“Shipping the Empty Box” Confirmed for PAX Dev!

I will be presenting a lecture at PAX Dev!

PAX Dev Logo

Shipping the Empty Box
Releasing [string:titleOfGame] on [array:platforms]

Working on [string:titleOfGame], you need to release it on [array:platforms-0] and perhaps on [array:platforms-1] in the future. You have [int:NULL] time till release. Build engineer and programmer John “Seg” Seggerson (Telltale Games, John McNeil Studio, Dominique Pamplemousse) will help smooth the multi-platform release by outlining build engineering tips for platforms on desktop, mobile, console, and beyond. Increase artist, writer, and programmer efficiency with a set of core specifications and planning applied to existing platforms and future platforms. Skills and knowledge that will reduce release headaches for your [int:sizeOfTeam] team!

This is the build engineering panel I’ve always wanted to do and finally getting to do it. My experience with Dominique Pamplemousse was releasing a game without having to worry about making the game. I needed to create the empty box to ship to Steam & Humble. This clean-room process made me think about the build process in this perspective, and finally got me to apply for this lecture.

Talking with my game industry friends, we couldn’t think of ever seeing a build engineering panel offered. Not just PAX Dev, but GDC as well. My hope was to get accepted to PAX Dev to focus getting the content together in time to apply for GDC. I got my wish!

The lecture will be in two acts. The first act will be guidelines for a build system from my experience. Going into specifics isn’t helpful because game engines are too different for me to cover. Instead I’ll be going to broad guidelines. The second act will be releasing my master asset list, a core asset list, and the philosophy behind it. This list will contain all assets for every platform I can talk about. Then another core assets needed to convert over to these targets. If I have time, I may make a NPM/Bower app to do these conversations.

Over the summer I’ll be working on the details of the lecture and have everything ready for submitting for GDC 2015. I’m super excited to work on this and get to attend PAX Dev & PAX Prime!

Child’s Play, Ümloud! & Anitdote

A few quick items of what’s been going on in my life and what’s to come.

Child’s Play, Ümloud!, PAX East Panels

For PAX East 2011, I reprised my role in the Child’s Play Charity panel. This time it was extra special as Kristin revealed the first full-time hire for Child’s Play, Jamie Dillion! You can see her interview process on PATV (Part 1, Part 2). Her roll with Child’s Play is to help expand upon the org and deal with community fundraiser people like me. I’m really excited about working with Jamie and see a lot of cool and awesome things in the future for Child’s Play.

For the panel, I wrote this document as an extended outline for the panel. It will soon be expanded upon and made into a Child’s Play publication with a lot more info soon.


The other panel I was on was AJ’s “The Sorting Workshop”. It started out with a game “preview” in which attendees had to write about the game for 10 minutes. From there, the other panelest would read the writings and comment with notes on how to write for journalism, marketing, pr, etc. AJ asked me to be the dev to preview a game. She was expecting something of MSPaint quality — Something with little effort to use. Instead, I used a live-action video game called Antidote. 😉

This got me thinking that I should release the thing, though I am nervous about it. I’ll just go out and say that this isn’t a good game to play and I don’t plan on fixing it. I don’t worry about people trashing it in reviews, but I worry a little that people think I’ve at that level with the art form when I’ve grown well beyond that in the years. So the website’s going to have notable disclaimer setting the exceptions low and pointing them to better games I’ve worked on like Puzzle Agent.

On the tech side, I was glad to see that the Mac build was able to run on an Intel based Mac. This is especially key as the version of Director that I used was before the Intel business and thus a PowerPC executable. The saving grace is the Rosetta layer on Mac OS X. It’s technically an optional install with a “just-in-time” download and install when the user first runs a PowerPC executable. However, Rosetta will be removed from Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion”, so the time is now to release the thing. For the curious, it would cost me $300+ to get a version of Director to make the Intel version — which I don’t plan to spend.

The Windows version runs without problems on Win7. I did remake an installer last night using Inno Setup so the install process flows better. There is the requirement of having Quicktime installed, but if you have iTunes you have it. I also have the Mac installer redone, but still need to make the DMG background for it. From there, I’m going to clean up the website and make it pretty. I’ll be using Amazon S3 to distribute the builds as straight downloads and Bittorent. The download is big at 240-260mb, but bandwidth is much cheaper these days than five years ago.

I plan to get everything ready and released by the end of April, if not sooner.

Ümloud! Worked!

To say Ümloud! was a huge success is an understatement!

In 8 weeks we rebranded, filed as a non-profit, and made a successful event for our first year. $7000+ to Child’s Play successful. We certainly learned a few lessons this year which we’ll implement along with our ‘for next year’ list. Right now I’m compiling my thoughts, specifically for a panel I’ll be moderating for PAX-East this year.

Oh, it looks like I’ll be talking with Chris and others at PAX-East this year in March. While PAX will always be in Seattle around Labor Day, a second one for the East Coast in Boston is happening. I’m gathering up other panelists from other events and Child’s Play itself. The direction I plan to take is illustrate the ’empty box’ of doing a fundraiser, rather than listing specifics of any particular event. I hope to inspire others to do events with their own flavor, rather than copy/paste existing events.

