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May 30, 2000: my empire of dirt

Tuesday

Umm. News.

I'm cleaning my room big time, reorganizing and putting things in different places. While I was moving things around, I put my computer in a different location so the back is accessible. While I was there, I took the opportunity to set up my QuickCam. So here's a picture of me showing off the new glasses I got a few months ago.

(Notice the blue-orange artifacts on the window frame thingy? Reminds me of graphics programming the old Atari 8-bit.)

I'm cleaning my room because I'm spending a lot more time at home.

I'm spending a lot more time at home because I'm not going into work anymore.

I'm not going into work anymore because there's no more work to go into anymore.

Looking Glass Studios, nee LookingGlass Technologies (nee Blue Sky Productions), the company whose logo for the last few years has been a stylized guy-looking-through-a-spyglass because the people involved in making the logo didn't know better or didn't care about the fact that a looking glass is a mirror (although I've read two pieces of "high" fantasy in which people invent the telescope and name it a 'looking glass' instead of a 'spy glass'), has closed after a ten-year run of struggling to develop games which have widely been considered innovative and critical successes, but never huge hits nor mass-market games--often referred to as "thinking man's games".

The complete oeuvre (ignoring a few console titles which we subcontracted away) and my appearance in the credits (from memory, and guessing at the years and the order):
1992 Ultima Underworld  
1993 Ultima Underworld 2  
1994 System Shock "special guest programmer"
1995 Flight Unlimited "special guest programmer"
1996 Terra Nova programmer
1997 British Open Championship Golf  
1997 Flight Unlimited 2 "special guest programmer"
1998 Thief: The Dark Project renderer programmer
1999 Flight Unlimited 3  
1999 System Shock 2 (with Irrational Games) renderer programmer
2000 Thief II renderer programmer

The projects that were underway at the end were Thief III (for which we were only just beginning design planning, but for which we had been developing the new engine technology for nearly a year), Jane's Attack Squadron (internally known as Flight Combat), which may still get finished due to the fact that the project was insured (?!), and Thief II Gold (there's actually a Thief Gold missing from the above list), which would have just been Thief II with a few extra missions.

When I first started at LookingGlass I worked on a college basketball for the Sega 32X which never saw the light of day; the only other project which got killed during my tenure (well, except for things like Terra Nova multiplayer) was a Star Trek: Voyager game, which got killed when the publisher got acquired and decided to get out of the games business (if I recall correctly). By the way, for what it's worth, if you're in the game business, don't ever do a game on the Star Trek license. As far as I know from what happened at LG and what happened with another licensee I know, it's too much of a nightmare dealing with their rules and restrictions to be worth the value add.

Timeline of My Involvement with LG

(again, guesswork on the dates)

   1992 +
        |
        |
        |
        + April 1992, graduate from University of Maryland
        + June 1992, moved to Texas for a job
        + July 1992, played Ultima Underworld
        |   (first PC game I'd played in years)
        |
        |
        |
        |
   1993 +
        |
        |
        |
        |
        + (?) 1993 worked on 3d rendering demos for the PC
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
   1994 + January 1994, the company I worked for in Texas shut down
        + February (?) 1994, emailed Dan "dfan" Schmidt, who I knew on Usenet
        + March (?) 1994, interviewed at LG
        |    Rob "Xemu" Fermier picked me up at the airport
        |    Art "minman" Min dropped me off at the airport
        |+ June 1994, started work at LG on College Basketball
        ||
        || (?) did playtesting and debugging on System Shock
        || (?) wrote minigames for System Shock
        || (?) recorded a voice ("Javier T????"?) for System Shock CD
        ||
        |+ December (?) 1994, started working on Terra Nova
   1995 +|                   supposedly four or six months before ship
        ||
        ||
        ||
        |+ ? 1995, "spare time" work on Flight Unlimited:
        ||            Jello credits, optimized mode X blitter,
        ||            interactive "Fight" machine
        ||
        ||
        |+ October (?) 1995, started writing "Portal", an indoor 3D
        ||                   rendering engine in spare time
        ||
   1996 +|
        ||
        |+ March 1996, Terra Nova released
        ||               begin work on "the new RPG" game using Portal
        ||
        ||
        ||
        |+ August (?) 1996, tell LG that I'm going to quit "soon"
        ||
        ||
        ||
        |+ December 1996, officially quit
   1997 ++ January 1997, continue working as a "contractor",
        |.      still putting in full time hours
        |.
        |.
        |.
        |+ June (?) 1997, finally ease off of full time at LG
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |+ Not sure when: work insane hours for three weeks
        |  on Flight Unlimited 2
   1998 +
        |
        |
        |+ April 1998, return to full-time work at LG
        ||       for example added colored lighting for System Shock 2
        ||
        ||
        |+ August 1998, quit working at LG, again
        |
        |+ October 1998, pitching in for a few intense weeks on Thief
        |
        |
   1999 +
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |
        |+ July 1999, start working at LG again
        ||
        ||
        ||
        |+ November 1999, end design phase, start full time coding effort
        ||                on new engine ("eng2k" or "Siege engine")
   2000 +|
        ||
        ||
        ||
        |+ May 25 2000, LG closes


Bonus picture: me trying to set the color right using some reference colors.

(although the wall is actually white)


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attribution dammit: Hurt Nine Inch Nails