I've Been Busy, I Swear!
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 February 2014, 8:12 pm
You might have gathered that I've been too busy for my blog.  Since my last post, I've been learning how to be a dad and a game developer at the same time.  Both jobs are tough, but rewarding.  The project that I took on post CS:GO was finally announced recently, and closed alpha has begun for it.  If you are interested in that sort of thing I would suggest visiting www.chromagame.com for more info.

In other gaming news, I ended up buying the PS4 instead of the Xbone based on the fact that I didn't want to spend another 100 dollars for a camera I didn't want nor need, and the fact that Sony just seemed more game centric than Microsoft seemed to be.  So far, it's looking like I made the right choice seeing as the adoption rate has been stronger and perplexingly it seems like the xbox one just can't seem to hit that 1080p mark.

Really what it does come down to is integrated streaming and the fact that Sony had the foresight to have it at launch.  I think streaming is the defining feature of this generation of gaming, and I've even gone through some great lengths to make sure my internet was up to par in the past few months so I could regularly stream myself.

Streaming has been a long standing interest for me, but my current house happens to be out in the middle of nowhere and consistent fast internet is hard to come by.  Regardless of all of that, I've found a solution and I try to stream as often as I am muster between my job, being a dad and being a husband.

It's been a new and rewarding experience for the most part because streaming can turn any game into a participatory gaming event, very much like the MMOs that I prefer to play in general.

If you ever want to check my streaming page out go to http://www.twitch.tv/devgamer and follow me there.



2012 In The Bag
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 December 2012, 9:16 pm
While I've pretty much destroyed any hopes for an audience here through lack of updates, I still like to post here from time to time.  This is the one place where I can just talk about games or my work without annoying my friends and family.

It was a crazy year for me at work.  At the end of 2011 we had just released the beta for CSGO to the public, but it was a very limited release.  After the new year, people steadily were added and things got more and more intense.

The beta was intense.  I've worked on a slew of games, and I've done the public beta process before, so I knew what to expect.  Some people love what you are doing, some people are apprehensive and some don't like what you are doing.  It made for very interesting work, and I learned a lot through it all.  I've been making games for around 19 years now and I still have things to learn.

Through it all, I made some friends, and met a bunch of really interesting people over the internet and in person.

Anyways, super proud, it was a high point in my career.

This is turning into a designer post isn't it?

Anyways, I went to PAX again this year, but I didn't have to work in a booth this time around.  I played some CSGO with some players with other members of my team, and it was really fun.  I recorded some kind of promo for intel processors, that I only just saw the final cut of a few weeks ago.  I was mortified to be in it in a way, but the partners who run HPE seemed pleased with the results.  At PAX I also go to watch a few tournament matches for CSGO and I watched a good portion of the Dota "International" tournament.

PAX is pretty cool all the way around in my book.  In a bunch of ways, its run how I think E3 should be run, but it can get a bit chaotic too, so there are tradeoffs there.  Its great to make new friends and be around gamers in their element though.  I think a lot of game developers forget who they are making these games for.   I hope I never get that way.

I take pride in the fact that I play the games I work on and I also try to expand my gaming horizons.

I cut my Moba teeth on LoL for example last year, but I've graduated to playing Dota2 which I think is a more refined and nuanced experience.  I'll probably get into that in another post sometime, I just think its the harder game to get good at, so it's where I'm throwing my hat in.

In other gaming news, I'm happy to say that I really like the WiiU.  I think its a much improved iteration on the Wii console, even if it's not a mind blowing improvement in hardware capability considering how many years have passed between the game systems.  I do like some of the gameplay elements that use the controller based screen, and it does add to it in some cases.  What I really love is the fact the system runs in 1080p.  My biggest gripe about the Wii was the fact it couldnt even muster 720p while its competitors were handling it easily.

So what have I been up to since CSGO wrapped up for me?  I've been working on new stuff that I can't talk about yet, but am very excited for.  It makes going to work every day extremely interesting, and it's a unique challenge to say the least.

One last thing, as I need to wrap this up... I also took part in a new design experiment that I'm very proud of.  I'm a Dad now!  I'm not sure how many glitches we will have with this prototype girl design, but I am hopeful it will be fun figuring it out!

I'll close this out with some random pictures from the year.










Defense Grid 2 kickstarter!
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 July 2012, 6:01 pm
Howdy Everyone!

As you probably know if you read this regularly, I'm a game designer over at Hidden Path Entertainment.  We have a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in a Defense Grid sequel to get in the ground floor and be part of making our next hit game!

