Friday, December 16, 2011

Game Designer credit in MotionSports Adrenaline!

First Designer credit in a game!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Motion Capture Suit

The Motion Capture Suit by notme2000
The Motion Capture Suit, a photo by notme2000 on Flickr.

Had to do some motion-capture at work today. That suit is worth a lot of money!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free Copy!

Got my free copy of Motion Sports Adrenaline, my first game as a Designer! It's a Kinect title, and I don't own a Kinect yet, so it'll be a bit till I can play it, but when I visit Winnipeg next month for Xmas my friends have one so I'll get to have some beers with old friends and play a game I made with them! Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Playlist - Life Fantastic: Part I

Check out that sexy clip art!

First of a 2 part playlist!  Enjoy!
  1. Jon Hopkins - The Wider Sun
  2. We Are Augustines - Chapel Song
  3. Coldplay - Paradise
  4. Florence & The Machine - Shake It Out
  5. Pain of Salvation - To The Shoreline
  6. Minus The Bear - My Time
  7. Active Child - See Thru Eyes
  8. Metric - Hustle Rose
  9. Blink 182 - Ghost On The Dance Floor
  10. Coldplay - Hurts Like Heaven
  11. Florence & The Machine - Heartlines
  12. M83 - Midnight City
  13. Active Child - High Priestess
  14. M83 - Soon, My Friend
  15. The Mountain Goats - The House That Dripped Blood
  16. Pain of Salvation - 1979
  17. Pain of Salvation - Healing Now
  18. Wilco - Art of Almost
  19. Man Man - Life Fantastic
  20. VHS or BETA - Eyes
  21. Penguin Prison - Someone Got Everything
  22. Coldplay - Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall
  23. Florence & The Machine - No Light, No Light
  24. Low - Especially Me
  25. Woodkid - Someone Like You (Adele Cover)
Playlist can be downloaded HERE!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My First Two Retail Levels

I found a video online showing gameplay of the two Extreme Ski tracks I designed in MotionSports Adrenaline.  The aspect ratio on the video is a little weird, so things look a bit stretched, but it's the only video I could find.  It shows the version for PS3 Move; of course it's also available for Xbox 360 Kinect.  The video is 8 minutes long, and shows both courses.  The second course is the one I'm most proud of.  Hopefully this video inspires you to go out and buy the game!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Motion Sports Adrenaline - Launch Trailer

Latest game I worked on is in stores November 1st for Xbox 360: Kinect and PS3: Move. My first credit as Game Designer :D I worked on the ski tracks, which are featured quite a bit in this trailer!

Find Kylen!

Back in Edmonton my friends and I frequented a pub called The Next Act.  Our group often merged with other groups of friends' friends.  There was one girl I met a few times, Kylen Groeneveld, through my friend Melissa.  She was always very happy and very friendly.  She has been missing since Tuesday, and her friends and family are understandably very concerned.  She is officially a missing person. She drives a gray Toyota Matrix, license plate LKE 599.  She was last seen at about 3:00 Edmonton time on October 25th leaving for work.  She did not have her phone on her, and she never reached her work.  If any of my Edmonton readers (or elsewhere) have any leads on her whereabouts please contact Edmonton police.

Kylen Groeneveld

Foggy Morning in Halifax

Foggy Morning in Halifax by notme2000
a photo by notme2000 on Flickr.
Snapped this on my way to work with my iPhone. Impressed with my phone camera!

Work PC

Work pc.  Sometimes I need reminding. by notme2000
a photo by notme2000 on Flickr.
Sometimes I need reminding.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trip Home

I’ve been slacking on the blog updates lately!

Recently, well like a month ago, I took a trip to Winnipeg.  It was my vacation time between projects, and a way for me to celebrate getting the Designer promotion.  It was a great trip and just what I needed.  My first night I went straight to the lake with my bro and his girlfriend and we met up with my Mom and uncle.  My brother picked me up from the airport and we drove out.  It was a good chance to catch up with him.  I’d kinda dropped the ball on keeping in touch with him the past few years but we’ve both been making more of an effort to keep up with one another lately.

I hadn’t been out to the lake in years, so it was great to spend the night there.  We had hotdogs over a bonfire and just caught up.  It was really nice.  In the morning I went quadding too.  My mom and uncle spend most of their free time out at the lake, so it was good to hang out with them where they love to be.  I really miss being able to casually tag along to the lake with them.  I didn’t do it much when I lived in Winnipeg, but now I know what it’s like to miss family, so I really appreciated it when I can.

I caught up with friends as usual.  Had many late night conversations with Brett.  Tim was back in town so hung out with him.  Finally caught up with Andi, hadn’t seen her in years!  She’s a really busy person, and life got a little crazy for her, so I don’t hold it against her, just glad to see her again.  We even ran into Lauren, who I haven’t seen since my first visit back from Edmonton, back in 2008/09.  Had our traditional brunch with Ashley, went clothing shopping with Kristina, caught up with Nikki and Scott and their adorable daughter Zola!  Nancy bought me lunch for my Birthday too!

