Hey all! I'd like to use my blog this once to post a bit about what's going on with my career and family rather than random game design thoughts. (if you have no knowledge or interest in game "stuff" and only want the family info, feel free to skip to the 2nd half)
Over the last 20 years (good lord) at some point I've professionally done damn near everything technically related to developing games. Modeling, animation, texturing, level / track design, audio work, UI design, campaign event scripting, writing, lead roles in most of those… pretty much everything *but* actually programming a game. As many designers can attest, that last component (actual coding) can often feel like what separates 'making games' from 'desperately wanting other people to make your games'.
(Much of my work on Gears 1-3 as Gameplay Designer was creating the playable prototypes for most of the weapons, creatures, game systems, lots of campaign sequences, etc... but often those were essentially 'playable design pitches' and seldom were final shippable features.)
No matter how far I can take prototypes and assets, at some point I feel that I'm ultimately a peddler of ideas spending more time pitching and discussing than implementing. Without writing code, as a designer, every concept I'm excited about is tempered with the inevitable concern of, "would I be able to find people who would build that with me?"
Often it fundamentally comes down to 'find someone willing to give you a team to create it, or learn to do it yourself'. That's a key aspect of the indie games movement, people realizing there's that second viable option.
I have an ache to truly become self sufficient as a game creator and break my reliance on others to fulfill my creative intuitions. It's clear we're living in the golden age of making that happen with available resources and tools online. So that's my path. I'm going to take a good long time (if needed) and dedicate myself full-time to learning anything I need in order to truly author my own game projects. I can't say I won't collaborate with others or try alternative methods to bring projects to life along the way, but my goal is to not depend on those options. At bare minimum I need to be able to participate in game jams like Ludum Dare 48! :)
If you've ever shipped a solo project, or dove into coding recently, I'd love to hear about your experiences. I've had the great fortune of working with some of the most talented people in the industry, and have gotten some great advice so far (and found some role models in the process). My friend Kent Hudson was among the first to get my head leaning in this direction, with his successful release of The Novelist on Steam (while learning to code along the way). His passion for that project shows through every time he speaks about the game, and his courage is truly inspiring.
The second aspect of this decision is... geographic.
With an enthusiastic family, savings to run on, and an internet connection we could live pretty much anywhere. We plan on taking advantage of that. Big time.
Last year at GDC there was a pretty drool enducing presentation from Colin and Sarah Northway (two respected indie devs who travel the world while each making their own solo games). When I saw this stunning slideshow of this adventurous married couple in 1000 random amazing settings, I had to wonder why we don't live somewhere with a hammock full time. We are fixing that ASAP. We're moving abroad!
Where specifically? It's being narrowed down. So far we've visited swathes of ('House Hunter International' favs) Costa Rica, Belize, and Merida Mexico as potential move locations. In march we're spending two weeks driving from Lyon south along the French coast, over to Toulouse, then down to Barcelona, Spain (although our interests are primarily the towns in between). Gab and I have been doing steady French lessons for a bit over a year now, so, it'd be fantastic to use those skills. We may hit Panama after that if we haven't decided by then.
Yep, we're taking the kiddo of course, and no, we don't think it's an education issue. We're of the opinion that exposing a 12 year old to the WORLD, is a great thing. If we move somewhere with a good international school, awesome. If not, there's great online school options now that would make amazingly memorable trips even more simple logistically.
If you're afraid we'll be kidnapped and murdered the moment we step off a plane outside the US, we don't really need to hear your opinion on the topic ;) I was actually told by someone we shouldn't visit France right now because "all the stuff going on there". When asked what they meant, they said "you know, Syria". Sigh. Yes, Syria, which is apparently just west of Paris before you reach the North Korean drug cartels. Sigh.
So yes, Gab and I are crazy excited about the prospect of an international move and dramatic lifestyle change. If you have visited some mind bogglingly cool town anywhere in the world, with a warm/mild climate that we should consider, I'd love to hear about that as well! We're extremely grateful for what our success in North Carolina with Epic and BitMonster is allowing us to do, but we're a pretty nomadic couple craving a heavy dose of new experiences.
It's a terrifying leap into a void, but, such is life!
(Naturally I plan on posting significantly more about my projects and the learning process here as well. There may be fewer real articles and more "WOAH, CHECK THIS OUT!" moments... hope that's cool!)
Thanks so much as always for reading, and especially for all the support!