01.30.14
News, Studio, Team Zed

Something Like That

If you’re reading this article, odds are you’re a State of Decay fan looking for news about your favorite new game.

You’d like to hear all about what’s coming in the months ahead — the sequels, the movies, the Rotting Meat™ Christmas toys (“Biologically Degradable! Easy to Wash Out! Not Safe for Eating!”), and the studio’s contract with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to “flesh out” their guidelines for surviving a full-scale zombie apocalypse. All that stuff.

Yeah, this article isn’t going to be that much fun, sorry. The studio is contractually obligated not to talk about … anything interesting right now. So you’ll just have to read between the lines instead.

(cue blurry “back in time” effect with sound effects)

This simple game also had a profound impact on my life, though I was not to know it for a number of years.In 1972 a heretofore unknown company named Atari released Pong, the world’s first massively successful videogame. The launch of this digital tennis simulator spawned a multi-billion dollar industry and fundamentally changed the way people play games, incidentally helping to kick off the Silicon Valley technological revolution that has altered our lives so dramatically with the introduction of … smart phones and social networking. This simple game also had a profound impact on my life, though I was not to know it for a number of years.

In 1972 I was seven years old. Unfortunately, I lived in a small town so benighted that Pong didn’t land there until a couple of years later. Prior to that my friends and I used to bang rocks together, or something … it’s hard to remember back that far. Ahem. Anyway, when when Pong did arrive I distinctly remember playing it for the first time with my younger brother, Alex, in the Walgreens drugstore arcade.

I discovered that the Pong machine would reset when zapped with static electricity.Quite by chance, my brother and I discovered that the Pong machine would reset when zapped with static electricity, conveniently starting a new game without requiring a quarter. By scraping our feet on the carpet we could build up an electric charge, then tap the metal plate fronting the coin slot to “discharge” a free play. Since I was a wee pup at the time and had no ready (that is, legal) source of income this newfound knowledge was a boon. And as you might imagine, my brother and I played the game … a lot. In due course we both became obsessed with arcade games in general.

At age 10 I was (finally) able to my land my first job as a paperboy. Not everyone knows, but residential newspaper delivery is a contract position, and so not subject to minimum wage laws. You can bet that any contract between a multinational media corporation and a 10-year old kid is probably pretty likely to favor the one whose shareholders get to stay up past 9 o’clock at night, so it’s no surprise that I averaged only 82 cents an hour. But while that doesn’t seem so much, those were the halcyon days of the nineteen-seventies when the dollar was worth more than a gallon of gas, arcade games cost a quarter (I know, can you believe it?!?), and evil quarter-sucking videogames had not yet been invented (Dragon’s Lair didn’t hit until ’83), so with practice I could play for hours on a single quarter. Almost nightly I played in the arcades with my friends until there were just a few minutes left to race home on our bicycles and avoid curfew.

I eventually began a career developing multiplayer games. And more to the point, I will be exercising those skills again at Undead Labs.By this point you’re probably wondering what the point of this personal story might be. And as an aside, why is it posted here instead of on my infrequently updated personal blog? Well, unbeknownst to me at the time, my career track was set by my formative experiences with Pong and those many arcade games, as I eventually began a career developing multiplayer games. And more to the point, I will be exercising those skills again at Undead Labs.

My self-aggrandizing personal blog notwithstanding, I’ve always been uncomfortable in the spotlight of publicity — I just like making games. But Sanya said I have to talk about my professional background too. *sigh*

PatpicI’ve spent my career making multiplayer games. I did a nine-year stint at Blizzard as a lead programmer, game designer, producer and vice president, and was one of the leads on Warcraft I & II, Diablo I & II and StarCraft. I co-founded ArenaNet with a couple of buddies (Jeff Strain was one of ‘em) and co-lead the development of Guild Wars, where I wrote most of the server backend. ArenaNet was acquired by NCsoft, so I ended up adding an additional year there at CTO of NCsoft West, where I helped publish (but not develop) Aion as well as relocate the headquarters to Seattle. And following that, I helped co-found En Masse Entertainment, a Seattle-based game publisher, to launch TERA; my contribution there was to oversee the design and development of the game publishing platform.

And so it is that here at Undead Labs, I am happy to be working with a great team of people I admire and respect.Incidentally, one thing that always burns me about interviews and articles about game development is that their authors have a tendency to glorify one or another individual. Apart from a very few indie titles and brilliant solo efforts like Another World, games are developed by teams. So while I contributed enormously to all of those games and projects, you should know that they each required the dedicated efforts of a team of people, many of them essential to the development process.

And so it is that here at Undead Labs, I am happy to be working with a great team of people I admire and respect. As it happens, more than half of them are folks I have worked with for many years on Guild Wars, so I know them quite well!

I guess maybe I’ll be working on something like that.So as per my instructions to introduce myself and provide some background, what else can I say? I can’t talk anything about what I’m working on here at Undead Labs … yet. … But … I specialize in developing really big multiplayer games. So I guess maybe I’ll be working on something like that, at least as soon as I get one of the cool lab coats everyone around here has.

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Want to learn more about Pat? Check out Jeff’s introduction post.

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