Living the Dream

Game Development, Life, Seattle, Stories 6 Comments

I wrote this a while back but never posted it. It’s a bit of a noir / gonzo take on game development, so take that as you will.

8:45 am. A combination of rustling coming from the bathroom and the repeated squeal of the cell phone alarm going off wakes him up.

Groggy, he pulls the cover over his head. Sagan puts his nose up over the edge of the king side bed, saying good bye to his dad. Tail wagging, Sagan wishes he could see more of his pack leader, but daddy has been really busy lately.

“Common! Sagan! Yes… I know. I miss him too. We need to go.”

Sagan won’t leave the side of the bed and has to be dragged away.

“Love you hon, have a good day… when did you get in last night?”

“Not sure, 2 I think…” he gurgles out from underneath the comforter.

No response that he can remember. Shuffling of feet and paws and slamming of doors and vehicle engines. He’s home alone again.

Gotta wake up. Shower.

Rolling out of bed, he holds onto the wall, still sleepy and shaky on his feet. He turns on the shower and goes back into the bedroom to pack his running gear for later in the day. He imagines the brief period of about an hour where he can just run, uninterrupted. The music is nice too.

Back in the shower, the water is hot. Too hot. Nearly scalding, he turns it down. Once behind the pure glass and metal stall, he slowly turns the heat back up. He’ll repeat the same scalding mistake tomorrow.

Cleaning himself, he thinks about the day before. A level needs to run faster, the frame rate is still suffering. If it’s not taken care of, his boss and their bosses will be upset. They’ll go into meeting rooms and talk about him. He knows that people are working on the problem and it’s a high priority for the team to fix.

Ultimately, it’s out of his control.

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343rd Dimension: Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage 2012

Life, Running, Seattle, Stories 4 Comments

Ragnar Introduction

Ragnar. The word said aloud sounds beastly. Guttural.

A few friends of mine in the game business completed a relay race called “Ragnar SoCal” which is when I first started learning about the series. Each Ragnar race is a 200 mile relay that takes place in various locations across the United States. Washington DC, Utah, Tennessee, Washington, Southern California, Las Vegas, Wisconsin, and more. Runners come in teams of 12 (or 6 if you’re an “ultra” team) running the entire relay, non-stop, night and day.

That often means little or no sleep for around 20-30 hours, no real meals, and a whole lot of running.

Being a runner who likes taking on bigger and bigger challenges, Ragnar seemed right up my alley. I love seeing new places on runs and this seemed like a scenic race. Running and taking a van tour across 200 miles of the US is a great way to tour the country and to reinforce how safe and friendly the US truly is.

I knew there were a few runners around the studio, but convincing 11 other people at 343 Industries plus finding volunteer van drivers was going to be a challenge of its own.

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Things I See When Running At Night

Life, Running, Seattle 1 Comment
  • The parked yellow Corvette that reminds me I’m close to home. It once seemed so far away.
  • Teenagers gathered in a circle, up to no good behind a fence. They are as startled by me as I am of them. They thought they were alone, as did I.
  • Stone, chiseled monolithic signs for neighborhoods that are all crafted in the same fashion. My mind flashes to Pleasantville and the Truman Show.
  • Are those dogs barking in the song I’m listening to? Sick feeling in my stomach. There are no dogs in this song. A glance across the street and I see a lady holding back her dog as it rears up on it’s hind legs, teeth gnashing.
  • Vehicles that drive much faster than they would during the day. I never see the drivers. During the day, they wave. I imagine the night drivers do the same.
  • A couple taking a walk alone. I’ve only ever seen them once.
  • My breath. Always my breath.
  • An older, classic, gutted car along a remote trail. The doors are open while rain pours down hard. It makes me run faster as I go by.
  • The expanse of lake. It’s ringed by lights, but no light exists on it’s surface. The large mass of water might as well be a black hole.
  • Another group of teenagers. I run up from behind, around, then past them. They smell like cheap deodorant. They could probably catch me if they wanted to, but maybe not.
  • The light from by headlamp reflecting off the fog hanging in the air. I can’t see more than 15 feet in front of me.
  • Groups of mailboxes that look like people. I become startled for a moment, but realize I’ve just given myself a boost of adrenaline. I can’t feel my legs for the next 45 seconds.
  • Multiple people who I almost run into as I simply didn’t see them. On approach I dodge to the left, out into the road. Maybe they thought I was playing chicken with them.
  • A wooden bridge that crosses a creek in the woods. It dumps me at the edge of a small, new, and well kept suburban playground. I feel unsettled.
  • The stars on a clear night. Lack of streetlights, while dangerous, is an acceptable trade-off for a beautiful sky that is hard to keep my eyes off of.
  • Hills. Ooooooh, hills. My calves burn then stop working when going up them, my shins stab with pain when going down them.
  • Light, reflecting from large drops of rain. Some of the rain drops pass before me, splashing onto the ground. Others soak into my pants. Others gather in puddles which I step into.
  • Pretty snow fall which has collected into large, uneven, icy sheets of death. Five mile run turns into a two mile run because I can’t make it up the hill without traction.

This list was generated bit by bit over the past year. I finally decided to post it as I haven’t seen anything new in a while.