Please check out kickstarter.hiddenpath.com help us make more Defense Grid!







The Little Things Add Up
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 July 2012, 9:29 pm
Howdy people who read my blog!

It's always with the best of intentions that I intend on updating this thing, but my general impression of a lack of audience coupled with my work and various hobbies makes it hard for me to remember to come back here and post from time to time.

It's funny that I don't really post here all that much considering the fact that my entire life revolves around gaming in some form or another.  You would think I would make more time for this, but alas, I don't.

I entitled this post "The Little Things Add Up" because it really does encapsulate how I feel about some things right now.  I'm working on a little big game, making small changes here and there, which add up to big impacts for hundreds of thousands (hopefully millions) of players in the future.  

Every little thing counts.

Skipping allusions to game mechanics I would rather jump over to the real reason why I thought to come over here and post.

Like many of you, most of my accounts are linked to each other in some way or fashion.  I have this blog, which is connected to my twitter, which is connected to my raptr account, which was initially connected to my xfire account, which was a restarted xfire account, which is connected to all of the gaming platforms I play on that have some sort of metrics system that announce my achievements and hour counts for playing.

Raptr takes all of the aggregate information of my game play time and posts it to my twitter and facebook accounts.  The reason I allow this is, I am fascinated by it for one, and I like to chronicle what I've been playing over time.  

I wish all of my gaming was accounted for like this to be honest.  This includes arcade games, pinball, my classic game systems, my handheld systems.

One of my favorite accounts for this kind of thing is last.fm which shows all of the music I've listened to while logged into their system since 2004.  While it hasn't captured all of the music that i've listened to since 2004 ( like music I listen to at home, or in my car (where most of it happens) it does give me a nice snapshot of what my preferences have been like over the years:

1Play
2Play
3Play
4Play
5Play
6Play
7Play
8Play
9Play
10Play
11Play
12Play
13Play
14Play
15Play
Apparently, I spend alot of time listening to music I've written myself, and bounce between light sounding stuff and really heavy sounding stuff

The game tracking works similarly, though I tend to forget to turn on raptr and xfire way more often due to reboots and annoying performance issues.    For example, CounterStrike Global Offensive Beta on raptr says I've played around 37 hours.  I don't know what the time window is for that count.  Steam says I've played it 142 hours.



In the four years post launch of EverQuest 2 and the subsequent years after I left that team, I managed to log close to 1600 hour of total play time.

You may be wondering what the point of this is by now.

The point is I am a gamer as well as a designer.  Hence the name Devgamer.  I play games as a hobby, but I also develop games for a living as a game designer.  It is both my hobby and my career.  I have a true passion for this, and anyone that knows me or gets to know me either as a friend or simply as a professional in the game industry knows this.

You will notice a trend in the kinds of games I play.  I play a TON of shooters, because I'm currently working on one, and my prior project was a shooter MMO.  Prior to that I spent most of my time playing MMOs of all genres, because I wanted to understand them to the best of my ability.

When I see a trend in gaming and there is a huge spike in popularity for a particular kind of game, I do my best to try and play it as much as I can to understand it, not only for my own personal interests and for fun, but because I want to know how it works, why it works, and how I can apply that to the work I do here at HPE.  We have a really neat company here, because while we are currently working on a AAA shooter title, we are also known for making the best tower defense game ever made (Defense Grid =) ).  We have a wide range of interests here and that suits me very well.  I'm encouraged to know as much as I can about every genre of game that piques my interest.

That's why you'll see so much play in MOBA style games now, because I really like the competitive aspect of the game (you will notice most of the games I play are competitive or pvp in some fashion, at least the ones I play the most).  That's why you'll see I only spent 11 hours in Skyrim, instead of the 40-80 hours you probably spent on it.

One reason I'm bringing any of this up is because there have been a few comments in forums, twitter, and in messages directly to me by people who see what I've been playing lately and use that as some kind of measuring stick to try and figure out how much work we/I have been doing towards CSGO.  Using my play patterns from playing at home and on my lunch breaks is not any kind of heat indicator in regards to the hard work everyone is putting in here or a way to figure out whether or not patches are coming down the pipe.

While I wish these game trackers did keep track of all of my play time, it's just not possible.  When you see that I've logged over 140 hours in csgo, you are only seeing how many hours I've logged into the product you guy's get to download.  That doesn't include the internal beta servers you always wonder about called devprerelease... it doesn't count the internal version that we develop on where I do all of my work all week long.  It doesn't count the PS3 version, or the Xbox360 version or the Mac version.  Only the version that I play after we post a beta candidate, and I play to verify that things are working as I expect them (or not) to.  These are the hours I play on my own time at home, on weekends when no one expects me to log in.  These are the hours when I am logged into the game at 2am having multi hour conversations with players about recoil or movement in Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.

