Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 14

IMG_3428Monday, November 23, 2015.

My cousin Kris and his fiance Rachel tie the knot today.  (Years ago, Kris was the first person to introduce me to MineCraft, and probably should be working in game testing.)  After the ceremony and reception, Kris and I and some of his best friends head back to his house to play Super Smash Bros for Wii U.  Is this the new married life, I ask him?  Yes, he says, but he and Rachel take off soon after to Park City to start their honeymoon and a new life that hopefully will still include a healthy balance of games and whatever there is in life that is not games.  Congrats Kris and Rachel! 🙂

In the evening, I meet up with friends in Utah County and make pazookies, after which we play social party game Smurf.  Do you smurf?  How often do you smurf?  Who do you smurf with?

I then catch up on the movie sequel to The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, which I don’t think did that well in theaters (because of the name?), yet I like it as much as the original.

Somehow a non-EAE day still comes out game themed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015.

It’s play test Tuesday at EAE Master Games Studio!

I try out:

Blind Trust (originally Binaural)


Panoptic (previously Sensory Overload)

Sweet Ride (originally Crash City)

B.E.S.T. Police Training Simulator (our game, using the Oculus Rift)

After I play each game, a member of the team either asks questions or I fill out a Google Doc form with more detailed feedback.

Best Play TestPeople from other teams also play two versions of our game, one with Oculus, one without.

Right now, the Oculus makes me pretty sick to play with, which may have something to do with us using a DK1 dev kit.  More recent VR equipment has improved latency and resolution.  Motion sickness should not be an issue at all at The Void or if we are able to implement Freedom VR.

After the testing, we get together and share the feedback we collectively received, talk about what we’ve done since last week, and make new sprint goals.

In the evening, Paper Prototyping class takes place at Squatters in Salt Lake.  I order Local Only pizza, made from only local ingredients, and share with others who order deep fried pickles, cerviche, and nachos.  I don’t drink, but we do have a good time and enjoy a lecture on five types of puzzles:  physics, logic, language, sequential, and visual.  We also compare and contrast two very different puzzle games, Sudoku and Portal.

Matt delivers the sad news that React! Games may not have a contract it was expecting (on hold or cancelled, we don’t know yet), and that means our possible internships are also on hold for now.  I think I may just create my own internship, meaning I will be an intern at my own company, unless something exceptional comes up.

Minolta DSCMatt is starting a studio called Octothorpe, and walks us through how he approaches studios and other potential clients with proposals for partnerships.  He also shares more on his success with Cobalt Flux, the last multi-million dollar company he owned part of.

I finish the night at Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the most recent example of the merger of games and good books, ported to the big screen and commercial success  (Compare Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, and others.)  I run into B.E.S.T. teammate Ahmad at the theater, who is watching the new Rocky movie Creed.

I also continue to work on a business plan for a game studio, something I do a little (or a lot) each day.

2015-11-02-09-04Thursday, November 26, 2015.

Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

Regardless of when you read this, what are three things you are grateful for today?  Write them down or share with a friend or family member!  This is a life changing practice I picked up a few years ago and recommend to all.  I’ve seen it completely turn around people’s lives when done every day, and heard of it saving and dramatically improving marriages.  I wonder what it would do for a company?  A team?  Try for three different things every day, or make it a game?

Friday, November 27, 2015.

imageBlack Friday.

I do most of my holiday shopping online this year, thanks to cool weather and high winds.  I pick up a few games on Steam and from Sony’s PlayStation Store and Microsoft’s Deals with Gold.  I am most looking forward to finally playing Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment on Vita and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Star Wars Battlefront on my Xbox One.  (My dated 500 GB PS4 is full, so I am not buying games for it this holiday.  If I was, I would pick up Sword Art Online: Lost Song as well.)  I am trying to decide whether to upgrade my 3DS to the New 3DS, since I already have Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii.

Maybe by next year I will have a great game on sale for the holidays on one of these platforms?  Something needs to balance the dark side of the consumer force acting on my wallet…

51x71ZPj8YL._SX407_BO1,204,203,200_51l98hNDiQL._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_After properly celebrating this sacred day of shopping, I get a bit further in Game Design Workshop by USC’s Tracy Fullerton.  Recommended!

I also play with the second edition of A Deck of Lenses from The Art of Game Design author Jesse Schell, and consider how they apply to B.E.S.T.

51IIm+L2EIL._SL300_Finally, I listen to Steal the Show by Michael Port, an actor who talks about how to give deal-closing pitches, speeches, and interviews using techniques of professionally trained actors.  I enjoy public speaking, having given 42 speeches at Toastmasters International before starting the EAE program, but there is always more to learn and practice, as evidenced by last week’s all hands meeting.

Saturday, November 28, 2015.

I submit an unsolicited $250,000+ bid to do a project for a filmmaker I know using the studio I am starting.  (I know a LOT of filmmakers!)  The budget could go much higher depending on additional features and localization, but that is the low end.  I don’t expect the bid to be accepted, but the project is worthy of the investment and will definitely get their attention, possibly leading to future projects and bid opportunities.

I can also add the design to my portfolio, which could help with other contracts!

Wish I could say more!