What happened to June?

Time flies when you have too much to do.

June was a busy month, both personally and professionally (although sometimes it seems difficult to distinguish one from the other). My calendar is covered in all sorts of red marks noting events that occurred throughout the month.

On the professional side, the month started out with an IGDA meeting on Sunday, June 5th. Despite the calendar (meeting at MSU, out of session), the turnout was excellent. Patrick Shaw, formerly of Maxis (Electronic Arts), gave an excellent presentation on a game production technique based on “squads”, rather than the more traditional command hierarchy. Valeta Wensloff gave an introduction to Thief 2X, a fan-based update to the popular Thief 2 from the now-defunct Looking Glass Studios. The most amazing fact about this product is that Valeta and the others on the team managed to complete the free project over the course of years, with no compensation, while working remotely. This is the exception that proves the rule.

At the start of the meeting, I was introduced to Andy Nwoye and his colleague Jillian Caywood. Andy arranged for them to interview me for a documentary that they are creating, tentatively titled, “Beyond Games“. The film is about people who so enjoyed video games that they (we) turned it into a career. They interviewed me at my home office on Friday, June 17th, which was a very interesting experience. We discussed my career, several of our games, and issues affecting independent game developers. Afterwards, I played Midtown Madness 3 with my son for “B-roll” footage, in addition to some shots of my 1973 Williams Fun-Fest pinball machine that resides in my office. More information about the project is available in their production diary.

The following week I had a meeting with Ward Makielski from Ferris State University, Grand Rapids about their game development curriculum. As it turns out, we both worked on Legacy of the Ancients, albeit not together (different time, different SKUs), back in the late 80s. He went into education, while I continued to work in the game industry. FSU Grand Rapids is on the forefront of the movement for local colleges and universities to provide skills to students who want to pursue a career in games or related multimedia arts.

Back in the present, this week I travel to Denver, Colorado for the Shareware Industry Conference. Unfortunately, this means that I will be out of town for Lansing’s Common Ground Festival, which features a full week of popular bands on a couple of main stages, and we usually go to them all. This year, I have to miss them all. Tonight, I will be missing Journey (although I saw them at Common Ground previously).

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