Old Friends
Traditional brunch!
KD Photobooth at the Apple store
Nancy bought my lunch for my Bday!
Italian sodas with Nikki
My Grandma threw me an awesome dinner for my Birthday too.  Got to see a bunch of my extended family.  Everyone wished me a happy Birthday and congratulated me on the promotion.  It was really cool of her, haven’t had a big Birthday bash like that since I was a kid!  And she got me a great gift!  There’s a place in Halifax called Duggers, it’s a world-renowned men’s clothing store.  Very classy, VERY expensive.  The owner is a friend of the family, so my Grandma arranged to get me a 200$ credit there.  I ended up using it to get a hoodie, and after tax it came to 260$…  But it’s a nice hoodie!  Was an awesome Birthday celebration, and it was amazing of my Grandma to put it together and top it off with such a great gift!
Planet Of The Apes with Dad, Step-Mom, Bro and his GF
On my actual Birthday my Dad and Step-Mom (I can call her that now that they’re married!) took my brother and I to see Planet Of The Apes.  I loved it, great movie!  After that I spent the night at my Dad’s.  My brother unfortunately couldn’t because he had school early the next morning.  My Dad and I stayed up extremely late talking about all kinds of stuff, and he actually ended up staying up later than me, which NEVER used to happen.

I had a bunch of video of the trip, but sadly my phone glitched out and I had to restore it to factory default and lost all the video…  If only iOS5 had been out, it would have been backed up to iCloud.  This glitch happened THE NIGHT BEFORE iOS5 came out!  Grrrr.

It was a great visit, and a good recharge after a long Crunch at work.  I’m already looking forward to my visit for Xmas!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Playlist – By Design

Been a while since I made a playlist.  This is what I’ve been listening to lately.vector_music_design_mousepad-p144870840984383920trc6_400
  1. The Temper Trap – Love Lost
  2. Bombay Bicycle Club – Shuffle
  3. Saint Motel – Butch
  4. Angels & Airwaves – Anxiety
  5. Florence & The Machine – What The Water Gave Me
  6. Family Of The Year – Summer Girl
  7. Metric – Sick Muse
  8. Friendly Fires – On Board
  9. Klaypex – Chinter’s Will
  10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
  11. Klaypex – Rain
  12. Klaypex – Lights
  13. Saint Motel – Puzzle Pieces
  14. Florence & The Machine – Heavy In Your Arms
  15. Bastion – Build That Wall
  16. Bombay Bicycle Club – Always Like This
  17. Family Of The Year – Chugjug
  18. Hyperstory – Something Good
  19. Jon Hopkins – Insides
  20. The Postal Service – Natural Anthem
  21. M83 – Run Into Flowers (Abstract Remix)
  22. The Temper Trap – Science Of Fear
  23. The New Pornographers – Go Places
  24. Tiny Vipers – Life On Earth
  25. The Books – Tokyo
Playlist can be downloaded here:
That is all.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

By Design

This month a lifelong dream of mine came true.  After years of hard work and dedication, two moves taking me across most of Canada, countless hardships but also great memories, overcoming many self-doubts along the way, I was officially promoted to Game Designer.  Accomplishing something you've wanted your whole life makes you take stock of everything that led up to it...

I wish I could say I remember the very first time I played a video game.  I find it hard to picture any version of myself having difficulty understanding controls, not intrinsically knowing to go right in a side-scroller, knowing falling off the screen usually means death or that enemies are almost always killed by jumping on them.  But I imagine it must have been the case.  I do remember the era I got into gaming though.  I was exposed to it through my cousins, Bill and Rick.  Bill was especially into gaming.  I remember we'd go over and play Mario 1 & 2 for a while, and then our moms would play some NES spelling game together.  I even have a memory of going over to their place the night Mario 3 came out for the NES.  We were all so excited.  I remember finding a secret in level 3 and being so proud.  It wasn't long after that I got my own NES for Xmas.

Mario 3

From then on I was hooked.  And even from an early age I loved the idea of being able to design levels for the games I loved.  I'd see the game's levels and get ideas of my own I wanted to implement, but obviously this wasn't possible to an 8 year old kid in a time before internet offered all kinds of hacky solutions.  So instead I started drawing elaborate Mario levels in pencil in giant note pads.  I'd have entire games drawn, split into worlds and sub-levels.  Whenever my friend Tim would spend the night my Mom would drive to pick him up, and as soon as he got in the car I'd hand him the notepad and he's start playing through my "levels" right there.

JetpackAs I grew up some games started coming out with level editors.  I remember finding an old NES game with Mario in it called Wrecking Crew, and I used to make levels for my brother to play.  Then I found a PC game called Jetpack, and again designed levels for Tim and my brother to play.  It was shareware and only let you save one custom level at a time unless you bought it, but I quickly learned I could move the level files to a  backup folder and just put whatever level I wanted to play/work on in the proper folder with the right filename.

When I was entering my teen years Duke Nukem 3D came out for pc.  And with it came the Build engine.  This was before the days of youtube training videos and online guides, the internet was still in its infancy.  But somehow I managed to teach myself the Build engine through trial and error.  I must have designed dozens of levels for that game.  By then Tim lived in Saskatchewan so once I'd finish a level we'd play it over the modem.  At first it was all deathmatch levels, but I started to find coop levels with NPC enemies really fun to build.

