The Forest Song

In a forest filled with supernatural creatures, the player discovers a magic flute and gains the ability to relive key moments in their life.

Release: TBA
Role: Development Director
Platforms: PC, PS4, XB1

The Forest Song is a 1st person adventure video game adaptation of Lisova Pisnya (Лісова Пісня), a classic Ukrainian drama in which players assume the role of a peasant who has an extraordinary encounter with an elusive and powerful Forest Spirit. Their connection opens the player to a spirit world and sparks a dramatic clash between the supernatural inhabitants of the forest and the world of humans.

Production Notes:

We’re developing The Forest Song now at our newly formed Seattle based studio, Colabee. I co-founded the studio with Dima Veryovka. I currently serve as Development Director overseeing all development and operational efforts. We’re busy developing designs, prototypes and assembling a world class development team that includes game developers based in Seattle and Kyiv. In addition, we’re working with a wide array of Ukrainian culture and folklore experts led by esteemed faculty of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

Colabee Cultural Expedition to PolessyaColabees interview Oleksey Dolia, a folklore expert from the National University of Kyiv, in the forest that is said to have inspired Lesya Ukrainka to write Lisova Pisnya.

Our goal is to inspire a worldwide community of gamers, sparking their curiosity to learn more about the world around us and inviting them to experience rich real world mythologies and traditions in videogame form.

Awards:

  • Intel Buzz Workshop Seattle – First Place (2016)
  • IndiePrize – Best Game Narrative (2016)
  • Media Indie Exchange (GDC) – Official Selection (2016)
  • Media Indie Exchange (E3) – Official Selection (2016)
  • Links:

    Colabee Studios: Official Website
    Official Facebook Page
    Latest Press



    Never Alone: Foxtales (2015)

    An expansion to our award winning indie hit Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna).

    Release: Spring, 2015
    Role: Studio Director, Creative Director, Documentary Director
    Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, XB1

    Travel across open seas, swim through the ruins of a sunken village and paddle up the Noatak River on a mission to rescue a new friend. You’ll need all your wits and the skills of both companions to survive the dangers of the swirling currents, fierce creatures and hidden underwater hazards of the Alaska coast. Only by working together can Nuna and Fox save their friend and defeat an unexpected foe.

    Production Notes:

    Foxtales was an amazing DLC to work on. A highlight of the project was a cultural expedition I led to Kotzebue, Alaska where we interviewed members of the Goodwin family. Their father, Willie Goodwin, Sr., used to tell the story of “The Coastal Brothers”, which our team chose to adapt and present in videogame form.

    After three days of shooting interviews, Elmer Goodwin’s son Aya took us out onto the ice with his family to experience true ice fishing Kotz style.

    Xyler Goodwin teaching Sean how to Ice Fish
    Xyler Goodwin, great-grandson of Willie Goodwin, Sr., helped Sean and the Foxtales crew properly fish on the ice

    Xyler's mom Stephanie ice fishing in Kotzebue
    We pulled up close to 100 sheefish that day. When we got back to Kotz the news of our haul had already circulated amongst the community. Throughout the night, friends and neighbors stopped to take a share.

    Links:

    Official Website
    Steam Store Page



    Never Alone (2014)

    Inspired by the rich art and imagery of Alaska Native cultures, Never Alone brings the marvelous world of Iñupiaq storytelling alive.

    Release: Fall, 2014
    Role: Studio Director, Creative Director
    Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS3, XB1, Wii-U, iOS, Android, nVidia Shield

    On over 50 “Best of 2014” lists, from Eurogamer to PC Gamer, from the L.A. Times to the New Yorker. Winner of the British Academy Award for Best Debut, and Games for Change Game of the Year and Most Significant Impact. Nominated for awards from DICE, GDC, SXSW, IndieCade, and more. The whole world has discovered and fallen in love with Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) — the first game developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat, an Alaska Native people. Nearly 40 Alaska Native elders, storytellers and community members contributed to the development of the game. Play as a young Iñupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known.

    Production Notes:

    In early 2012, I was invited by the founders of E-Line Media to meet with Gloria O’Neill and the leadership team at the Cook Inlet Tribal Council based in Anchorage, Alaska. The council wanted to leverage video games to share and extend their cultural values and traditions to both instill pride in their communities and catalyze the curiosity of a worldwide gaming audience. I was selected to build a new development studio in Seattle to support the production of Never Alone and lead the project’s Creative Direction.

    Go Behind-The-Scenes of the development of Never Alone.

    Never Alone was one of the most fulfilling projects of my career. The opportunity to build games while working directly with a community to help give voice to their culture was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

    An auditorium at Barrow High School packed with Alaska Native youth react with great joy to a pre-alpha version of Never Alone.

