Thursday, March 31, 2011

Career Fair

St. Mary's University

Yesterday I went to St Mary’s University to represent Longtail Studios at a Career Fair.  I went with 2 co-workers Clifford and Kerri.  It was a really fun day, and a great way to break up the week and do something different. 

We brought a copy of Dance On Broadway PS3 and I ended up dancing with several university students.  It was a lot of fun, and got to play our game with some really cool people.  One guy had no issue belting out the lyrics to the song while he danced.  Several of the girls let loose and got high scores.  It was a really fun day of explaining how awesome the job is to interested students and hanging out with some cool co-workers.

I never went to University, and every time I find myself in one I realize I missed out on a great experience.  So many young people working towards a brighter future.  Everyone with their own ambitions and plans.  It’s an inspiring environment to be in.  Fortunately I eventually found something similar.  It reminded of the feeling of being in an industry where everyone is passionate about their work, proud of their accomplishments and has plans for their futures.  I love talking about career pathing with colleagues, plans to build a future and learn more skills.

Setting up our booth with Clifford and Kerri.

It was a beautiful day out and once we were done we went to Spring Garden, near work, and walked to a cool pub called Your Father’s Moustache.  I had what was without a doubt the best sandwich I’ve ever had, and on the way out made a pit stop at the bathroom and was presented with the funniest urinals I’d ever seen.  A good day.

Best.  Urinal.  Ever.

Yes, that’s a tape measure in her hand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Purdy Graphics!

Well, I never thought it’d happen, but I somehow let Chad talk me into trying a new MMO.  Rift.  It’s been getting good reviews, most saying it’s the first real competitor with WoW.  I quite enjoyed Aion for the short time we played it, but it had its issues.  None-the-less we’ll see how long we play this one for.  I was certain I was done with MMOs altogether.

It’s pretty fun so far, and the graphics are beautiful.  While I can run it comfortable at Ultra, makes me realize I should probably start thinking about an upgrade or new PC soon.  This computer is almost 5 years old now, with a few upgrades keeping it alive.  I rarely game on PC anymore, so it’s not a priority, but even in just every day use it’s starting to show its age.

It is nice having an MMO to play again though.  I don’t have much of a social life for it to interfere with.  I still plan on trying to meet people, but that can only fill up so much of the day.  And it’s a great way for Chad and I to spend some time together.  Although the 3 hour time difference between Halifax and Edmonton makes it hard to schedule a decent chunk of time to play together.  But we played tonight and it was good fun.  One of the guys at work plays too!

Chad and I chilling at a quest hub.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Skyline Of My Life; Home Undivided

Halifax / Edmonton / WinnipegSkyline

“Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes

I find myself thinking of all the places my life has taken me.  I’ve had great experiences in each city I’ve called home.  Made amazing friends, had favorite spots, unforgettable experiences and jobs I loved.  Each city has come to represent a part of myself discovered there.  The long stretches of highway between them: the emotional growth that led from one to the next.  I’m lucky to have had such an adventurous life.

And while those experiences were all made unique by the absence of the things I’d left behind in the city before it, these days I often find myself wishing all three cities were one.  My dreams tease me with this scenario every night.  I could spend the day working at Longtail, go have dinner with my family and then wander Whyte Ave that night with all the friends I’ve made over the years, co-mingling as though they’d all known each other all along.

Bridges would arch into the sky, connecting segments of my life so long divided.  Skylines would merge into the grand horizon that my experiences had shaped, no longer confined to memory.  Everything would be perpetually “here”, and everyone would be inherently “together”.  And as the sun set over this metropolis, I’d know for the first time, I was home, undivided.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hobo With A Shotgun

This movie was shot in Halifax by a bunch of Halifaxians (?).  The other day there was a long line at one of the local indie theaters for its premiere.  I’m hoping to see it myself at some point.  It’s totally over the top and silly, but in a good way!

