In backwards chronological order, here are the game projects I’ve worked on and a bit about what I contributed to each.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
This was the most complex and ambitious project I’ve ever worked on. Taking Monolith’s technology from its first-person/linear gameplay focus to a third-person, sandbox-style game was a monumental undertaking, and I couldn’t be happier about the results. I worked on several aspects of the game, collaborating with engineering, art, and design, making prototypes of various modular architectural and terrain systems, weather, memory management, level-of-detail budgeting, and more.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
I contributed to this game only towards the end of its development, making some effects and some interactive horror sequences. One of the highlights of working alongside this team at Monolith was going along on their location visit to a nuclear power plant that was built almost to completion before being cancelled. We were in there just as parts were starting to be cut out for salvage, and got to go everywhere – including the fuel pools and core containment – without worrying about radiation. It was easily the most incredible sci-fi/industrial location I’ve ever seen.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Working on a sequel to our previous foray into horror was a treat. I continued leading the environmental art team, our location shooting process, making various lighting and environmental effects, and working with the engine team on challenges in technical art. This might have been the game where we got in trouble recording ourselves in the parking garage one night – the audio guys capturing a bunch of developers screaming our brains out in an echoing cavern-like space produced awesome results, but I don’t think the hotel down the street appreciated it much.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
This was a great opportunity for the Tron 2.0 team to delve into an original IP, based on ideas from some of Monolith’s founders and heavily influenced by stuff we liked from the horror genre. I lead the environmental art team, and this was the first game where we did location shooting in order to capture really detailed textures from abandoned buildings. This helped us bring the whole ‘urban exploration’ feeling alive using normal mapping and other tech that was brand new at the time. I also made effects and and various interactive and title/credit sequences.
The Matrix Online
This MMO was developed by another team at Monolith, so I only contributed to it for a short time, making a few environmental assets and a .mel script or two, but it was really illuminating seeing how MMO technology works and the challenges involved in very large-scale environments.
I loved the movie Tron as a kid, so this was a very exciting title to work on. I began the project as a level designer and moved into the role of environmental art lead partway through development. One interesting challenge that taught me a lot about how players interact with game worlds was bringing the Tron ‘look’ to life in a video game and discovering the hard way that if you just reproduce the original movie’s look, without certain visual cues that look eschews, it’s really hard for players to get around, or even know how far down a dropoff is. We learned a lot about stylization and playability early on. In addition to managing the environmental art, I worked on interactive and keyframed events involving world geometry, including the opening and final boss sequences.
Aliens vs. Predator 2
This was the first game I worked on at Monolith, as a level designer, and the first commercial game I shipped. It was a fun game to work on, given how big a playground these two iconic IP’s provided. This was also where I learned the basic nuts and bolts of finishing a game – working with source control, bug databases, complex scheduling and prioritization, and so on.
Duality was made by Doubleaught Software, a company that sort of spun off from Bungie in order to make Marathon: Infinity. Duality was an original first-person shooter built on custom technology, with a rich sci-fi setting and a lot of gorgeous art. I joined partway through development. As an independent studio, we made it through the prototype process but taking it to completion wasn’t possible. Nevertheless I think everyone who worked on it has a little love for what we did, still. I worked on level design and music.
This was my first taste of game development – a mod of Bungie’s Marathon: Infinity with a Renaissance/sci-fi crossover setting and story. It was a huge amount of fun, though challenging at times as we were just enthusiastic fans without any direct engineering support. The mystery of how some of the levels didn’t crash the engine will probably never be solved.