I keep trying to come up with some witty line but I’m failing so here it is – I’ve quit Sony.
Before we get to any of the how’s, why’s, etc let me recap a few things first. A long long time ago in a state very far far away lived 2 kids with big dreams and ambitions. The first is Ryan Downey who wanted to work for MTV and the other is myself, who wanted to make video games. We lived together in Indianapolis, Indiana in a stereotypical punk rock location – next to a KFC, Liquor store and a DIY space known as The Sitcom. Not wanting to turn this into a laundry list of who is who but the amount of people that stayed on our floor is amazing. Early Vegan Straight Edge warriors such as Petey Wentz called our couch home when he was in town.
In late 2000 (November, December’ish) me and Ryan both realized that for us to continue growing as humans and to even think about reaching our goals we had to move to California. He moved to Nor Cal around February of 2001 and I moved to So Cal in March of 2001. My original plan was to join a startup (they were all the rage back then) with David Sirlin, Tom and Tony Cannon which was funded by the guy who funded Napster. Metallica sued Napster around this time and the startup quickly went bust. Quicker than I could even move out to California for haha. The Cannons had left Microsoft for this startup but they went on to go do probably even more amazing things like VMware.
So here I was stuck with no place to live in Indy and no place to live in California. Tommy ‘Waterb0y’ Ho of Tekken fame (/ducks) offered me up a space on his floor in West Covina, CA. So I packed up my 2 bags and 1 pillow and moved to Southern California. Southern Hills Golfland (an arcade with the best competition in America) was going super strong at this point so I hung out there more than I should have. I already knew most of the top players like Valle and Watson but I got to become friends with almost everyone there, some I still see to this very day.
Around this time a videogame designer named Mark ‘FlipMeign’ Acero who was part of the SHGL crowd who worked at Paradox Development along with Ben ‘Tragic’ Cureton and fighters.net crowd – Eric ‘Gouken8’ Williams and Adam ‘Three11’ Puhl. They let me know of an opening, which I was immediately hired for. I packed up my 2 bags and 1 pillow and lived with Mark and the amazing animator James ‘Liu Kang’ Che in the middle of fucking nowhere LA aka Moorpark. Boy, does not having a car when you are in LA suck when you live that far way.
So I finally made it! I’m making videogames! I’ve lived on someone’s floor for like 6-9 months and now I’m living on someone’s couch!! Hella upgrade in life!
The first game I’m involved with is none other than He-Man! I’m so excited, coming up with moves for He-Man and Skeletor. The original plan was going to be like Guardian Hero’s and make every character playable, including all the enemies. I learned my first hard lesson in videogames very shortly – most games get cancelled, including mine. I hear some of what we did was eventually given to a European Developer but I never saw anything since it wasn’t released in America.
So thinking that my career in videogames was over with I was moved on to the Xmen: Next Dimension project along with John Edwards and Omar Kendall. Ben had left a little before I go there and Mark had switched from Xmen to go work on Backyard Wrestling.
After Xmen finished up – the company tried to have 3 teams going – The Backyard team, a team doing a new IP for Sony and my whacky 3rd team that no one knew what to do with. My whacky 3rd team actually landed a project that we were all super excited for – there was a core team that worked really hard on it – me, Eric, Cory Barlog (back when he was an animator ^_^) Romalis and Richie. The project turned out to be none other than Kill Bill! Here I was, still young in the industry (relatively) and I’m getting to work on this amazing game!
Well….I learned another hard lesson a short while later, most games get cancelled. It was around the time Quentin went crazy and announced it was going to be 2 movies and I’m guessing most of the budget went to that or something. I don’t really remember that well at this point anymore.
The new IP for Sony was going well and Mark left to go work on The Incredible’s down at Heavy Iron so Omar, myself and Eric finished up Backyard Wrestling 1. After the game finished Cory took off to go work on a game called A Dark Odyssey for Sony, which none of us had heard of.
So we did what most developers do – we worked on the sequel, Backyard Wrestling 2. I forget the exact timeline but I know this around the time we hired Jason Cole who was a big help. About 6 months into the amazing 9 month development cycle, Eric left to go work on A Dark Odyssey with Cory. I still knew nothing about this game except that it sure did look pretty.
After Backyard 2 finished to stellar reviews and somewhere along this timeline is when the new IP for Sony got cancelled Midway started doing Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks with Adam Puhl and John Edwards as the main leads.
It was during an Evo Street Fighter tournament where Cory and Eric showed up to watch the best of the best go at it when they invited me to join A Dark Odyssey. The name had changed to God of War and I guess it did ok at E3. BYW2 had finished and I really couldn’t add much to MKSM that Adam/John and now Omar/Cole couldn’t add so I took off. This was a very scary thing for me, almost as scary as moving to California. I really knew nothing about the project (aside from some crazy guy working on it who had made Twisted Metal which I won’t lie about…I was never impressed with – come on…small brawl?) but I really liked working with Cory and Eric so I said fuck it and went for it. The first combat designer who in all honesty laid a lot of the ground work on the game – Richard Foge left to go work on Socom. Without him leaving I would probably be making Backyard Wrestling part 9 by now.
I think it was during God of War 1 when I caught up with my good old roommate Ryan Downey on AIM. He landed his dream job of working at MTV writing the news and some other things. However, he was almost afraid to admit something to anyone – how do you strive to achieve something for years and when you do, you still aren’t happy. I told him to follow his heart and fuck everyone and everything else. He quickly quit soon after that and is now happier than I have ever seen him.
Fast Forward to now. Everyone has gone their separate ways – Omar and a gang of others from Paradox work at Neversoft on Gun, Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero. John left to go join Midway in Chicago and is like hella high up in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Adam joined me/Eric during God of War 2 when things were getting out of control. Cole is still at Paradox now Midway LA working with some of the most amazing game designers ever to be in the industry – Sal Divita.
The ‘team’ of myself, Eric and Cory have released 2 amazing games – God of War 1 and the sequel. There are a ton of other people that are sooooo responsible – especially the rest of the animation team like Bruno, Gilley, Kang and Tommy Ho. Without them me and Eric would have nothing but ideas barely written down on post it notes. Nor can I forget the most amazing sound designer in the industry - Todd Piperi.
So why am I qutting? I’m just as scared as when I moved to California and when I quit my first videogame job but I just feel like it is time to move on. The combat team at Sony Santa Monica is absolutely amazing, perhaps the best in America – Eric, Adam and Jason McDonald. I can’t imagine leaving the game in anyone’s hands besides theirs.
I’ll post where I’m going and what I’ll be doing next in a while but I just wanted to let everyone know. Here is something to watch and laugh about.