I missed Endeavour parading through the streets, but felt the spirit as there was a slight buzz around LA. I'll definitely visit her at her new home, the California Science Center, very soon. It's inspiring and encouraging that so many people lined the streets to watch in awe. I loved how dirty, worn, and traveled NASA left the shuttle - I hope they keep it that way on display.
Hawken at E3
It hasn't been as long as the last gap between posts, but still too long. With some prodding (encouragement?) from Mirae, I'm finally getting to it. Most if not all of my time has been spent on Hawken. We've been crunching hard to meet our strict schedule for convention builds and alpha/beta milestone builds. This Friday was the last day of our second alpha phase with a much larger pool of testers, and the "play against the devs" event to close it out was a blast! I had a lot of fun talking to players in matches, answering some questions, and giving it my all in some frantic mech action. It was sort of comical to see ALL the players jump to the opposing team to get the chance to kill a dev. Sometimes I would switch to their team and the ENTIRE TEAM would switch right up, making for a bit of a lopsided match, but all in good fun nonetheless!
Minecraft PAX Party
Hawken PAX Party
Nick at our PAX Booth
So a lot of those intermediate builds were to prepare for the varios cons throughout the year. E3, Anime Expo, PAX, and Indiecade all had some degree of Hawken presence and the reception has been super positive and very encouraging! Those venues were pretty much the first time I could directly interact with people playing the game for the first time, which was so valuable, and a really good morale boost in this final stretch. I have to say, I really enjoyed PAX the most. The vibe was super fun all throughout downtown Seattle, our booth was very crowded every single day, and being open to the public meant it wasn't just industry folk mingling with other developers. I lost my voice from talking to people all day, but all those conversations are what I remember the most. I've been in a bit of a bubble for a very long time, so it was great to meet sound designers and audio geeks from tons of different studios and talk shop! Everyone is a fan of each others' work and it feels like one big team working towards the same goal: Make Fun Games. Since I switch hats between sound and UI, it was pretty humbling for me to get props from the Deadspace UI guy for the Hawken visor UI! I'll definitely remember PAX the most out of all the cons this year - it felt exactly like what a gaming con should be. Some other tidbits: League of Legends is HUGE (seeing all the costumes and the live tournament was super fun), and the Minecraft party was out. of. control: a huge concert venue with open bars for thousands of people all night. Also, Primal Carnage is both addicting and hilarious. I was waiting in line for a while waiting for the guy in front of me to finish playing, until I finally realized it was Khang. We were hooked.
A couple of weddings came and went. First off, congrats to Salim & Tammy - I don't get to see him very much, and it was the first wedding that I've actually been *in* as a groomsman. Getting a chance to talk and catch up reminded me how similar everyone is to how I remember, which is very comforting. It was a fun reunion of sorts (I haven't seen the rest of their family in ages), and best wishes to their future!
Chris and Maurene's Wedding
Secondly, Chris and Maurene got married at a super cool venue in Jalama just north of Santa Barbara. I've known them both for almost as long as they've been dating (and live with them!), so it was a pretty special day. Jamie and I and a couple of Maurene's friends played a live song for their first dance, and it was fun to rehearse it... reminded me of the old band practice days. Hopefully I can find a recording/video of that! Congrats guys, here's to an awesome future full of wonder and merriment!
Kinekt Gear Ring
My birthday came and went, and I was pretty surprised by a couple of amazing gifts this year. Mirae surprised me with a Gear Ring from Kinekt Designs because she remembered me mentioning how cool it was. The funny thing is Maurene also got me one! Poor Kinekt must have thought business was exploding, but alas, one had to be returned.
Bill Nye Hosting the Curiosity Landing
The second surprise was a ticket from Danny to attend a live viewing of the Mars Curiosity rover landing at the Pasadena Convention Center. The event was filled with exhibits from NASA and JPL, as well as tons of presentations from the science community. Bill Nye was our host for the evening, and we also had a great talk from Ann Druyan and Seth MacFarlane discussing the new Cosmos series. Ann was particularly affecting - she's super eloquent, ridiculously passionate about science, and brilliant. Her words about Carl Sagan were very moving, and I wish more people had their character.
Polar Bear at San Diego Zoo
A couple of shots from a couple of local trips Mirae and I took: San Diego and Huntington Gardens. We've been together over a year and I'm super grateful for all our time, but I do wish we could see each other more than once a week. :( Soon... soon!
New Studio Gear
On the music/sound/geek front, much of my recent work has been focused (understandably) on Hawken, and as we've been ramping up I've been expanding my home studio a bit. Gear-wise, almost everything has changed over the last couple of years including my reference monitors, microphones, preamps, and MIDI controllers. One purchase I mulled over for quite a while was a Mackie Control Pro. I've been snubbed by Mackie in the past with my Onyx mixer which lacked any modern OS X integration (and silence on their part), but I just couldn't find a good alternative at this price point with motorized faders. I debated getting an iPad and TouchOSC for its flexibility and cost (and I do use TouchOSC on my iPhone), but I just can't get into touching glass to control faders. I need the tactile feedback if I'm not looking while adjusting values. Anyway, it works pretty well, though I had to modify the Ableton python scripts that interface with the MCU Pro to make the digital scribble strip readout work properly. If anyone's interested in those scripts, let me know and I'll send 'em to you. We just finished up building a Whisper Room at work (pretty fun to build, and amazing that this product exists today!) and I've pretty much replicated my home studio in it, at work. It's a weird parallel dimension, but at least I can work on identical gear at work and at home when taking projects back and forth.