I probably log in an average to 2 or 3 hours of play away from the beta release that no one sees every single day of work.  If you add of the 2 years I've been on this project that would probably be over 1500 hours of unlogged play at best guess.

I guess what I'm getting at is, I have made CSGO my life these past 2 years, and it is a huge part of it.  I spend a ton of time talking about CS, playing CS and thinking about CS.  I also spend my free time trying to disengage my mind from it and trying to keep up with what is popular in games to maintain a professional and personal edge that I enjoy.  Balancing all of this and maintaining a good relationship with my very understanding wife is a challenge in and of itself, but she is very supportive and understand how much this all means to me.  I hope my friends out in the gaming verse can understand too.

In closing, I would be a lot more worried about a designer who doesn't play games and feels like he/she doesn't have anything more to learn about them than one who spends a large portion of their free time expanding their gaming horizons.





Pics
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 July 2012, 9:45 pm
I hear blogs are more interesting with pictures.  I should include more screenshots or pictures



Here is what the back of my CSGO hoodie looks like





Counter Strike: Global Offensive Beta
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 June 2012, 5:59 pm
As you may or may not recall, I'm currently working on the latest and greatest CS game coming down the pipe.  I've been super busy as you might have guessed, because as per usual I'm not posting here.  

Beta started late in the year last year, but it didn't really kick off till around the end of January when we made our first big updated to the client and started bringing in more players.  I've lost count in regards to how many people have invites to the beta now, but it's well over 100k by now.

For the most part we've maintained a schedule of weekly updates, which has been great for turn-around on feedback and bugs.  It's a busy schedule to maintain though, because the PC beta is not the only product in development for this game, which means we need to develop all of the platforms at the same time.  

I've recently spent a bunch of time working on the tuning of the PS3 Move/Sharpshooter controller, which has been a really interesting experience.

Anyways, beta is trucking along, the game is looking really good, and I hope some of you have gotten a beta key to enjoy it.  If you haven't signed up for the beta survey you should go to http://blog.counter-strike.net/ and sign up.






Post Christmas Video Game Hangover
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 January 2012, 5:46 pm
The holiday season is brutal for everyone when it comes to the first world problem of being into geeky stuff.  Invariably, this is when the most best/new things of the year come out in an effort to win our hard earned money.

Gamers in particular get hammered every fall leading into winter as the deluge of promised games past finally make it from the shelves into our homes.  I feel the burn from both sides of the the candle being a game designer by trade.  All too often the holiday season is fraught with pushing to get games out before the year is up, and it makes it worse when you want to play everyone else's stuff.

Luckily for me, the biggest push I worked on last fall was the effort in getting the first beta candidates out for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and it wasn't so involved and panic stricken as past events.  That left me time to actually buy a couple games and play them, but that wasn't without its perils.

I admit, I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I do try to get most major releases on consoles across the multiple platforms to keep up with things and to satisfy my own curiosities.  That being said, the Steam sale that happens every winter invariably ends up causing a glut in my gaming queue that results in some games falling by the wayside, no matter how much I enjoy them.

I've been trying to find time for the new Star Wars MMO (lets have a moment of silence for the ill fated Star Wars Galaxies, may by dancer/swordsman rest in peace) while trying to play the couple of console games my wife bought me for my birthday and Christmas.

I still find myself trying to maintain some level of skill at shooters other than Counterstrike so I don't totally lose my touch at them, all the while trying to maintain the meager skills I've developed in League of Legends and the DOTA2 beta. 

It's all too much.

Yeah, poor baby.

I know I'm not the only one who contends with this though, Its something that happens to just about everyone I know that is into gaming.  There just is too much to play in a short period of time, and you really have to pace that out.

For example people devoured or are still masticating on Skyrim, while I've probably only logged about 6 hours on it.  I know its there, and that its wonderful, but my free 30 days are ticking away on the Old Republic, and if i don't get my money's worth out of that and get "hooked" I'll have to cancel that game and write it off as another MMO that didn't quite capture the imagination.

I could probably go on and on about KOTOR actually.  Half of it I really like, and the other half bewilders me.  I'm often left wondering why I should even have to put up with other people taking my kills, because that is pretty mu ch the only depth of interaction I have with them, and that includes the fact that I'm in a 30 person guild in there.

