Telltale Games: 2004 – 2018

There’s… there’s a lot for me to say. I still find myself deciding on what is appropriate.

I’m trying to find the line between the sudden freedom I have in speaking about my time during and especially after my layoff in 2012, but not drowning the voices and needs of the 250+ souls who not only lost their jobs, but have no financial support. #TelltaleJobs is an important hashtag. It comforts me that the class of 2018 is able to say they were laid off without being questioned by it.

In the next few weeks and months, I’ll start opening up more. Till then, I sum up my time at Telltale with a few small bits:

And it’s really great to hear from the other artists I worked with.

The Wii tools where complex, and I had to make sure the Chapman Bros could play the development builds from Atlanta. I made a bunch of scripts, tools, and documentation for them to play their game on-hardware. 
I love all my children, but Puzzle Agent will always be my favorite.

Eventbrite’s Lack of Account Management

It amazes me how Eventbrite’s event management user system is so convoluted.

Say a producer is having an event with Venue A. The venue maintains the Eventbrite account for the event. The producer needs to have access to administer an event. Great!

Venue A put in their email address producer@example.com as a sub account. Eventbrite errors: That email already exists in Eventbrite’s system. Producer bought tickets to some other event already, but now that e-mail address can’t administer an event that wasn’t explicitly created by that account.

Producer creates a new e-mail address, then asks the venue to use a different email address, user-eventbrite@example.com. Great! All good.

A few months later, the same producer is doing a different event at a different venue who has a different Eventbrite account. Venue B tries to add user@example.com, but it fails. User gives their Eventbrite email user-eventbrite@example.com… and it fails. The producer can close the account, but would lose access to that venue and their event happening next month. The producer needs to make an additional email address to get access to the Eventbrite. user-eventbrite-2@example.com

That’s making a big leap that the producer can manage this on a technical side. Or the foresight to realize they can make irreversible decisions.


It’s 2017, and Eventbrite explicitly states you need to create a new email address for every venue account. That help page is a real gem of a document too. Besides instructing people to close accounts willy-nilly, they also advise users to exploit Gmail aliases as a fix:

PRO TIP: What happens when Google removes this “feature”?

How can software built in such a way where a user permission system is impossible? I really want to know what the irreversible decisions were made that support telling people to delete accounts and exploit email systems is the better option.

Now I have to mention that there are other ticketing vendors that have similar situations (looking at you, Brown Paper Tickets). So it’s not just Eventbrite, but it also doesn’t make it correct.

Besides a new ticketing system entering the space with proper user management built in, we’re going to be stuck with this forever. Should Eventbrite or BrownPaperTickets have in interest in making a system that works for event and venue professionals, I’m available for consultation.

Watch Dogs 2 & Gender Pay Gap

I’m playing Watch Dogs 2 on my Xbox One (aka: my Rock Band machine) and discovered something that fascinates me. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

The game is set in San Francisco — or an interpretation of San Francisco since depicting buildings may result to getting sued. One building that is safe for Ubisoft to depict is their own headquarters in San Francisco.

UbiSoft San Francisco
Ubisoft San Francisco

Continue reading Watch Dogs 2 & Gender Pay Gap

The Speakeasy and Audience Consent

On Friday September 30th 2016, I attended a preview performance of The Boxcar Theatre’s The Speakeasy, an immersive theatre performance at the production scale rivaling that of Sleep No More in New York City.

Marketing photo from Boxcar Productions.

There are a number of aspects of this show that were going right. The cast are all extremely talented delights who really show the depth of their abilities as performers. The content itself has very challenging questions posed both in content and to the art form. Sadly, the piece obfuscates all of that with significant consent issues.

I have serious issues with the safety and comfort of the audience of this show. As a professional house manager and immersive experience artist, there are conditions and policies that concern me. Conditions which, at best, prevent audiences from enjoying the piece. At worst, can cause emotional, if not physical harm. It comes down to providing constant and continuous consent throughout the performance. An audience that is well informed of what’s expected and how to opt-out of the space temporarily, if needed.

My concerns can be solved by the following:

  • Clearly identified, accessible non-performing ushers in every room;
  • Clearly identified, accessible non-performance audience lobby;
  • An organized front-of-house experience.

I’m deeply concerned this production will leave a horrible experience to people who haven’t experienced immersive theatre. After my experience, I wouldn’t blame someone to cast off the art form completely. I’d rather not make a habit of saying other productions could improve respecting an audience. I want Boxcar Theatre to respect their audiences now.
Continue reading The Speakeasy and Audience Consent

My Friend Jory & Dreamfall Chapters

This Friday June 17th, the final episode of Dreamfall Chapters will close a story told over 17 years. Starting with The Longest Journey in 1999, the storyline has been with me for my post high school professional career.

