Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 13

Tuesday, November 17, 2015.

This morning goes by like a blur.  Eric has a new cover page ready for B.E.S.T.


I work with Shahbaz to get a gameplay video ready for our All Hands meeting that was scheduled for Thursday but moved to today.  I replace the slide backgrounds with the new styles, and barely finish both before it is our turn to present.  A great teamwork moment that almost works out for us.

Ahmad starts the presentation with a team intro and razor.  I give the rest of the presentation, which is first saved by Jose who has the right adapter to connect my Mac to the projector.  (Eric’s did not fit.)  Then the new video fails to play half way through when I click the slide, instead playing the audio of the underlying old video that I left underneath the new one.  I keep my cool and exit the presentation and play the video in Quicktime.

The Q&A at the end goes a lot better, and Eric compliments me for keeping my cool and not acting stressed.  Lesson learned:  Just like you don’t add new code at the last minute without testing it, maybe we should not update an entire Keynote presentation the morning of without leaving time for testing.

The audience of peers and professors likes our new art and seems a bit jealous when we say our entire team is involved in the design process.  Most of the other teams have appointed two or three leads to make key design decisions because of their size. We have six people to their twelve to fifteen.  My sense from talking to some of these teams is there is discontent over many of the decisions made.  I read recently that Popcap Games prides themselves on including design input from everyone in the company, including accountants and attorneys who traditionally do little design.

51NUJ4fnF0L._SL300_-1Outside of class, I listened to three audiobooks over the weekend from one author, David Kushner.

Masters of Doom, Prepare to Meet Thy Doom, and Jacked primarily tell the stories of John Carmack and John Romero who created Doom, with the end of the second book and the final book focused on the making of Grand Theft Auto.  GTA started out as Cops and Robbers, with the police the main protagonists.  The group soon realize they have simply made a police simulator and that it was “no fun at all.”  They reverse the roles, calling the game Race and Chase and then Grand Theft Auto.

What do you think:  Should B.E.S.T. follow GTA’s lead and become Police Shooting Simulator? Or should we try to find other ways to make our simulator fun (and meaningful), positioning ourselves as the opposite of GTA?

The book makes an interesting case that GTA is, in fact, a moral game.  “The more crime you commit, the more the police come after you, proving that crime doesn’t pay.”

Another quote from the book:  “It seemed like every day a new crime was blamed on the game.”

What if every day a new crime was stopped by a game?  What if B.E.S.T., or a game like it, could became a real life Batman or Gandhi?  We are not the first game to try.

Thursday, November 19, 2015.

Eric is stuck at work today, but we arrange to have him on Facetime while we have our stand up.

I come up with new keywords for B.E.S.T.’s voice recognition to pick up, trying to predict how officers may approach our suspect.  I also get started on subtle sound effects and ambient noise for Scenario 2.

Friday, November 20, 2015.

logoAfter a Brick Oven lunch with my sister, nieces and nephews, I have a meeting at Thanksgiving Point with a movie producer/editor who has the rights to multiple young adult book series that he plans to turn into both films and games.  He invites me to bid on turning the first book in one of the series into a game while he works on the movie.  We talk for 3.5 hours.

I will focus on creative ideas to begin with, as the decision may still be months away, but I would like to make a film related game that is not just an afterthought.

I read the book about a year ago, but listen to it again today as an audiobook.

Saturday, November 21, 2015.

I spend most of the day working on a business plan for a game studio that can bid on the film project, among others.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been this engaged in something in my life.  People are texting me, inviting me to go out and enjoy the evening, but I don’t want to.  I am in flow.

Do I really need an internship?  No, not with my broader entertainment business education and experience.

The more I think about it, the more I just want to start a studio, now.  Sure I’ll make a few mistakes, but I am fearless and a fast learner.  I can hire top talent and experience, and eventually define it.

I’ll keep the internship option open for now, but unless something exceptional comes up, I am going to start a commercial studio between now and graduation in May, so anything else I do will have to be flexible.