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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Friday, September 02, 2005

If you don't know me by now

I suspect many of you already know a bit about me.  I’ve been doing this blogging thing for about 2.5 years, baring my soul and inundating the world with pictures of my family and friends.  As a result, you are likely wondering why I’ve decided to post weekly in this forum.  I’m not quite sure myself, but I will try and rationalize it here in my first post.

My first order of business is to explain why I blog. The simple reason is that I do it for myself.  I’ve never worried much about my audience, how many subscribers I have, or whether or not I’m fulfilling some need in the blogosphere.  My weblog is simply my personal journal of a certain part of my life – pretty much everything but my professional life (though I do sneak in comments about that from time to time).  While I’m passionate about my work and very loyal to my employer, as an officer in a public company I’m reluctant to talk too much about my work at Corillian for fear of disclosing something that, well, shouldn’t be disclosed.  Besides, it would be hard to top the writing of my right hand man, who is always happy to discuss the amazing work we are able to get done.  I’m a big fan of journaling and starting a weblog was a great way to force myself to pay attention and (usually) keep up a regular writing process.

Speaking of journaling, my first photo journal was done during my trip through Europe back in 1990 with my friend David Oppenheim.  The three month, 13–country odyssey was documented with many rolls of film and a series of letters I wrote to my future wife Julie (I was a-courtin’ her at the time) on an almost daily basis.  Julie saved the letters and typed them up on the computer, distributing the PG portions to our family members; this also gave me great material to incorporate into a narrative chronological photo album.  I recently purchased an all-in-one Canon printer that will allow me to scan this journal with photos into my computer.  Stay tuned… maybe this will show up in public space before too long.

I’ve never given a full bio on my personal weblog, so it is worth doing here to give people some context.  First, I should list the cities I’ve lived in for 2 months or more in my life: Dallas Texas, Altoona Iowa, Dubuque Iowa, Des Moines Iowa, Louisville Kentucky, Indianapolis Indiana, Albuquerque New Mexico, Omaha Nebraska, Indianapolis Indiana (again), St. Louis Missouri, Aspen Colorado, Washington DC, Santa Barbara California, Los Angeles California, Dayton Ohio, Boise Idaho, and Portland Oregon.  I changed high schools five times – it was rough at times, but I don’t regret the changes as I think they made me stronger and well prepared for college.  I attended Washington University in St. Louis on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, graduating with a BS in Computer Science and a BS in Electrical Engineering.  I also met Julie there, but was a year ahead of her.  I took off for Europe after college, spending a summer traveling before starting graduate school at UC Santa Barbara on an educational delay from the Air Force. 

The next May 18 (1991), Julie and I married in St. Louis, packed her bags and flew to California to take up residence in LA.  Julie worked as an environmental engineer while I commuted up to Santa Barbara, finishing my MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in March 1992.  Then it was off to Dayton to serve four years in the USAF, the perfect first job for me – writing software for cockpit simulations and getting my first chance to lead software teams.  In 1996 I separated from the USAF as a Captain, heading out to Boise to work for Micron Technologies.  While I enjoyed my time there, after a couple of years I realized I wanted to work in the software business and not do IT within a company whose core business was not in alignment with my primary skills. I figured the Portland and Seattle markets would provide more opportunities to do so, and after getting a few offers decided to try out Portland and join Mitron, a small division of Genrad (neither exists today).  After a year I could see the writing on the wall (in terms of company survival) and an opportunity to join Corillian came out of nowhere so I came on board as the manager of one of the core software teams; this was in September 1999.  A year and a half later I became the CTO and have been doing that ever since.

