Roots Pushing Through

July 4th, 2017essays, operation: awesome

I think I’m starting to understand the concept of putting down roots. Staying in a place for a while. Staying at a job, a company for a long time. It’s…weird for me.

I never felt a connection to my hometown. And I always dreamt of having what is a rather impractical career.

When I was younger, I bounced around a variety of jobs that I hoped were never gonna turn into my career. So leaving when things got hard or tiring often felt like my best option. I didn’t want to work at those jobs forever so why put up when things weren’t great?

When my wife and I moved closer to Cleveland for her job, it was no big deal for me. The move meant closer proximity to cool things and I could continue to work on being a writer as I went from job to job.

Moving to Madison was harder–because of proximity to family–but it was a shot at working on something I truly love so we took it.

My need to move forward in my career outweighed pretty much every other factor.

And Madison is a great town. It’s my favorite town out of all the places I’ve lived. (London is my favorite town I’ve ever visited.)

Years later, I left that job for another job in the same area. And then that shop closed down. And I had no other opportunities.

This is the time when I launched a new edition of Little Fears and kicked off Operation: Awesome which were my attempts to hone my abilities and get practical, real product out there.

This led to some very welcome freelance gigs but it meant I was in constant pitching, constant working. I did anything and everything not just to scrape together taco money but to work my craft.

I wrote numerous bits and pieces for tabletop games (some of which paid, some of which got published, something that did both, some that did neither) and started doing article writing for AdventureGamers.com.

Once a year, I’d land a whale: a multi-month video game gig that helped us get through the leaner periods.

I was in panic mode this whole time. Every offer was short-term and I needed to find real stable full-time work. So I could catch my breath if nothing else.

I spent many years chasing a full-time opportunity. Any full-time opportunity. None of the work I got lasted all that long so I needed to be constantly looking for the next gig.

2012 is when everything changed. When I got an amazing offer–but had to walk away. When I won second prize at two different studios.

And then I landed the job at Volition.

But now, five years later, I am still always looking over my shoulder for the next thing. When things get too hard, my instinct is to look for another job.

I’ve developed a lot of bad habits–some necessary, some not–and they’re hard to shake.

All of this has prevented me from being comfortable putting down roots.

Why should I when I’m just gonna bounce, right?

But the truth is I’m in my chosen career, doing a job I love on amazingly “me” projects, working with amazing people–many of whom have become good friends. But I’ve never shaken off this perpetual fight or flight sensation.

It’s become something that nags at me. My obsessive tendencies likely exacerbate this.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as I’ve spent all this time at home due to my dying leg/recent hip replacement. And I think about my kids and their friendships. And my house and how I’ve just started having movie nights with family and friends. And how Champaign doesn’t have all the amenities on my wishlist but I have access to a lot of great parks and shops and restaurants.

I’ve been here five years. Not just in Champaign but at Volition. This is my longest stint at a job in my life–by some magnitude.

And I wonder if I can set down roots here. If I can put away the paranoia and fear and just relax. Just enjoy life and the area and, yeah, some times will be harder than others but maybe it’s worth pushing through.

I wonder. And I think maybe I can.

It might be time for me to catch my breath.

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Hello? This thing on?

June 23rd, 2017news, video games

So it’s been a year, huh?

Man, what craziness the past twelve months have brought.

I won’t be getting too much into it right now but I’m facing down a full left hip replacement next Thursday and about a month of recovery so my blogging time should shoot right up!

Until then, please enjoy these videos for Agents of Mayhem, out for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on August 15th (NA) and August 18th (EU).

A trailer!

Videos I am in!

The E3 2017 Demo!

For more videos, check out the official Deep Silver Volition YouTube Channel and the official Agents of Mayhem website.

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WATCH ME: Live on the Internet!

June 23rd, 2016interviews, video games

Well, “live” as in “pre-recorded” but so be it.

As you may know, I spent last week in Los Angeles, California showing off Agents of Mayhem at E3. I had a blast, and a big part of that was being able to sit down with press and discuss our game. If you’ve been wanting to see more of me (and, boy oh boy, who hasn’t been?) then check out the videos below.

Me on Twitch!

Me on Gamespot!

Me on Young Hollywood!

I also narrated the following video where I talk more in-depth about what to you’ll find in Agents of Mayhem.

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See You at E3!

June 10th, 2016video games

I am super-stoked to announce that I will be heading to Los Angeles on Monday to spend the week at E3!

This will be my first time at the show and I am honored to be there representing Agents of Mayhem.

If you’re in the LA area next week—especially if you’re at the show—hit me up via email!

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Watch Me: IGN REWIND THEATER

June 8th, 2016video games

More Agents of Mayhem news!

I had the pleasure of sitting down with IGN’s Vince Ingenito to discuss the story behind the recently released AOM announce trailer! Check it out:

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Announcing: AGENTS OF MAYHEM

June 6th, 2016news, video games

I am so incredibly excited and relieved to finally be able to talk about what I’ve been doing at work!

For those who have been wondering, I am Lead Writer on Deep Silver Volition‘s upcoming Agents of Mayhem! Check out IGN.com for the announcement—and watch the trailer below!