Empty Home

After moving out of the corporate hotel I was staying in a really crappy apartment in the worst area of Halifax.  I still didn’t really know anyone at work, winter was coming so the days were getting short, and I didn’t feel safe there.  I’d get home at 7:00 after work every evening and just go on my computer and watch tv for the rest of the night, trying to drown out the sound of the drunk neighbors.  Weekends were especially lonely and boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having my own place and alone time is something I love, but when you don’t have any friends in a city alone time is all you get.

A reader of my blog told me she had a cousin moving to town and he was about my age, didn’t know anyone and we’d probably get along.  I met up with him when he first came to town and we got along great.  We talked and he told me he’d lived in Edmonton for a few years.  We’d actually both lived there at the same time for a year, and he lived really close to BioWare! 

We decided to go look at apartments since I was dying to get out of where I was now, and he was looking for a room-mate.  We found a really nice place and signed the lease.  That place was where I am now, and that person was Ryan.

Once I moved into the new place Ryan and I became good friends and my life in Halifax improved dramatically.  Yes, sometimes I missed the solitude of having my own place, but having a nicer place in a safe area and having an actual friend in Halifax more than made up for that.

For the next 5 months we lived together.  He was having a tough time finding decent work so when we hung out we’d just go see movies or grab coffee.  Or we’d stay in and play videogames.  It had been almost 5 months and he was still having a tough time finding work, so he started considering moving back to Edmonton.  It was completely understandable, but I was sad to be losing my only real friend here.

Yesterday he moved out.  When I got home from work the place felt so empty and quiet.  I’ve had my fair share of room-mates, and when they move out it’s always depressing the first time you get home and all their stuff is gone and it’s super quiet.

As I said, I love living on my own, and solitude is something I really appreciate.  But I just lost my only true friend here, and honestly, I’m kind of worried my life here will revert back to what it was before.  Even with Ryan here I was finding Halifax pretty lonely, without even one friend here it’ll feel even worse.

There’s a lot of really cool people at work, and I do consider them friends, but they mostly all have families and lives of their own, so other than the odd gathering outside of work, I never see them elsewhere.  A friend back in Winnipeg, Craig, has a brother who lives here, and we’ve been planning on hanging out, so that could be cool.  And there’s a girl I’ve been chatting with and went for coffee with once, and we want to hang out again, so who knows what will come of that.  In a month and a half Ryan’s sister, Heidi, will be taking his place on the lease.  So I don’t need to worry about finding a new room-mate, and she could become a friend.  Plus now that it’s warming up out I’ve been getting out more, but I dunno.  I had no problem making friends in Winnipeg or Edmonton, but for some reason I’m finding it really hard to here in Halifax.

I’m really happy Ryan is moving somewhere he’ll thrive, Halifax didn’t offer him much opportunity, and he has friends and a well-paying job waiting for him in Edmonton.  I know he’ll do great in his new/old life.  I just hope I do OK here in mine.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Ryan and I went by a local candy shop the other day and I picked up these awesome fake teeth.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Congrats To Nathan & Sharla!

The happy couple!

After moving to Edmonton, I started at BioWare a few days later.  I started with a group of new QA Term Testers.  Nathan was one of them, and we became friends immediately.  He is a great guy and always went out of his way to make me feel welcome in Edmonton.  Times were tough in Edmonton for me with moving costs, rent, bills, etc, on a QA Term’s wage.  He was always willing to help me out, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I have countless memories over the years of us listening to each other’s career developments, hanging out for beers on the weekend, meeting up for pho, etc.  And when I moved to Halifax he threw me not one, but two going away parties at his place.  My friendship with him was one of the best things to come from moving to Edmonton and working at BioWare.  A truly great friend.

I had no idea the friendship that would come of it when I first met him that first day at BioWare.  He was aiming to get into sound design, and I remember after a few months he got moved to his own office to work on sound QA.  I have a great memory of staying late after work one day with him and another friend of ours Dann, all sitting on the floor in his office chatting about life.  Amongst other topics, we discussed our love lives.  I was trying to make things with Kyra work long distance, Dann was having troubles with Melissa, and Nathan was talking about his friend setting him up with his younger sister.

That friend’s younger sister was Sharla.  I sometimes marvel at the odds of two of the nicest people I’ve ever met being together.  For the next 2 years they went out, and whenever I hung out with them I was blown away and somewhat envious at their luck in finding each other.


