Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Year 12 2011 (continued)

E3 2011 comes around and we officially announce Blackwater to the press. To those who played the game at the event, the response is generally positive. In 99% of the comments online, the response is "Blackwater, the organization, is evil and therefore, this game is evil." Had I not just discovered who Blackwater was, I would have been surprised, but once educated it is just disappointing. The game, for a Kinect experience, I believe has some value. Toward the end of Blackwater's development, I am getting tired of the controversy. I appreciate having a job, of course, but working on titles that consistently court controversy and the ire of others is a bit difficult.

There isn't anything on the horizon as we near the end, so I start asking around about what is next. Maybe I could get reassigned to the Blacklight Retribution team? No, they're not needing a new artist right now. The only things that seem to be brewing are Facebook and mobile games. While I'm not against that, I just feel disappointed about that direction.

Soon, I'm offered a job by my old boss way back from iWin! If you've been reading this, you may recall my short job there back in Part 18 of this blog series. The new job is very experimental and kinda not in the game industry (but also kinda is). I decide that it's probably a good time to take it. In July of 2011, I take my leave of Zombie Studios and join a small, 4-person start-up. It's scary. It's risky. It'll most likely fail. But just maybe, it'll be that job I have been hoping for since I began 12 years ago. Looking back, I don't have the most stellar career. I couldn't say I made the next Halo or Final Fantasy or Bioshock. Or even came close. I can say that I've had a unique career up to now that I hope continues for another 12 years and beyond. I don't know where the next years will take me but hopefully I will be able to say that I'm doing the job I love, the work I love, providing for the family I love. If that's the case, if 12 years from now, if I can say that... then I consider myself a success, just as I do now.

Thanks for reading my career blog. I don't feel right necessarily writing about the experiences at my current position. If I should ever part from this studio and move on, I'll probably pick up again at Part 29! But until then, I appreciate your reading and I hope you've gained a little bit of enjoyment from this series of posts. Feel free to ask me anything you'd like about any of my experiences and I'd be happy to answer to the best of my ability.

Thank you!

Link to Career Blog Part 1

#1 Edited by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Year 12 2011 (continued)

E3 2011 comes around and we officially announce Blackwater to the press. To those who played the game at the event, the response is generally positive. In 99% of the comments online, the response is "Blackwater, the organization, is evil and therefore, this game is evil." Had I not just discovered who Blackwater was, I would have been surprised, but once educated it is just disappointing. The game, for a Kinect experience, I believe has some value. Toward the end of Blackwater's development, I am getting tired of the controversy. I appreciate having a job, of course, but working on titles that consistently court controversy and the ire of others is a bit difficult.

There isn't anything on the horizon as we near the end, so I start asking around about what is next. Maybe I could get reassigned to the Blacklight Retribution team? No, they're not needing a new artist right now. The only things that seem to be brewing are Facebook and mobile games. While I'm not against that, I just feel disappointed about that direction.

Soon, I'm offered a job by my old boss way back from iWin! If you've been reading this, you may recall my short job there back in Part 18 of this blog series. The new job is very experimental and kinda not in the game industry (but also kinda is). I decide that it's probably a good time to take it. In July of 2011, I take my leave of Zombie Studios and join a small, 4-person start-up. It's scary. It's risky. It'll most likely fail. But just maybe, it'll be that job I have been hoping for since I began 12 years ago. Looking back, I don't have the most stellar career. I couldn't say I made the next Halo or Final Fantasy or Bioshock. Or even came close. I can say that I've had a unique career up to now that I hope continues for another 12 years and beyond. I don't know where the next years will take me but hopefully I will be able to say that I'm doing the job I love, the work I love, providing for the family I love. If that's the case, if 12 years from now, if I can say that... then I consider myself a success, just as I do now.

Thanks for reading my career blog. I don't feel right necessarily writing about the experiences at my current position. If I should ever part from this studio and move on, I'll probably pick up again at Part 29! But until then, I appreciate your reading and I hope you've gained a little bit of enjoyment from this series of posts. Feel free to ask me anything you'd like about any of my experiences and I'd be happy to answer to the best of my ability.

Thank you!

Link to Career Blog Part 1

#2 Posted by Rudyftw (554 posts) -

What exactly do you do?

#3 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

I'm a 3D Artist, making models, textures, animation, etc.

#4 Posted by Still_I_Cry (2494 posts) -

Why is Blackwater evil?

I didn't see anything suggesting "evilness" on their Wikipedia (yeah, I know that isn't a comprehensive source)

#5 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Blackwater has been accused of a lot of things. There's a big forum thread in the Blackwater game page where people are going at it on the topic. :) I'd like to try avoid that in this thread if possible.

#6 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Added a handy link to Part 1 of the blog for those just coming across this for the first time (most of you, I'm sure!)

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/mtmckinley/career-blog-part-1/30-80736/

#7 Posted by Still_I_Cry (2494 posts) -

@mtmckinley: Ok, I was just wondering and I will leave that out of your blog comments.

Thank you for the link.

#8 Posted by iam3green (14390 posts) -

cool blog. i enjoy them.

#9 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

@iam3green: Glad you liked it! :)

#10 Posted by Sportsplosion (19 posts) -

Given the controversy, it's remarkable how little press this game has gotten. It seems like the whole point of making a Blackwater game would be in the hope that news stations would yell and go "OMG THERE'S A BLACKWATER GAME?" yet I've heard literally nothing about this title until right now. Kind of a waste.

#11 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Yeah, I'm a little surprised too. It's not a big budget game by any means, but seems a bit news-worthy, even if it's just a knee-jerk reaction.

