Carrie, Dan, & Yulia

A year ago today, three friends were lost at sea. It was the last day of PAX Seattle 2019. When I left the conference, I went to Pike Place Brewery to have a drink. Cyn texted saying they were on the Conception boat where a fire occurred early in the morning. I had seen some of the news pass by my Twitter feed through the day, but I didn’t realize they were on the boat. It would be the deadliest boat disaster in California maritime history since 1865. The bartender gave me a free drink. Then I went to the Sheraton lobby where I cried on the shoulders of friends. This would be the second time in four years I would cry on Andrew’s shoulder at PAX due to the death of someone I knew.

Today, the city of Santa Barbara recorded a memorial service unveiling a plaque in honor of all the people we lost. It’s weird to have it video only, but these times are weird. At some point I hope to visit this memorial when we’re OK to travel again.

Dan & Yulia

The funny thing about Dan & Yulia is we didn’t meet in Boston. There were a few years where we were all living in Boston and in similar circles, but we were never introduced. Years later in the Bay Area that we met.

Most of my memories come from their New Years parties held at their home, the House of Trouble. It was also the chance for me to see the latest small-scale works Dan was working on. If you’ve seen a large structure consisting of LEDs at Burning Man, it’s very likely involved Dan in some way. If not designing the artwork itself, then for co-developing FastLED.


Artist, programer, activist, and the person who helped me break through my struggles with technical testing interviews.

My first job after Telltale was working at an ad agency. I needed to find a different job that wasn’t contract, but my biggest struggles were technical interviews. By then I worked over 10 years in tech, but I never entered the world of technical testing beforehand and struggled to be successful at them.

Carrie had formally worked at Avenue Code and told me they were hiring. I applied, but also talked about my struggles with technical tests. To Avenue Code’s credit, their process was project based (not whiteboard), which was a welcomed first for me. Still, I didn’t know how to prepare or what to expect. Carrie helped me though that process and did more training for me than anyone had ever done for me.

I did get an offer with the Avenue Code job. That confidence also helped me with getting a job at my current employer, Traction. Traction gave the better offer. But I wouldn’t be successful in either interviews if it wasn’t for Carrie.

Tell the people you care about that you love them.

Remember how important it is to let everyone you care about know how they mean to you. Especially as we can’t physically meet each other, communication is even more important.

Seg’s Disneyland Resort Guide

This guide is a short list of things you should know when visiting the Disneyland Resort. It’s not micromanagement of how to do your trip. Just the basic things that set you in the right direction. These tips apply to both Disneyland and California Adventure parks.

The Disneyland App

The Disneyland App covers both parks and is extremely useful in a number of ways.

Maps & Wait Times

The wait times are very accurate. The measurement is the amount of time it takes to get you in the seat of the main ride vehicle.

Mobile Food Ordering

Want to pick up a Dole® Whip on your way over to the Haunted Mansion? Buy it over the app, then pick it up on the way.

iOS Screenshot of a list of showtimes at DISNEYLAND Resort.


All the showtimes for shows, evening events, and other scheduled events.

There’s more to the app, but that’s the main basics that will make your visit more efficient without micromanaging your trip. Make sure you have a account and log into the app before you get to the parks. iOS App Store | Google Play Store

Play! Disney Parks App

The Play! app will add more fun to your visit and is completely free. Yes, it’s a separate app, but trust me on getting it on your phone. Like the Disneyland App, make sure to log in and try it out before arriving at the parks.
iOS App Store
Google Play Store

Throughout both parks, there are activations that only happen with this app. Some are in the queues for attractions, others are walk-up installations.

There’s achievements for when you go on attractions and do some of the activities. A nice record of what attractions you went on and what days.

There’s also trivia games to play in spots where you’re waiting in line. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, there’s playlists for every area and for the road trip to the resort.

In particular, visit Esmeralda, the Fortune Teller at the Penny Arcade on Main Street. She’ll give you a free fortune per day when you use the app.

There’s also a similar machine in New Orleans Square, telling the Tall Tales of Fortune Red.

For Star Wars Galaxies, the land was made with this app in mind and has a lot more to offer. Open the Star Wars Datapad for a preview! The Peter Pan activation is also really good (and what I wish to see more of in the parks).

MaxPass: One Person Should Get It

MaxPass is an add-on to a ticket that costs $15 per day per person. You buy it through the Disneyland App or in advance when buying tickets. Either way, you’ll be using the Disneyland App to use these features:

Digital FastPass Reservations

Without MaxPass, you can make one active FastPass reservation at a time, but you have to physically go to a corresponding FastPass booth for the attraction you want and scan your ticket. With MaxPass, you can reserve this same allotment on your phone. Sadly it doesn’t give you an additional FastPass.

Disney PhotoPass

When you visit the park, your photo can be taken at certain attractions and by cast member photographers at various location in the resort. With PhotoPass, all of these offerings are included for unlimited use.

An iOS screenshot of a grid of photos from various attractions and outdoor scenes.

In the past, Disney charged per photo or a pricy package to get these photos. Thankfully, Disney’s caught up with the modern era of digital photography and offers digital download with the PhotoPass, which is rolled into the MaxPass program. It’s currently priced at $20 per day & person.

iOS screenshot of the link photos interface.

Throughout the day, you’ll get codes for photos from attractions and cast member photographers.

For attractions, I find taking a quick photo of the code, then entering it later insures you get the image.

For photographers, the easiest is to have the QR code (“Show PhotoPass Code” in the screenshot). Even easier if you take a screenshot of that QR code and load up the photos in your phone’s photo viewer.

Seg’s Advice:

One member of your party should get MaxPass.

Establish one person in your party to activate MaxPass to get the photos. Send them the codes throughout the day, have them send you a screenshot of the PhotoPass QR code. After your trip, that person can send the group all the photos.

