I used to work at big “AAA” game companies, the most recent of which was Blizzard Entertainment. I also taught 3D Modeling and Animation and helped many artists form amazing careers. All of these companies were truly great places to work and I formed many lasting friendships along the way. Unfortunately, the game business can be a bit unstable and I got laid off in 2006 after our project Starcraft Ghost was indefinitely postponed.
It was a complete shock to me that I got laid off. I was a lead artist and all the work I was responsible for was considered by most to be the pinnacle of the project. Additionally, Blizzard is one of the larger companies and is therefore considered by many as “stable.” It was a weird feeling, being let go. Even my friends who remained with the company were afraid to talk to me since I was “exiled.” After picking myself up with the support of my wife I realized that stability in employment is really just an illusion and that if I’m going to place a bet with my career I should place that bet on myself.
Actually, I didn’t go to business school, but I was involved in starting a company that failed miserably. We did everything wrong: hired only friends, way too loose on the legal arrangements, didn’t have any clients (or had all the wrong clients), grew too fast (which we couldn’t afford), took on way too much risk, etc. After a couple of years of trudging along the company just fell completely apart, due to internal (legal disputes) and external reasons (the economy). Anyway, everything happens for a reason. In this case tons of lessons were learned in the hardest possible way.
Learning from these failures, my wife and I formed Fenix Fire Entertainment: an indie game studio. We laser focused on a game for the iPhone (which was still a new device at the time) and our game hit the top ten in the iTunes charts. We didn’t make millions, but the game did put us on the map allowing us to grow our business and meet new prospective clients. These days we enjoy being in the most artistic, creative, and challenging industry on the planet all while working from home with a flexible schedule.
Why the “Game Design Dojo” Blog?
I found teaching to be one of the most rewarding times of my life and I truly enjoy helping others. Sometimes I wish I could have met an older version of myself to give the younger me some inside info on the art and business of making games. I’m not here to say I have all the answers, just that I’ve already had what feels like 3 lifetimes of experience and I’d like to share that with you in hopes to save you from wasting precious time and energy.
If you’re not making games but want to, or if you are making games and just want to touch base with another indie, then feel free to follow me on Twitter. And remember to keep in touch!Cheers, Brian
Here’s Some of Titles I’ve Worked On
- NBA Inside Drive 2000 (Xbox)
- NBA Inside Drive 2001 (Xbox)
- Hunter The Reckoning (Xbox)
- Hunter The Reckoning Wayward (PS2)
- Hunter The Reckoning Redeemer (Xbox)
- Psi Ops (PS2, Xbox)
- Mortal Kombat Deception (PS2, Xbox)
- Starcraft Ghost (GameCube, PS2, Xbox)
- Ghostbusters Wii (Wii)
- Ye Old Sandwich Shop (PC, Web Casual)
- Passport to Perfume (PC, Web Casual)
- IGT BlackJack (Proprietary Slot Machine)
- IGT Bombs Away (Proprietary Slot Machine)
- IGT Orianni (Proprietary Slot Machine)
- Star Wars StarKiller (Wii)
- Doritos Crash the Superbowl (Commercial Cinematic)
- Google O3D Demo (Web)
- Google Tower Defense (Web)
- Kenshi (XBLA)
- Western Digital Raptor (Commercial Cinematic)
- Roboto (iOS, Android)
- Red Bull ARR (iOS, Android)
- Akodomon (iOS, Android)