The Early Years

I was born in the west Texas town of El Paso, where I lived until I was 17 and graduated from High School. I started playing video games since before I even have memories of it. My first memory comes from when my brother got an NES for his birthday and playing Mario and Zelda. After that I had an ordinary childhood relationship with video games: I would read Nintendo Power, compete with my cousins to see who could beat a game first, and who knew the most cheat codes.

However when I was ten or eleven years old I was at a friend's house and he had Final Fantasy IV for the SNES. After playing that game my normal childhood interest in video games turned into a passion. I started looking at games differently, trying to figure out what exactly made a game good and enjoyable. Over the years I began to form my own ideas on game design and the nature of video games. It was around this time that I had a conversation with my father where he told me that best thing to do in life was to find something you love and get paid to do it. It was at this moment, at the tender age of 12 that I decided I wanted to make video games.

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Once I had decided what it was I wanted to do with my life I started trying to do everything in my power to make my dream a reality. In High School I continued to play video games and started to see patterns in the games that I played. I was starting figure out the fundamentals of game design. However, I still had very limited knowledge on the video game making process so I tailored my education to deal with anything that could possibly be related to video games. I made sure to take ample Math and Physics classes so that I could accurately create simulations. In my English and literature classes I made to always try and apply the same analysis techniques to story based games I played. I developed an interest in Mythology, and other classical stroy telling elements so I could try and craft the best narratives I could. I played mostly console games so I even took Japanese classes because I believed it might give me an edge in my future career, and it was at this time, in high school that I had my first introduction into C++.


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My Education

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I graduated High School in the spring of 2000. I had been accepted into the University of Texas at Austin, and I got only 8 days of rest before my first day of class at UT. I can remember dealing with the dilemna of picking a Major. I knew exactly what I wanted to do as a career, but at the time a degree in video game development was unheard of. I racked by brains thinking of what would be best. I asked myself the question "What would be the best thing in order to get me closer to goal in games. I could have gone into Computer Science, but I wasn't sure that programming is what I wanted to do even though I knew it was an indespensible part of game development. I concluded that making video games was both a creative and technical endeavor and if I wanted to be the best game developer I could be I would have to learn both. So I settled on a two-prong plan of action.

I became an English major at UT to train to become a writer and hone my creative ability. I learned about the way people interact with stories. I learned about the strengths and weaknesses different media have when it comes to telling a story. I immersed myself in the Classics, in mythologies, in philosophy, and in creative writing. However there was still the issue on what to do about my technical side. In my youth I had heard of a school that specialized specifically in game programming. That school was named Digipen Institue of Technology, and right from the start it was plan to go there when I was done at UT.

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Japan

While I was at UT I was continuing to study the Japanese Language. I took on a second major in Japanese and was given the opportunity to travel abroad. So for one year of my University days I went to Japan. It was an amazing experience that changed my life and changed my perspective on the world. I lived in the heart of Tokyo and attended classes at Sophia University. I was able to immerse myself in the Japanese culture and my knowledge of the of the differences between Japanese and American games began to grow. I met wonderful people and some of my best friends are people I met there.


I graduated from UT and I was armed with knowledge and experinece on the creative process. It was now time to fill in the missing link: my technical prowess. I was accepted into Digipen during my senior year at UT, and began attending 3 months after I graduated. Even though I knew I didn't want to take a traditional CS program, the RTIS degree at Digipen offered many opporunities. Unlike an ordinary CS program Digipen focused on game development and we took time other programs would spend on Databases and sorting, and spent it on graphics and pathfinding. The program was geared toward teaching people to become professionals in the game industry. So I learned a lot about the product cycle, and the production pipeline. In the years I spent at Digipen I gained the equivalent of one and half years of professional experience in the industry. That experience was gained from developing our own games as independent developers, hearing lectures given by current professionals, and pitching ideas to Nintendo of America located across the street from our campus.

Finally I was able to take the ideas and theories I've been developing over the years and apply them to real projects. I got to make several games, and I learned things about design that can only be learned from application. I learned so many things about computers. Things ranging from how the processors work all the way to how get the most out of the optimizers. I learned languages as low level as X86 Assemply to as high level as lua. I programmed robots, made games to run on high end machines, made games to run on low end machines. I got the opportunity to peek at the bleeding edge of real time application research, and even got to make some games for the gameboy color and gameboy advance.

After attending Digipen and UT I felt like I had technical know-how and the creative experience to enter the industry and face the challanges of game development.

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My Career

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While attending Digipen, at the end of my junior year I was hired at Surreal Software as a designer to work on their XBox360/PS3 Title This is Vegas. This was the achievement of the goal I set out to reach when I was 12 years old. Though I did have a bit of experience as an indpendent developer before, this was my intro into the world of the professional and I have to say it agrees with me.

It's been 2 years now since I started at Surreal. I got the opportunity to work on a Triple A title, I've had the opporunity to work on the concept phase for new projects and create working prototypes to test systems and mecahnics. I am growing in my job, but I'm never going to stop striving to become a better game developer and a better person.