This will be one of the last titles with the work of my friend, Jory Prum.

Jory, Max, and Sam
Jory, Max, and Sam

I first met Jory early on during my time at Telltale Games. The Nordic sound guy with his own studios, Jory was one of the most friendly people I have ever met in not only video games, but in all of the entertainment business. That’s the thing about talented sound engineers. They always take the time to listen.

The last time I saw him was January. I got him a bottle of Prager Port Wine as a small thank you gift and met for dinner with Scott Looney. The gift was for two reasons: Years ago, Jory hired my friend Amanda Rose Smith purely by my direct insistance. The other: Jory was one of the few people I worked with that reminded me of the work at Telltale was valued. During the darker periods after the layoff from Telltale, it was a beacon of light and hope. I was able to tell him why he was so importantly helpful to me. There’s a small comfort knowing he knew exactly how and why I valued him as a friend.

There’s a few times that video games deeply affected me emotionally. Even with the rise and fall of my career in video games, Ragnar Tørnquist‘s story remained to be the art I strove for. I’m even humbled that Dreamfall borrowed from my contributions to analytics in narrative based gameplay. It brought me further joy to see two of my friends working on game, Jory and Amanda Rose. I’m going to be in a very private space when I get to play the episode. There will be moments of sadness for all the endings it presents and joy that this work is celebrated.

As artists, the truest celebration of our lives is to experience the art we create. While we are deprived of what could have been, we have what is already out there. We are able to treasure every moment this beautiful person created.

Jory Prum
Jory Prum

 

Two Houses [Alike in Dignity]

On March 24th and 25th 2016, we did an abridged version of Romeo & Juliet we called: “Two Houses: Alike in Dignity.” An immersive theatre production where the audience is moving and interacting around in spaces, and not a traditional stage & theatre seats, told between two physical houses on a street in Oakland. The production is framed as all the scenes with Romeo up till and including the balcony scene.

Like most good art, this started as a Twitter joke between Bunny (the director), Aaron Muszalski, and Jonathan Pirro (Mercutio) of doing the balcony scene in the middle of Oakland, ambient noise and all. One and a half months later, we did the show.

Note: All of the photos are by Joe Carrow, our official photographer of the production.

Continue reading Two Houses [Alike in Dignity]

Rich Media Content on Social Media

This is a comprehensive guide for making links from your website look good when shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

All of these features are free to implement. You’ll need to either register for an account on each platform and in some cases create a “Page” for the entity (organization, brand, etc) for the website you’re developing. Most of the platforms share the same if not similar settings. We’ll walk through all of the options in a combined view and how you can optionally customize to a particular platform. Continue reading Rich Media Content on Social Media

This Photo

This photo.

Amanda Rose Smith is one of my good friends. Someone I trust and care about more than most, and do a lot for. Amanda is a part of wonderful memories from my time in New England and though the years continues to be a trusted friend. I joke sometimes that I’m her agent as I’ve got her a few gigs though the years. Which is to say, I make sure the right people know about her. What Amanda is doesn’t need interpretation.

In Jan 2015, Amanda posted photos from wedding dress shopping and did not have a happy face. Just as I was about to message her, Amanda messaged me saying she was considering a corset for her dress. I booked the appointment with Dark Garden Unique Corsetry for the day after GDC.

Autumn (owner of Dark Garden) came into the shop early for the appointment. I know it’s her job, but I thanked her anyway for doing a wonderful job. She make sure Amanda was going to get the outfit she wanted. As her agent, I requested that I lace her on her wedding day. As many of you know, I am trained in these sorts of things and I sure as hell wanted it done right.

On the day of the wedding, I came early to help prepare. I’m important enough to care and not important enough to be in the ‘official’ wedding photos. I helped prepare the space, but I had one job: Lacing Amanda. Beforehand, I got dressed with the rest of the groomsmen when I realized something. I walked over to her husband Patrick and said “This is a bit strange, but trust me”. I unbuttoned one shirt button, then buttoned it back on. “There, now say I dressed both the bride and groom” and walked out.

I waited next to the brides’ room for when Amanda was ready to get laced. Needless to say, Amanda was starting to get into panic mode as they were behind schedule. Switching to my customer service voice, I gathered the dress and asked for some help from the bridesmaids. With two bridesmaids at each side holding a ribbon, I went to work in getting my friend ready for her wedding day. Making sure there was enough give for the rest of the afternoon and evening, but will still stay on. When I was done tightening, I dismissed the bridesmaids and finished the knot.

When it’s done right, wearing a corset is having a hug travel with you. Sometimes I’ll signal I’m done lacing by giving a hug. This time that hug meant more. I was preparing my dear friend for a wonderful day, proud of everything that this woman is. Imprinting that hug with the friendship of all these years we’ve been in our lives.

