Category Archives: Life

Pumpkins 2012

Pumpkin carving with my wife and brother-in-law again this year! That’s my triforce on the left, Alleson’s tree on the right and our brother’s ghost in the middle. I feel like my carving quality is up a notch this year, but I’m still fond of my 2010 work.

San Francisco Streets

Life’s moving fast right now. My wife and I moved into San Francisco one week ago, so that I could start a summer internship with PopCap Games. Forty hours of my week were spent getting oriented at PopCap, but I’ve spent the remaining time settling in and getting acquainted with the city – at least the immediate area. I’ve been doing a lot of walking. I walk to work, we walk to the grocery store, and with the dog we walk around all of the nearby blocks and farther away to the parks. I’m just beginning to get a feel for the texture and flow of the city.

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The Dream Factory

On the south side of Pittsburgh, between the Monongahela River and I-376, stands a fairly unassuming office building. From a distance, one might have a hard time telling it apart from its neighbors. From the outside, there’s nothing to suggest that this is the place we affectionately call “The Dream Factory.”

Once you step inside, though, all doubts melt away.

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Guess I’m on the right track

In the latest episode of the Brainy Gamer podcast, Michael Abbot interviews Matthew Burns, producer on Halo 3 and Halo Reach. When asked about how to get into the games industry in 2011 (in the last 10 minutes of the episode), Burns mentions that university game design programs are a great way to go these days, and specifically mentions the ETC at Carnegie Mellon. He and Abbot then have a short conversation about game design schools, with Abbot citing an interview with Jesse Schell for the latest issue of Kill Screen Magazine. Burns says that large studios are happily hiring graduates of game design programs, and that the graduates are well-trained and competitive in the industry.

Awesome. Nice to feel like I’m a little ahead of the curve – I start at ETC in two days!

The Journey: Rochester, MN

Where were we? Ah yes, Minnesota. Continue reading

The Journey: Rapid City, SD

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The Journey: Livingston, MT

We had a pleasant drive from Post Falls to Livingston. We passed through Idaho Panhandle National Forest, over 4th of July Pass (early, I suppose), into Montana and Mountain Time, and over the continental divide. Once down out of the mountains, we got to see some real grassy rolling hills.

We’re really been enjoying the mix cds Jon sent with us. We haven’t picked a favorite yet; I think that 70s mix is pretty fantastic, though.

We stopped in Butte for fuel, then when we reached Livingston we learned that the Kampground Of America we’re staying at is nearly 12 miles off the interstate, on the way to Yellowstone. We won’t make it that far south, but it is a beautiful area.

We promptly set up our tent and started a campfire for canned ravioli and s’mores. Took me three tries to get the fire going in the wind; my cub scout days are pretty far behind me, I guess.

It’s hard to tell whether Reggie is taking to the camping life or not. On one hand, she loves being outside so much, rolling in the grass, lounging in the sun, and watching the bugs fly around. On the other hand, she doesn’t like being tied up and has been barking at everything new… which is everything. It’s been a full-time job keeping her quiet so we don’t bother our neighbors, and to make matters worse a group pulled in and set up next to us at midnight – I think she kept us up until 2 growling at the wall of the tent. Still, she’s done well on the trip and seems to have calmed down today.

(That’s Alleson yawning like Reggie.) You may have heard about the flooding in North Dakota. It’s very dry here (we got just a few drops of rain last night, and then it stopped) but the river nearby is nearly over its banks – down at the boat ramp, you can’t actually see the boat ramp.

This morning the sun and the dog woke us up very early – Reggie and I took a walk at about 6AM so Alleson could sleep a little longer. Once we’d both showered we put the kettle on for a breakfast of instant oatmeal with fresh bananas. It only took me two tries to get the fire going this time! Alleson enjoyed her Stumptown coffee, and I even put a little in my hot cocoa after waking up so early.

We hope everything is going well at home. We’ve really been enjoying the goodies our family and friends sent, from all the snacks for the drive to the awesome GLOWSTICKS we were surprised with last night! We have to eat our way in and out of the car right now, you are all too generous. Best wishes, Brad and Alleson.

The Journey: Post Falls, ID

My wife Alleson and have embarked on an epic adventure!

I’ve been accepted to Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, a world-class interactive media Masters program that pulls students from all around the globe. They bring the arts together with technology and develop amazing media experiences for companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Electronic Arts, to name a few. Graduates of this program end up at places like Disney Imagineering and Pixar, or start their own companies. Oh, did I mention Anthony Daniels is on faculty?

In order to take advantage of this amazing opportunity, my wife and our puppy and I are moving from Portland, OR to Pittsburgh, PA. (Of course, once I saw how many international students are coming, this didn’t seem so far. But I might have the longest drive!) We set out on Monday and are about to begin the second leg of our trip.

Our first drive was from Portland to Post Falls, ID, where my dad’s parents live. We got to spend Tuesday with them, and had a wonderful time!

First we had breakfast at the “Old European Breakfast House.” It was very good. Check out that menu!

Then we took a walk along Centennial Trail beside lake Coeur d’Alene.

Then we got a driving tour of downtown Coeur d’Alene…

…which Reggie thoroughly enjoyed!

It seems the Ironman competition occurred his the past weekend, so there were still many (very fit) people in town.

We ended our tour with strawberry limeade at Sonic!

We were also treated to a home-BBQ steak dinner, and got to spend some time with my aunt and cousin. We played an easygoing game of dominoes, then spent the late evening buying some last camping goods and repacking our luggage. Thanks for a great time, Grandma and Grandpa! We love you!

Article Flood!

For some reason, there was tons of good content posted online in the last few days. Link roundup!

Post-Secret Game Design by Drew Davidson (ETC at Carnegie Mellon!) discusses ways that our hyper-public internet lives will impact game design.

Mountains out of Molehills by David McCandless (Information is Beautiful) is an interactive visualization comparing our biggest fears (according to the media) to the real threats.

Blue Lacuna Transcripts Analyzed by Aaron A. Reed, whose Inform 7 book I am beginning to read. He presents an interesting breakdown of the reactions to his largest work, especially where players have trouble.

The Genre Blender: Experiments in Social Gameplay by Stephen Dewhurst (also ETC!) is a detailed postmortem on one of this year’s projects.

Your Brain on Improv by Charles Limb (TED) shows the preliminary results of putting a jazz musician in an MRI while they play, and it’s interesting how their findings support some popular ideas about creativity and music.


I don’t usually make much of New Year’s resolutions, but for some reason I’ve got a whole battery of them this year.

Getting in Shape
My wife and I have been walking every day, starting with a couple miles. We’ve done the diet thing before and taken advantage of treadmills in the nearest gym, but I’m finding it much more enjoyable to walk outside, even in the cold and wet. I’m having fun tracing all of our walks on Google Maps. I think we’re going to reward ourselves with a dance class when we hit 100 miles. Can anyone recommend a good studio?

Playing Trumpet
It’s hard to practice consistently when you’re not part of an ensemble. I’m starting with five minutes a day and ramping up, and at 50 total hours I’m treating myself to go see our local symphony.

Saving Money
Not an everyday thing, but I think we’re in a good place to put a good chunk of money into savings. Regardless of where it goes, it’ll be nice to know that we’ve consistently put money into savings.

I do read, but I’d like to make it more of a habit and/or read more, because I have a backlog of books to get through. No reward for this, though… what would I do, buy another book? I have too many already!

Because it’s more fun to see my progress, I’m loosely tracking everything in a spreadsheet and keeping an eye on my totals. With a little more work I could probably create “levels” to work towards too, but I think this is good.