Hi everybody, my name is Chris J. Rock (the J really being key for me).
I'm not very good at advertising myself, but you can see some of my work at http://www.chrisjrock.net
has some of my writing along with that of my cohort, Bryson Whiteman.
I got into coding flash many years ago in high school and realized I could use it to fulfill my dream of making games. I did a lot of experimenting and challenging myself and eventually got work as a game dev in Los Angeles. Right now I work for Sojo Studios in Santa Monica.
I studied film in school and lately I practice a lot of long-form improv and sketch comedy. I have a strong feeling that game developers have not paid enough respect to more traditional forms of storytelling and art. I'm very critical of the writing and cinema in games and that's what I would like to stress in my future work.
When it comes down to it, I grew up on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis and have the most fondness for old classics like Super Double Dragon, Contra III: Alien Wars, Super Mario Land, Sonic, Virtua Fighter (on the 32x), Vectorman, and Comix Zone. Of course the Sega Saturn, Playstation, Dreamcast and Playstation 2 made a major impact. Just recently I picked up a copy of Tecmo's Deception which is such an unappreciated game (still looking for a copy of Kagero: Tecmo's Deception 2). I never owned an N64, but I put in my fair share of hours on friends' consoles. My feeling is that what's missing in games has nothing to do with computing power and that the limitations in the range of the snes to playstation offer more than enough to make a great game. Flash has already surpassed both of those consoles, but I'm saddened that Flash games can't compare.
These days I'm down on my game dev a lot. Most of my games have been made for work and compromised in many ways. A couple years ago, I up and quit my job to work on my own games. I started Children at Play, a gravity puzzle game. This video has outdated graphics, but it'll give you a good idea of the game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBaePSC24hw&feature=g-upl&context=G28e9dbdAUAAAAAAAAAA
It's very near completion, but it's been very near completion for a long time and I haven't been responsible enough to finish it. I'm just not putting the time in like I used to.
I toyed with story in Children at Play, but when it comes down to it, it's still a puzzle game.
You can see how the look has changed since that video was made.
The gameplay art and the background music are all procedurally generated.
It was very difficult to get this stuff to run in flash.
I learned a lot doing it though.
My friend Bryson and I have also put some hours into a shooter game called Rush Hour.
That was actually the first game I made after quiting my job with the goal of finishing a game in a week.
After a week, the results were impressive, but I was disappointed in the project as a game and almost scrapped it.
Bryson signed on to put some aesthetic polish on it and convinced me to invest some more hours.
I'm glad he did because it's come out to a fun little game with a nice sense of humor.
I've been more dedicated to long-form improv over the last year and a half than game dev, so my progress has been very slow, but the improv experience has transformed much of my thinking, especially in regards to storytelling. Many game designers criticize attempts at storytelling in games or try to innovate storytelling without having mastered its tradional forms. I am not surprised when they fail. I used to write about this kind of thing on the sokay blog (http://blog.sokay.net/
), but I stopped because of a strong feeling that I should be talking less and doing more. I still believe I should be doing more and I hope that my work can show my ideas better than I can explain them.
The excitement of the indie game movement has disappeared and indie is the new commercial. I still believe we have the ingredients available to us for a major shift in the way games are perceived and I would like to see that happen.
While I remain mostly consumed by work and performance, I'm slowly plugging away at my games (thanks a lot to Bryson's insistence). I've changed a lot since those days in front of the snes or even in high school when I first sat down to code and I hope that in the years ahead my game development can reflect my personal development.
Chris J. Rock