Duke Nukem 3D

Eventually I decided to design an entire Duke Nukem 3D campaign.  12 maps that could be played either single player or coop with an over-arching story/theme etc.  It took 6 months but when I was done I played it with Tim and we had a blast.  I then submitted it online to several Duke Nukem 3D custom maps communities.  It quickly became one of the highest rated campaigns.

For a few years after that my level design hobby, and even gaming in general, took a back seat to teenage drama, girls, drugs, booze and music.  This lifestyle left me lost and directionless.  I was getting older and had no idea what to do with myself.  I knew I wanted to make something of myself, but I was also afraid of failure.  I tried once or twice to get back into Level Design as a hobby, but the tech had come so far I felt left behind and gave up.  For a while I tried to convince myself I was happy where I was, but it was a lie anyone could see through.  Then I found joy in photography and for a while tried to make a career out of that.  As I was beginning to see success I quickly realized I preferred it as a hobby.  Still, my sense of adventure and ambition was growing, with nothing in sight to spend it on.

I still didn't know what I wanted out of life, but I knew I wanted much, much more than I was getting out of it at the time.  I was in my early 20's now and hadn't made much tangible progress since I was a teenager.  I decided to take an epic road trip to try to find myself, and get some answers to these questions.  I went by myself, something that terrified me.  I'd been a pretty sheltered, dependent person my whole life so to do something this big by myself was scary.  And that was the point.

On The Road

The road trip was a huge success, though I didn't realize it immediately.  When I got back I knew I'd grown, changed in some fundamental way.  I just couldn't quite define it yet.  But as the months went on I realized how claustrophobic I was feeling in Winnipeg.  I didn't fit in my old life anymore, and needed to get out.  I decided to move to Edmonton, for a change of scenery and a new experience.  I made some calls and my cousin Bill, who now lived in Edmonton, said I could stay with him.  This was the same cousin who'd let me come over and play his NES when we were kids, and now he was living in Edmonton working in the video game industry for a studio named BioWare.  He then told me he could probably get me an interview for a term tester position.  I still didn't quite know what I was looking for in life, or what exactly I had to offer, so I didn't recognize the opportunity I was being presented, it just sounded like a cool job for a few months.

I had a going away party with all my friends, had a dinner with my extended family, and prepared to leave.  At the time I assumed it would only be for a few months, but that would still be the longest I'd ever been away for.  When the night of my departure came, I packed as much of my belongings that would fit into my car and headed off.  I'll never forget that moment, walking down to my car with my friends, hugging them all goodbye as I got into my car, fighting back tears.  And as I drove off I watched them waving at me in the rearview mirror.  I think on some level I knew I'd never be coming back...  One of the hardest, most emotional moments of my life.

Goodbye Party

I arrived in Edmonton and got settled in, and started at BioWare.  Within a few weeks of working there I started to suspect this was what I was meant to be doing, and that I wanted to make a career out of it.  The first game I worked on was Dragon Age: Origins and I knew it was one I'd be proud of the rest of my life.

At the time I figured QA was good enough.  I'd gotten this far, and I shouldn't get "greedy".  I knew I wanted to be a Designer, but even after everything I'd been through recently and all the growing I'd done I still wasn't ready to believe in myself that much yet.  And maybe I was right not to, I had a lot to learn.  I had no idea how office politics worked, how industry in general worked, let alone this industry.  But I didn't believe I ever would, and that was a mistake, but one I would soon begin to remedy.

After a few months I knew this was something I had to do, and made the hard to decision that I would not be moving back home to Winnipeg.  I fought hard for a contract extension and then immediately set my goals to taking on more responsibility to prove myself for an eventual permanent full-time QA position.  By constantly volunteering for extra tasks, and making it known I was interested in QA Design (where your feedback is more about design elements than technical glitches) I was eventually moved to the PRC team.  PRC stands for Post-Release Content.  In this case I would now be working on Dragon Age: Awakening, an expansion pack for the original Dragon Age.  My role was now QA Design, and once the acting QA Lead moved on to another position I took on a lot her responsibilities, and was essentially doing the job of a full timer.  I was giving design feedback that was incorporated into the game, running my own meetings, training and assigned new QA Term Testers, etc.  I loved the new responsibility and the professional growth it afforded, and I really loved getting to give Design feedback.  I still wasn't quite ready to see what should have been obvious though, that what I really wanted was to be a Designer.

Me @ BioWare With My Mom

I was told several times they were looking to get me a full-time position, but honestly, BioWare was somewhat bloated, and the economy was in tough times.  EA instituted a hiring freeze, and I knew things were going to be tough.  That meant for me to get hired, someone else had to be let go.  I just kept on working hard knowing sooner or later, in some way or another, it'd pay off.  But then I also found out an EA policy stated that anyone on contract couldn't stay on contract for more than 1 year without 3 months off in between.  It was a policy instated to prevent the abuse of contract workers...  As Dragon Age Awakening was finishing up, so was I.  I'd managed to get my contract extended 3 months past my 1 year mark, the only term who managed to do so, but even then, my time came and I was let go for 3 months, though I was promised I'd have a job waiting for me once those 3 months passed.