I think that kind of sums up how I've been feeling about alot of games I've bought lately.  They all sound like a great idea, but the portion where I really want it to be executed well, never really gels with me.

Take for example Forza 4.  I love the game and I really like the game mechanics there for the most part.  I can't complain about the cars, the tracks, the physics, all of it is there.  But why do they make it so hard to find and start custom games for multiplayer now?  I want to know why its easier to start a custom game in say PGR3 which is aeons old, but the latest and greatest driving game out there makes this difficult to do.  Don't get me wrong, its not impossible, but its just little tiny features, and the way the menus are ordered.  They make it harder to find custom games than I think it should be, and the result of that is its hard to find random people to play with.  Match making does not send people your way, they have to actively seek these custom games out.

Anyways, as usual, my interests are varied, and my time is short, so I have to pick and choose what I want to get into.  I can never truly master any of these games, I just don't have the time for it.  Those are the woes of adulthood and holding down a real job when all you want to really do is play games all day.  Being a game designer is the next best thing, but you don't get to choose what game you get to play all day.  That being said, I wonder who is gonna win?  Terrorists or Counter-Terrorists, I guess I should go find out some more.






Scribblenauts is a Great Game For Someone Like Me
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 September 2009, 5:42 pm
I've always liked words. I used to be pretty proud of the fact that when I was in grade school, my reading and writing levels were through the roof compared to 98% of all other students in my grade level. Over the years, that deteriorated to the mess you read in this blog, but nonetheless, I still like big words, and enjoy what I claim to be a decent grasp of my native language.

While there are a lot of puzzle games out there for all kinds of people, there are only a few for dorks like me who enjoy words just for the sake of words. Sometimes I like to mull over the sound of a word, or the meaning of a word just because I enjoy it. Games like Bookwork Adventures, and Word Shark appeal to me, but a game like Scribblenauts is pure crack.

While the game mechanics are clunky in terms of the odd platforming physics, and the interactions between the objects, the game really appeals to the part of me that wants to BREAK IT. Maybe it's the QA background that I have, but I am always trying to think outside of the box and refuse to solve the puzzles in an obvious way. It's an ex game tester's dream, let alone a word dork's dream.

I've been having a great time playing this. I recommend it to those of you that really want to push the game's massive dictionary and play around with it. It's not a game for people who are looking for exacting movement and interactions, because in all truthfulness it's quite sloppy in that regards.






This Capsuleer is Signing Out
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 September 2009, 4:40 pm
So, after a couple of years of intermittent play, I've finally let EVE Online go, at least for the time being. I enjoy the game when I can find a good group of people to play with, but mostly spend most of my time in a mind numbing, yet cathartic haze of mining rocks.

I love the game, I guess it's just not loving me back enough to keep me paying for it month after month, at least at this time. This is definitely a game where you have to participate in it and get active. You have to look for the fun, it won't seek you out.

I've had a bunch of fun with it, but it is time to power the ship down and look for adventures in other regions of space, should they show up.






Crabcore gif for your enjoyment
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 October 2009, 6:08 pm




I know this isn't related to video games, but I can't help it.

To commemorate some of the worst music on the internet, I decided to share these with you all.

Look them up on youtube if you want to check their video out, the band is called Attack Attack.

Made by miriku @ www.miriku.com






EverQuest II Players
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 November 2009, 3:02 pm
EverQuest II Players

Posted using ShareThis






Evercracked Movie part 1
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 November 2009, 4:28 pm
I got to watch this a few months ago, and now its publically available. check it yo!

More Videos at IGN.com






IGN Video: The Agency PC Games Trailer - E3 2010: Trailer
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 June 2010, 1:20 pm
IGN Video: The Agency PC Games Trailer - E3 2010: Trailer






Moving On
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 August 2010, 2:56 pm
As inevitable as the tide, change comes to us all. There have been times in my life where I was in control of the changes in my immediate sphere of influence, but there are other times where things just happen to you.

Unfortunately instead of the former, the latter took place when I parted ways with SOE last month.

I knew I was going to write here about it sooner or later, and I guess I just needed some time to get used to the idea before I did. I don't exactly have a huge audience here, and those that used to follow this blog did it purely for the inside glimpses I gave into the creation of EverQuest II and The Agency. Not that I really said all that much, I suppose.

Anyways, here I am... I'm sitting in my game room writing this post from my brand new house I just bought, wondering what I'm going to say to the world.

