Category Archives: Game Development

What a weird week.

Earlier in the week, Facebook bought out Oculus VR for a couple billion dollars. Internet hilarity ensued.

Many people flipped out…




Some people were catty about it…


Some people were thrilled at the possibilities…


Some people quietly despaired…


Some people tried to bring reason and sanity to the table…


Some developers distanced themselves from the controversy…


Some developers enthusiastically embraced the future…


Others observed the spectacle from the sidelines…


It was incredible. I haven’t been this shocked, entertained, worried, and bemused by a news story in a while.

I have no idea what will ultimately come out of all this. One thing I’m pretty sure of, however, is that a giant entity like Facebook getting behind VR as a platform and medium potentially means that the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset would have an even better chance to be something more than a mail order novelty item targeted at a niche subset of hardware enthusiasts.

That, in turn, makes it much more likely that competing hardware will come to market successfully, which will only accelerate improvement across the board and drive costs further down. From where I’m sitting, it seems like the people who have an emotional investment in the future of virtual reality probably ought to be be focusing on that particular upside of the arrangement rather than simply being angry at Palmer Luckey for “selling out” or prematurely grieving for Oculus VR on the assumption that the acquisition will somehow destroy the company.

I’m cautiously optimistic, hoping that this acquisition works out positively, and I suspect the next few years are going to be rather interesting.

Telecommuting In Style

I’ve been working with an indie game dev studio based on Vancouver Island for a while now. Normally, when my boss Denny wants to know what any one of the team is doing, he’ll just walk up to a station, look over a shoulder, and ask questions. Similarly, when anyone else needs to show something quickly, it’s trivial to wave someone over and get on with things. When half of the company works in Vancouver and the other half works in Austin, however, that all goes out of the window. It’s not uncommon for the process of explaining something over Skype to be clunky and more time-consuming than it would be if we were all in the same office, and this becomes much more of an annoyance during crunch time.

Earlier this month, Denny and I found ourselves repeatedly having the same weird conversation–he would ask me what I was up to, and I’d tell him I was too busy working to explain what I was up to. It’s funny the first time, but gets old pretty quickly, and doesn’t really keep anyone clued in.

So, to fix that, I put together a Boss Stick. I call it that because it lets me put my boss on a stick so he can look over my shoulder from 2300 miles away.


On the hardware side, it’s just a photographer’s light stand with a telescoping boom arm, a quick-detach ball mount, my trusty Logitech C920 HD webcam, a Smith Victor reflector lamp with a daylight CFL, and 16 feet of USB 3.0 cable.

On the software side, I upgraded to a Skype premium account (the quarterly plan’s a good deal!) for the group video chat and screen sharing features. I also set up a Flash streaming server account with Onyxservers and use that to stream a live feed to the other office during working hours. Topping that off is ManyCam Pro acting as a video mixer/switcher, which allows me to use multiple video sources and cut/transition between  them as needed.

This setup has already proven its utility several times over by allowing me to demonstrate works-in-progress and show hard-to-describe issues over live video, and Denny can see exactly what I’m working on just by tabbing over to my video feed when he needs to. We’re in the process of setting up something similar for the Vancouver office, which should be fun.

The other nice thing about the Boss Stick is that it’s also going to come in useful when I do more papercraft videos in the future. I always have a blast shooting those, and it’ll be nice to actually work with the ideal camera angles that I couldn’t get before with a small table tripod.

A nail-biting ride…

The Kickstarter for The Gallery: Six Elements ended successfully a couple days ago. We went over our $65,000 target, blew past two stretch goals, and hit a final total of $82,397, with 1568 backers. It was a dramatic, nail-biting, and tense 30 day period that capped off a pretty grueling 5-month grind. Someday people will read about it in a coffee table book. 😆

I have the next few days off. I spent yesterday kicking back with some books that have nothing to do with work, and it was great. (I’m re-reading the Monster Hunters International series by Larry Correia.)

The success of the Kickstarter means I’ve got steady work for the next several months, which is really nice because I was getting a little tired of the unpredictable, constantly fluctuating returns of freelance web development and graphic design. It’ll be really nice not to have to worry so much about that for a change.

Surfacing for air

The indie game studio I work with (Cloudhead Games) has hit a point where we’ve got enough to put together a video for the Kickstarter, so I had some time today to post here.

Indie video game development is…exciting, stressful, exhausting, and always interesting. I don’t think I want to make a career out of it, but working on an indie video game has always been one of the items on my bucket list.

It’s one of the environments where being a jack of all trades comes in useful. I started out as an environmental modeler and scripter, but in practice, I’ve been doing a little bit of everything else as well. I’m even picking up some new skills along the way, as well as dusting off a few lapsed skills that I hadn’t touched since the 1990s, like character animation.

I can’t wait to revisit some of my personal projects with that additional experience under my belt!