My independent game work stretches back many years. Here's my story: how early creative exploration led to a professional career, and how that's intertwined with my independent work ever since.
|My first project at Human Head Studios was level design on "Blair Witch, Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock", which used the Resident Evil-esque Nocturne engine. In these days, level design meant environment art just as much as game design or scripting. Having to be so versatile felt great, but I still had a lot to learn...||I produced 5 multiplayer maps for Rune: Halls of Valhalla. For a few months after I worked on Prey, creating an unusual UT test level that got wallwalking onto the game's feature list.||2002 was spent designing levels for the wild west FPS Dead Man's Hand. Towards the end I started to burn out, and a few months into the next year I quit to move across the country with my girlfriend.||I worked at Blue Fang Games on some Zoo Tycoon 2 expansions, but by the end of the year I'd moved on to an incredible opportunity: working at Irrational on Bioshock.||Working on Bioshock was a challenging but deeply rewarding and educational experience. My level design, storytelling, and general game design chops advanced considerably in a short time.||I was surprised by and proud of the reception for Bioshock, but playing games like Jason Rohrer's "Passage" and seeing Jon Blow's "Design Reboot" talk reaffirmed my belief that the big budget action game business was not the best way to make the games I most wanted to make. I began thinking about what would be required for me to make the leap to being an independent game creator, in what would soon become a booming renaissance.||I helped build the amazing group of people that became 2K Marin and, as lead level designer, taught a team of talented designers how to make a Bioshock.||Another tough crunch to produce another Bioshock game. Challenging but deeply educational. I began to feel like a veteran, and grew ever more eager to do the kind of boundary-pushing work I was seeing out of small teams.||Working on the troubled project that eventually released as XCOM: The Bureau, it was heartbreaking to watch the fantastic team we'd built for Bio2 slowly come apart.||In my search to escape 2K, I interviewed at Valve and created puddlejumper as a design test for thatgamecompany. Eventually I ended up at Double Fine, working as lead designer on The Cave under the guidance of adventure game legend Ron Gilbert.||As designer on The Cave, I helped design all the puzzles, built all the rough geometry in Maya, and then wired up gameplay with Lua scripting. At the end of 2012, my Amnesia Fortnight pitch for Spacebase DF-9 was selected by voters and turned into a prototype during a two-week studio-wide game jam.||Starting in March, our small team took Spacebase DF-9 from a prototype to a full-fledged game, releasing on Steam Early Access that October. Sales and reception were strong, paying back Indie Fund's initial investment in the first two weeks.||As the Spacebase team shrank from small to tiny, we worked hard to keep releasing exciting updates, eventually ending at the 1.0 release in October. A month later, an unrelated business emergency forced DF to lay me off along with 11 other people.|