Star Filled Adventure

It’s been an awesome first week at Star Filled Studios. We have been busy - so many different projects happening! Here’s a few of the things we have been up to:

  • Microsoft filmed me for a video of famous developers they will be showing before the keynote at their Build Conference. I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever had makeup put on me. (And yeah, Bethani - I’m not counting that time that you and cousin Michelle painted my toenails while I was sleeping.)
  • We are headed out to tour offices today. Our buddy Chris Law is a startup ninja and gave us great advice for our office search. Apparently there are some offices that have no internet access unless you pay someone to dig a trench. Good thing to know before you sign a lease, eh?
  • We’ve had a good response to our search for an artist, and we’re still looking for more star candidates (get it?). If you know anyone that might be interested, point them our way.
  • Also this week was the first time in my life that a billionaire invited me to lunch at a michelin star restaurant. I can finally check that off my life accomplishment list.

Announcing Star Filled Studios

Jeff and I officially started our company and are pleased to announce Star Filled Studios. We are starting off in a prototyping phase and are trying out a few different game ideas. By making a few rough prototypes we will find the one that is the most promising and run with that. I’ll write a post about our prototypes soon.

We are actively searching for an artist. If you know a 2D game artist that might be interested in working at a brandy new game company please introduce them to us. We have a job posting on our website. We are looking to find someone soon so they can help with our prototyping process and lead the art direction of the game.

We are also working on opening a small office for our game studio. We are looking between Redwood City and San Mateo and are going to get a place that’s near a downtown and a CalTrain station.

I see bright things ahead in my new Star Filled adventure!

Getting down to business

Jeff and I are flying up to Seattle today. We are going to go visit Valve and check out all the cool stuff they are working on and see if there are any business opportunities. I’m pretty excited about this trip! They are a crazy awesome company and they are doing so much cool new stuff:

  • And if you haven’t all ready seen it, you gotta look through the Valve Handbook

And that’s in addition to all their games!

Officially Indie

Yesterday was technically my last day as an EA employee. You know what that means? I’m now officially an indie game developer. Whahoo! So I’ve been getting my affairs in order:

1) No income. Check.

2) Mac computer. Check. After 25 years as a PC programmer I finally switch teams and got a Macbook.

3) Nerdy t-shirts that say something that almost makes sense. Check.

4) Working at 4am in my underwear. Hmmm. Not quite there yet. I’m more of a morning clothed type of guy. But I drink a lot of coffee. That should count for something.

This Macbook computer has been throwing me for a loop. What do you mean that ctrl-C doesn’t copy? WTF? I have tried a least a dozen different schemes to make the keys operate like the muscles in my fingers want them to. I finally found a program that was made for people just like me: KeyRemap4Macbook. It has a few checkboxes to fix 95% of the keys. For the last 5% it has a little xml language that lets you do things like “Alt-Backspace is undo, except in Parallels”.

And yes, I’m using Parallels. My excuse is that I need to do some Windows development for my game. Maybe it’s just so I don’t feel like I’ve completely cut myself off. Actually my friend Pete has a Macbook to get all the indie game dev cred, but he just boots it to Windows. Ha! BTW, he’s showing his game this week at PAX:

 

It’s called Cannon Brawl. I’ve helped them out a bit with play testing and I’m pretty excited about this game. I can’t wait for them to finish it!

Personal Mana

I have a lot of theories. All of my theories are very logical, but some of them are very “out there”. This post is about one of the logical theories. If you want to hear one of the crazier theories, you’ll have to buy me a beer first.

Everyone has a personal mana pool. It’s kinda like a creativity battery. Some things charge your mana pool and some things drain it. It’s different for every person. For me, programming charges my mana pool. It very energizing for me to start a day with a good programming task list in front of me. Yeah, I’m like that. For George, playing Magic charges his mana pool. For Lindsey, cooking recharges hers. When your pool is low, it’s very difficult to do creative things. When you’ve been crunching for a while you tend to get drained and need to do a charging activity.

This week has been very draining for me. Losing my job, jury duty, the dentist, trying to start a company — these things have all been draining my mana pool. So I was quite excited when Chris Law asked if I could help out with his game. He’s been doing a pretty interesting game on kicker starter. It’s called Election War Room 2012. It’s fun to see a game in a fresh genre.

One of Chris’s programmers went AWOL last week and I offered to help him out. He has a few tasks like iPhone push notifications for me to work on. I like learning new things, and that was one of the things on my list to figure out someday. This sounds like the perfect way to recharge my mana pool.

Yesterday was a very bad day

Have you ever had one of those days where everything bad just happens all at once? For me, yesterday was that day.

  • First of all I had Jury Duty. I got selected for a long trial.
  • Then I got laid off. PopCap (well EA now) closed down our San Carlos office and laid me off along with Jeff Gates and George Fan. Since I was in court they had to lay me off with a voice mail. It reminded me of when my high school girlfriend broke up with me, “Tod, well you know, this just isn’t working out for me…”
  • And to top it all off, I had a dentist appointment. It’s like life is taunting me.

Ok. The day wasn’t actually that bad. I’m really excited about moving on and starting something new with my career. And I’m happy that I can now blog about my daily work without offending my employer. We did lots of cool things working on Plants Vs. Zombies and I’m looking forward to sharing more about what I do with this blog.