As far as SOE goes, I had a fantastic time there, and would do it all over again even if it resulted in the same way. I got to make some really fun content that people are enjoying as I type this, I got to work on really cool stuff that you guys have yet to see, and I worked with some really great people. I don't dare count how many friends I've made over the years of being employed at SOE, but it has to be in the hundreds.

So, what's the next step? Well, I've received a few interesting phone calls from some familiar names in regards to MMOs in development, but they are quite far away from here, and I literally made my first house payment a few days ago. To say I would be chagrin to move away from Seattle would be an understatement. If there comes a time where I have no other choice, then I may consider moving, but at this time I am looking for employment here in Washington.

Part of me wonders if I should stay in game design or explore something else. I could certainly fulfill a production role, or maybe something outside of games altogether.... outside of games? Nah!!! Lol. I love the industry too much to leave it without kicking and screaming first.

When I first started this blog one of the first things I talked about is how I got into the industry. Now this is an entirely different story. I've been steadily working for 17 years and now find myself using recruiters and applying via websites instead of using referrals because I only really know the people in my SOE circle out here. I do have a positive outlook on things though, I mean I've worked on a variety of game types in a variety of roles. I'm bound to find something, but I don't want to just work at any old company working on any old game just for the sake of employment. I have to be into what I'm working on or its all for naught, I just love gaming too much to work on something I would be miserable playing.

Anyways, that's the status update for Steve "Saavedra" Kramer. I know that the news got around because I even was getting flamed on EQ2flames.com, which is an honor of course =D. If you hear of any interesting jobs out this way let me know hehe =).






Super Street Fighter IV
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 August 2010, 9:06 pm


Having recently moved, I haven't really had a ton of time to get any gaming in, but as things are settling down I'm finally starting to dig into some of these games that I've bought over the past few months.

I really enjoyed Street Fighter IV but I also wasn't all that excited about buying what I thought was practically the same game twice... I ended up caving because of the low price, and man is this game good!

I'm one of those guys that can claim that he was a fan of the first Street Fighter game in the arcade and played a ton of it back in the day. In fact, I bought my NES Advantage joystick just so I could practice "hands fire!" fireballs. Back when Street Fighter II came out, I was really happy to see a sequel and remember getting on a pay phone (remember those?) and calling my best friend to get him down to the arcade to check it out. Anyways, needless to say, I'm a big fan of the series.

Now I get to say how much I love Super Street Fighter IV. I luuurrrve it! Just before I moved I was playing the crap out of it and here I am again hooked all over. I was hooked last year with Street Fighter IV came out, and its a repeat!

I would have to say my favorite feature of the game is the ability for me to fight the computer, and have people "put up their quarter" so to speak and challenge me. I have had bouts of playing this game where I've taken on all challengers for up to 4 hours straight, much to the chagrin of my wife, because I get really heated up when things don't go my way. I especially loathe it when a player pulls out Akuma, because I don't care what anyone says about the health balancing, I still view him as a cheater character from back in the day, and I'll never see him as otherwise.

Anyways, I have bouts where I do really well, and bouts where I do really horrible. I've fluctuated from B to D class in the game a couple times by now just due to winning and losing streaks. Honestly though, I just don't care where I end up with that. I just like playing! I don't know what it is, but the fact that its all pretty much a level playing field and you just bring what you have to the table really appeals to me in this game. I kinda play old school style, not really juggling people all that much, in fact my primary character is Blanka, so I'm usually on the offensive and try to overwhelm my opponent with movement.

If you haven't picked up Super Street Fighter IV, I would really recommend it, especially if you've ever been a fan of the series, as this is the definitive version of the game and covers a wide spectrum of what the entire series has had to offer over the years in terms of taking all the best stuff from the best versions and putting it in one game.

I'm sure a bunch of the SSFIV players are going to migrate to marvel vs capcom 3 when it comes out, but I personally think a bunch will stick around to play this because of their differences. I never really got into the m vs c games that much because of all of the crazy jumping around. It usually just devolves into a juggle fest, which I never really saw the appeal of, even going back to the canned combos of Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat 3.






I'm a Game Designer
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 August 2010, 7:30 pm
I love making games! There, I said it!

While I type this, I'm currently an unemployed game designer. There was a point in my life a long time ago where I didn't really identify myself by the job that I do. That was back in the day when I was a janitor, a dishwasher, a caddy, a paperboy, or a fast food employee. Later down the line when I got a job testing games, I called myself a game tester, because that's what they called us in the early 90s. Now they are called Quality Assurance Analysts. Sounds Fancy doesn't it?