I decided to go on EI for those 3 months since I knew I'd have a job waiting for me in 3 months, and looked at this as an opportunity.  I decided to spend my 3 months off learning the Unreal Engine.  As I mentioned, I'd tried it a few times before, but this time my cousin pointed me to some excellent free training videos (3DBuzz).  I forced myself to follow a strict routine of waking up by 10:00 AM, and spending most of the day learning the engine.  Within 2 months I was designing professional grade levels, and documenting my progress on Facebook, my blog, and other mediums, and got feedback from many people at BioWare.

Building My "Rooftops" Level For UT3

When I returned to BioWare after my 3 months off I was put on the Content Team of Dragon Age 2.  I had several people comment that they'd been following my Unreal Engine progress and were quite impressed at how quickly I picked it up, and the initiative to do so during my 3 months off.  Chad moved out to work at BioWare as a term tester like I head, hoping to get into the Art Department, and life was going great.

Then, within a few months into my second contract another EA mandate reared its ugly head.  I, along with all the other QA Terms I'd been hired with now on their second terms, found out EA had a strict mandate that states no contract workers could be used more than twice on contract.  Again, a rule in place to try to prevent the exploitation of contract workers.  The idea was that if they were good enough to use twice, they should be hired.  Of course the hiring freeze was also still in effect...  So things weren't looking good.  But then 3 QA positions within BioWare opened up.  Two in Edmonton and one in Montreal.  I of course applied for all three.

The application process was pretty intense, mainly because so many people were applying.  I have to imagine close to a hundred people applied for the positions across all of BioWare's studios.  They made a short list of candidates after taking a preliminary test.  I was ecstatic to learn I'd made it to the short list for two of the three positions, the only person to do so.  The positions I was considered for was either the Edmonton Dragon Age position, or the Montreal Mass Effect 2 position.

Around this time I was also contacted by an old work acquaintance about a job possibility as a QA Lead at a smaller studio in Halifax called Longtail Studios.  While my goal was to get one of the BioWare positions, I wasn't about to turn down opportunity in an industry that presents it so rarely.

When the results came back from the BioWare hiring committee I hadn't been selected for either position.  I was told it'd been a very close call on both counts, but that didn't change the fact.  My options then were to either stay at BioWare as a term tester hoping for another position to open up, which I knew was incredibly unlikely, or pursue the Longtail Studios offer.  I obviously did the latter.  And after being flown out for an interview, seeing the studio and the city, the idea started to grow on me.  It admittedly felt like a consolation prize at the time, but a consolation prize was more than many of my fellow term testers at BioWare were getting, so I couldn't pity myself too much.  By then I was just beginning to believe MAYBE I had what it took to get into Design.  During my interview with Longtail I was asked what my long-term goals would be and I said eventually I'd like to try my hand at Design (I also said maybe Production, which I think I could be good at but would probably find much less rewarding personally, though certainly not financially).

Once I got the call telling me I was accepted, it was a whirlwind of change.  My start date was in 2 weeks...  I gave me notice to BioWare, started packing and making moving arrangements with Longtail (they paid for moving expenses), and getting everything in order.

I decided to stay in Winnipeg for a week before moving on to Halifax, so I left Edmonton early.  After a nightmare fiasco with the movers, Chad and said our goodbyes and I drove off, leaving Edmonton behind me.  This time I knew I'd probably never be back, and it was heart breaking, no easier than leaving Winnipeg.  I'd grown so much in Edmonton.  When I'd arrived I had no idea what I was looking for, or really even who I was.  Now I was leaving with a clear vision of myself and my goals.  Edmonton will forever be the city I found myself in, and I miss it to this day.

One of 2 Going Away Parties

After a great week in Winnipeg it was off to Halifax.  I won't lie, I was terrified.  This was even scarier than moving to Edmonton.  This time I had no one I knew in the city to make me feel at home or show me around, and it wasn't for some low responsibility entry level job, this was a full-time salary position with some high expectations.  I was nervous!  The city felt much different than the prairie cities I was used to.  In fact working on a peninsula meant driving really didn't make sense, so I was forced to start taking the bus and eventually sell my car.  But as the months went on I began to realize I was not only capable at my job, but that it was really beginning to foster confidence in myself.  I'd implemented and rolled out a new bug database for the studio, handled relations with our off-site QA team in India, interviewed and hired new QA Term Testers, begun researching and implement ion new Agile Scrum software for sprint planning, and more.  And I was getting great feedback.

Longtail StudiosAfter my first project with Longtail Studios shipped, a PS3 Move dancing game Dance On Broadway, we had a wrap party.  During this party it was made clear to me by some higher-ups that I was definitely being eyed for Design after I'd volunteered to help the Design Department a few times in my down time.  I was excited, but also nervous.  After all these years and successes, I was still afraid I'd fail when it came to what really mattered, my lifelong dream of being a Game Designer.  But I didn't let it show, and expressed full enthusiasm for the chance.