#12 Edited by TheSlip (47 posts) -

I just stumbled on this blog after reading Alex's review for Blackwater (sorry about the low score...). I'd just like to say I find this utterly fascinating. I mean, it's not often you get to hear the story of the underdog. I just hope you realize that having a job and making a living in a career you love is really all that matters, despite whatever the end product turns out to be.

I've only read this post so far, and I'm planning on going through and reading the rest (again, this sounds completely fascinating to me), but I just wanted to wish you best of luck wherever you may wind up. I'm moved by the fact that you've been keeping your head up, despite any negativity toward the company, by recognizing the unique career you've had so far. Hopefully in 12 years you'll be able to say you really did work on the next Halo, Final Fantasy, or Bioshock.

Edit: I decided to sit myself down and read through all of it. You, sir, have an incredibly interesting story. I kept thinking I'd stop after each post, but there was always so much going on that I just had to keep reading! I kind of hope you continue writing these. I at least found them really interesting. My only critique, though, was that you never used the word "than." Instead, you always use "then." "Then" describes a moment in time, while "than" is used to compare. Totally nitpicky, but it was driving me nuts after seeing it in literally every other post.

#13 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Hey, TheSlip,

Thanks for the kind comments! I really appreciate it. I have a deep desire to work on something that is a really good game, but understand that it may not ever happen. I try to find as much enjoyment out of each assignment I get as I can. For example, I actually really liked working on Blackwater because I was making weapons, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and all of it is work that I'm actually very proud of. The game itself isn't that great, and you never really get to see the guns all that close while playing, but even so.

Sorry for the grammar mistakes! I'll try to do better in the future. As for writing more, I could expand on the things I've talked about. I did write a few books about creating game art that I didn't really mention that I could write some blog posts about. Maybe I'll do that soon. Also, if you or anyone has any questions about anything I talk about, I'm happy to answer as much as I can.

Thanks again!

#14 Posted by AngryAmoeba (10 posts) -

I got here after clicking the "News & Blogs" section on Blackwater. It's hard not to root for you after reading the last several blog posts. Gotta agree with TheSlip, they were fascinating.

Hope your current venture works out well, and I'd quite like to hear more about your past projects.

Blog rating: 4/5 stars

-1 for then vs. than, because I'm a part-time proofreader ;)

#15 Posted by JuMP (87 posts) -

I found this blog after Blackwater stuff on the GOTY awards and it is such a good read. You have led an interesting life (I hope it continues to be so) and I wish you a fulfilling career, wherever you go.

#16 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Thanks, JuMP, glad you liked the blog!

#17 Posted by NegativeCero (3012 posts) -

I also stumbled onto your blog after finally getting to through the GOTY stuff. I have to say it puts things in perspective for the "little guys" who we as gamers never recognize on the level of the Miyamoto's or the Kojima's. Respect to you, dude.

Also, quick question and no disrespect by it, but how deep into development does it take to realize that the game you're working on isn't turning out too great.

#18 Posted by YOUNGLINK (552 posts) -

Blackwater is pretty evil, dude. Why there is a game is beyond me.

#19 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

@NegativeCero said:

I also stumbled onto your blog after finally getting to through the GOTY stuff. I have to say it puts things in perspective for the "little guys" who we as gamers never recognize on the level of the Miyamoto's or the Kojima's. Respect to you, dude.

Also, quick question and no disrespect by it, but how deep into development does it take to realize that the game you're working on isn't turning out too great.

Thanks!

It really depends. I think it's safe to say that the majority of games suck during development until enough development gets done that all of the systems and mechanics start to work together without bugs. However, I'd say that after doing this for 10 years, you start to understand what things really require to be done right and if you have less then a year to develop a game from scratch, unless your game's design and scope are attuned to that sort of schedule, you are going to fall short. For Blackwater specifically, I knew it was a lackluster game and I think most people did. The people-in-charge always asked for ideas to make the game better, but when those ideas were presented, the response was typically "We agree, but we don't have time to (for example) redo all of the character models and animations that we outsourced to some other company. What can we do with the time we have to make this game better in-house?" And more often then not, there wasn't much that could be done in less then a month or two to significantly improve the game.

Low budget doesn't mean bad games, obviously, but if the scope of your game is, oh, I don't know... Call of Duty-esque, you need more then a year to get that kind of game made and a lot more then the 20-30 people we had. But we got the Blackwater contract which needs to be a "modern military shooter... for Kinect... in less then a year..." I'm not saying it would have been impossible, but it was up a creek without a paddle to begin with.

#20 Posted by TheJohn (553 posts) -

Thanks for sharing duder. Been reading these on and off for a little while, and I can't recall if I ever said that. So I'll do it twice. Thanks for sharing.

#21 Posted by Spectrea (35 posts) -

Dont know if you will read this or not but i just want to say wow...what a story just sat here and read it in 2 hours, just so captivated with how you fulfilled your dreams starting out from no where and making a career out of a childhood dream, truly are an inspiration. At the same time aswell shedding some light on the games industry, i think we as gamers give so much slack to the devolopers and artists at companies such as bioware, when most devs are such as yourself just doing what you enjoy and its the publishers or management that make the decisions that are a detriment to the games themselves. So yes thanks alot it was a pleasure reading your story.

If you do read this and take the time to reply, i noticed you mentioned a blog of a certain bioware employee, could i trouble you for the link? Another interesting read no doubt especially if you was inspired from it.

#22 Posted by mtmckinley (123 posts) -

Hi, Spectrea,

Thank you so much for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.

The original link that inspired me to begin with is here:

http://blog.brentknowles.com/2009/08/25/bioware-brent-year-1-1999/