Recently Nathan told me he was planning on proposing to Sharla.  I was so excited and happy for them.  Soon after I saw the above Facebook status.  I hear she was overjoyed.  And while she may have been surprised, I don’t think anyone was surprised by her answer.

I’m extremely happy for these 2, and miss them more than they know.  I know they’re going to have a fantastic life together, and of course wish them all the happiness in the world.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Google Is Not Your Friend


Sunday, March 20, 2011



Summer in Halifax comes earlier than I'm used to. In Winnipeg and Edmonton the months of October to May were too cold to go outside comfortably. Here it didn't snow until late December, and the snow was already gone by early March. I plan on taking advantage of these longer warmer days. In fact, I am writing this entry from a Second Cup downtown. I spent the day wondering downtown and along the waterfront. I figure the more I go out, the more comfortable I get in this city, the more people I meet, and the more opportunities I come across. I'm not in survival mode anymore.

Ryan is moving to Edmonton at the end of the month, which is a shame; I’ll be losing my one true friend here.  As sad as I am to see Ryan go though, I’m sure I’ll meet new people.  His sister is taking over his half of the lease in June, so she may be a new friend.  And she’s lived in Halifax before and has friends here, so I may meet people through her as well.  Not to mention I’ve really started to get along with everyone at work.  For the longest time I was too preoccupied with the new job, moving, etc, to notice the cool people I work with.

I’ve been here for 8 months now, but most of it was moving from the corporate apartment, to the horrible apartment, to the nice apartment I’m in now.  And getting accustomed to work, then crunch, etc.  All through the dead of winter.  Now that summer is coming and I’m not working insane hours or living in a total dump, and I’m comfortable at work, I can start focusing on the bigger picture.  I’m ready to get out there and start meeting new friends, dating, etc.  The foundation is built in Halifax, it’s time to start building a home.

Written on my iPad.
Location: Second Cup, Spring Garden Rd, Halifax

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Job Description:  World Building

So I didn’t want to write about this until it was a bit more substantial, but that threshold has been crossed.  Last week at the Dance on Broadway release party, once everyone was nice and drunk, the Creative Director came up to me and we had a chat about my career options.  Since Dance on Broadway is complete we’re in pre-production for our next game (un-announced and therefore I can’t be too specific on any details).  During this period generally QA doesn’t have much to do.  I’ve been keeping myself busy implementing Agile software and other things, but a lot of it is busy-work.  One thing I’ve been doing is helping out with prototyping and giving design feedback and suggestions.

Apparently the Lead Designer had told the Creative Director that my feedback and suggestions had been really helpful.  The Creative Director and I had discussed this before, so he told him I eventually wanted to get in to Design.  So long story short, they decided to give me designer work until my QA tasks start ramping up again.  The next week I talked to the Lead Designer, and the Producer about my intentions to eventually make it to Design, and that I’d LOVE to take on the extra responsibilities to try to prove myself.  So they gave me my first design task, helping build our first playable prototype. 

Scripting in Kismet (Unreal Engine)

Back in Edmonton, after my first term at BioWare had ended, I had to take my 3 months off.  I went on EI since I’d been told I’d have a job waiting for me as soon as they could hire me back, and during those 3 months off I put myself on a strict schedule of learning the Unreal Engine.  By the time I went back to work I had learned the entire Unreal Engine and made several professional grade levels for Unreal Tournament 3.  It was an invaluable skill to learn because most engines out there share similar principles, and knowing one of the industry-standard engines means you have a solid foundation for learning other engines.

One of my Unreal levels:  Rooftops

This knowledge came in handy for my design tasks, especially the stuff I’d learnt in scripting.  So for the past week I’ve been doing designer work, and so far everyone I’ve dealt with has been very impressed.  I’ve heard more than once that they can’t believe how effortlessly I fill the role, and that I could already be a Designer.  Very exciting. 