    Over a dozen trips to Alaska and the many visits by Alaska Native collaborators to our studio in Seattle we developed mutual trust and built something of lasting importance together. The trust allowed us unprecedented access to the community including being invited to participate in sacred cultural and community events.

    Bowhead Whale Capture
    A whaling captain and his crew allowed our team to participate in the processing of a 40′ Bowhead whale, kicking of Spring Whaling season in Barrow.

    The game and our process for inclusive development was widely covered by national and international press.

    Never Alone enjoyed wide international press attention. This news segment produced by Al Jazeera was one of my favorites.

    Never Alone serves as a model for how to appropriately infuse real world cultural values, history and storytelling traditions into a video game. Through Never Alone we demonstrated how to develop games collaboratively and inclusively with the communities we seek to authentically represent.

    Praise:

  • “9/10” – Steam Aggregate User Reviews
  • “4.5/5” – Google Play Store
  • “a charming, beautiful game … should You Play This Game? YES” – Kotaku
  • “stunningly poignant – and quite brilliant.” Eurogamer (10/10)
  • “​Never Alone has a message – it is a truly beautiful game.” Joystiq (4.5/5)
  • Awards:

  • Apple – Editor’s Choice (2016)
  • British Academy Award – Best Debut (2015)
  • Games for Change – Game of the Year (2015)
  • Games for Change – Most Significant Impact (2015)
  • DICE – Best Game Direction (Nominated, 2015)
  • Eurogamer – Essentials Award (2014)
  • Destructoid – Pax Prime Editor’s Choice (2014)
  • Links:

    Steam Store Page



    Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)

    Descending into the depths of a Norse-themed underworld.

    Release: November, 2008
    Role: Studio Director
    Platforms: XB360, PS3, WII, DS, PC

    As fearless adventurer Lara Croft explore exotic locations around the world, each designed with an incredible attention to detail resulting in breathtaking high-definition visual fidelity that creates a truly believable world and delivers a new level of challenge and choice.

    Production Notes:

    In 2005, Eidos entrusted Crystal Dynamics with the opportunity to take on development of the Tomb Raider series. We quickly ramped up internal capacity and workflows to achieve a slate of three multi-sku Tomb Raider products to be released in three consecutive years.

    This is an unusually difficult thing to achieve under normal circumstances, but we had the added complexity of facing a major platform transition mid cycle. A year prior, I was hired as Studio Director to oversee all development activities and to lead development for the upcoming slate.

    Accomplishing this would require the complete overhaul of the studio’s technology, art, design and production workflows, the consolidation of our studio’s three game engines, the doubling of the size of our internal staff (to 180) and the establishment of several internal and external support departments and teams.

    Thanks to the incredible work of Crystal’s dev teams, we not only delivered to meet the consecutive release schedule but we did so without compromising our studio’s standards for quality. Tomb Raider: Legend was released in 2006 selling 1.5+m units worldwide (PS2, XBOX, PC, PSP, NDS), Tomb Raider: Anniversary in 2007 selling over 2m units (XB360, PS2, PSP, Wii, PC), and Tomb Raider: Underworld in 2008 selling 2.5m+ units (PS3, XB360, PC, Wii, PS2, NDS) which collectively generated over $250m in revenue for Eidos.

    Creative Director Eric Lindstrom and Lead Animator Primo Navidad share insights about Tomb Raider: Underworld in this rare Development Diary.

    In addition, we successfully productized our internal technologies and tools which were subsequently used to support the newly formed Eidos Montreal studio in their development of Deus Ex.

    Prior to leaving in 2009, I was invited to supervise the overhaul of our parent company’s Global Product Review process used for evaluating progress across all studios and projects in development. This was massively challenging as there were over 10 full-scale projects in development at the time, and key stakeholders and decision makers were spread across four countries.

    Praise:

  • “…Underworld hits the target dead center, delivering the perfect mix of isolation and discovery with larger dramatic encounters”, GameInformer (88/100)
  • “An incredibly enjoyable experience and a real return to captivating tomb raiding on a grand scale.”, IGN UK (85/100)
  • “Underworld is that rare game that manages to provide a real adventure to go along with its action.”, Edge Magazine (8/10)
  • “One of the finest adventure games you’re likely to find on the 360.”, X360 Magazine UK (80/100)
  • “Lara’s latest (and best in years) adventure.”, AtomicGamer (87/100)
  • “A visually stunning, epic adventure that continues Crystal Dynamics’ excellent run.” VideoGamer (80/100)
  • Awards:

    British Academy Award – Best Action Adventure Game (Nomination)
    Writer’s Guild of America – Best Game Narrative (Nomination)

    Links:

    Tomb Raider – Official Website
    Tomb Raider: Underworld – Steam Store Page
    Crystal Dynamics Studio Page



    Tomb Raider: Anniversary (2007)

    A celebration of Lara Croft.