Lastly, this is from our front yard (though the audio is from a recording of rain a while back). I would like some more time with my 7D to experiment with short videos.
I know, it's been forever. I can honestly say that I've been busy - usually an empty excuse for an excuse - but it's the truth, I promise. I realize I need to stop saving up all kinds of mental tidbits for lengthy posts, and just let stuff out a little at a time. This'll be a lengthy catch-up, and then I resolve to post bite-sized nuggets from here on out. Besides, my power is out, and what better way to catch up than with my remaining-battery-deadline, a candle, and a bowl of cereal?
Together with Ali Bavarian, we have formed Paper Sound: a music and audio production partnership for games! I love the entire craft, development, and experience of games, and it was only fitting to finally formalize it into a focused entity! I'll be focusing all future music production through this channel. We are currently wrapping up work on Brainsss, an upcoming zombie game for iOS by Lonely Few. Work on it has been fun as it's a pretty lighthearted game, but still good composition/production/mixing experience. You can check out the tunes on the Paper Sound site, and we had a brief interview on the Indie Games Podcast, conducted by Jeriaska.
About five months ago an opportunity presented itself that I couldn't pass up. I have wanted to work on video games since I first played one (which is why I jumped at the chance with the iPhone). I remember being mesmerized by all the games on our Intellivision, Amiga, Macs & PCs, and of course through the arcade, 8- and 16-bit eras. Here was a medium that successfully combined everything - art, sound, music, story, interactivity - to create the illusion of an entirely parallel world for you to enjoy. And I enjoyed! My love of coding, art, music, and sound all stems from this, and I was lucky enough to join the crazy-talented team at Adhesive Games to work on Hawken as a User Interface and Sound Designer. It's been an awesome experience so far and I've already cranked out a ton of work, some of which will be visible/audible in some soon-to-be-released trailers. We have a super busy schedule ahead of us as the open beta starts on 12/12/12, and we'll be moving into a very nice and large new space in Pasadena this week - complete with a custom dedicated audio room!
The combination of Hawken and Paper Sound has completely smothered my schedule (in a good way). Unfortunately, my six-year Ruby on Rails journey with Gallery Nucleus has pretty much had to end. I hoped to continue helping with some semimonthly updates, but I have barely had the chance to contribute at all. I will still be fixing some bugs and adding a few new features, but am definitely seeking out a Ruby on Rails expert for some more help. Nucleus is an amazing group of people creating a community and a place for the art creators and fans to come together, and there's no secret to its method - it's simply pure hard work from people that care. I've been fortunate to be a part of the team for so long, but it's not really parting ways either - we are all part of the same circles, including the Hawken team. Before I shifted over, we released a couple of big new features on the site - full translations, and new print & art reductive filters (a much better way to find exactly what you're looking for by subject matter, color, size, etc.)! The talented design team Matik also had some very cool installations in the gallery, including the Dream Tweet. Go visit (n)!
Scott C's new website is up! He's one of my favorite and most prolific artists! His output is busting at the seams so much, and spread across so many sites and resources, that he wanted to consolidate everything and have a web place to call home, so I helped him set up a Wordpress-based site. I've been a fan of the platform after helping the talented Jen Wang with her new site, especially as a simple content-management system that is pretty intuitive on the back-end. There's a lot of new-fangled stuff out there, but Wordpress works, and works well. Go check out all his amazing work! Speaking of... Maurene worked very hard on Scott's new book, which is well-designed and amazing collection of material for the Scott C fan... Check it out!
We had the most ridiculous Santa Ana windstorm that I've ever seen in Los Angeles. It literally looked as if it had rained trees overnight, and that's not an exaggeration. Imagine trees all over everything - cars, roads, freeways, homes - insanity. In fact, another giant tree fell in our backyard (poor Chris). The main night of the storm was like a strange dream... Ali and I had a deadline on a music track for Hawken and we worked through the storm until our power went out, then continued until my laptop battery ran out, then drove downtown (dodging trees) to his apartment and worked until morning, passing one set of headphones back and forth to mix/compose/produce. I think that was my first music production emergency challenge - what a surreal evening.
I had a great birthday with close friends, and received many an awesome card (including some great watercolors from Lin), and this painting from Te that I just have to share. I mean, cmon!
My little home studio (AKA bedroom) has been steadily growing to fit the needs of Paper Sound and Hawken music and sound design. There have been a bunch of new toys in the last 6 months, all playing nicely with some old familiar ones. There's a lot of stuff that I'm pretty excited about, so I'll probably have some kind of run-through in a future post. Maybe I'll tie it in with some kind of overview of the new audio room, since I'll be trying to replicate some of the home studio gear/setup there as well (in case I need to continue working and mixing at home). A lot of this is familiar to me, but some of it is very new (mostly the field recording aspect) so I've been enjoying soaking up all the material I can find on the subject, from sound design blogs to podcasts to books. More to come!
I also met Mirae, which is awesome. She lives too far, which is not awesome. So far this is not stopping us from adventure times. I had a free weekend between Nucleus and Adhesive, so we took a little road trip up the coast to SF. I wanted to move in to The California Academy of Sciences atrium because, well, it is built from wonder dust. Looking forward to many more trips with M!