Industry Veteran

Starting in QA at Maxis back in 1994, I have been able to turn a love of video games into an amazing career that has included everything from start-ups to major studios.

Game Designer

I've been a designer on a variety of games as both an IC and as a design lead. Genres have included sims, wrestling/sports, action adventure, MMOs, and even biking games for use on exercise bikes in gyms.

Writer

I wrote the manual for SimCity 3000 (back when they were actual books), as well as much of the in-game text. Since then I've contributed written material for nearly every game I've worked on. My first graphic novel has even been published by Comixology!

Manager

I've managed teams of various sizes and compositions. As a QA Manager, I hired/managed/trained a team of 14 testers. As the Creative Director at Expresso I managed a team of artists, designers, and programmers. At Blizzard I managed as many as 54 designers across two teams.

Objective

To build games I want to play.


Overview

I've worked in several genres on multiple platforms over the years. Here's a snapshot of my career.

  • Industry veteran with 25+ years of experience in video game development, from hands-on implementation to team management and employee growth
  • Content and creative lead for teams ranging in size from 4 to 60
  • Expertise in both PC and console game development
  • Game designer and writer with a published graphic novel
  • Avid gamer with a love for, and knowledge of, games across multiple platforms

I've used propriety game engine tools (3D and 2D), as well as standard development tools like JIRA, Confluence, and Adobe and Microsoft office products. I've recently started teaching myself Unity and am quick to pick up whatever tools are needed for a given project.

I'm a gamer and pop-culture fanatic. I love all forms of entertainment and love creating in multiple spaces. I've completed a graphic novel that is available for purchase through Comixology. I love RPGs in all forms, and have run and played in many PnP games over the years, with D&D 5e and Shadowrun 6th edition currently taking up my time. I have a home-brewed super hero RPG that I'm developing, as well as several other story-driven projects.


March 2018 - Present

Blizzard Entertainment

Irvine CA

Senior Designer (Unannounced Project)

  • Helped create a new game from the ground up with 1 other designer, focusing on and driving the content side of the project
  • Created and drove the style and tone for all content pieces, including characters, story, dialogue, names, locations, and themes
  • Contributed to game system designs, with an eye towards systemic map making, questing, and events
  • Built a multi-year content release plan that would allow for year-to-year story progression without alienating new players
  • Worked closely with art, engineering, and UI design to help steer the project and ensure we were working towards a unified vision

As one of the first two people to start this brand new project, there was a lot of initial conceptualizing and experimentation to be done. As my background leans heavier into content and the other designer preferred working on the systems side of things, we were each able to focus on these halves of the game, while providing useful feedback on what the other was creating.

I was working with an established Blizzard IP, so there was an interesting task of making sure we were honoring what came before, while not being too restricted by previous incarnations; it was important to advance the IP while respecting the fans. And though there were some loose rules to follow for style and tone, I had some room to flex. After a lot of research and experimentation, the general consensus was that I was building something that fit in the world, without feeling like I'd rehashed old characters and stories.


August 2016 - March 2018

Blizzard Entertainment

Irvine, CA

Design Department Manager (Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft II)

  • Helped steer the growth and development of as many as 54 designers across multiple teams
  • Educated people on how to have more productive meetings that reduced frustration and toxicity
  • Managed and guided people through job transition (both within Blizzard and some, unfortunately, leaving Blizzard)
  • Coached and mentored designers transitioning into lead positions so they would be able to develop the people working for them
  • Organized and ran recurring design discussions
  • General career guidance
  • Managed and participated in financial matters (comp/merit/promo/profit sharing) for the design staff
  • With the recruiting team, drove the hiring of multiple candidates across multiple teams
  • Worked with Talent & Organizational Development to find classes and training to grow designers

As the design department manager for Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II, I've had a very nebulous job that requires constant flexibility and a willingness to adapt. My primary function (for as many as 54 people at once) is to keep the design staff happy and performing. This is a difficult task to consistently predict. To help alleviate this, I spent a lot of my time training up leads so they'd be equipped to look out for their people. I've worked to train, grow, and impart experience wherever possible, and though I'm not actively developing the game, I feel as though I'm helping move it forward.


