Thursday, February 7, 2013

Engalus

So my buddy Mark sent me this link earlier and I couldn't help but laugh, mainly because of the link to a portfolio web site I haven't been able to access in over 6 years, but also because I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that anyone would consider my first game project to be anywhere approaching relevant so many years later.


It was roughly 12 years ago this month that I started working at Turbine, my first paying gig in game development. For a couple years prior I had been working with a small group of developers under the moniker of Crytek in my spare time. At the time we were organized over the internet much in the same way mod developers were, but the founders (Cevat Yerli and his brothers) had big ambitions.

I started working with Crytek when Cevat contacted me after noticing my Half-Life mod work online. Crytek was working on an FPS and was looking for level designers. As a fledgling operation they didn't have any way to pay us at the time, but I was in college and a contract for royalties should our work ever bear fruit was good enough for me. The project and the game engine went through many iterations over the course  of the two years I worked on it. Somehow I ended up being the "Lead Designer" and (dumb kid that I was) began developing a rather lofty design for a game would have borne a striking resemblance to Deus Ex in both tone and game play, except exceedingly more sci-fi in its presentation.

In the summer of 2000 we had succeeded in created a tech demo for "Engalus", our would-be FPS. Even then, Cryek was on the cutting edge of graphics with an engine that rivaled the reigning king Quake 3. Cevat shopped the demo around at the conventions that summer and even got it showcased on NVIDIA's website, but by the time the end of the year was rolling around I had graduated and a paying gig was becoming more and more necessary. At the time my buddy Scott (who I had nabbed to help out on Engalus) had snagged a job doing GUI and other art work for local dev Turbine. I was well aware of Turbine as a player of the then recently released Asheron's Call and when Scott told me they were looking for designers I jumped at the chance. It wasn't so much that I had lost faith in Crytek and what we were working on as it was that I knew if they found backing I'd have to move to Germany, which I was not prepared to consider at the time and besides that, I would have been in WAY over my head at that time as the lead on a professional project. In an effort to get my professional career started with something closer to entry level, I left Crytek and Engalus, and started working at Turbine.

To make a long story short, I got laid off from Turbine several months after starting there, Crytek got backed by Ubisoft to make what would become FarCry, and I spent the next few years working odd jobs while making mods and trying to break back into professional development. Eventually I got my second chance as a content developer at Mythic Entertainment and six-and-a-half years later I'm a Content Lead for Bioware Austin on Star Wars: The Old Republic. I've come a long way since Crytek and so have they, but I've always been grateful to Cevat for seeking me out and giving me the chance to figure out that making games was what I wanted to do with my life. Engalus may have never seen the light of day, but to me it will always be my first real attempt at game development and though there's not much to show for it, I'm proud of the work we did and where we all ended up because of it.

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