I was put in the Design Department for our next project, the one I'm on now, an extreme sports game for Xbox Kinect and PS3 Move, Motion Sports Adrenaline.  I was eventually made the Acting Level Designer on the Extreme Ski tracks.  I spent the past five to six months designing some awesome tracks I can't wait for people to play.  All this was in a Junior position however.  My title within Longtail was still officially QA Lead, and I was still making QA Lead salary.  I helped hire and train more QA to replace me in my absence, but for the most part I was no longer in QA.  But this was an amazing opportunity to learn what exactly being a Game Designer meant, and to then prove that I had what it took, not just to the studio but to myself.

Me @ My New Desk In The Design Department

Our acting Lead Designer, Nick, mentored me, and I owe so much to him for doing so.  He really took a chance for me, and I think saw something in me before I fully saw it in myself.  As the project was coming to a close it was time for my probation review.  I don't want to get into specifics, but it was very positive.  I was told I'd done great work, given advice and direction on how to continue to grow as a Designer, a never-ending process, and then, at long last, officially promoted.  The kid who drew Mario levels in notepads, hacked Shareware games to make levels, and taught himself 2 game engines to design levels, was now officially a Game Designer.  Three years climbing within the industry paying off.  The countless pitfalls, self-doubts and legitimate reasons to quit along the way weren't enough to keep me from achieving this.

Not many people get to say they grew up to do the thing they always wanted to.  Not many people can say they truly love going in to work in the morning.  I don't know many people who wouldn't love to get paid to be creative.  And even though I worked my ass off to get here, and made countless sacrifices along the way, I still feel incredibly lucky.


Updating my LinkedIN profile I realized I think this is the first time I finally feel like I "made it".  I have a well-respected job-title in the industry I love, the work is extremely rewarding, and I get paid a handsome salary that I can live quite comfortably at.  This is the first time I don't feel like I'm just trying to get in, to prove myself.  For the first time I truly feel like I'm in, I'm here.  It's also the first time I've ever really felt like a grown up, a man.  A man covered in tattoos who makes video games for a living...

Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell previous versions of myself it was all leading here.  I could tell the kid who thought of Level Design as a hobby that someday he'd get paid to do it, the teen who was anti-establishment that he'd some day work at one of the few industries that accepts you for who you are.  Or maybe I wouldn't tell them at all.  because all that uncertainty and confusion is what drove me to search for more out of life.  It's what led me here.

I turn 28 this week and I'm a Game Designer.  This entry was written on a plane on my way to Winnipeg for a vacation.  Returning to where it all started.  To recharge between projects, and celebrate with friends and family.  And when I get back to Halifax, I will begin a new chapter.  One that starts with me as a Game Designer, and takes me to new places, presents new challenges, and new adventures.  I have plans for my career, and it's only just now beginning.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Halifax: Year 1 Video

Just a collection of videos I’ve taken over the past year in Halifax with my phone.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Winnipeg Trip

Sorry for the lack of entries, I’m still alive.  In fact I have a vacation coming up!  On Saturday I’m flying to Winnipeg for a week!  Will be good to see friends and family and unwind a bit after the crazy hours I’d been putting in on the last project.  It’s also to celebrate some good news, though I can’t quite announce it yet, but soon.

I plan on going to the lake with family on this trip.  Haven’t been to my Mom’s lake in years, and last time I was at my Dad’s lot was the week I spent in Winnipeg before I moved to Halifax!  It’ll also be nice to be in my hometown for my Birthday, first time since I moved back in 2008! Can’t wait!

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Year At Longtail Studios

Welcome to your new home.

I remember stepping out of the Halifax Airport with my luggage.  I remember it being a foggy night in a city I didn’t know.  I remember the extreme discomfort that came with knowing I wasn’t coming back to this airport in a few days or a week to depart.  I was in this unknown city, shrouded in fog, to stay.  I remember wondering if I’d made a mistake.

My first day at Longtail Studios was one year ago today.  When I stop and think about it I still can’t believe it’s been that long.  And then when I think about it again, I can’t believe it hasn’t been longer!

I remember that first day walking to the lobby and calling from the outside phone to get someone to let me in.  John, the Producer, set me up and my desk and told me what my first tasks would be, setting up a bug database and rolling it out to the team.  I was so intimidated.

I remember my first few months in Halifax I was crazy homesick for Winnipeg, which was weird since I hadn’t lived in Winnipeg in 2 years.  I remember there was a hotel ad in the elevator that listed all its locations, and one of them was Winnipeg, and just seeing the written word would always give me a pang of longing.

I remember waiting for my car and belongings to ship from Edmonton, staying in the corporate hotel in the meantime with a few coworkers I didn’t know yet.  I felt so overwhelmed I just hid out in my room the first few days watching tv on my iPad.

I remember first seeing the apartment I’d foolishly lined up without doing much research and quickly realizing it’d been unwise.

I remember my first real crunch during the final stretch of our last project.  I’d done crunch at BioWare, but nothing like this.  I didn’t need to go so intense on the hours, but I wanted to prove myself.  Not just to others but to myself.

Last one at the office.

Thankfully as the year went on things got better, and as I gained momentum a lot of good started to show itself.  I moved in to a nicer place, I caught up on my bills and suddenly got to enjoy the salary I was now making, I started making friends at work, etc.

