploring the Citadel, reading up on it’s history and enjoying the beautiful weather.
My feet were killing my by now, so I made my way back to my hotel to relax. Eventually I felt like getting out again, so I walked a few blocks to a really nice bar where I had a few drinks and made some friends. Chatted with the bartender and other customers for a bit, ordered some food to go and made my way back to the hotel. A really fun day.
The next day I had until 4:00 when my limo would be picking me up to take me back to the airport. I explored more of the city, and walked down the waterfront again. In an amazing coincidence I ran into an old Winnipeg friend, Neil Bailey, and he told me he’d recently moved there. He introduced me to some of his friends and told me if I got the job to look him and we’d grab some beers. If I do get it and move there, it’ll be great to have a familiar face around.
I continued to explore the city and stopped at a tiny pizza bistro for lunch. It was quaint, and the pizza was delicious. I suspect Halifax is full of places with character like this.
Eventually 4:00 came around and I waited by the hotel for the limo. We took the bridge over the bay to Dartmouth on the way to the airport. It’s a big bridge!
Like I said, I find out this week if I got it. I have my fingers crossed. Seemed like a great studio, a great group of people passionate about what they do, and a great city! I miss it already! I love the ocean! Wish me luck!
P.S. I find it so weird I traveled from one city, a city to I’d moved to for a job, to another city, a city I may be moving to for a job, with a layover at another city I’d been to before. And none of those cities were the city I was born in, Winnipeg. When I was in Halifax and I’d meet new people, they’d ask me where I was from, and I was never quite sure how to answer. When did I become that guy? Jet-setter career man. Life is funny.