Release Manager – Double Fine – 2017-Present

Specialist tendencies.

After years of working in QA, marketing, and production, I realized that shipping games was the most exciting part of the job for me. Everything leads up to the moment the game is complete and in people’s hands. So I decided that the role of release manager was right up my alley and, thankfully, so did everyone else. I officially took on the role 13 years after I first started in the games industry. Now I work with, well, everyone, but my focus is on helping our development partners through the submissions and release process. Some recent games that I’ve helped with are Everything, GNOG, and Gang Beasts.

QA Lead – Double Fine – 2013-2017

Keep on dreamin’!

I’d been a fan of Double Fine’s games since I first played Psychonauts in 2005. While at Vivendi, we had the opportunity to do some marketing for Brütal Legend, a game the company was set to release until they closed down and EA took on publishing duties. That meant I had the chance to see the game again while it was in test at EA, and it was the heavy metal RTS I never knew I wanted. I didn’t get the chance to contribute to the game at either juncture, but I sure started to feel like I wanted to work on anything Double Fine could create!

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Grim Fandango Remastered – Double Fine – 2015

Commenting on the commentary and other tidbits.

This project was my first opportunity to collaborate in a production capacity after thinking it over for years and struggling to take the leap. But as with any career, sometimes it’s ambition, sometimes it’s who you know, and sometimes it’s just plain luck (in various combinations). And it was a doozy of a project to start with…

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Associate Producer – Double Fine – 2014-2015

Trying on a different hat.

I’d been a QA Lead at the company for six months when I was asked to apply for an opening in production. I had always been interested in trying a producer role and this gave me the chance to finally give it a go.

My initial trial was as a producer on a 2 week Amnesia Fortnight prototype called Dear Leader, and it was certainly a trial by fire. I focused on helping the leads organize the constant brainstorm of ideas and fill in holes where I could spot them. This included searching for art reference material and taking on repetitive scripting work in Lua that didn’t require a programmer. It was over in a flash and it became one of the most memorable experiences of my career.

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Test Lead – Experis – 2011-2012, 2015

Following the Oregon trail.

Salaries remained stagnant all through the recession and I began to look elsewhere for opportunities in video games. A friend who had just moved to Oregon suggested I apply for a role at a company called Experis, which focuses on game test contracts with first-party publishers.

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QA Lead – EA Games – 2008-2012

Movin’ on up at breakneck speed.

My first six months as a tester at EA quickly led to getting hired full-time as an assistant QA lead. This was the start of a brief but intense period of working on multiple projects at the same time and taking on more and more of a QA lead’s responsibilities. This was also my first time working directly with game producers to keep them appraised of the project’s status and inform them of ways they could help make the QA testing more effective. The projects weren’t the most exciting–Littlest Pet Shop and Nerf N-Strike–but I learned that smaller projects can allow one to have more ownership of the project.

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The Simpsons Game – EA Games – 2007

A dream fulfilled.

My longtime goal was to work on a video game based on The Simpsons. It began during college, when I studied graphic design and wrote video game guides on the side, including guides for the many Simpsons games released since the show began in 1989. I was already a fan of the show, but this led to an appreciation for the license and the potential that a great Simpsons game could have.

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Sierra Entertainment Website – Vivendi – 2006

Making progress in a committee.

One of the largest projects I’ve ever taken on is the development of the Sierra company website. The parent company–Vivendi Games–had chosen to leverage the Sierra brand for all video game production, and part of that included creating a new and more dynamic company website. My manager was the lead on the project and I assisted with the day-to-day work of design, development, contractor communication, copy localization, and ultimately personally populating the website with decades of product content.

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Community Management – Vivendi – 2005-2006

Learning from the players.

My stints as Interactive Marketing intern and coordinator included some time as the company’s community manager. Mind you, this included keeping an eye on communities that spanned back to games released by Sierra Entertainment in the eighties. Sierra was simply a brand and logo for Vivendi Games in the mid-aughts, but they still tried to support the legacy of the brand and the many games that came before.

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Interactive Marketing – Vivendi Games – 2005-2006

Some games sell themselves. Most need help.

Although a short part of my career on paper, the year and a half that I spent in the Interactive Marketing department of Vivendi Games was formative. I rapidly moved along the ladder from intern to coordinator to associate manager, and the sudden responsibility helped shaped my capabilities. It also sharpened my strengths, namely a willingness to learn what I need to learn in order to complete a particular task.

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50 Cent: Bulletproof – Vivendi – 2005

Playing a different game.

I had been a tester at Vivendi for a year by the time 50 Cent showed up on the test floor. It was the second (and final) game by the developers at Genuine Games, whom I knew well from our previous encounter. 50 Cent was a similarly lackluster effort meant to quickly capitalize on a license.

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Empire Earth II – Vivendi Universal Games – 2005

Real-time strategy testing.

I started in the game industry during the height of Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube. I personally owned two of the three systems and played the most popular types of games for them (3D action and shooters), so my first eight months were familiar territory in terms of understanding the gameplay and system capabilities. This gave me the time and space to figure out the testing process without also having to figure out how to run or play the games.

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Delta Force: Black Hawk Down – Vivendi – 2005

Assemble the strike team.

It’s strange to consider the time an average developer spends on a project and then compare with a tester’s time on the project. Testers are by their nature only required when a game is ready for them. There’s no point in having them report issues that are simply unfinished work, which means they aren’t usually brought onto the team until the last three or four months to help finish and ship it.

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Predator: Concrete Jungle – Vivendi – 2005

To test, or not to test…

Predator has the distinction of being both the second and fourth projects on which I worked. We were initially assembled to test the game in summer 2004 toward a December launch, but an unwieldy scope and hefty design changes caused it to be pushed out to 2005. This would be my first lesson in missing a projected ship date.

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Fight Club – Vivendi Universal Games – 2004

Late nights and violence.

Fight Club was the third test project to which I’d been assigned in a span of three months. It was the first of two projects published by Vivendi Universal Games and developed by Genuine Games, the latter of which I also worked on in a few different ways. But that would come later.

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Thunderbirds – Vivendi Universal Games – 2004

Start new career?

My first job in the video game industry was as a Game Tester at what was then called Vivendi Universal Games, a company in Los Angeles, CA. I had graduated in March 2004 with an Associates degree in Graphic Design and Multimedia, but quickly realized that the traditional freelancer role was not for me. I preferred stability and a regular paycheck, not to mention avoiding problem clients. I’d decided I wanted to work in video games and that I’d start as a tester.

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Walkthrough Writer – 2002-Present

Offering a little guidance.

My career in video games began a few years before I was hired on at any company. It began when I joined the GameFAQs message boards in late 2000 to discuss games such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron with other players who needed guidance or just wanted to chat about the games. The site was ideal for building these types of communities because it was, in fact, a massive database of every video game ever released, and each game received dedicated sections for message boards and FAQs. The titular game FAQs were far more than documents with lists of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. They were detailed guides and walkthroughs written for free by members of the GameFAQs community, many of which rivaled the professional printed guides from companies such as Prima Games.

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