I can’t believe it’s been a year.  One year ago I was excited to be starting at Longtail Studios as QA Lead, finally having a fulltime salary position.  And in only 1 year I’ve begun to make the transition to the Design department.  I haven’t actually done any QA work in months, it’s been passed off to someone else.  Getting an official promotion to Design would be a pretty big accomplishment for me, especially considering just over a year ago my goal was just to get a fulltime position, period.  And I can’t announce anything until it’s officially official, but let’s just say a pretty big blog entry will be coming very soon…

It’s been a big year, with some major ups and downs.  But I’m proud of myself.  Back in Edmonton, as Longtail began to look like a reality, I was overcome with fears and doubts.  I had those doubts echoed to me in the doubts of others, but I had to believe in myself and follow through.  This ended up being the biggest challenge of my life.  I moved to Edmonton on a whim, and stumbled into working at BioWare.  I was never given much responsibility there, despite fighting for it pretty hard by the end.  Moving to Halifax, on the other hand, was deliberate; there was no room for stumbling.  And after the initial intimidation that came with the responsibility, I flourished.

Longtail has constantly challenged me.  Every time I begin to get comfortable with where I am, I’m given more opportunity and encouragement to progress.  I’m constantly taking on new responsibilities, and learning new things.  I’m growing accustomed to the pace.  Change used to scare me, but that held me back.  Longtail has been pure opportunity for me, and I’ve learned to seize it.

It took some dedication and time to see it, but I realize now moving here for this job was the best investment I’ve ever made. It was an investment in myself.  And it’s paying off.  I’ve come so far in just a year, both professionally and personally.  I love my job, and I’m incredibly thankful to Longtail for all the opportunities it’s lavished me with.  I’m extremely excited for my future with the studio, and the continued growth it offers me. 

I can now say with absolute certainty, just over a year ago, when I stepped out of that airport into the fog, it was not a mistake.  It may have been hard to see through the mist, but there was a promising future ahead of me, and it’s still only beginning.

Longtail Studios

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Supporters by notme2000
Supporters, a photo by notme2000 on Flickr.
My Dad texted me this pic of him and my bro wearing DA2 shirts. They were having a BBQ at the lake. Miss them :(

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Health & Narcissism

Fair warning, this entire entry is about fitness and health, nothing else.

About a year and a half ago I’d been in Edmonton for about a year, working at BioWare.  I had just uploaded this picture to Facebook:

My biggest: 176

Kristina pointed out I’d put on some weight.  She’s good for giving you her honest opinion and I truly appreciated it, because until that moment I somehow hadn’t realized it.  I must have been in major denial, somehow I hadn’t realized when I bought pants they were size 34 now, not 32 like they used to be.  When I compared newer pictures with older ones like the one below, it became clear I’d put on weight…  And become less emo.

An old self-portrait

I weighed myself at 176.  I don’t know how much I weighed in Winnipeg, but I think I remember it being like 140 (I was thin but scrawny, no muscle).  So in the year and a bit since I’d moved to Edmonton and started working at BioWare I’d put on almost 40 pounds!  I’d heard others talk of the “BioWare 40”…  And it was all fat, definitely not muscle.  If anything I may have lost some muscle.  I thought about it: In Winnipeg I worked fulltime at Rogers Video, a job that required you to be on your feet all day, for 8 hours, running around helping customers etc.  My feet and legs were always tired at the end of a shift.  On top of that I went on long walks all the time in Winnipeg, sometimes 2 hours long around the city with my headphones on.

In Edmonton I worked at BioWare, a desk job.  I went for lunch with my friends every day, and it was rarely healthy.  Then I drove home, never going on any walks, or really any kind of activity.  In fact I’d gotten into the habit of picking up fast food every day on the way home…  It was clear I’d need to make a major lifestyle change if I wanted to break this trend.  And it wasn’t as simple as returning to how I lived in Winnipeg, since working at a desk made it kind of hard to get in the 8 hours of standing and walking I did at Rogers Video.  This would need to be a conscious effort with some real sacrifice.

At first I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I started the P90x cardio program, but my diet was still pretty bad.  I was also impatient.  I thought I must be doing it wrong when I didn’t lost more than a pound after my first week.  When Chad moved to Edmonton he decided he wanted to get in better shape too, so we both got free memberships at the gym in the hotel BioWare shared the building with. 

Cardio with Chad!Chad was all about strength training.  That had been how he lost all the weight the first time, so why not do it again?  I trusted his judgement and went along, but I was really self conscious about how weak I was, and I also knew it was going to be a while before I saw results.  In the end I decided I wanted to focus on cardio and diet to lose weight faster, and figured maybe some day down the road I’d get into weight training.

Once I focussed on cardio and went all out with it I began seeing results fast.  I was losing 2-4 pounds a week.  I was doing an hour of cardio 6 days a week, up to 1100 calories at a time.  My diet had changed and was much healthier.  I was definitely still doing some things wrong though.  I was starving myself a bit more than was healthy, especially combined with cardio.  But the results were motivating.

Down to 160!

By the time things at BioWare were coming to an end and I was prepping for the move to Halifax I was down to 160.  I’d lost 14 pounds in 2 months.  Not bad!