Oh, you actually wanted to hear about my gaming bio?  Sorry… I’ll keep this short.  I think I was around 11 or 12 years old when my dad picked up Avalon Hill’s Battle of the Bulge for me.  We only played it together once or twice, but I recruited several of my other nerdy friends to join me (Mike, Mark, Matt, Dave – if you are reading this please don’t take offense – I mean nerd in the mostly complimentary way possible) and we plunged into the wargaming scene.  Most of my wargaming was with my good friend Mike Sattin; he seems to have recovered quite nicely and is now a semi-professional bass player in LA (I say semi-professional only in that he doesn’t, yet, completely support himself just on his music.  But I’m fairly certain he gets paid every time he plays in public).  The games we played back then included Squad Leader (and its expansions), Air Assault on Crete, Tobruk, Arab-Israeli Wars, and the big daddy of them all Rise and Decline of the Third Reich.  A few months after getting into the wargaming scene, my parents also learned from friends of their about a game called Dungeons and Dragons.  My group of friends was very much into Lord of the Rings at the time, so D&D struck a chord with all of us, occupying many weekends throughout junior high.  I was almost always the dungeon master, crafting pure dungeons crawls with no story lines but plenty of 20’x20’ rooms housing ancient, enormous red dragons with piles and piles of treasure.

There wasn’t too much gaming going on in high school, mostly because of the frequency of location changes.  I did get into Car Wars and some other Steve Jackson games while in Albuquerque and had a chance to play D&D a few times.  During college I played some D&D and even managed to go to GenCon after living in Aspen after my freshman year in college.  We won a major open D&D tournament there (our picture was in Dragon magazine, which reminds me that I need to scan it and post it…) and I picked up the newly released Star Wars RPG from West End Games.  This was a great RPG and it came out a few times during my final years in college.  That was about it for my gaming until… you guessed it, my discovery of Magic: the Gathering over Christmas vacation in Las Vegas in 1994.  Julie and I both played quite a bit (I much more than she), and I managed to get some friends and family into it as well.  I played in a few sealed deck tournaments and did reasonably well, but fell out of it after we moved to Boise.  It wasn’t until we moved to Portland and I received a fluke gift from Julie’s brother David for Christmas in 2001 that I discovered the German boardgame scene.  The game was Lord of the Rings by Reiner Knizia.  Some rule confusion in late 2002 lead me to the internet to see if there was an FAQ.  Hmmm… what’s this boardgamegeek thing?  About the same time, we started playing CCGs with Ken and Brandon Rude (mostly Magic, 7th Sea, and the Lord of the Rings TCG) but once I discovered the universe and thriving community of family strategy boardgames CCGs became much less interesting.

Also, around that time I met KC Humphrey who was putting on a family games demonstration at GameStorm in Portland.  From there I managed to weasel my way into the Rip City Gamers group and that’s been my gaming home ever since.  While my travel, family, and volunteer commitments prevent me from participating more than once or twice a month, those times are always rewarding.  I especially enjoy the remote gaming retreats we do.

What games do I like these days?  My interests are very broad and I like games much more often than I dislike them.  I love BIG games but rarely find the time to play them (War of the Ring, Europe Engulfed, Manifest Destiny, etc.).  I’m a sucker for cool bits, even if they are molded plastic.  I always have my eyes out for light games that kids can play, both for my own family and to help my wife in the school games program she helps with.  I play abstract games quite a bit, most often the game is chess because I run the chess program at our boys’ elementary school.

I’m helping a close friend publish a game that we will release at Essen this year.  The game is called HAVOC: the Hundred Years War.  We think it is a great game and so do a few other folks – give it a try after we ship!  The business of publishing games is very interesting, so expect to see some interesting entries right here about the financials, marketing, distribution, and more  (KC will talk about the designer side of things).


  • At 11:13 AM, Blogger dave said…

    "As an officer in a public company I’m reluctant to talk too much about my work"

    As a grunt, I'm equally reluctant.

    It's interesting that, so far, I'm the only member of this blog without an extensive gaming past (not counting playing games with my family).

  • At 7:45 AM, Blogger Chris Brooks said…

    Dave, clearly you had better social outlets than the rest of us as a child!

  • At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Mike said…

    No offense taken at all! I own up to my nerdy past! ha!


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