Kill yur babies

About time I wrote some more. So this time around I want to talk about one of my often quoted, by myself, phrases Kill Yur Babies. Now this isn’t advocating infanticide. A little more tame way that some people say it is Kill Your Darlings. Basically what this means is don’t hold anything you make to be to precious or on to high of a pedestal that you aren’t open to criticism of it. That anything you create for a game you need to be open to changing it for any number of good reasons. And to not get upset about that.

Just about every game you make will be made as a team. It’ll be rare, if ever, that you make a game entirely by yourself. That means there will be several voices on what is best and right for the game. And the majority of the time you’re not going to be the lead voice in that choir. You’ll most likely be working towards someone else’s overall vision. And in that case you have to be open to critique and revision.

Now we’ll start with the assumption that everything you’re creating you think is the right and perfect sound or song for it’s purpose you intended. But just because you think so doesn’t mean everyone does. And to be a professional that people are going to want to work with again you have to be open to changes that those different views are going to have.

This isn’t saying roll over and submit to any change that is asked of you but that you need to not take it personal when changes are asked. Being asked for revisions and changes isn’t a personal attack and sometimes we can have a hard time remembering that because we’ve put so much into our sounds and songs. So it’s good to present what you think is right for the game but be ready to take on advice and make changes when another vision is presented. And do it so graciously with out getting to personally invested in ejecting your creations.

Who am I

So I figure you should know a little about me if you’re going to read this blog and have any trust in me regarding what I’m talking about. And idea of where my biases might be coming from.

I started out recording music. I had a background in jazz (played sax) and composition through high school but afterwards knew I didn’t want to be a professional musician. So I went to school and came out a recording engineer. I worked at recording and being an assistant engineer for about 5 years before deciding that recording and the other odd jobs I was doing wasn’t cutting it as far as the bills went. So through a local paper I found a job listing for QA at a big studio in town. Figured I could do that for the summer and then get back to recording. While I was there I ran back into someone I had gone to school with who was already doing game audio. And from that I got my foot in the door.

My first game audio job was in 2003. I was the low man on the ladder doing all the things that the other two guys on the team couldn’t get to or have time for. I loved it. I realized this is what I really wanted to do. I loved recording music but this was this cool full brain work out of technical and creative processes. Working with a team to create something bigger that people can interact with. So after that first audio contract on NHL 2004 I bounced around EA Canada with a bunch of contracts and landed a full time spot with a new team there doing PSP games.

I had a great time there, shipped a bunch of games and learned a lot. In 2007 I went freelance and continued to ship various games and keep skilling up as I went. I worked with both local and not so local studios. Then through a connection I made at a local studio I got an interview at Klei Entertainment. Honestly I thought it was going to be for another freelance contract. Much to my pleasant surprise I was hired for a full time postion. So since 2011 that’s been my home. I’ve gotten to do audio on amazing games that have gotten critical praise, won awards, sold units and had a really great community grow behind. I continue to get to work with great people on great projects.

Around all of that I started to want to give back in some way. In 2014 I started Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio with my co-host Gordon. We felt we had enough to say that maybe other people would like to hear and learn something from. We’ve managed an episode a month since we started with some amazing guests on to share knowledge. I’ve also helped out Gord with his organizing of the Vancouver Sound Design meetup group. And spearheaded with the help of Damian and John a twice yearly meetup in Bellingham to get our Vancouver and Seattle audio communities together for a day. I’ve also done talks at GDC, Indievelopment and Full Indie Summit on various audio topics. I actually have grown to really like talking in front of a crowd. (I have an ask me questions stance I’ve been told.)

So that’s a bit of where I came from and what I’m up to. I’m hoping to use this blog to pass on some mid-ground knowledge to people. I’m not going to get to crazy but I’m not looking to cover the basics. Lots of people are writing on that out there.