March 2015 - July 2016

Cryptic Studios

Los Gatos, CA

Lead Game Designer (Neverwinter, all platforms)

  • Launched 3 live updates for multiple platforms for this free-to-play MMO
  • With the senior leads, helps drive the creative vision for the product
  • Reviews and adjusts monetization plans
  • Plans and sets goals for the team for each live release on PC and console
  • Manages a team of 8 designers, consisting of both content and systems disciplines
  • Mentors and trains the design staff
  • Works with production on schedules and feature planning
  • Provides feedback and direction on game design, art, UX, and new game features
  • Regularly communicates and collaborates with the IP holder, Wizards of the Coast, to ensure proper treatment of their property
  • Coordinates with the Perfect World marketing team for external promotions, in-game promotions, game health adjustments, product blogs, streams, twitter chats, AMAs, and interviews
  • Part of the hiring team for systems and content design across the company

Since coming to the Neverwinter team proper, I've been part of the senior leads, which includes the art lead, software lead, production lead and executive producer. Together we've continued to steer this live product for multiple platforms, leading to increased positive player feedback, as well as increased revenue. Though this is my primary job, I am also one of two senior designers that is involved in steering the design staff at the company as a whole. This includes team building, knowledge sharing, and department training and organization.

Though I love getting my hands dirty and actually building things, I have found success in growing the newer generation of designers.


April 2014 - March 2015

Cryptic Studios

Los Gatos, CA

Lead Designer and Co-Project Lead (Neverwinter on Xbox)

  • In 4 months drove a full free-to-play MMO to Xbox at a studio that had never put a game on console before
  • Developed control scheme for pc to console
  • Developed and built all necessary design elements for console conversion including (but not limited to) front end flow/launch flow, UX, voice and text chat, grouping, queueing, achievements, events, in-game store, external store, marketing and promotional items, content and feature gating
  • Managed and lead UX for pc to console
  • Coordinated art, design, UX, and software tasks
  • Coordinated with external partners including Microsoft and our China offices
  • Part of the hiring team for systems and content design across the company

This was all such a blur that I'm sure I'm leaving things out. Cryptic was asked to convert Neverwinter (the free-to-play MMO) from PC to Xbox to be a bundled title with the system launch in China. This was a big deal as consoles had been illegal in China for the past 15 years. Over the course of the next 4 months, I was instrumental in driving that project through development and into launch. Though I was brought onto the team as the top guy below the director, I ended up completely managing to project for the last month leading up to release as the director was on paternity leave. The biggest change in my day to day at that point was being the primary liaison for both Microsoft and our Perfect World China offices. I'd been involved with them up to that point, but I took over for the last month leading up to release.

After the China release, I stayed on the team to ensure a successful launch in the US and Europe before moving to the Neverwinter team proper.


July 2013 - April 2014

Cryptic Studios

Los Gatos, CA

Lead Designer (Sword Coast Adventures)

  • Sole designer for the mobile game, Sword Coast Adventures for Neverwinter
  • Designed game UX, flow, and mechanics
  • Set up quests, encounters, and rewards
  • Captured art for quests and adventures
  • Wrote hundreds (thousands?) of lines of text for the game
  • Coordinated with the Neverwinter PC game for rich client integration
  • Part of the hiring team for content design across the company

I was part of a VERY small team (me, 2 programmers, an artist, a web developer and an EP) that had the task of expanding the desirability of certain items within the PC free-to-play MMO, Neverwinter. I created and built a dice-based game that used rich client data (companions) to go on mobile dungeon crawls. I had a lot of fun building this and it was met with a lot of positive feedback.


July 2010 - July 2013

Cryptic Studios

Los Gatos, CA

Lead Content Designer (Star Trek Online)

  • Managed a team of content designers and writers that varied in count from 5-8
  • Helped switch STO from a subscription model to free-to-play
  • Planned and guided live game releases, including the game's first full expansion which included a new race and full starting experience
  • Trained and mentored the content team
  • Built events and episodes
  • Co-directed audio shoots
  • Made game adjustments to help improve monetization
  • Created content processes to help get major releases out on time
  • Coordinated with art and software for new features
  • Worked with the systems team to build content that would reward users properly and provide appropriate challenges
  • Developed "Featured Episodes" that told bigger stories and had better rewards
  • Created extensive cutscenes for premier content
  • Created and maintained a consistent content style across the game
  • Oversaw the UX and reward structure for in-game minigames
  • Provided feedback and direction with all created content
  • Part of the hiring team for content design across the company

After STO shipped, I took over as the Content Lead on the project. Though there was a Lead Designer, he managed the systems team and I fully managed content. This included all normal HR duties (reviews, career growth, design training and mentoring), as well as planning and driving what we actually put out content-wise. I was also the content lead when we switched over from subscription to free-to-play. This meant rethinking and retooling how we applied friction to the user. We decided that content should be free, but we still needed to make sure players had reasons to keep coming back.


March 2009 - July 2010

Cryptic Studios

Los Gatos, CA

Content Designer (Star Trek Online)

  • Shipped the full PC MMO Star Trek Online in 1 year
  • Edited or built every piece of launch content

When I was brought in, Cryptic had 1 year to build a full MMO. Some work had started, but the vast majority of it was built over that year. As a content designer, I built missions, edited dialogue, edited AI, work on general flow, and adjusted combat encounters. I was also tasked with giving a polish/consistency pass to the entire game. That meant I edited every piece of launch content in one way or another. Besides being a monumental task, it also gave me a really strong understanding to every aspect of the game.


