I live in Seattle, WA and I develop video games. I’ve worked on hundreds of independent game concepts, and 14 professional AAA-budget game titles. I started studying art at a very young age and then discovered code at the age of 12, when I wrote my first game in a programming language called LOGO. I love seeing the work of artistic and creative people who can also write code. These are the people I look up to most and I strive to be one of them.
In 1995, just after completing a short 6 month job with the Microsoft Excel team, I started a game development studio, Surreal Software, with 3 friends. I was responsible for developing our proprietary 3D game technology, the RIOT Engine, and managing our engineering team. As Vice President of Engineering and Technology, I helped grow the studio to over 50 employees in 2004, when we were purchased by Midway Games. We remained in leadership positions at the studio and continued to grow it to 120 people by the time I left my position in January 2010.
I’m currently working on an unannounced mobile game title. The game is being developed for iOS and possibly Android, if it is successful. Check out my blog, where I’m slowly revealing secrets as the game comes along.
In my 14-year professional game development career, I have either worked for or developed games in partnerships with the following companies:
I owe my interests to a broad range of mentors. One of my strongest influences was my grandfather, Cyril Stanley Smith, who was a renowned metallurgist and historian of art and science. His most notable work was as Chief Metallurgist on the Manhattan Project, where he was part of the team who developed the first atomic bomb. Such a shocking and devastating creation had a profound influence on him and all the scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He went on to work at MIT as a researcher and focused his efforts on many topics, including the connections between art and science in history. He wrote:
“Discovery is art, not logic, and new discoveries have to be cherished for reasons that are far more like love than purpose.” -Cyril Stanley Smith – Anvil’s Ring, 1996
I did my undergraduate work in Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, where I studied under some fantastic mentors, like Tony DeRose and David Salesin, who both worked at Pixar Animation Studios.
In education, it is rare to find a teacher who you remember all your life, who treats you more like a friend than a student. One that inspires you and shows you how exciting it is to solve problems and discover things. My middle-school math teacher, Chuck Wahle, was one such teacher. He taught me how to code on an Atari 800, and I never stopped (but to be clear, I did move on to other platforms ).
And finally, I can’t forget my parents. They were both Professors of Anthropology, so they not only gave me a world (cross-cultural) perspective on things, but a love for science. My Dad was a constant inventor, collector, builder, and problem solver. He was fascinated by 19th century inventions, tools, and technology. He gave me an appreciation for old techniques and quality craftmanship, but also my love for building projects and problem solving.