Hall of Heroes – 2013

I’ve just hugged my big brother goodbye. I will see him next year, probably 2, 3 or 4 months from now.
I’ve been living in London for the past year and a half (and change). These are the last days from my Christmas holidays in Portugal, I’m flying back to the big city on January 2nd.

A lot of things happened this year.

Moving here in 2012 was a hard decision. The hardest I’ve ever taken yet. But if you know me just the slightest, you’ll know my passion for games. And my passion for games and games development was not being sated in Portugal.
The solution was always to move.

I had the chance to go to Facebook London’s HQ and do a talk on cross-platform development, representing where I work at, Plumbee. That was pretty momentous. I met one of my heroes, Alan Cannistraro. I learned Objective-C through his Stanford courses, available on iTunes U. That knowledge got me a job at Bliss Applications doing mobile apps and all of that eventually got me my current job. An ex-Apple employee, he’s at Facebook now heading up iOS development. Talking with him was really great.

A friend visited me and we went to London Comic-Con. I got an autograph from Mark Meer, I explicitly bought the Mass Effect art book just so I could get his signature. I told him I loved his work and to me he was the real Shepard, no matter how good Jennifer Hale‘s work is. I also told him I approved of the Mass Effect 3 ending. He thanked me. It was my first time at a cosplay event. It was really great to see everyone have so much fun, and I hope to do some cosplay in the future.

I met Chris Avellone, at another event, Rezzed. I had played his most praised game, Planescape: Torment, some 14 years ago. I had the chance to meet him and interview him thanks to our mutual friend Ian. This was without a doubt the highlight of this year. Having the chance to personally thank such a huge influence in my life, Chris having written and designed so many of the games that formed my taste in video games, it was a very special moment for me. He signed my boxed copy of Planescape: Torment, which I had travelled to Portugal almost on purpose to retrieve it some months before. Seeing him deliver his Project Eternity keynote, I shouted YEAH when he showed all the Black Isle games logos. Those were my teenage years on full display for all to see. I keep looking back to that first time I played Torment. I had no idea I would ever meet the person responsible for those first few lines of dialogue and interaction. I had no conception at the time there even was a person behind that. But after that and the Fallout games, I really started to pay attention to the people that made games. And if at the time I didn’t consciously decide to become one of them, I know now that was one of the key moments that sparked the dream.

Still at Rezzed I played Journal, by Richard Perrin. I spoke with him and he gave me some great tips, and just seeing his game completely inspired my own games and projects and I changed the direction for #projectnoir, previously a visual novel adventure game and now a top down adventure game. I asked him why can you jump in Journal, when there’s no platforms to climb to. He said the extra interaction brought you closer to the game. I agreed and did a quick platforming + dialogue prototype right afterwards.

I also met Rami Ismail, one of the people behind Ridiculous Fishing, Luftrausers, Nuclear Throne, Super Crate Box and so many other games and projects. He’s one of the nicest developers I’ve met, and I really admire his output, either through games or reaching out to the community in tangible ways, like pressKit(). I wish him all the best with his next games, and would love to say hi some next time.

This year I dabbled in Unity and Futile. I even did an internal talk at Plumbee about what I had learned. I’ve been doing good progress on #projectnoir and recently started work on a smaller, less ambitious little platformer, something perhaps a bit autobiographical.

In September I went to Eurogamer Expo, I had a two day pass. However, I didn’t manage to find anyone to go with me. The first day started good. I bought Doom and Fallout t-shirts. Thank you Bethesda for the merchandising, so many years later I can finally wear official Fallout gear!
Not many games excited me, though.
However, since I was alone, I was quite depressed by the end of the day, and did not go the second. Just the prospect of another 8 hours staring at games and not saying a single word, it was just too much. I could have tried to spark some conversations, sure, but it can be very hard for me if I don’t feel at ease.

I went with friends from work to the onelifeleft podcast Christmas party, and I karaoke’d Don’t Stop Believing, with modified lyrics, helped by the onelifeleft crew. It was a brilliant party to top off the year, to be amongst lovers of video games, celebrating everything good about it. There was even Secret game Santa. I met Keith Stuart, Kieron Gillen and Simon Parkin at that party, world famous game journalists, but also really cool, approachable and fun people. Hell, I sat on Keith’s lap while he handed me a PS3 game from the Secret Santa pile. Thanks Santa, I got Dead Rising 2 (and some F1 game…)!

While I love the work Keith and Simon do, meeting Kieron Gillen was such a fantastic surprise for me. I couldn’t resist saying hi to him and the folks he was playing Coup with. I told him how amazing his review for Deus Ex (the first one!) was back in the day, and we reminisced about that great game.

This year another one of my friends also moved abroad to work on games research. It’s three of us now, friends that met at University during our Computer Science course and moved out of Portugal to work in games. I’m here in London, another one is near Toronto, and now one moved to Malta. It makes me so happy that we are able to pursue our dreams and don’t have to be cut down by the near-sightedness of the people of our country. Really, really happy. For anyone born in a country that’s been making games since the 70s, having the chance to work on games might be nothing new. For us, it’s our dream.

I have also made fantastic friends at work. I have to send a shoutout to a particular argentinian friend that has been a very patient and fun friend.

Looking back at 2013, I can’t say I regret much. I could have moved to a slightly bigger, slightly farther away, slightly cheaper flat, but other than that, I’m pretty happy with this year. All of the experiences I’ve had, all of the people I’ve met, all the fantastic work I’ve had a chance to contribute to at Plumbee, all of them had been just dreams, with no chance of happening. Until I tried to make them happen.