I’ve known I wanted to get into Design for some time.  When I told my friend Tim the news he pointed out to me I’ve always been meant to get into Design.  When we were kids I used to draw Mario levels on paper and have him play through them.  And once we got a bit older and started playing modem games of Duke Nukem and Blood, I taught myself the Build engine and made entire episodes to play together online.

Building Duke Nukem levels in the Build Engine.

Even though I’ve wanted to get into Design for so long, a part of me always wondered what EXACTLY the job entailed.  Would I be able to do it?  Well now that I’ve been doing it for a week, working closely with programming and art, and getting positive feedback, I’m very confident this is the job for me.

It doesn’t mean I’ll be a Designer tomorrow though.  I’m still QA Lead, and those responsibilities will remain my priority as long as that’s my title.  But next time a Designer position opens up, I’ll be applying for it immediately, and hopefully by then I’ll have done enough Design work to have earned their confidence.  And from what I’ve heard so far, I am confident I will do so.

When I got into the industry I had a realization:  This is where I want to be.  This past week doing Design work I had another realization:  This is what I want to do.  It’s exciting.  Yes, it would be a pay increase, yes it would bring with it more industry respect, but honestly, I just want to do it because I LOVE doing it, and I believe I’m good at it.

It’s also good to have a tangible career goal again.  At BioWare my goal was always to get a permanent salary position.  Once I got it at Longtail and adjusted to the role, I was worried I’d start to become complacent.  Now that I’m working towards something again, the ambition is being fed.  It’s a very exciting time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Blog Design

I redesigned my blog last night.  Been helping a few other people design their blogs and felt it was time to redesign mine.  The old layout was made when I was younger and a bit…  quirkier.  I was looking for something a bit more subdued, with at least a semblance of professionalism (despite the content of my posts Smile with tongue out)

I was up very late last night working on, and it’s still a work in progress.  There’s a few final things I want to add and tweak, but the bulk of it is there.  I added a nifty new comment system too, you can still post anonymously if you prefer, but now you can login using your facebook or twitter ID easily, without leaving the page!  So leave a comment and let me know what you think so far!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Your Studio Here

We have a film studio at the office today.  They work with a Nova Scotia initiative to get the word out that Halifax is an up and coming videogame industry hot-spot.  Longtail Studios is their featured studio this year.  They did a video last year featuring HB Studios, a studio down the street from us.  Check it out!  Can’t wait to see the new one featuring us!

Kinda cheesy, but also make me love living and working here!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dance On Broadway PS3 Release Party


Friday was the release party for Dance On Broadway PS3.  Ended up having a fantastic night.  After work we all went for drinks at a bar before making our way to a place called Hamachi House.  It’s one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook the food right at the table in really entertaining ways!  Had a total blast.  Got pretty drunk on sake and rye & cokes!

IMG_2372After the dinner John (the producer) gave a speech commending everyone for their hard work on the project, saying goodbye to a few friends moving on to other endeavors and welcoming some new friends.  One of the designers, Kim, made everyone some awesome plaques to commemorate their work on the project.  Really appreciated it, and love having it on my desk next to my PC.  It’s especially cool that it says Quality Assurance Lead, and not Term Tester!

After that everyone proceeded to get very drunk and have a great time.  I’ve been at Longtail for 7 months, and it admittedly took me a while to feel at home, but the release party was a great time with some great people, I’m lucky to be a part of it!

At one point we realized we recognized the guy at the next table.  It was Victor Garber from Titanic!  He was also the Dad in Alias.  We bought his table a bottle of wine, trying to be all cool, but he ended up leaving before the table got the bottle.  Smooth.  I’m sure the rest of the table appreciated it though!

3-13-2011 3-29-45 PM

Afterwards a group of them headed to club, but I’ve never been much of a clubber, and was feeling pretty beat by then anyway, so I caught a cab home.  I was pretty drunk when I got home and Ryan thought it was riot.  A great night!  I got a video of a few parts, check it out!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dragon Age 2 Credits

It’s been 3 years, this is my 3rd game with my name in the credits, but the novelty still hasn’t warn off!