Well, back when I was a tester, I started what now has become my career of being in video games. I've been a Tester, a QA Supervisor, a Level Designer, and worked by way up to being a Senior Game Designer. Somewhere along that timeline I went from being some guy who did his work somewhere to identifying himself as a game designer.

I'm proud of the fact that I'm a game designer! I love the fact that I have had a hand in creating games that I love. You see, before I ever became a designer, or a janitor for that matter, I was a gamer. I've been a gamer since the early 80s! Games have always been and probably always will be a major part of my life. It's in my blood. You could say I'm a gamer first and a designer second. They are so intertwined with each other though, its hard to tell which is which.

It's one thing to love games, but its an entire different matter when you eat sleep and breathe them both at home and work. I feel so fortunate to have a wife who understands my passion for gaming and is so supportive of my efforts. She's even so cool shes made characters in EQ2 just to play with me from time to time. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I've really loved it the past 17 years and hope to have at least that many more years ahead of me in the industry that I love so much.

One of the funny things about being a game designer, especially one coming from a QA background is, you never can really turn off the QA switch. Its one of those buttons that just get stuck, its like seeing the Matrix, they can't just shove you back in the tube to where you can't see the lady in the red dress. I see the lady all the time, and I'm well aware that there is no spoon. This is what happens to you when you get this intimate with games. You not only see problems when you are playing them, you can't help but pick at them and see if it breaks some more. On top of that old "wanting to break the game" thing I do, I can't help but wonder how I would do this or that differently with each game I play. You just can't turn off the designer part of your brain once you get the ball rolling.

So, I'm in the process of looking for work, and while I look at jobs out there, both near and far, I wonder if I'm at another turning point in my long career where I might want to try something different? Can I? I don't know if I could leave the game industry altogether, I think I just like making games too much. I sometimes wonder if I would do well in a production role where I work with a wider lens than say a specific part of the game. I'm 100% positive I'm capable of doing that kind of job, hell, I know probably a dozen people at least that came up through QA under my supervision who are now producers at various companies. Most of the people I worked with in QA that have moved on and upward in the industry have invariably gone on into production roles. I think that's really cool. Anyways, now I'm in a position to try and reach out and see what I might do next, and to be honest I don't know yet! Then there is that whole wide world out there. I've worked on some really cool projects in the past, and now I wonder what else could be in store for me? So many people with so many different jobs. I'll always be a gamer, but will I always be a designer? It makes me wonder sometimes, though I guess I have plenty of time to think about it.

Anyways, I think I'll write a small series of posts talking about games I've had a hand in designing going into the deep past. Why not eh?

-steve






Double Dragon V
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 August 2010, 11:47 pm


Double Dragon V is first game that I can say I had any real designer input in. When this game was developed it was prior to Midway buying Leland Interactive Media out, so the game was published by Tradewest which was out in Corsicana, TX I believe.

DDV happened to be one of the very first games I ever worked on, being preceded by Troy Aikman Football and Fun N' Games. At the time Street Fighter II was a huge hit and arcades were sporting SFII cabinets wall to wall everywhere I went, so its not a big surprise that a game publisher like Leland Interactive Media would want a piece of the pie.

I have no idea where they got the licensing set up, because they tied the game into the tv show and even had a comic book in the manual. We didn't have the voice actors from the cartoon, so they recorded some of us at work, me included to do some of the grunts and hit sounds. It's very hard to remember, but I may have been the end boss guy's voice. It's been so long. I know I recorded for it, but I don't know if my voice made the final cut in that game.

Anyways, at the time since we had to do a lot of game play research, they bought a Neo Geo, which back at the time was impossible to get on our salaries, so we ended up "testing" Samurai Shodown and World Heroes all day while they were getting the art and code ready for the game. When it came time to implement the gameplay, it was both myself and my friend Tim Heydelaar that worked on the moves lists, the timing of all of the moves, and the hit box locations, hence my first real dabbling into game design. I don't think we got any special credit for the work we did, but it was just cool to be doing it. Back then I was only being paid $4.25 an hour and loving every minute of it.



Some funny stuff. In this level, you can't see if of course, but there is graffiti on the wall in various places. One of the graffiti images says "EMP" which stood for "East Milan Posse", a fake gang a group of friends and I created to rebel against the local gangs in Chula Vista CA.

I would say the worst thing about working on this game was working on the Jaguar version. They Jaguar was much more limited than they wanted to admit, or the programmers just didn't know how to take advantage of it, but needless to say it was awful, and I still can wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night thinking about 8 hours of testing that one.






