Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Level 6

imgresA lot happened over the break.  Among other good news, B.E.S.T. was selected to advance to the semi-finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup!

More details to come…

It has been a great Christmas / other holiday break, and as usual, I didn’t take the whole thing off…

51WzYGhnGrL._SL300_While snowed in over Christmas, I reached my second stretch goal of reading or listening to 400 books in 2015, many of which were game or entertainment business related.  End of year highlights included Jane McGonigal’s Super Better, just released to audio.  (Want to read a lot of books?  Tip #1: Drive a lot!  Tip #2: Learn to listen to Audible books at 3x speed. Kindle Unlimited was a big help, too!)

When not reading or spending time with family, I worked on the PPM for B.E.S.T. so we are just about ready to start raising money for the big picture plan. I’d like to have some funding by March so other members of the team can plan to keep working on B.E.S.T. after May.

GOED_BTF_stack__logoI met with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for advice on how to sell B.E.S.T. to States and the Department of Justice and how to arrange government contracts in general. I am scheduled to meet with one of them again at the end of January. The meeting validated that there is a great need for what we are producing, especially if we can create more scenarios, which will take outside funding and a larger team of 15 to 30 people (post graduation.)

Any chance we can add GAMES to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development logo?

518Hqak6ItL._SX388_BO1,204,203,200_I also read through The Game Production Handbook again, a book we went through my very first semester. Jose Zagal, during a Game Ethics class, gave me a little advice about starting a studio: Focus on process. This time through the book, I outlined every step the book suggests in a Trello board (a tool that should help us polish B.E.S.T. over the next four months), and added a few of the innovations I and my teams have come up with over the course of EAE.

Every studio has its own process, and it occurs to me that no matter how strong the game idea is that one pitches to an investor or publisher, what will really sell them on your team is process, so I am setting up mine to be as grounded yet innovative as possible, something worthy of a graduate of the top game design program in the nation. Will this process eventually be as award winning or notable as my 2015 game designs?

2015-12-26-05-13My philosophy is, you can learn to hit baseballs and run bases from a book, but you can’t develop a swing like Babe Ruth with a book. I am doing a bit of both at EAE.

11235046_10153268315690233_2083305985725903335_oAlso significant over the break: EAE took us all to Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18th! Both grads and undergrads, faculty, and a handful of industry vets like Jeff Peters and Donald Mustard, who I spoke to again briefly screen322x572afterward.  (Can you see me in there?)  Donald was excited to finally be able to talk about the movie, as he is working on a game with J.J. Abrams and saw the film early. He says he liked the early version, and loves the final cut! I had already seen The Force Awakens on December 17th, and my brother, who lives with his family in Finland at the moment and develops apps like the Apple Design Award winning Concepts: Smarter Sketching for iPad, got to see it somehow on the 16th!  (Concepts is now available on iPhone!  Also amazing with Apple Pencil on iPad Pro.)

On another day, I make a list of all of my previous employment and entrepreneurial projects, from the time I was five and ran a lemonade stand in Hamden, Connecticut. (My father had a computer consulting company called DataSage, and taught Computer Science at Yale, including basic game engineering.) I take the list, compare it to a separate list of education completed and to financial and other goals in life, and realize the only path that is likely to get me there is starting my own studio, though experience at other studios is not unacceptable.

I’m leaving out a lot, but this should give you some idea of my not so wasted holiday.