Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 Professional Year In Review

With the end of the year fast approaching, one of the many givens is the amount of "year in review" and "upcoming year forecasts" that will be published for every possible area of interest. For the end of this year, I thought I would spend some time going over events of note in my professional life.

At the beginning of the year I was wrapping up work on Destroy All Humans!: Path of the Furon at Sandblast. The project turned a corner and I was looking forward to the final push where everyone comes together. Towards the end of summer, production was just about done and so was my role on the project.

At the end of July, I attended the Microsoft focused GameFest for the first time. While this conference has been going on for quite a while, as a long time Nintendo developer I didn't have a reason to attend in years past. Having missed the Game Developer's Conference this year, I thought it would be a good way to scratch the conference itch. The best sessions were applicable to general game development outside of Microsoft platforms. There was at least a talk or two that got me to reflect on user interface design practices for games.

Shortly after GameFest, I started working at Sony Online Entertainment Seattle on The Agency. Making the switch was a somewhat daunting experience due to my lack of contacts at the company and the larger team that awaited me. Towards the end of the year, I made several important contributions that helped me get to know people better. It felt good to come together as a team to deliver an important milestone that occurred just before the holiday break.

Meanwhile, Destroy All Humans!: Path of the Furon was released for Xbox 360. While the reviews are much lower than I had hoped, I am still proud of this title and what the team was able to accomplish given the challenges we faced. In addition, as a designer I learned a lot about creating compelling sandbox gameplay, taking enemies and bosses from concept to completion, balancing a large pool of skills and weapons, and being a better team member in a design capacity.

From the research and recreation perspective, I was able to play through several incredible games this year, including Metal Gear Solid 4, LittleBigPlanet, Mirror's Edge, Gears of War 2, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and Braid. I've still got several games in the backlog to finish in the coming year including the fantastic Persona 4, which hooked me for most of December. Overall, I thought it was a steady, solid year of high quality releases and I felt inspired by what these games achieved on their respective platforms.

Finally, from an extracurricular development perspective, I was able to increase the posting rate on the blog, attend several local industry gatherings, dabble in LittleBigPlanet level design, write up some conference proposals, and increase my knowledge on all things FPS, spy, and cool game mechanics related to work.

Overall, it was a productive year and I want to make 2009 an even better one. On the agenda: reading several books on design, attending at least one more conference, writing about game development more often, finishing several games, getting to know a larger piece of the game design community, and building awesome creative experiences that I can share.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

DAH!: Path of the Furon, here at last!

The day that a game you worked on is available for sale is always an exciting one. Today I went to Best Buy to pick up my copy of DAH!: Path of the Furon. It wasn't on store shelves at the time I arrived, but the weekly ad guaranteed it would be in by 2 PM today. After speaking with one of the sales reps and having him hunt it down, I walked out with a shiny new copy. I'm excited to finally play the game from start to finish without interruption or fires to put out. So far I have managed to clear the first invasion site and I've been pleasantly surprised by how well some things worked out. There are the occasional audio issues and miscellaneous bugs present, but I'm mostly happy with what we were able to accomplish given our tumultuous develpment cycle. I'm looking forward to getting back into the game, and I'll post my thoughts on the rest of the finished product and address the reviews in the near future. For any of the Destroy All Humans! fans out there, I hope we delivered an experience that surpasses your expectations of the series. That was one of our goals, and so far I feel like the gameplay has definitely delivered in that area. More to come...