Justin Bieber MMO?
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 August 2010, 2:19 pm
Who wants in on my Justin Bieber MMO idea? Let's do it 8-bit because that's trendy, and hell I want to play an 8 or 16 bit MMORPG with modern "features". We'll get the guy to "write" the soundtrack of course, he'll be king of the domain, he can log in anytime he wants and interact with his minions... We just have to make sure a Lord British murder doesn't happen and we are all good!

What do you think?






Justin Bieber's North Korean Tour MMO
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 August 2010, 8:39 pm
Drake is absolutely right. The Justin Bieber MMO should be called Justin' Bieber's North Korean Tour. I can see the millions rolling in right now.






"I've been cyber-stalking you" LoL! 0.0
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 August 2010, 12:27 am
You are probably going to think this is pretty silly of me, but for some odd reason during the past month + of looking for a new company to melt faces for, it never occurred to me that a prospective employer might happen upon my barely read blog.

Well it so happens that this fine blog was brought up yesterday in an interview, and I just had to laugh... "So... a Justin Bieber MMO?".

I guess I picked a bad time to throw my journalistic integrity out the window eh?

Not that I had much in the first place, this blog was more of a place to talk about games because I have a journal elsewhere that talks about my personal life more. I found more often than not, that my friends were getting pretty tired of listening to me talk about EverQuest II, probably because most of them were WoW players (heh).

The reality is, I just have too much game geek in me, and If I weren't in the game industry, I would be doing this kind of thing full blown, because I am just that kind of person.

I guess maybe I should keep the Kotaku style headlines off the blog for a bit hahaha.

To distract you I submit this pic of one of my dogs when she was a puppy.

Sabrina's Sweet Face






PAX: Who Cares?
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 September 2010, 5:20 pm
PAX is going on about a 30 minute drive away from me, and yet another year goes by where I miss it. This time around I have family coming into town today and I have to get my house set up for a big get together with everyone tomorrow. Last year, I think I was so busy on The Agency it just came and went and I forgot about it.

I really want to go, but then I tell myself how much it sucks to park downtown in Seattle to try and convince myself that I'm not missing out, then I hear that the Minibosses played last night and a tear rolls down my face.

FUCK! I'm missing PAX again and I live in Seattle!! Now I'm seeing videos of Duke Nukem "Fornever" Forever coming from PAX and I'm not there! Also some of my old EQ2 buddies are out there hanging out. I have such awful timing.

Oh and I missed Sakura Con this year because I was so entrenched in buying a house it came and went without me knowing about it. Where the heck were my reminder emails? I gave them all that info the year before! Gah aggro!!

Now I go mow grass... that's right! MOW GRASS instead of being at the biggest game convention for gamers by gamers.

You know what? EFF PAX!! WHO CARES!? Who wants to go to that stinky Fun Yun and Mountain Dew fest anyways? I hate gamers! I hate games!






Starting a New Gig This Week
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 September 2010, 4:27 pm
I received a written offer of employment yesterday, so that pretty much makes it official that I'll soon be working again. I was supposed to start next week, but I just got a call that they would like for me to come in on Friday and get my orientation going so, I guess I start a new job this week.

The company? They are called Hidden Path Entertainment. You are probably familiar with their awesome tower defense game "Defense Grid"that was on several platforms.

I can't talk about what I'll be working on yet, but once they announce it I'm sure I'll be just as obtuse about my work as I've always been.

So, why Hidden Path Entertainment? When I met the team I just could tell how passionate they are about what they do. They are a small but very experienced team, they aren't afraid to push their limits and work on a variety of projects and game genres, they are family oriented, and they are local.

I had several opportunities come up over the past 7 weeks that were out of state, and while they were very tempting, especially the big name MMO guys that came my way, I just really wanted to stay here and enjoy the new house, the fact my wife has a new job, and just the general atmosphere of the Seattle area, which I'm just way into still.

Anyways, that's whats been going down!






The HPE gig is going well
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 March 2011, 10:58 pm
Wow, I think about this blog several times a week, and that probably puts me in the mindset that I've updated it recently, and lo' and behold I haven't posted since I started my new job.

I really like my job at Hidden Path Entertainment so far. I still can't talk about my project though, because it hasn't be officially announced. It's only a matter of time though, the clock is definitely ticking!

When I first got involved with HPE I had a general idea that these guys were talented, and I was happy to be getting involved. Now that I've had time to work with them over the past 7 months or so I am happy to say that I've really lucked out.

The caliber of work being done here has been astonishing, and I feel nothing but pride and high hopes for what we are capable of doing. It just feels great to be pushing forward and getting something done, all without killing ourselves with overtime and getting praised all along the way.

