2013 was Year of the Game

This was the invitation to the Xbox One launch party...
No year is complete without a year-in-review post. Here is mine for 2013…

Things happened very fast this year, it seems. I changed career path, and went back to my first passion – games. I ran a Kickstarter, I formed a company, I got a full time job and a promotion, working with AAA titles for the new Xbox One – the green wristband shown above was the invite to the launch party at Microsoft (and no, I don’t own one, myself). Tons of work, tons of fun! Considering that only a year has passed since I set out on this path, everything that has happened sort of blows my mind.

I played a lot of games in 2013. Great games, from major releases I had missed, to small indie games made by people like myself. Steam became one of my favorite things. It made me want to talk about games more, not just design them. I hope to do more of that in the year to come.

Photography, my primary business for the last decade, was largely ignored this year. My expensive gear is collecting dust, and all I ever use these days, is Instagram. At the end of 2013, I am retiring the thing that’s been the biggest draw on my site for years, the Microstock Photographer’s Guide. However, I’m still interested in producing videos, and even more so when combined with games. Thus, I’ve become more and more interested in things like YouTube and streaming live from Twitch. Highlight: getting together with a few friends from my Minecraft server, streaming live for 24 hours, while collecting money for charity.

There has been a lot of reading after I started commuting several hours a week. The last few months, it’s been the Malazan Book of the Fallen series (I just finished book 4, leaving 6 more to go). If you’re into epic fantasy, you will want to read it. Reading is one of the few activities I do on a regular basis, not tied to a screen – which is also the reason I haven’t jumped on the ebook wagon (yet).

I’ve been missing the old, regular game night with friends, and social activity definitely took an overall blow in 2013. I need to work on that in 2014. Don’t get me wrong though, overall it was a year of huge improvement. The last few years have been rough on our household, and 2013 came with some real progress in nearly every area. I am very thankful for that.

Happy 2014 to all my friends, known associates and internet lurkers. Thanks for being a part of this interesting ride called Life, and for all your support and awesomeness.

All Games, All the Time

Working on AAA game titles by day, and my own little indie game by night. For a few months now, this has been my life. It’s fun, it’s everything 12-year old me could have ever dreamed of, and it’s a lot of hard work. Though I’m currently working overtime and out of the house 14 hours a day, I do not miss trying to eke out a living as a photographer, which is kind of awesome.

Bound by NDAs, I can’t talk about the AAA title I am attached to, but it involves Microsoft and some cutting edge gaming technology. And I can safely reveal that it’s exciting to be part of a huge production. My role, as an assistant LQA test lead, has me talking to testers, other leads and producers, and I get to see what goes on at different levels. These are multi-million dollar titles, and pretty much a completely different world, compared to the one I live in on the weekends.

My own game – Salvage Trader – has a four person team: an artist, a composer, a PR/marketing person, and me for everything else. I started a company, Tagunda, but there are no actual employees – everyone is a freelancer, except me. There is no office except the one in my apartment, and project management is all done online, using the excellent tool, Podio. Communication flows easily on such a small team, and everyone is genuinely excited to finish it and see the result. My only complaints are, that I’d love to have more time and a bigger budget. But when is that not a concern?

On the day job, there are many more people involved. In fact, I don’t even know how large the production is. I’ve never met the actual developers, nor seen a line of code. Assets come from multiple locations, depending on their nature, and just managing all these is a major task involving lots of people. With such a large production, communication can be a challenge. There are many links in the chain, and thus many places it can potentially break. Like I said, a different world.

So, while life isn’t all fun, all the time, it is all games. Somehow, though not often at the day job, I still find time to play. I do think playing is a necessary part of making games. It’s not enough to just do your own thing – you have to see what else is out there. Not because I see other games as competition, but because it’s both fun, eye opening and inspiring to play.

For more on the projects mentioned, check the sites linked to in this post. You can also find both Salvage Trader and Tagunda on both Twitter and Facebook, so feel free to follow/like, and you can follow the process and development.