The 2011 Seattle Marathon

Life, Running, Seattle 4 Comments

Near the starting line of the 2011 Seattle Marathon

The day was like any other. Except I got up at 6 am, ate a quarter cup of blue berries, a half cup of granola and a half cup of yogurt then went back to bed for 45 minutes.

I was worried about weather. Seattle is known as a wet city, and the forecasts had a 56% chance of rain. Upon waking up to eat, it was still dry and 50 degrees out. Warm. Things were looking up.

At 6:45, it started coming down. Then the wind kicked in.

I’ve trained in bad conditions, but never on the long runs. I’ve run in sub-freezing temperatures, but for only for five or so miles. Rain and wind for up to maybe ten.

On with the shorts and the tank top, the standard wear for the 20+ mile runs. Overheating may become an issue, better play it safe.

Phone in armband. Headphones in phone. Shoes on. Chip tracker on. Race number on chest.  Five cliff shot gels in my pocket.

And away we go. Nothing but rain the entire drive to the Seattle Center. Oh man.

Snap decision. After a last minute switch to a long sleeve technical shirt and pounding a Cliff Gel, and I’m out stretching. They’re already calling the Full Marathoners into place. I jump over the barrier and start stretching. Five minutes to start.

I rip my phone out of it’s arm pouch, and with my headphones dangling I snap a photo of the start. I try sending out a tweet, but it takes forever to upload and panic sets in. I still need to get my GPS tracker on, my music going, plus put my armband, head phones and so on back together. Maybe next time.

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New Year’s Eve 2010, Seattle Style

Seattle 2 Comments

I loves me some New Year’s Eve celebrations. Seattle does a huge fireworks show on NYE and I really wanted to experience it up close and personal. Lucky for me, I have a few friends that live only a few blocks away from the Space Needle and they were throwing a house party. Perfect.

NYE, especially in major cities is also one of the best times of the year to see people going buck-wild and doing things they wouldn’t normally do. And there’s nothing I love more than seeing shiznit go down. Let’s kill two birds with one stone!

First up, a stop by my buddy’s joint. He and his new wife were supposed to come party with us, but they are hardcore outdoor enthusiasts and the weather the next day was killer for a Seattle winter. Clear skies and low temperatures meant great skiing and snowboarding, something they simply could not pass up. They decided to skip partying altogether and get up early to hit the mountain. I can’t blame them.

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Sir Haxington Nearly Loses His Knighthood at the Airport

Seattle 2 Comments

Long story short, I was running behind for a flight, then missed it. A dumb mistake, a miscalculation that would cost me an an entire day.

I felt like an idiot. An asshole. Ashamed and embarrassed. Not to mention I had people waiting for me at the other end.

I barely missed the flight too. Five extra minutes and it would been fine. Sadly the stars misaligned and I paid the price. The check-in kiosk at Alaksa Air confirmed my fear upon entering my confirmation code in vain.

“You have missed your check-in time, please see the service desk for further assistance.”

Oh boy.

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Adventures in Cap Hill #673

Seattle 2 Comments

Company holiday parties are funny things. Most companies put them on for their employees, it’s no secret. Overall the pre-paid gatherings are a positive thing. It gets people out, gets them social, which is important to teamwork within groups. Groups who socialize will communicate better, and therefore will do better work together. At least, I think that’s the theory someone made up once so they had an excuse to party.

But I’m not here to talk about my own company party. No, that wouldn’t do.

This time, it’s all about a place that sells cupcakes.

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2nd AOTCEEA Summary

Seattle No Comments


The 2nd Annual Official Tree Cutting Exploration-Expedition Adventure was an epic six part saga that may or may not have happened.

While reading it, you’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll fall in love. Most likely you won’t do any of these. I’m cool with that.

For your viewing pleasure, here is the Official 2nd Annual Official Tree Cutting Exploration-Expedition Adventure Compendium, chronicled for posterity.

Until next year…

2nd Annual Official Tree Cutting Exploration-Expedition Adventure, Extraordinaire (Weekend Edition), END.

Seattle 1 Comment

It was getting dark. The smell of fresh pine filled The Element. We thought about the guy stuck in the H3 and wondered if he had made it out yet. Dublin fell asleep.

Eventually we exited and headed to Sammamish. Pine Lake Ale House. Time to be rewarded.

You’re tired. You’ve been in a a vehicle all day. You’ve been hiking in deep snow. You’ve been up in the mountains, cutting down trees. Pushing trucks out of snow ditches. And trying to record the whole thing.

Pine Lake Ale House

And there’s a space open right at the front. Just for you.

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2nd Annual Official Tree Cutting Exploration-Expedition Adventure, Extraordinaire (Weekend Edition), Part 5.

Seattle 2 Comments

So we had our trees. Life was good.

But I hadn’t documented any Weekend Warrior cases.

I began to reconcile my loss. You know, maybe it was better this way. We’d get home around 3-4, get some dinner, get the tree up. I should be more happy about this.

The mood in The Element was lifted compared to driving up. Let’s be honest. Everyone was on edge going up the mountain. And it’s a long trip. People get hungry. They have to go the bathroom. Getting there is scary. It’s stressful and nerve wracking. It’s dangerous.

But now we get to drive by all the other mountain goers with a trophy on our vehicle. And the only thing left to do is is make it home.

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