You might not have seen this new XBOX Live Arcade game, and if you haven't, you should definitely check it out.

This is my ship... you can have the Red one. No, I don't care that blue is your favorite color. It's mine! Mine!!!

Schizoid (by Torpex Games) is a two player co-op game that you can play over the network or on the couch, and it has a really simple game mechanic - the Blue player can kill Blue things, and the Red player can kill Red things. The opposite color to your ship is deadly. And that's it. No controls other than a single stick to worry about, it's pure distilled simplicity, and rather addictive.

Never mind the tortuous Uberschizoid mode which has you as a single player try in vain to split your brain in half and control two ships at once - one with the left stick, and one with the right.

Obscure Schizoid Reference involving flapjacks, brainwashing, left vs right handedness, and black Russian cigarettes

I met creator Jamie Fristrom at Gamefest last week, and he can't complete it on Uberschizoid mode, although he's come pretty close. Other people at Torpex have done it, which probably means that they're drummers.

Check it out and download the demo for free - what do you have to lose but your sanity?


The Disturbance in the Force was...

For those of you who I've not told in person what's going on yet... there was a huge disturbance in the force on July 11th for me. A shift sideways, if you will.

Death by... er... Death Star
The planet Alderaan. This is obviously an "after" pic.

I left Surreal Software.

That's a big huge enormous step for me... I'd been there for 3 and a half years, and because of that have worked with some of the most amazing people I've ever worked with. And I mean ever. These guys were awesome - almost like family. They honestly care about the people who work for them, and even though the company is getting quite large these days (its doubled in size since I started there), everyone there is a rockstar. That's rare.

Before you start wondering... no, I didn't leave because of the project I was working on, or problems with co-workers or anything else you might be imagining which is untoward. In fact, I'd have loved to have stayed and seen This Is Vegas all the way through to completion, because it's one of those projects which has the potential to just completely rock the gaming world. I've got faith that those guys will come out with an excellent game.

This Is Vegas: It's like someone took GTA 4 and gave it several large dirty martinis and a backstage pass to a Frank Sinatra concert

Nah, I left because working with your fiancee blows goats for both you and your fiancee. It removes that safety valve that everyone needs to vent about what's going on at work, because if you work together, often times you'll both be venting about the same thing - and from two different sides. Not good. That, and absence (even for a few hours each day) makes the heart grow fonder.

So where did I end up going? (And please, if your name is Andrew K, Pete I or Sean Ph, forgive me - I'm totally slammed right now, and this whole thing has been a bit of a roller-coaster. Emails are about to fly your way explaining what's going on).

The New Hotness...

XRK: You only think you've not heard of us because you've not been paying enough attention... yet

I've just started a new gig with the incredibly talented bunch X-Ray Kid Studios. Did you heard of Google Lively which hit beta about 3 weeks ago? Well, notice all that art and animation goodness? That's us.

I've come on board as Director of Engineering, which is a position I've been itching to sink my teeth into for a few years now.

We're working on our own IP right now. I can't tell you any more details, just please, rest assured that I've never seen a group of people so... well... synchronized. Everyone is on the same page as to what we want to create, and that's making the early stages mindblowingly smooth.

(BTW: I will be looking for at least 3 senior guys to join me on the team in the areas of general engine/tools tech, graphics and gameplay, and probably 2 or 3 mid to junior ones before the end of the year... although the details right now aren't fully figured out. If you know anyone in the games industry who's looking, let me know).

My Job So Far...

So far, over the past two weeks, I've been down to our Newport Beach offices in Orange County, California, and met the rest of the team in person. (All of whom are great... I spent a good part of my first week in complete and total utter fanboyish shell shock regarding the caliber and credentials some of the people I work with).

We get our offices up in Seattle on August 1st (X-Ray Kid North is the Video Game hub; X-Ray Kid South is the 2D/Animation/Cartoon/Comic Book/TV/Movie hub). The offices are right across the street from Surreal Software which is great (and means that I can still carpool to work), and literally right across the corridor from FXville - a group of mostly ex-Surreal Video Game FX and Character artists, whom I consider to be the absolute best in the business. (And if this all sounds rather incestuous and sparks your conspiracy theory neurons... that office complex is probably the best creative space for the price available right now).

I went to Gamefest 2008 last week and met up with some old friends, and made some new ones, did some networking, attended a number of talks, and discovered that - weirdly - about 75% of the attendees this year appeared to be Microsoft employees.

O Rly?

Meanwhile, the rest of my co-workers ended up at the San Diego Comicon. Unlike most people who go to the Comicon, they're the kind of people who actually go there and sign autographs and stuff, instead of lining up to get them. (Going to Comicon as superstars vs. listening to talks about how to compress data for streaming on the XBOX 360 at the exceptionally nerdy Gamefest 2008? I think they got the better end of the deal).

The embarassing thing tho? Last comic books I read was ... ok, well, strictly it was Absolute Watchmen. But before that? Er... that'd be my friend Aron Dittbrenner's one that he was working on. OK, so, anything commercial that anyone else would have read or heard of? Ummmm.. yeah... that'd be the Spiderman/Venom arc way back when. Like, 1985 or so. Before that, I did read my Uncle's entire Marvel comicbook collection which comprised of nearly everything Marvel published from about 1968 to about 1978. That was, I read it before my cousins decided they were coloring books and my aunt unfortunately didn't disavow them of this knowledge. God knows how much those would be worth today.

Which means that ... um... it's quite embarrassing to realize that nearly everyone I work with is a comic-book legend to those who follow them.

Jeff Matsuda gets his Batman on

Best thing about this job so far? Everyone's huge on collaboration, so I get to dabble with my more creative side instead of just pushing da onez and zeroez.

This week, I'm back down in the Irvine area, meeting up with potential Engine partners for a console game. *cracks knuckles* Time to get stuck in! (Although getting up at 4am for a flight... meh... goes with the territory).

Big leagues. Small massively agile company. This is going to be fun.

I'm planning on interviewing the guys I work with for either my blog or the X-Ray Kid website soon, so you can get a taste of what we're all about (the usual disclaimer: if I have time). More news as it happens. Keep 'em peeled.


Super Cool Universe Sandbox Simulator

Digg this up and give the author some love: (and by the way, there's a video linked from the Digg article, so check that out too).

It's a pretty amazing project... everything is controllable via a WiiMote. I've seen this running on a huge projection screen, and it's frankly just dazzling. You could play with this for hours.

Especially the galaxies crashing bits...

Here's a screenshot of a physically accurate Saturn, with all of its moons:

Saturn's moons - Universe Sandbox


A disturbance in the Force...

A shift... I can feel it... big things are afoot... No, I don't mean bigfoot... or that there's something wrong with my feet. Something is... different.

It's almost as if the date July 11th will have some kind of crazy significance to my life... the end of an era, maybe? A conjunction of all the major planets, and a few of the more eccentric asteroids for good measure, leading to apocalyptic earthquakes the likes of which the Pacific Northwest have never seen? Will the sun set and fail to rise? Or perhaps a plague of locusts will blot it out...

And then... some kind of strange crackling energy rippling through the dark corners of the cosmos. A new frontier awaits, sitting in the shadows, waiting... breathing.

Of course, that new frontier's going to open up on July 15th, and then spring like a viper on a ... er ... tree-mounted spring.

A new chapter of my life.

Should be fun :)

#life, #news
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