Friday, March 02, 2007

A Worthy Enterprise

Well, it was a fine six or so years, but I decided to hang up the ol' Beep spurs a few months ago. Before the usual sympathy notes and garment rending, I wanted to say that this was a decision that actually felt pretty good. Beep, as I know it, actually ended several years ago with the completion of Voodoo Vince. My efforts since then amounted to a case of serious denial. I kept the hope of a Vince sequel or that next big thing alive, but many of you know what the climate is like out there for new IP's or anything with a hint of humor (For all you non-grizzled game industry vets, it's not good).

Beep Industries was initially created to be an ideal first party developer for Microsoft. I wanted to build games for them from the first day I heard rumors about the Xbox, with the hopes of building a mascot... or at least the mascot's distant cousin once removed. After starting Beep, my partners and I learned everything we could about their process and bent over backwards to be a solid, reliable partner for them.

It worked. I'm told Beep was one of only two developers who never missed a milestone in the history of Microsoft Game Studios. I don't know if that's a fact, but it feels good to believe it. I am immensely proud of what we created. Content always outlives code, and there is some amazing art, stellar music and flat out cool stuff crammed into Voodoo Vince. For that matter, even our code was pretty damn cool. Xbox 360 developers using the Vince.api (and there are many) are still using technology we created during the production of VV.

Above: Company mascots Brenda, Chet and Arichitor. Arichitor got his name from a misspelling of the word "animator" on a magazine subscription my wife used to get at work.

But, future incarnations of Vince were not to be. The market was changing, as was the emphasis on the bottom line. Trapped between these two realities, I guess there was no longer room for a creature like Beep at the table. The fact that all our eggs were in the Xbox basket, and our only game was a wacky little closet hit didn't help when it came to finding a new publisher. The Vince team went their separate ways in 2003, and all but one of my former business partners left the game industry altogether. Two of them are now farmers. I enjoyed my foray into casual games, but I missed that experience of working on something substantial and that particular type of intense teamwork that comes with larger projects.

The good news is, there will be that next big thing, it will just happen under a different roof. I recently accepted a job with a great game studio here in the Seattle area. I'm really excited about it and am looking forward to working on awesome, original games again. I'll post what information I can once things gets rolling there.

I want to heartily thank all the former Beepsters, both pre and post Vince era for their incredible efforts, talent and friendship. I also want to thank the fans of Voodoo Vince who have created a small, but vibrant community around the game. Their enthusiasm and devotion has been a real highlight for me the last few years.


ps: Don't worry -- Ton of Clay will continue to serve as my mental laundry service and dumping ground for pointless, long-winded memories.