5 things since I last blogged

Rather than a long rambling post to get you up to speed here are 5 things that have happened since I was last blogging regularly.

Oliver in Target

  1. I had a son named Oliver: he's our first child and currently he's 15 months old. Not quite walking, not yet talking but still a lot of fun and work!
  2. I left EA and returned to Relic: My eight month contract at Electronic Arts got extended for an additional four months, and I had an offer to further extend it but left to return to Relic once the studio stabilized after being bought by SEGA.
  3. Travelled: Through Relic I had opportunities to travel to London and most recently Cologne Germany for Gamescom. With the family we've been to Palm Springs a few times to visit my snowbird parents and around the west coast of North America.
  4. Did I mention the baby?: Kids take up a lot of time, so have I mentioned Oliver yet? The last 15 months have been great, but often sleep deprived.
  5. Sports: Sport happens. Arsenal won the FA Cup. The Canucks missed the playoffs. The Oilers continued to draft young talent and then under perform in the league and I continue to go to Whitecaps games as a season ticket holder. 

It's been awhile...


Today I reactivated my SquareSpace account and revived my website. Looking at the most recent posts I realize that a lot has happened since I've had either the time or inclination to post here. 

My last posts saw Relic Entertainment suffering though THQ's death and a number of my former colleagues and close friends being laid off.  I was safe at EA SPORTS, but saddened by what I was seeing from the outside. 

By now though I've been back at Relic for a year and a half and the studio is flourishing after being bought by SEGA. 

Things change. Quickly. 

I'm sure whether to focus on brining you up to speed or simply forge ahead.  

Stan Lee always said that every comic was someone's first, even if it was the middle of the story. 

Welcome to the middle of my story.  

39 Relic staff let go

For context and background Gamasutra has the story.

I don't really have much that I want to say about the recent layoffs at Relic.  As of two weeks ago it was the best job I've ever had, and both the studio and THQ have always treated me really well.  The fact that everyone I worked with there were such great people, and many of them are good friends, makes the news that thirty-nine of them were laid off yesterday that much harder to take.  300 people were laid off the same day from my previous (to Relic) company Rogers and I didn't feel a thing at hearing the news.

I think there's probably two things that would be appropriate for me to say, the first being that I hope that everyone who was laid off finds work.  The gaming industry has been pretty great about offering up job opportunities to those let go, and hopefully that goes a long way to helping great people find work.  I also am thinking of those people left at Relic where I imagine this is even more upsetting than it is from the outside.

The other thing I can say is that based on who I know was let go, and I don't know who all has left, it is likely that I would have been made redundant on Thursday as well.  While I was worried that I was leaving a "stable" job for the uncertainty of an eight month contract at EA SPORTS, I now look quite clever.  Leaving Relic was a hard decision to make, had I known then what I know now it would have been easier.

Jet lagged


I think I'm still jet lagged from the flight home from Maui.  The stopover in Los Angels at five in the morning certainly did not help.  Thankfully The Georgia Straight preemptively extended my deadline on my latest article.  Also Sunday's weather in Vancouver was sunny enough to ease us back into the Canadian fall.

I've just been catching up at work and doing a bit of pro-bono writing for the comic review blog Floppytown [ft].  Today my review of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5 went up.  So there's that if you're interested.

I'm rambling.  I'm tired and I have video games that I don't work on to play.

A letter to Superman

Yesterday I suspended a player from playing being able to play one of our games online after he attacked his own teammates and blew up their bases to help the other team win.  At the time I didn't notice that his email account was, but I did when he emailed us to complain.  

This is the reply I sent.

And it was his decision to spell Nazi like Churchill says it.

Dear Clark Kent:  

We didn't realize that it was you when we suspended you from our game, Company of Heroes.  I don't know about the others around the Relic office but I personally am a big fan of your work for The Daily Planet, and the work you do on the side.  

You know what I mean.  In your... heh... formal wear.  

Even though, as I say, I'm a big fan of yours we are going to standby our decision to give you a three day suspension from online play.  Purposefully attacking members of your own team, for whatever reason does in our view violate 3.3.4 of our Terms of Service.  I know it's super boring when people quote the rules, but bear with me:

Anything that THQ deems outside the spirit of fair gameplay.  
Having their own teammate start attacking them can adversely affect a player's enjoyment of the game.  And while we're not superhuman and can't save everyone's game, we do have to try to make a difference where we can when people report this kind of activity.  
I understand that online gaming can sometimes be frustrating, and perhaps there were reasons that you feel were legitimate behind your actions.  However it is not something that we allow. 
I'm sorry you feel that this makes me a Nazy, however I do think that if you really think about it being suspended from a game isn't quite the same thing as what the Nazis did.  
Not to worry though, it's only a three day suspension and you'll be back fighting on the frontlines in no time.  
All the best.

One year and one day

Give away flowers


Last night was Lydia's and my one year wedding anniversary.  We had a ridiculously decadent meal at Re-Fuel on West Fourth.  On top of that we spent the weekend in Kelowna with my parents, going to farmers markets and laying in the sun by the lake in the pool.

Yes we're living like the last of the Romans these days.

It's been a good year.  Between Lydia and the new job it's one of my best.


What my company makes

I'd always imagined that one of the best things about working for a video game company is the chance to watch projects come together.  Granted I've only been at Relic for just over a month now, and it's not as if I've seen a game start from scratch and end up in store shelves, but still when I see a video like this (shown at the recent E3 conference) I have to say that it's damn cool to work where I do.

Everything that I've seen of Space Marine looks awesome.

Rookie Cookies

Rookie Cookies

One of the nice touches that Relic does to help their new employees get acquainted with their co-workers is that they give them a small box of cookies.  The box (pictured above) is labelled "Rookie Cookies" and is to help you make allies in the company by being able to offer a snack to anyone who drops by your desk during you first few days.

Apart from Graham, who is the other person in the Community group, nobody's had any of mine after two days.  That's fine, not eating the cookies is a good test of willpower.  Okay, so I've snuck one.  Maybe that'll equal one less ally but it was worth it.  It had chocolate chips.