At first I was brought on board with a specific task in mind, which I've been working on steadily, but I've also gotten to do level design work which I've seen go from my white box versions all the way to completion in the time I've been there. We aren't just talking one level, we are talking 3. It's been really cool. I just feel like things are getting done, and I love that feeling!

Anyways, this was a quick update to let everyone know how things are going. As soon as I'm allowed to talk about the project I'm working on, I'll write about it here. There is a certain stress level involved with working on something like this, and I'll explain how that came about and how I am coping with it.






Rift: The answer to my MMO blues
Posted by Devgamer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 March 2011, 7:57 pm
I never really think about it very much, but I’ve been playing MMOs regularly since I first fell in love with Dark Sun Online back in the mid 90’s. Since that point in time, my involvement in MMOs went from fascination to obsession and back again. I’ve been a fan to the point where I dedicated years of my life to working on them, and there were many highs and lows that came along with it.

It’s tough to separate out the timeline of games that I played for various reasons, especially ever since I worked on EQ2. There were a bunch of games I bought purely out of professional curiosity, and many of them didn’t get played a whole lot. When I switched my professional focus from working on a fantasy game to that of a game where guns did the killing, my research preferences changed too. I ended up spending a lot more time playing shooters, keeping the few MMOs that I really liked on the hard drive, eschewing those that just didn’t have the staying power.

There were only really a handful of games that stayed on my hard drive for more than a few months over the last several years. I guess I have a hard time keeping my eggs in one basket. Anyways, I can only say that since my time on EQ2 that I’ve only really been “into” EQ2, EVE Online, World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and possibly (if you think it counts) Maple Story.

Last summer when I made a sudden career change away from MMO development, I have to admit I was heartbroken. At that time, the only MMO I was playing was EQ2 despite the fact that I hadn’t worked on it for a couple of years, I just loved the game. Still do. The problem is I just didn’t have the heart to log in anymore. I know and knew I had a home there with my guild, but for some reason, I guess I’m not ready to return to that place, silly as it seems. In any case, I’ve felt this distinct desire to find a game to play as the months went on.

When the latest WoW expansion came out, I found myself in the same pattern that I experienced the last 2 expansions they put out where I would play for about 2 weeks, exhaust the new new stuff, and then find myself not logging in anymore.

That brings me to Rift!

With several friends on the development team, I was always interested in how the game was going, and I knew I was going to buy it as a show of support one way or the other, but I have to say that I knew something cool was going on here when I peeped the game when it was alpha early.
Once I got to spend a few hours with it I knew it was a game I was going to want to buy, so I backed off and kept myself away from any info about the game and avoided logging in. I wanted the game to be fresh and brand new to me when it released and I’m really glad I waited.

Anyways, I intend to write in depth what I’m liking about the game, and yes, I’m definitely liking it a lot. This has to be the first MMORPG that I’ve liked this much since Warhammer Online came out.

If I could give the game any kind of endorsement for the casual reader I would say this… Rift is a good cross between all the things you like about EQ2, World of Warcraft, and Warhammer online. If you liked those games, you need to buy Rift right away and join my server “Shadefallen” and make a Guardian because you don’t want to be one of those Godless heathens called the Defiant.






As the launch date for the Nintendo 3DS looms I'm beginning to wonder more and more about it. I don't know anyone who has mentioned having any hands on time with the unit yet, and I and wondering if any of you have tried it out yet?

I skipped the DSi, which is abnormal for me, as I normally try to pick up every system that comes along unless its a direct 1 to 1 redo of a unit (like the psp3000 to the pspGo).

I can't say my handheld systems ever get a TON of play, but I do like to have them around, and I certainly like playing those way more than say my Iphone, which I think it an atrocious platform for gaming.

Anyways, one of my biggest concerns about the 3DS naturally would be the 3d effect. I know that you can turn it on and off, but I'm wondering how convincing it is? Please note that I'm one of those guys that is already sick and tired of the "3d" movie movement that has been going on, I think it gimmick and crutch for movie studios. In gaming, its relatively an untapped opportunity for unique gaming experiences, but that's because you can interact with a game. Movies with 3d in them general consist of scenes where people are pointing at the camera, pointing things at the camera, throwing things at the camera, ect... I wonder what we'll get with the games?

I've read the announcements about netflix coming to the system, and I think that's great. I use the netflix feature on my iphone relatively often, and I think I would use it on the 3ds as well.

Anyways, if any of you have had some hands on time with this system, I would like to hear your thoughts on it






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