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.