    Release: June, 2007
    Role: Studio Director
    Platforms: XB360, PS3, WII, PC

    Tomb Raider: Anniversary retraces Lara Croft’s original genre-defining adventure — globe-trotting 3rd person action-adventure in pursuit of the legendary Scion artifact. Using an enhanced ‘Tomb Raider: Legend’ game engine, the graphics, technology and physics bring Lara’s adventure and pursuit of a mystical artifact known only as the Scion right up to today’s technology standards and offers gamers a completely new gameplay experience. Re-imagined, Anniversary delivers a dynamic fluidly and fast Lara Croft, massive environments of stunning visuals, intense combat and game pacing, and an enhanced and clarified original story.

    Production Notes:

    In 2006, Crystal Dynamics embarked on an ambitious project to develop a modern remake of the original Tomb Raider, called Tomb Raider: Anniversary.

    In order to meet the goal of annual release schedule for the series, the team rose to the challenge to develop and release the game with a one year development schedule. The game was slated for development across five platforms and thus required the studio to establish partnerships with external developers to support the development. Tomb Raider: Anniversary was released on schedule in 2007 simultaneously on PC, PS2, PSP, XB360, Wii.

    Links:
    Official Website
    Steam Store Page



    Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)

    The Return of a Legend.

    Release: April, 2006
    Role: Studio Director
    Platforms: Windows, Playstation 3, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, XBOX, PSP, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, GameCube

    The gaming world’s most intrepid adventurer makes her triumphant return in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend. Follow Lara down a path of discovery as she travels the globe to remote, exotic locales in search of one of history’s greatest artifacts that unleash unwelcome figures from Lara’s mysterious past. With guns blazing, Lara must use her athletic ability and intellectual wits to explore vast, treacherous tombs, riddled with challenging puzzles and deadly traps. Experience the beginning of the new Legend in the most adrenaline-fueled Tomb Raider adventure ever.

    Production Notes:

    In 2005, I took responsibility for leading development at Crystal Dynamics as Studio Director as we took over responsibility for the Tomb Raider series. The studio leveraged years of action-adventure experience making games like Legacy of Kain and Soul Reaver to revitalize and reboot Tomb Raider.

    Tomb Raider: Legend was released simultaneously on PS2, PC, PSP, Game Cube, GBA, NDS and XBOX in 2006 to favorable reviews and earned a British Academy Award for Original Sountrack.

    Rare behind-the-scenes footage of Tomb Raider: Legend.

    Awards:

  • British Academy Award: Best Soundtrack
  • Links:
    Steam Store Page



    Project: Snowblind (2005)

    Pushing The Edge is Never Far Enough.

    Release: March, 2005
    Role: Creative Director
    Platforms: PS2, XBOX, PC

    Experience the dramatic intensity of the frontlines of a war through the eyes of the first of a new breed of super soldiers in this gritty and epic first-person action game.

    Empowered with extra-normal abilities via implanted augmentations, the player is immediately sent to the frontlines of a war as a secret weapon against the destructive regime. Stranded in hostile territory, cut off from command and far outnumbered, you and a handful of men must try and stop the entire renegade militia’s plan threatening to plunge the world into darkness.

    Steam Store Page



    Defender of the Crown (2003)

    Heroes Live Forever.

    Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown

    Release: February, 2003
    Role: Development Director
    Platforms: PS2, XBOX, Windows, Mobile phones

    Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown is a fusion of action, role-playing, and strategy genres that seamlessly blend cinematic presentations with unique medieval action-sequences. You must rely on your skill at sword fighting, castle sieges, jousting, daring archery ambushes, and massive army battles to restore England to its glory and remove the tyranny that plagues the land.

    Production Notes:

    After discovering that the Intellectual Property rights to a classic Amiga developer called Cinemaware were locked up in a bankrupt estate, a colleague and I successfully negotiated the acquisition of the rights to the entire Cinemaware catalogue. We then raised angel funding and spun up a development team to commence development on modern versions of the classic properties starting with the flagship Cinemaware game Defender of the Crown.

    As Co-Founder and Development Director, I was responsible for building and managing a privately funded internal studio and five external international support teams to develop Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown, three games for the Game Boy Advanced and four casual PC games (all remakes of the classic Cinemaware titles).



    Mech Warrior 4 (2000)

    Deal Death and Destruction from the Cockpit of Towering War Machines.

    Release: November, 2000
    Role: Game Designer
    Platforms: Windows

    MechWarrior 4: Vengeance takes place in the BattleTech universe of the future, where giant robots slug it out on faraway battlefields. The creators of BattleTech and the original MechWarrior game return to give MechWarrior 4 an all-new story line and six new BattleMechs. You can customize any of the 21 available Mechs, though some features (such as the Mad Cat’s missile racks) are standard.