Once I got to Halifax I was stressed out, and my lifestyle started to slip.  No more gym, my diet got worse, etc.  But when I finally found a scale to weigh myself I found I was 155.  I’d continued to lose weight, despite it all.  That meant even with a bit of a slip, my lifestyle was still better than in Edmonton, so my weight was still slowly adjusting to a better lifestyle.

I eventually got a membership at a gym down the road from Longtail, but with the long hours I was working, the fact that I was bussing home instead of driving, and the dark winter nights, I didn’t end up going very often.  But I was making more money than I ever had, so I decided to just go buy my own elliptical.  Once I got that I started doing cardio at least 4 times a week, and improved my diet once again.  But after almost 2 months I’d only lost 3 pounds, down to 152.  After losing 24 pounds through cardio and diet, it was beginning to feel like I’d plateaued.


And that brings us to present day.  I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since Winnipeg, I can fit back into all the clothes from those days, but still not quite to the form I had.  I still have a gut when I sit, though substantially smaller than at my worst.  When I stand it’s easy enough to suck it in.  But I want better.  I want even better than I looked in Winnipeg!  The success of losing 24 pounds has made me realize the body is a machine, and with some willpower, if you put in the work, you’ll get the results.  Period.

That being said, I’ve lost all the weight I’m going to on my current lifestyle.  My moderately healthier diet and cardio isn’t giving me results anymore.  At this rate I’d lose maybe 4-5 pounds a year, probably less.  So unless I want to increase my cardio to take up every free moment it’s time to take a new approach.  Like I said in Edmonton, when the time came I’d do strength training.

WeightsSo earlier this week I bought a small weight kit and some other equipment for 70$,  I’ve improved my diet even further, and I also changed how I do my cardio, combining cardio with a decent leg workout.

My new plan:

  • Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays are my work out days.  I alternate muscles to allow them time to heal.  In between days are for resting and healing.
  • Tuesdays are shoulders and biceps.  Thursdays are triceps, back and chest.  Sundays are core (abdominal area) workouts.
  • After about 30-40 minutes of the weight training I then do my new, more extreme cardio on the elliptical. 
  • New cardio:  Instead of just running on lowest settings for an hour, I go the complete other way.  I increase the incline to full and alter between 3/4 and full resistance for 45 minutes.  I burn calories much faster this way, and I’m giving my leg muscles a more legit workout then just low-intensity jogging.  I’m dripping in sweat and my legs are burning by the time I’m done.
  • After the cardio I immediately do one last set of weight training exercises to muscle failure and then shower!
  • Much better diet (details later in this post).

I’ve really taken it to a new level.  This is much more extreme than the old plan.  Before I just ran until my body had to burn fat.  I’m still doing that, but also adding muscle all over my body.  Muscle burns more calories, meaning I’ll raise my natural metabolism and burn fat while I’m sitting at my desk at work.

I’ve also begun to make another big diet change, the biggest since my first one back in Edmonton.  No more starving myself all day only to gorge on snacks in the evening.  I’m eating 3-4 smaller meals a day, and healthy meals.  For example, lunch today was a medium sized chicken pita on whole wheat with very light mayo, spinach, bean sprouts, tomatoes and cucumbers!  Next time I go grocery shopping I’m buying 80% fresh.  WAY too much of what I eat has predominantly come out of a box or bag.  No more!  So from now on it’ll be largely lean chicken breast, sliced deli turkey, salmon, brown rice, etc..  I’ll thaw and cook it myself.  My cheat day of the week will be Saturdays, if I’m really craving some junk food with my videogames, or a pizza, etc.

Back to size 32!Losing 24 pounds in under a year took a lot of hard work, but it felt great.  Recently I tried on my old Edmonton pants, and that really made me realize what I’d accomplished.  Success breeds confidence, and I’m confident this is exactly what I needed to break through this plateau and begin another year long success story.  And so far I’m enjoying this next level of healthier living.  It will be weird to watch the scale go up now though, since I’ll be putting on muscle, which weighs more than fat.  Hopefully by this time next year though I’ll look the best I ever have!  Wish my luck!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I constantly come across great photos, links, videos etc.  I want to share them but I don’t want to spam Facebook, Twitter or my blog.  So I finally caved and started a Tumblr account.  It’s not a blog, I don’t write anything more than a mini-description of some of the links.  This is my blog, this is where I write and post things relating to my life.  My Tumblr account is for random crap I find.  So if you’re ever bored and want to see random cool photos, videos and links, head on over!  And if you have a Tumblr account too, follow me!


Monday, August 15, 2011



“The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived.” - Erwin Schr√∂dinger

Taking a chance is often an intimidating task.  All possible outcomes race through your mind.  Each play out simultaneously, indefinite until measured.  It’s easy to leave it to theory, to chalk it up to superposition and move on with your life.  Giving something that matters a definitive state can be a scary thing.  But they say the only things you live to regret are the risks you didn’t take.

Over the past few years I’ve learned betting on myself pays off more often than it doesn’t.  As success bred confidence I found it easier and easier to take a chance on myself.  And my life is so much better for it.  But this lesson was learned so late!  I can't help but reflect on all the chances I never took.  My life is filled with regret.  So many parallel lives playing out simultaneously in my mind, lives that could have been, should have been.

