Tag Archives: Wolfpack Studios

Beware the Stray Bullet!

What a few weeks it has been! Since my initial trip on a job interview in late April, everything has become a blur; so much that I have a ton of catching up to do on my very own forums! A few days after getting back to Austin from there, it seems like I was back on a plane and this time headed for E3 2006 (which I definitely need to do a write up about still). Had a great time there and actually got about half the things accomplished I set out to (which is good for E3).

I headed back to Austin and wait the dreaded May 15th; the last day of Wolfpack Studios. I showed up early in the morning as I usually do, and sat down at my desk. Sitting there, though, I really was unsure what to do and, from the look of things, most others did not either. Our last deadline was upon us and there were no future ones.

Well, the day dredged on as employees were brought into the HR office and given their walking papers. Slowly but surely, the Pack started to dwindle. You would think that would be the end; but it wasn’t.

From the ashes of Wolfpack Studios, a new company has formed called Stray Bullet Games (SBG). Unlike Wolfpack, SBG is not a Ubisoft company. Instead it is a Third-Party Development Studio. This basically means the studio is, technically, answerable to itself. I say technically because, obviously if a studio undertakes a contract from a publisher, that publisher will be making payments and will garner them at least some say in the project they are contracting for.

Which brings us to Shadowbane. Ubisoft has contracted Stray Bullet Games to keep Shadowbane alive and well. Since SBG is not a Ubisoft company, things will be a little different than it was with Wolfpack Studios. For the most part, these changes will be transparent to players.

Is Shadowbane the only thing Stray Bullet Games is working on? At this point I cannot go into much detail but there are other things in the works. Stray Bullet Games definitely does not plan on being a one-trick pony. And, of course, we have the goal of designing and crafting our very own next-generation MMO.

What will it be? Well, it is much too early to say and it is something we are discussing internally as to what exactly we want to do. I will be blunt and say we will not be doing Shadowbane 2. The publishing and intellectual rights are not owned by Stray Bullet Games and we will, more than likely, make an original title. With that said, we plan on doing what we do best so it wouldn’t be unthought-of to expect player-vs.-player and strategic combat. And while the implementation and specifics may differ, the aspects I talk about in my (crazy) sandbox idea Dominion, such as an in-depth political system, territorial and economic control systems, and character building with meaning are echoed by everyone at Stray Bullet Games.

While Stray Bullet Games might be considered by some as a new start-up company, it is not really. In fact, Stray Bullet Games picked up most of the key personnel from Wolfpack Studios. Frank Lucero, the General Manager and founder of Stray Bullet Games (not to be confused with the Latino Comedian), has been in the gaming industry for over fifteen years. Most other members of the company are seasoned industry veterans, not even including their time in Wolfpack Studios, such as Ala Diaz, Clay “Nazgul” Towery, George Ruof, Ivan Enriquez, Mike “Ramsie” Madden, and Ranjeet Singhal. And we must not forget our loremaster Sam “Meridian” Johnson. With this much experience and passion under one roof, not even the sky is the limit!

Stay tuned for the new website (for Stray Bullet Games) which will contain much more information and official press releases.

God May Forgive Your Sins

As the philosopher (and scientist) Alfred Korzybski would say; “God may forgive your sins, but your nervous system won’t.“ Before you read too far, no, this is not really related to game mechanics or systems or anything of that sort. In fact, the only relation this little “blahg” post has to games is that it refers to me searching for a job in the game industry. So if you’re not interested in reading something personal about me, I’d stop here.

Some of you already know, late last month Wolfpack was given the notice that its doors would be shutting and, since then, I have been looking for a job. Well, over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been interviewing with some really great companies which sort of surprised me. I won’t lie, I am unsure of my standing in the game development circles. I know I’m a “known” in Shadowbane; hard not to know me since I write the articles on the Chronicle of Strife and annoy people in-game with my announcement pop-ups.

Outside of our community, though, I figure I’m more of an unknown. Sure I do a few interviews here and there and I use to be a regular on the old Lum the Mad forums so a lot of the “old skool” is familiar with me. And I have this, my little place in cyberspace that some people check out. But outside of that, I doubt too many people have heard of “Ashen Temper”.

So, the news hits the web’zines about Ubisoft closing Wolfpack and then I put up my post on here about it — and I start getting contacted by a wide variety of people from different companies. This surprised me a bit and actually made me feel pretty good. I won’t lie; it’s nice to have all the things you have done recognized by your peers. Since that initial announcement, I’ve been through quite a few interviews; mostly phone but a few in-person interviews too. What does that have to do with the quote by Alfred Korzybski? Yes, I know, none of you were actually thinking that but I figured I’d bring it back on track, heh.

I’ve worked in game development for a decent amount of time. I’ve done Community Management as a developer for about six years (or will be on June 1st) and I’ve done it from the “fan” side of things for many years prior to that as a Site Manager on various sites such as Stratics, Vault Network, and XRGaming. I’m quite comfortable in talking to people (one of the prerequisites of the job) and rarely do I get nervous about such things. I can’t think of a single interview lately that I’ve actually been nervous about yet.

But then on Wednesday, I received a call from a company that would like to do a follow-up interview in-person. I was really excited at first because this is a great company; it not only has a great history in gaming but a very bright future. In fact, when things were unsure at Wolfpack some time ago (shortly before Ubisoft acquired us and we were unsure if the studio would survive), I interviewed for this position and didn’t make the final cut.

That was some years ago, and I believe I have not only gained more experience in Community Management and game development since then, but I have a lot more street credit. I’m one of the few Community Managers who’s been through all stages of development and launch of an MMO; initial design, alpha, beta, launch, and expansions. I’ve not only seen it all, I’ve experienced it all. And while some people may say “That was only on Shadowbane“, I think they fail to see the fact that actually strengthens my position. I’ve been through the hard times where a game is having technical issues. I’ve worked with probably one of the most hardcore communities in the MMO industry. I have the scars and bruises and I wear them with pride.

Reading all of that, you might think me confident; even over-confident. Don’t let the words fool you. I do realize I have some very good selling points but, at the same time, I don’t actually have that big of an ego and I know there is some great competition out there. So, I’m actually really nervous about this interview. This is one of the few companies I would actually considering moving out of Austin (Texas) to be a part of.

To make matters worse, and speaking of competition, I do know one of the people I’m competing again. My very own assistant in the Shadowbane Community (although, truth be told, she is more of an equal); little miss Mistress of Souls herself. Granted, she is the student and I am the teacher and many companies will take someone more seasoned; but Sachant is a phenomenal Community Manager. This woman could easily become one of the best Community Managers out there if just given the chance to shine and show what she’s truly capable of.

So, that does make me a little more nervous. Of course, there are other things pricking the nerves but I have to admit that I am quite surprised at how nervous I am about this. At the end of the day, they either give me an offer or they do not. The only thing I can do is put my best foot forward and show them what I bring to the table. At least that is what I keep on trying to tell myself. Like I said, I’ve been through quite a few interviews already; which I am very grateful for since being given such opportunities to even be considered to work at these great companies. This is the first one that is actually making me nervous.

That’s all. No interesting game developments or anything cool or interesting for me to talk about. Just venting a bit to relieve some of the nervousness. And if you don’t hear from me for a few days, now you’ll know why, heh.