Thursday, November 10, 2011


A couple months ago, I went to Pinnacle College to produce a local band. Pinnacle College is an audio school with a couple recording studios. I'd never heard of it, and I've been in pretty close to every recording studio in Sacramento at one time or another. But not one in a college. They offer audio degrees for recording music and for foley work for films. Their main campus in LA also does audio design for games, though I imagine the Sacramento campus doesn't have enough demand for it. Still, while I was there, I talked to their career counselor about hiring out some of their students for voice over work on a complete different game project I'm working for. Since I have no say or even heads up on that project, trying to coordinate things turned out to be difficult, so I gave up (no one's fault either way).

A few weeks ago, when I decided to create Stigma Games, I contacted her again with the news and told her exactly the talent I needed for our project. She was quite excited and put me in contact with some of her graduates a few hours later. I either met or talked to at length on the phone with all of them. Very cool people. And at this point, I consider the Audio team on the project to be filled out. I know like a billion musicians in this town, so yeah, that wasn't really going to be hard for me. But still, finding people that are driven to do sound and music for games is cool.

I'm still working on the Business development team, but I have some promising leads there. Luckily, it's not a priority right now. I'd like to recruit a project manager / scrum master. Though I don't want to use a pure scrum development model. Scrum is really, really annoying for game development for the creative types. I'll make another post to rant about that another time.

A couple days ago, I got in contact with the career councilors at the Art Institute in Sacramento. They invited me to come to their job fair today. It was pretty low key. They set me up with a booth for Stigma Game. Maybe 20 students came by, but it was still cool to talk about games and game development. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the staff at the school was really welcoming. In terms of the type of 3D games a lot of us have spent the last ten years playing, Sacramento is a game development dead zone. So the idea of setting up shop here in the city I grew up in, seems to be working out. Oh, and we also talked about setting up an internship so that AI students would be able to get college credits for interning at Stigma Games. Interesting.

One of the career counselors asked me to come to their portfolio expo show a month from now and be one of the speakers. I'm pretty comfortable speaking in front of a crowd--one of the weird things about me, I guess. I remember in one of my Anthropology classes, I did a presentation on Mayan uses of blood in rituals, and I was actually getting laughs. Hell, I killed with that material. I didn't call it my presentation. I called it my set. Anyway, I'm not really sure what to talk about. I like preparing speeches, but it's such a wide topic. I have a feeling students are going to want to know about breaking into the industry. I feel like I'm still trying to do the same. I still do a lot of projects here and there on the side. Though with Stigma Games coming together, I'm clearing my plate.

Speaking of other projects, one of them recently got sponsored by Dell Computers and Alienware and I might be getting a free Alienware computer out of the deal. I've always wanted one.

Recruiting programmers... in some ways this will be easier because there's not as many specialized roles. If someone knows how to set up class objects and data structures, they can pretty much apply that to anything. However, programmers on the team will need to learn a completely new language with a steep learning curve. The problem with the HeroEngine that I'm having as a programmer is the interface. Case in point, every website I've ever built, whether it was a simple html page or if it had php query calls to a MySQL database, I built in Notepad. Raw code. When I write programs in C++, it's all raw code. I like it that way. In HeroEngine, the different types of objects all have different interfaces where they need to go in. And none of it is intuitive. Still, this is a brick wall all the programmers are going to hit, and if I don't have it down, I'm going to have a hard time getting the rest of the programming team through it.

Still, I think I'm making progress on recruiting programmers. The main game programmer instructor at Sac State told me he was going to let his class know about Stigma Games and our project. I'm going to need to talk to an actual counselor there though.

This reminds me of something a friend of mine told me. So I was at E3 talking to my friend Brandii. She's the LA chapter lead for the International Game Development Association. She was telling me about how game companies locate to cities based on the talent quality of college graduates. So this is normal for companies to work directly with colleges to both develop the type of graduates they want and to base the products they release around what the talent in the area is good at. This is probably why games with 2d engines come out of the bay area, LA puts out graphically intense games, and Austin produces mechanics heavy games. In fact, since the programming colleges are better in Austin, game companies will often relocate there if they're struggling to find programmers or to LA if they need artists more.

What does that mean for me? It means if I choose to stay in Sacramento for the next decade or more, I might have a hand in shaping the game development curriculum in the local colleges. After all, my dad runs an architectural company and he's changed the design curriculum because of his input. All of this sounds like complete insanity to me right now. I'm just some guy that wants to make a game.