And next week I’ll have my name in Dance on Broadway PS3’s credits as QA Lead, my 4th game Open-mouthed smile



This one won’t be for everyone.  A playlist made of remixes, for that chopped up and put back together sound.  Great for listening to while you work!  Most of the songs’ original versions have been on previous playlists, but not all.  There’s a few doubles, and lots of Nine Inch Nails and Florence & The Machine.  Some of the remixes are really dark, in a really good way.  I’m really happy with the outcome, but making this playlist was a chore.  Let me tell you, for every good remix, there are 50 horrible ones!  As always, the playlist can be heard on Grooveshark!  Enjoy!

  1. Freelance Whales – Generator 1st Floor (Aislyn Remix)
  2. Matt & Kim – Daylight (Stic.Man Remix)
  3. Vampire Weekend – The Kid’s Don’t Stand A Chance (Chromeo Remix)
  4. Tunng – Bullets (Max Tundra Remix)
  5. Florence & The Machine – Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)(Jamie Ts Lionheart Remix)
  6. Innerpartysystem – Obsession (Plus Move Remix)
  7. White Lies – Nothing To Give (M83 Remix)
  8. How To Destroy Angels – A Drowning (TweakerRay ReMix)
  9. Nine Inch Nails – Zero Sum (Optimal)
  10. Nine Inch Nails – Demon Seed (Mess Mix)
  11. Nine Inch Nails – On Hands And Knees (My Violent Heart)
  12. Edward Sharpe – 40 Day Dream (Turbotito Remix)
  13. Marina & The Diamonds – I Am Not A Robot (Penguin Prison Remix)
  14. Passion Pit – Little Secrets (Penguin Prison Remix)
  15. Uffie – Difficult (2006 Parties Remix)
  16. Florence & The Machine – Dog Days Are Over (Gilbere Forte Remix)
  17. La Roux – In For The Kill (Kanye West Remix)
  18. Fort Minor – Where’d You Go (BBB Remix)
  19. Nine Inch Nails – Head Down (All Used Up Remix)
  20. Nine Inch Nails – Me I’m Not (TweakerRay ReMix)
  21. Sigur Ros – Hoppopolla (Reuben Halsey Remix)
  22. The Bravery – An Honest Mistake (Superdiscount Remix)
  23. Jamie T – Chaka Demus (Ben Bones Remix)
  24. LadyHawke – My Delirium (Chateau Marmont Remix)
  25. Florence & The Machine – Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)(Leo Zero Remix)
  26. Nine Inch Nails – Zero Sum (AbsorbFish Remix)
  27. Nine Inch Nails – Lights In The Sky (Lofi Remix)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dragon Age 2 Out TODAY!

Photo Mar 08, 9 57 51 AM

Dragon Age 2 is out today!  I got my copy this morning on the way to work.  They were already sold out of the special editions!  The launch party was last night in Edmonton, I wish I could have been there, my friends tell me it was a great time.  I also got confirmation that I’ll be getting my free copy in the mail (special edition!), and a cool plaque commemorating my work on the game, just like I did for the original!  That’ll look spiffy on my wall!  A great month for me, 2 games I worked on come out this month!

Best Part Of A Woman

Well, one of the best.  I don’t know why, but I’ve always been a sucker for a nice collarbone on a woman.  Is that weird?


Monday, March 7, 2011

Dance On Broadway TV Commercial

Here’s a commercial for my first game with Longtail Studios, Dance On Broadway PS3!  Out on March 15/17!  My first game where I’m credited as an RFT (Regular Full-Time) employee!  QA Lead Open-mouthed smile

Buy it!!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Can’t Stand To Be Apart From You

A nice weekend.  Caught up with some friends on Facetime, went and saw The Adjustment Bureau with Ryan, coffee, texting with a lady friend whom I had coffee with on Friday, relaxing at home, etc…  But the whole time I’ve been counting down the minutes until I can return to work to see this hideous piece of studio decoration:


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mind: Blown


Self Portrait

Took a self portrait the other day and think it turned out really well.  Makes me miss photography.  I still need to get new gear, sold my old stuff about a year ago.

Work Desk

My view from my desk at work.  Click the picture to get full 360 panorama!