For me, this is about how and why to file for non-profit status on our own. We wanted to do a local event, enlist sponsors, get a venue, and spend money on an event. We were ‘touching’ the money. We had to be a non-profit ourselves for our protection and the ability for donators/sponsors to count their contributions as charitable. It’s been a process, let me tell you! But most of it is start-up stress which will be much easier next year.

For the Internet based fundraisers like the wildly successful Desert Bus for Hope, the money earned went to a Chip-in button directly to CP. Sponsors (to my knowledge) donated mostly physical objects, so there wasn’t money taken in by the operators. Thus the operators were protected as they never ‘touched’ the donated money.

In addition to getting back to using this blog, I’ll be covering my process on creating this panel in the next few weeks. It will be mostly me and Chris developing the Ümloud! (a local event) section.

If you’re in the Boston area March , I highly recommend you come to PAX-East! The full 3-day pass is $45 if you order by Dec 31st. $55 after that, but there’s a cap at the amount sold.

Hope you all had an awesome holiday! Have a safe and fun New Years!

Throwing the Hat in for PAX

Filling out the application for speaking at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) on Higher Education in video games. Since the Boing Boing interview, I’ve had a strong desire to start a substantive debate of the roll of academics with the video games industry.

What sparked my desire to do this lecture came from a conversation I had while standing outside a GDC party for Steam/Valve. While talking to a man whom had at least 15 years in the industry, he really brought to light the disconnect between academia and the industry. We got on the education subject and snapped back by saying he preferred students from DigiPen and Fullsail because they do what they are told. I have a much different take on the situation as I consider students from these and other schools with much more respect than he did. I want to make sure there are enough students out there to prove me right and him completely wrong.

Here’s the text I used in applying for the PAX lecture. Obviously not set in stone, but I’d love your feedback as I start shaping this lecture in the next few months.

Making a Career in Video Games

One-Paragraph Description:
Are you looking for a job with a game studio, or a career in interactive media? Learn how to identify the styles in game development curricula and the tools to help you find the best education for more than a job, but a lifetime’s work in the gaming industry.

Is there anything else you think we [PAX staff] should know?
This lecture will provide tools and perspective for finding the right curriculum for the student. This entails a two part approach. First, a student needs to start figuring out what direction he or she wants to take. The second part is knowing what information to extract from potential institutions. From this foundation, attendants can make solid decisions on which schools are applicable to their educational goals. Potential undergraduate, graduate, and transfer students will all find this lecture helpful.

I include my credentials to represent my own personal expertise, but it does not illustrate endorsement by any current or former employers.

Credentials of Highlight:
* First recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media at Emerson College.
Created the first BFA New Media curriculum at Emerson College, Boston.
* Emerson College, Enrollment & Student Affairs
Created tools and content related to admissions and enrollment for duties related to being an admission counselor.

For more information about me, visit http://segonmedia.com/

Back from PAX

PAX was a very wonderful time! I highly recommend it to anyone who loves games of any sort. PAX is a very different tone of conference. Specifically for gamers; Not tacked on to a larger conference of other forms of media, nor a professionals only club. This is very significant in focus. I’ve been to a few comic book conferences that tack on TV and sometimes games, but putting interactive entertainment in the forefront puts a unique spin on things. I felt apart of the experience, not a step-child to the family. Moreover, the non-professional focus removes the edge of trying to impress. This is a celebration of the art form.

My background in the entertainment business is in performing art; Theatre. Creating art directly in front of a live audience give the instant feedback of an audience. With interactive entertainment, there are no opening nights. No red carpet screenings. A file is uploaded to a server, a variable switched, and eventually some people roll in with comments on forums. While I certainly welcome and value the feedback on any form and appreciate our world-wide release in an instant, I still long for the face to face interaction with the audience. These conventions are the few places where I can get that interaction.

Most of the setbacks about the conference are do to my lack of planning. This trip was very last moment for me and I will never do again. While I very much appreciated the hospitality I was given, I will only do PAX again while staying at a hotel within walking distance. I missed out on a lot of things as I carried my day’s worth of stuff and tied to the Seattle bus system. PAX runs till 2am, but the last bus is at 1am. Not to mention being able to drop stuff off at the hotel and change would have helped a lot. And while I had a few friends on site, they were not as available to enjoy the conference with. Rob from Orange Lounge Radio was working as a media contact, and Kate had her own things going most of the time. I did get to spend some time with them at the conference, and found others as the weekend progressed, but more would be more.

The big conference-only complaint I have was crowd management. I felt there were lines for something that shouldn’t be a line, and other high-profile events that should have been managed better. The biggest culprit was the line to get into the expo. Attendees are encouraged to wait in line for the 10am opening of the expo floor. Not an event such as a keynote or performance, just the expo floor. The reason? Armbands for the 8pm concert. Frankly, I can’t understand the logic of having people show up early to an all-day event. I’d rather they encourage people going for the expo floor to show up starting shortly before 10am. And the evening’s concert you want the armband? You can get in without them without problem, negating the need to line up for the expo. This is getting worked on, but it was a confusing decision in the first place.

I’ll be writing some specific things about the conference in the next few days. Right now I needed to get out the overview and acknowledge I attend and arrived home safely. You can also take a look at the photos I took while there. Here’s a sample:

Strong Sad and Artist
MC Frontalot @ PAX
PAX Pass Kit