    Production Notes:

    In 1999, FASA Interactive was purchased by Microsoft and became a unit of the Microsoft Games Group. Jordan Weisman and Dave McCoy had heard about my involvement with Mech Warrior 2 and invited me to assist in helping his newly relocated team in Redmond develop the storyline, mission design and mission scripting pipeline for MechWarrior 4: Vengence.

    MechWarrior 4 was released in November 2000 to favorable reviews.



    Slave Zero (1999)

    Stomping, Crunching, Roaring, Mayhem

    Release: October, 1999
    Role: Game Designer
    Platforms: PC

    500 years in the future where man and machine are virtually one and the greatest megacity in the world is locked in a brutal war. You are the ultimate saboteur and part of an elite fighting force. Your mission: steal the largest, most sophisticated bio-mechanical attack weapon ever designed …and kick some serious ass!

    Production Notes:

    Executive Producer Steve Ackrich invited me to develop new concepts for his internal action-shooter team which had developed an exciting new PC game engine and prototypes but had not yet delivered a convincing concept. I conceived and pitched a design for a giant-robot action/arcade shooter called Slave Zero which was quickly green-lit into pre-production. I stayed on to complete the game design and managed the design team to implement the game’s levels.

    Slave Zero was released on October 31, 1999 to favorable reviews.



    Interstate ’76 (1997)

    Never get out of your car

    Release: March, 1997
    Role: Creative Director
    Platforms: Windows

    It’s 1976 – a different ’76. Stretched out before you are thousands of miles of desert – the American Southwest. The massive engine roars as you slam down the accelerator. It’s time to get funked up. You are Groove Champion, auto-vigilante. Your agenda: Payback for your dead sister. Your weapon: A 425-horsepower ’72 Picard Piranha with two 50-caliber M60 machine guns on top and a flame-thrower on the side. You’re one mean dude in an even meaner ride. They’ve messed with the wrong Champion.

    Production Notes:

    Zack Norman, MechWarrior 2’s Senior Game Designer / Writer and I pitched the concept for Interstate ’76 after Activision’s studio management announced they were looking for original IP. We conceived the game as a low budget, totally original car combat action-simulation based in an alternate 1970’s universe featuring an original funk soundtrack. We planned to use the MechWarrior 2 engine and set out to create an intentionally low poly look for the game’s characters and cutscenes to ensure one cohesive visual style.

    We delivered the game in just under 18 months with a scrappy but amazingly talented team of 23 earning wide critical acclaim including several Game-of-the-Year awards.

    The development spawned the sequel Interstate ’82
    as well as the console spin-off Vigilante 8

    Interstate ’76 was released on March 28, 1997.



    Mech Warrior 2 (1995)

    31st Century Combat.

    Release: July, 1995
    Role: Lead Game Designer
    Platforms: PC, Mac

    In 3057, a struggle for power fuels a society of warring clans. Bitter infighting perpetuates a universe of unrest. War is constant. Victory is temporary. Cease-fire is nonexistent. A pause in a stream of salvos is only a signal to recalibrate crosshairs and redirect missiles. Time is scarce before the next unrelenting mission begins. For a MechWarrior, war is life. And death is the only true peace.

    Production Notes:

    I was hand picked to be part of a ninja team to prevent a development catastrophe. After uncovering the mysteries of the existing (and extremely archaic) asset and scripting pipeline, we built a Mech Warrior prototype to restore confidence of both Activision’s management team and our partners at FASA. In less than a year, we ramped up an entirely new production team and built Mech Warrior 2 from scratch.

    MechWarrior 2 garnered wide critical acclaim:

  • Best Sci-Fi Sim (Computer Games Strategy Plus)
  • Sim of the Year, Best Audio of the Year (Computer Gaming Review)
  • Action Game of the Year, Editor’s Choice Award (PC Gamer)
  • Game of the Year, Best Cinematics (PC Entertainment)
  • Rommie-Award – Best Twitch Title (CD-ROM Today)
  • Best PC CD-ROM Game (Videogame Advisor)
  • Mech Warrior 2 was featured on a super rare “Good Day LA” news segment circa 1994 featuring a rather young looking development team.



    Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (1994)

    Pitfall Harry Returns for his Glorious 16 bit Adventure

    Release: November, 1994
    Role: Production Assistant, Game Designer
    Platforms: Super Nintendo, Genesis, PC

    Swing from vines soar off bungees and take a ride in an abandoned mine car as you venture through five action packed worlds! Watch out for sinister gargoyles deadly crocodiles ghostly skeletons and lethal traps — like fiery pendulums and the wall of tongues! Hidden in the game is the entire original version of Pitfall!

    Production Notes:

    I was hired in my last year of university to join Activision in Los Angeles, contributing to the core game design and managing the development of the Super Nintendo version of the game. The game was released to favorable reviews and earned a Game of the Year award in 1994.