KenPoirier.com Science Art Gaming  

This page contains information on game design/development. For information on programming and software skills, please see my science page. Thanks!

 

How It All Began

Being a child of the 80's, I was constantly bombarded with video game culture and it was wonderful!

The Intellivision was my first home console, then the NES. In 1987, at the age of nine, I wrote my first game on the APPLE IIe in ProBasic. It was a detective narrative text adventure, with an action chase scene when you finally solve the mystery. I wrote a few sequels, a kick-boxing game, and a few others. Then, I went outside for a few years to play with my friends.

In the early 90's, I had gotten into PCs and was working on a graphical adventure game about a kid who spends the school day trying to play hooky, only to be constantly thwarted in his attempts. I started first in Q-basic, and later upgraded to Quick Basic. I never really got the graphics right and it always bugged me. I did, however, get The Bard's Tale Construction Set for christmas that year. That was pretty awesome. I made a bunch of adventures with that.

After that I got into modding Wolfenstien/Rise of the Triad and did that for a while, then it was back outside for a few more years for highschool, dating, and rock concerts.

In the late 90's, I had moved out to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art. While there, I got sucked into a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Which of course led me into running my own campaign. That in turn led to me learning C++, Direct X, and Dark Basic trying to make my own RPG. While I did turn out some alright top scrolling shooters and had made some great mods for The Sims, Myth, Civ II/Net. The RPG thing I was trying to do was too big and too complex. I had never had any formal training at that point, and everything I knew was from books. The internet wasn't like it is today, where you can just jump on a forum and get help. So I went outside for about a decade to tour with the circus.

In 2008, I was working in a pizza arcade in Seattle because I needed some extra cash and performing was just barely paying the bills. I was playing Gauntlet on my break and I was wondering: why this wasn't what I was doing on the clock instead?

So I decided to get serious about making money in gaming and got a job at VMC testing the xBox 360. At first it was really boring, recording load times for weeks on end. But then it turned out to be really cool. (I talk more about it further down this page.)

While I was there, I was learning everything I could about the xBox, both as a console and a platform. While working on a dashboard update,, I caught a promo about XNA community development being rolled out, so I decided to research it and got ahold of the software from Microsoft. That got me back into programming.

Within a few weeks I had some prototypes up and running, such as some xBox diagnostic tools, a virtual alarm clock, Uberroids (astroids clone), and Guitar Invaders (a Guitar Hero style game).

Needless to say, I didn't go outside for a while. Eventually a Degree became an imperative. I went back to school and I learned all the things that they never mention in the books. That led to Legendary Power Games.

 

 

 
legendarypower.com

After the expiration of my non-compete agreement with Microsoft/VMC, not wanting to take up a position at GameStop while attending college, I formed a hobby company called Legendary Power Games. The concept was to create free video games. That was it. My advisor at the Small Business Association pretty much laughed me out of his office, which was too bad, since a few years later free mobile gaming would be a large share of the industry market.

Star Trek Mod 2 for Civilization 4Generally speaking I find that utter confusion in business people is a good sign that I'm onto some kind of right track, or at least that I have an idea that will help me stand out in the market. So I moved forward with it. Initially I put out several game mods for Wolfenstein, Halo, and Civilization, eventually developing some small scope games of my own. The only monetization was advertising on the website.

Word Wrecker ScreenshotThen came the ad-blockers, and pretty much all site revenue ceased. I was looking towards other forms of monetization but still wanted to keep the games free. That is when I formed a partnership with Nathan Fraser to develop a title under the Legendary Power name that was worthy of crowd funding and focused on the mobile market. After several prototype designs, we finally settled on Word Wrecker.

Due to the stress of working unpaid as well as some ideological differences, Nathan and I had to part ways before the completion of Word Wrecker. I think over all, the true lesson of the project was the unexpected difficulty in trying to generate public interest in an original IP with no publicity budget.


You can get the prototype through my steam workshop, or you can download it here:

Word Wrecker Prototype (Windows)

Word Wrecker Prototype (Android)

While I am currently focusing on other opportunities in media publishing, I still find time to do modifications for a game called Democracy 3 by Positech Software. The MODs are available on the Steam Workshop:


Black Operations

States of Anarchy

Ken's Fiverr Mods

While the Democracy 3 mods have been very popular and profitable, I think my favorite project at Legendary Power has been Star Trek Mod II: The Wrath of Mod. I think what really made it great was the help I had from deanej of the original Star Trek Mod in collecting the graphic assets and laying the initial groundwork, and the help I had from the Final Frontier Plus team who built the SDK.

This allowed me to focus entirely on the game play, tech tree, scaling the models, creating the intro and wonder movies, and redesign the AI. I think it comes together very nicely and gave me a bunch of basic skills to carry over into other projects. There was also a gret built in audience for both Civilization and Star Trek who's intrest helped keep the project going.

 

 

RMORS - Red Moon Over Rising Sun

RMORS is my 2016 programing project and something near and dear to me. It is an IF/RTS game set in an alternative reality in which Japan and China get into a space race following WWII. If you would like to find out more, read the design document, play the game, or view the source, it is available here.

 

 
 

Xbox360 Projects (2008 to 2010)

xbox360 KinectWhile working at Volt Media Consulting in Redmond, Washington, I worked primarily as a contractor for Microsoft doing functional and certification testing on the Xbox 360 platform. I came into the job with no previous experience and when I left two years later I had just finished eight months on a special team getting project Kinect ready for launch.

Left 4 dead boxart
Left 4 dead 2 box art
Destroy all humans 3 box art
Halo Wars box art
Halo O D S T box art
Dante's Inferno Video game
GTA4 episodes from liberty city art
Call of Duty world at war box art

Disney's sing it video game  Rock Band 2 Video game Guitar Hero World Tour game and accesories lips video game box art Karaoke Revolution 2

Lego indiana jones 2 box art

How to train your dragon video game
High school Musical 3 Dance Game
Viva Pinata trouble in paridise box art
Madagascar 2 video game
James Cameron's Avatar Video game
Borderlands 1 video game
fable 2 video game

 

Video Game Journalism

Podcasts:

Writing:

Reviews:

 
     
     
     
     
 

Recommended Game Design Videos

Designing a video game is about as difficult as art can get. Here are some videos that have helped me over the years.


Favorite Articles and Lectures

The Alpha Release Cycle: Running a Successful EA Program by Josh Ge



Conjuring a Compelling World by Mike Lewis



Life of a Level Designer by Szymon Barchan


More Game Design Videos


For videos on Artificial Intelligence, please go to my science page.


 

KenPoirier.com Science Art Gaming