@thejessesnyder turns Q’s into A’s (September 2012)

Game Development 8 Comments

At the end of September (2012), I was in the mood to write about some game development topics. Then people starting asking questions and giving topics I could give a short answer to, but were too long for twitter. So, I decided to just ask twitter what they wanted to hear about and I’d try to do my best to give good, honest answers. Below are the questions I could answer without losing my job. If I didn’t answer your question, it means it wasn’t worth getting fired over.

Enjoy!

 

Chris Salerno Chris Salerno @HaloFanForLife

@thejessesnyder What stresses are there living up to a storied franchise in Halo? As well, talk about your being the first dev/lead at 343.

The “stress” question comes up quite a bit. I cut my teeth on Call of Duty, one of the largest franchises known to mankind. Having the opportunity to work on CoD taught me about the realities of making AAA games. While there are always surprises, having done it enough times it’s easier to know what to look out for and to avoid mistakes. You learn about what typical problems arise, you get a sense of what is possible to make or what an idea costs to make real, you can identify when something is good and when to push that idea or feature forward (or kill it) and so on. Halo is no different. While the Halo and CoD are very different games in many ways, the way they are developed is not completely dissimilar.

That’s the career side of things anyway. Having enough experience to enjoy the confidence of dealing with problems, and having enough experience to identify when you’ve struck gold.

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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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