For other members of the party, it depends on how busy the day is. The $20/day/person gets expensive. After the first person, it’s about FassPasses for the rest of the party. On busy days, this is a big advantage. On not so busy days, you may want to skip it for the rest of the party. Thankfully you can make this call on-site via the app on a day-to-day bases.

The Inexpensive Entry to Pin Trading [Optional]

Disney Pin Trading is a thing. It’s a great way to get very unique gifts to friends if you happen to find the right pin. But buying a single pin can be… expensive.

The pin trading stores will sell a Mystery Bag of pins. Usually 5 count for around $27. Get one of these bags and hope you don’t like any of them. These pins are now available for you to trade around the parks.

Some of the stores will have a large Mickey Ears pin board with some pins. Ask the cast member to look at them, and you can trade one-to-one with any pins on the board. These tend to me more exotic as they’re usually characters or designs others didn’t care for, but may be your (or your friend’s) favorite. The Mystery Bags buy you into pin trading without having to make a hard decision to leave a pin you like behind.

Batuuan Spira [Optional]

Do you want to pay for restaurants or merch with a solid coin? You’ll want to get this Batuuan Spira at the start your visit.

  • Batuuan Spira coin, front side.
  • Back of Batuuan Spira coin with codes obstructed.
  • The front of the case containing a Batuuan Spira coin.
  • The back side of an envelope of the Star Wars Batuuan Spira coin.

The coin “costs” $100, but works exactly like a $100 Disney Gift card. Reloadable at the Disney Gift Card website or at any Disney merchandise store (including Disney retail stores).

The feel of the coin is a good metal coin. Much larger than any change you’d have in your pocket and has a good weight. It feels good to use it for a restaurant situation (like Oga’s Cantina) or to hand to a cashier at a store. And you can use it at any Disney entity, not just Star Wars land.

To obtain the coin, go to any of the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge shops including Rebel Trading Post, Droid Depot, First Order Supply, or Doc Ondar’s.

I added the coin to this list so you can plan ahead. If you’re spending more than $100 at the parks, getting this early in the day allows you to do your normal spending and get the coin as a bonus.

My Telltale Layoff: A Follow Up

Since 2012, I’ve struggled on how, if, and when I should publish what I’m about to say. For this first fully public disclosure, I’ll stick to the main points.

I loved working at Telltale Games. I worked with a number of people whose work I grew up on. Worked with franchises I loved and lead me to working in video games. This is what happened to me for that dedication.

  • April 30th, 2007:
    • Started at Telltale Games.
  • April 2007 – July 2012:
  • July 18, 2012:
  • July 28, 2013:
    • Informed by lead management of Telltale Games of the list of companies where I “need not apply” to.
    • Later, some of these studios confirmed this status in various ways.
  • November 27, 2013:
    • Found employment as a contractor in front-end web development at an ad agency.
    • 507 days since the Telltale layoff.
  • July 18, 2014:
    • Gag order from layoff expired.
  • July 18, 2017:
    • Non Disclosure Agreement, which technically covered gag order, expires.
  • Late September 2018:

This does not begin to describe what I endured by these events. It doesn’t cover the isolation, the paranoia, and assortment of other forms of trauma and recovery from the last seven years. This doesn’t include the people who did make positive work to assist me though this time. If there’s interest in the deeper story, I’m willing to give further details and the few receipts I have. Though I confess that most of my information came from individuals who spoke to me and no recordings exist.

To be clear: I don’t believe that every studio had me on a list. I had a narrow set of skills that only a few places would find relevant. These places were actively closed to me. In other cases, recruiters of certain studios had blanket policies against Telltale content programmers as the skill set was seen as incompatible. That too was told to me in-person at a recruiting event. I was a narrative designer in a world where that wasn’t a title one could have.

At this point, it’s hard for me to see a path to work in video games again. Too much time has passed for my experience to be relevant in the eyes of the current state of the industry. The management of Telltale succeeded in their goals, for whatever their reasons, to remove me from the industry. Even with the closure of the studio, they won and I lost.

For today, it’s a big step for me to come forward. With the support of friends and years of therapy, I’m finally able to share this testimony with you. It’s not a complete, but it’s enough.

Video games. They’ll break your heart.

Interactive Fiction & Netflix

This article won’t contain spoilers. I haven’t experienced Bandersnatch yet.

As 2018 came to a close, Netflix released Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive film exclusive to the platform. Black Mirror is our current time’s Twilight Zone where the genre allows for a deep dive into a single idea of fiction and allowing us to reexamine choices in our present time. And it’s time that the Interactive Fiction world to get their butts together and make pitches to Netflix.

In 2015, The Atlantic wrote about the process Netflix undergoes to improve the dataset for their recommendation engine. The company spent the resources to define every piece of media it could define, including media it hasn’t (or ever) released on the platform. Using this dataset, Netflix is able to obtain the value of the property by how many users the company believes will enjoy that content.

With that dataset and recommendation engine dialed in, Netflix knows the value of a piece of content. This dataset is absolutely instrumental to the development of self-published content. The pitch process for motion pictures is along the lines of tastemakers dictating if a project was financially viable. This was based more on subjective opinions of executives, mostly of white men.

What happens when you take a pitch, do the tagging work as if the piece existed, and see what potential viewership numbers come out? Now you have a more calculated guess to the financial viability of a project. This is how we got Orange is the New Black after their endless search and turndown across other media buyers.

I turn to the Interactive Fiction (IF) community and ask: Which of your works can be adapted to film and Netflix’s interactivity capabilities?

And if you have any recommendations for any IF I should read, reply to me on Twitter @TheSeg!

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 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, 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, but it fails. User gives their Eventbrite email… 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.

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]