June 2005 - March 2009

Expresso Fitness

Sunnyvale, CA

Creative Director

  • Created in-game UX
  • Designed online reporting and user service features
  • Designed new game modes and online competitive features
  • Designed bike routes
  • Managed artists and engineers
  • Worked with marketing to prepare for trade shows and contents
  • Maintained music channels
  • Maintained the website and community forums

While doing contract work, I received a call from an old friend I’d worked with at Maxis. He said his start-up company, Expresso Fitness, was in need of a designer. Ready to move on from Utah, I took him up on the offer. As Expresso was a start-up, I wore many different tasks during that time. Other than standard game, UX and level design, I would also admin the forums, help maintain the corporate website and user portal, work on marketing and promotional materials, and I contributed to the future development and direction of the business in general alongside the CEO and VP of Development. Unfortunately, the bubble burst and this company closed down.


July 2004 - December 2004

Electronic Arts

Salt Lake City, UT

Contract Writer

  • Wrote various dialogue scripts (Trainers/Announcers) for Fight Night: Round 2

Though I'm a writer who likes boxing, doing remote contract writing (I was in Salt Lake, they were in Chicago) proved to be extremely challenging. There were major communication issues. I ultimately delivered what was needed, but I wasn't a fan of this process.


March 2003 - May 2004

Sony (Incog Inc.)

Salt Lake City, UT

Senior Game Designer

  • Developed general design, missions, characters, story lines and scenes for multiple AAA Sony titles, including Twisted Metal: Head On for the PSP and PS3’s Warhawk
  • Wrote for and assisted in tuning, balancing, and general design of Downhill Domination

After Acclaim closed, I became a Senior Designer working on multiple triple-A titles, including Twisted Metal: Head On (PSP) and Warhawk (PS3) with Incog Inc., Sony’s first party studio in Salt Lake City. My main tasks (beyond level creation) were to come up with vehicles, stories and characters for various versions of Twisted Metal.


June 1999 - February 2003

Acclaim Entertainment

Salt Lake City, UT

Lead Game Designer

  • Led the design on HBO: Boxing; developed the master design document, as well as extensive audio commentary scripts for multiple commentators; directed recording sessions with George Foreman; maintained the overall project vision
  • Lead the design on Legends of Wrestling for PS2; developed and maintained the master design document; planned and led the motion capture sessions and voice recordings with various professional wrestlers; maintained the overall project vision
  • Wrote all wrestler/announcer scripts for both Anarchy Rulz and Hardcore Revolution
  • Used databases, scripting tools and C++ to maintain and develop wrestler move sets and statistics for both Anarchy Rulz and Hardcore Revolution

Once SimCity 3000 was completed, I went over to Acclaim Entertainment to expand my design experience into the console market. While there, I picked up the Lead Game Design role on Legends of Wrestling when the previous designer left the company. I had been leading the design on a new HBO Boxing game when the studio closed. During my time on those projects I wrote elaborate audio scripts, design documents and directed both motion capture and audio shoots with a variety of talent, including well-known professional wrestlers and a man with a fairly famous electric grill.


October 1997 - November 1998

Maxis/Electronic Arts

Walnut Creek, CA

Writer / Game Designer

  • Key member of the SimCity 3000 Design Team
  • Lead Writer for the manual and reference card for SimCity 3000
  • Wrote Content/Text for SimCity 3000, Streets of SimCity, SimSafari, and SimCopter
  • Provided organization and guidance to Producers and Designers

Shortly after being made QA manager, I transitioned over to the writing department, which soon became writing and game design once Electronic Arts bought our company. On the design-side, I worked on the utilities and neighbor layers, but most of my work involved writing.

One other small claim to fame. Since I worked so extensively with the audio department, I happened to be in the right place at the right time and was lucky enough to be the one who created Simlish (the language of the Sims).


June 1994 - October 1997

Maxis Inc.

Walnut Creek, CA

Senior Lead QA Technician / QA Manager

  • Shipped more than 35 products and managed/trained 14 testers
  • Managed the testing of projects: designed test plans; verified documentation; managed bug databases; managed localization testing; coordinated and contributed to testing
  • Contributed to Project Design on Projects Including SimCity 2000 (PC & PSX), SimCity 2000 Network Edition, SimTown, FullTilt 1 & 2, SimTower, and SimTunes

This was my first job in the industry and I started as a temp QA tester. After 2 months I was hired full time and eventually worked my way up to running the QA department.