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2016! Man, it’s been a while.

May 17th, 2016fiction, news

It’s a bit embarrassing how long it’s been since I last updated. But the reason is fairly simple: I’ve been really really busy. In addition to my duties at the day job, I’ve been working on fiction writing. I am very happy to announce that I finished the first draft of my Middle Grade novel Little Fears: The Wolf Pact. I am currently editing it for a summer release. I am also working on another kids’ book that I will shop around once it’s ready.

I’ve embedded the cover to The Wolf Pact below. Click on the link to check out LittleFears.com.

Little Fears: The Wolf Pact Cover

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Watch Me Play PREY

June 16th, 2015interviews, news, video games

I recently sat down to play through the very first game I ever worked on, Prey, here at my current job at Deep Silver Volition. Check out my wonderful first-person skills in the below video.

Also, I wrote the manual.

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Operation Awesome: Revelations on Story

February 23rd, 2015essays, fiction

This is gonna be mostly old hat to most writers, I reckon, but every author goes through their own journey and such so this is new and revelatory to me, at the very least.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the core essence of story lately in light of a) always wanting to get better at my craft and b) having a novel make the agent rounds to some initial interest but not enough to seal a deal.

And that initial interest is a really good data point to have. I managed to move beyond the query stage with a good handful of agents but the manuscript didn’t connect enough for them to say “Yes, I must have this!” What that’s telling me is that I am far enough into my novel-writing ability to have a solid concept and my query was good enough to pique their interest but the work itself wasn’t bulletproof which is where I ultimately want my writing to be.

Turning that over, and working on my 30k word Little Fears novel, The Wolf Pact, has caused a couple thoughts to bubble to the surface.

Thought One: What’s the story about?

More a question that a thought but it’s the first question I need to answer before moving forward. It’s essential.

Now, when most folks ask “What the story about?” they mean (or at least get an answer pertaining to) the genre, details of the world and characters, and cool stuff that happens. But that’s all much lower level than I initially need to be.

For me, the answer to “What’s the story about?” is “This is a story about how [BLANK] learns [BLANK].”

Everything else is details.

In The Wolf Pact, Nate Torrance is a boy who discovers there’s a world of monsters that exists next to ours. Throughout his investigation, he makes friends with a girl named Jennifer Mills who has her own tie to monsters and, together, they uncover the truth about some wolf attacks in the area.

But, really, The Wolf Pact is a story about how Nate Torrance learns about friendship.” As his oldest friendship with his neighbor starts to fall apart, he builds a new friendship with Jennifer. That’s the essence of the story.

Also, that second blank is the story’s theme. “Friendship” is the theme of The Wolf Pact.

Thought Two: What about the protagonist is being challenged?

Okay, so this thought is another question. And it stems from the first.

If this is a story about how Nate Torrance learns about friendship, what about Nate is being challenged that leads to an epiphany? In The Wolf Pact, Nate holds firm that friendships are fixed. They don’t change. They certainly don’t end. It’s one of his principles. That his neighbor, who is older than Nate, is moving on forces Nate to try to reclaim that friendship. Jennifer wants to be friends with Nate but the boy is resistant. Not due to a flaw in Jennifer but a flaw in himself.

Thought Three: How is the theme supported?

Okay, so now we’re onto question three which calls back to question one. How am I supporting the theme? Perhaps a better term is “exploring.”

I’m exploring the theme of friendship by presenting different sides of it: the neighbor is moving on from friendship. Jennifer is trying to build a new friendship with Nate. Nate is trying to learn how friendship works. The antagonists also address this theme of friendship which is tied into the book’s name. The titular wolf pact is a core expression of friendship and how beholden one is to a promise made in youth.

Thought Four: How does the protagonist change?

Hrm. So all these thoughts are questions. Good to know.

Okay, I know the story is about how Nate learns about friendship. I know his idea that friendships don’t change is what will be challenged throughout the story. And I know I’ll explore the theme of “friendship” by showing different perspectives and stages of it. But what will ultimately change about how Nate views friendship? Once he has all this information and has seen the theme of friendship from multiple viewpoints, what does he do about it?

I won’t spoil that in this post (you’ll have to read the book to find out) but the basic options are: he accepts that friendships change or he rejects that friendships change. There are additional levels of complexity to this of course but those are the top levels I’m concerning myself with.

In Sum

With those in mind, I was finally able to approach The Wolf Pact armed with the information I needed to start. Next came outlining, developing subplots (which go through their own version of this but with a mind of supporting the established theme), and then the actual writing.

I’ll be very interested to see how this all comes together in the finished project and how everyone reacts to it. Either way, these kinds of revelations help make my writing stronger which is my ultimate goal. Is it bulletproof yet? No. But it’s another level of armor and that’s good enough for now.

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Interview with Local Show “Current”

January 28th, 2015interviews, video games

I’m a (local) TV star! My coworker Lorcan Murphy and I sat down with local news show Current to discuss having fun at the workplace, which is something we at Volition know quite a bit about.

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