This photo means everything to me.

This photo.

Seg finshing Amanda Rose's lacing.

Photo by Lesley Arak Photography.

My story of The Latitude Society

I was on board very early in the appointment. Crawling down a pitch dark tunnel, feeling my way through a winding path, a light source finally revealed a library. One very similar to the Myst library, albeit smaller. I knew I was in for something special. What I soon gained was a community of wonderful people and a part of myself I had lost: My desire to create.

This is my story of Nonchalance’s The Latitude Society.

Latitude Society: Invite Hand off

Continue reading My story of The Latitude Society

Seg’s Game List of 2014

Seg's 2014 Games of Note!

Everyone’s doing it, so am I! These are the games of note for me, but I had to separate into categories of titles my friends or myself worked on. I haven’t been able to play many newly released games this year, but here’s a few released this year I’d like to note.

Games from the Home Team

Domonique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over When The Fat Lady Sings”

by Squinky

Dominique Pamplemousse with Landloard

The reason this title is special to me are very personal reasons for me. I didn’t make this game — Squinky did everything — but as the game was awarded nominations, Squinky trusted me with business and marketing of the title. The work got me though a lot of difficult times for which I’m forever grateful for. It’s also a very mild source of income for me, which at least gives solid proof that I’m still a paid game developer. Which reminds me: Get this game. 😀

Dreamfall Chapters

by Red Thread Games

This goes into the ‘Home Team’ category as Jory worked on audio. The third entry from the Longest Journey series, the anticipation for this title was long before I backed it on Kickstarter. Playing this game was SUPER WEIRD for me for one set of features:

The Vagabond will remember this.I haven’t played The Walking Dead since my layoff in season one, and I was caught a bit off-guard to see all the choice tech I contributed to at Telltale to be redone by someone else. It’s especially weird from the franchise that gave me the final push to decide to make games my career choice. Weirdest gaming experience ever.

The game is in episodic mode, so the released portion isn’t quite a complete unit, but it’s well worth the investment. Also, Jory works sound on it. 😀

Roundabout

by No Goblin

Georgio in "Roundabout"A game where I keep seeing people I know in the LAV sequences. The game is Tokyo Drift Forever as a game mechanic. The limo is always driving in circles, and you control the position of the limo. It’s a game that can be hard for to 100%, but a fun stupid game to romp around in. Not to mention the LAV sequences and a LGBT relationship development that isn’t played up as a line item on the [virtual] box.

Games from the Away Team

Transistor

by Supergiant Games

Transistor

The second game by Supergiant, Transistor made some bold choices for themselves with this title. The turn-based-but-live gameplay is an interesting balance. It’s not without things that could be improved on, but it’s a reminder that it’s OK to make big bold choices that may not work out perfectly in the end.

The audio work is haunting in a good way. Great voice direction hits the mark in a way that connects the player to the work in a way unmatched by many. It also contains one of my favorite moments in games this year: Red, who can’t speak, communicates with Transistor at points with typing into a terminal. So simple, but so powerful.

Munchkin: Adventure Time

by Steve Jackson Games, et all

Munchkin: Adventure Time

I picked up this game at PAX Seattle this year and is my first Munchkin game. The branding of Adventure Time is matches perfectly with this game, making it one of the better cross-brand titles I’ve seen in gaming. If you never played the game before, you’d think this was made for Adventure Time.

If you already own Munchkin, there’s nothing new as it’s a stand-alone. But if you don’t own Munchkin, want Munchkin, and at least think Adventure Time is OK, get this version.

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure

by Big Finish Games

Tex Murphy & Taylor Lamintz

This game was the other long-time franchise rebirths and also a Kickstarter I backed. The Tex Murphy series is part of the tri-fecta of games that got me into video games (the others are Myst + Sam & Max). This game was a time capsule of an era of video games, for better and worse.

The game did a bit too much fan servicing for it’s own good. Not so much to require back story, but calling out that this game was funded by fans of the series. Sure, you have people who backed the project, but I don’t need to be reminded of that fact while playing the game.

On the good side, it continues a form of storytelling that was left unresolved creatively for the team. How mixing in LAV with 1st person gameplay is a tricky spot, but it’s good to see the past reintegrated.

Hitman GO

from Square Enix Montreal

Hitman GoThis game is an absolute gem of an mobile game! It’s an engaging game where you’re solving a puzzle in reaching the goal point with bonus goals along the way. I never got into the Hitman series from which the IP is from, but it really doesn’t matter for enjoying this game. The art style is of a board game with figurines moving around but with no individual animation to the models. It makes for a very clean game that you can put away and get right back into.