So many chances to shine were spent hiding in the dark.  So many ambitions silenced under my own guard.  Too many dreams of my youth never made their way to my waking life.  I've loved, but never took the chance they might love me back. Most of them never even knew.  I imagine a life where I told every girl, took every chance, and risked for every reward.  A world where every possibility was sparked into existence through my observation.  I’d have gained more than I lost.  I’d have taken 2 steps forward for every step back.  I’d ride the wave of probability.  Who knows how far I’d be if I hadn’t waited so long to open the box.

I’m still young, despite being the oldest I’ve ever been.  I can go forward with this knowledge, and try not to repeat the mistakes that haunt me still.  But they will haunt me forever.  I may never forgive myself.  Regret is the most diabolical of mechanisms.

Growing up, it seems, is the collapse of possibility into the reality.  Better late than never.  If we don’t take risks, life ends up being nothing more than a thought experiment.  So many dualities denied any kind of fate, left for eternity in limbo.  Parallel lives, both living and dead.  And neither.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Ghosts In Space

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

Nine Inch Nails. Saturn in cold empty space. Happy Monday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It Takes An Ocean Not To Break

A new playlist today.  This one is all indie this time around.  Some really great stuff in this one, I think!  I’m trying out Tim’s idea of having a youtube playlist with all the songs.  This way you can give them a listen before you download.  But there will be some missing songs since not every song is on youtube.  Of course you can still
download the playlist as well!  Here we go:

  1. Battles – Ice Cream
  2. Walk The Moon – Anna Sun
  3. Foster The People – Houdini
  4. Funeral Party – Finale
  5. Yeasayer – Swallowing The Decibels
  6. Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
  7. Walk The Moon – I Can Lift A Car
  8. Foster The People – Hustling (Life On The Nickel)
  9. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
  10. frYars – Our Father
  11. The Books Ft. Jose Gonzales – Cello Song (Nick Drake Cover)
  12. Dog & Panther – Love Make
  13. Walk The Moon – Iscariot
  14. Yeasayer – Crazy (Seal Cover)
  15. Bon Iver – Calgary
  16. Dog & Panther – The Hungry
  17. Iron & Wine – Walking Far From Home
  18. Foster The People – Helena Beat
  19. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
  20. The National – Terrible Love
  21. Bon Iver – Beth/Rest

If you only watch one video, watch the video for Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math.  Powerful!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Abstract Artform – I Am Canadian

Back in Winnipeg in my teen years I was good friends with a guy named Shea.  Very talented and ambitious.  He is now known for his work in Abstract Artform, his hiphop project which is getting noticed by the Canadian hip hop scene.  I’ve posted a video of his before, here’s another:

The lyrics make me nostalgic, very Winnipeg.

He also just launched his own record label, things are looking up for him!  Check out the label’s site here!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

KD Halifax Video

As promised, the video of Kristina’s visit has been uploaded and here it is!  A great week!

I still can’t get over how clear my iPhone 4 video is! This entire video was shot, edited and uploaded from my PHONE!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

KD Halifax

Well Kristina’s visit has come and gone.  It was a great week!  Work has been getting pretty intense and I was in desperate need of some chill time with a good friend.  I booked the days off months ago, but things at work had gotten pretty urgent so I was worried taking the time off would be a problem, but fortunately it wasn’t.  Really cool of everyone at Longtail to make it work.

After work I walked to the hotel next door and caught a shuttle to the airport.  It was great to see Kristina again!  One of the bonuses of making more money than I did at BioWare is getting to see the people back home more often.  I visited Winnipeg when I moved, then again for my Dad’s wedding, and helped pay for Kristina’s trip.  Any time a friend visits I’ll pay half way, figure it’s only fair!  (Next summer I want to visit Edmonton, and/or Vancouver too, depending on whether or not I still have friends living in Vancouver by then).


It was a great week!  We saw Transformers 3, watched a lot of Community, explored downtown and the waterfront, had a LOT of candy, went out for dinner, caught the gay pride parade with Heidi and then had beers, went to Dartmouth to do some shopping, rented a car and drove to Peggy’s Cove and caught the sunset then ate lobster, and more general silliness.  Like I said, it was a great week!

New Friends!



Got a lot of great pics over the week.  Including some great photography, especially at Peggy’s Cove.  I uploaded all the pics to Flickr, and they can be checked out there!  I’ll edit and upload the video to Vimeo soon too, and when I do I’ll post a link here.


Sunset Over The Atlantic!

Having Kristina here made me realize some things though.  Mainly that I’ve been out here for almost a year now, and yet I still act like I’m only visiting.  Having a friend here to explore the city with made it feel like a whole new city.  I didn’t feel like an outsider in it.  After living a year in Edmonton my social life was really starting to flourish, but I also thought I’d live in Edmonton for a long time, maybe forever if I got the fulltime job at BioWare.  After the second move I’m a bit more cynical about how long I’ll live anywhere, just the nature of the industry I work in.  But that doesn’t mean I should always be an outsider.  So I’ve decided to make a more conscious effort to build a life here.

End Of Trip :(

When I dropped Kristina off at the airport we were both sad the trip was over.  But it was a great time, and she had to get back to her life in Winnipeg and I had to get working on mine here!