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What's Your REAL Job, Robb?


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You have an amazing job Robb Congratulations. Is really pretty awesome. But I got a question what should I study for desing rollercoasters?

Saw your post just surfin around... I'm an engineer who graduated HS in 1986 and wanted badly to design coasters. Ron Toomer (former god-like Arrow president) personally replied to my letter (pre e-mail) stating that a mechanical engineering degree would be a good start. (I started as mechanical engr, but after taking Thermodynamics, I realized that if I didn't make it as a coaster designer, I'd get stuck manufacturing either automobile engines or carboard boxes... Thus, I now design bridges and RIDE rollercoasters.) (Another word of warning to would-be coaster designers... Once you start a career designing a product, say for instance, bridges or rollercoasters, the product stops being so interesting or enjoyable. I am SO GLAD I decided not to take a career designing coasters, especially since Arrow, my former icon, went bankrupt (I found out how badly their coasters aged after graduating college). Now, since I design bridges for a living, every time I drive on any freeway anywhere in the world, I find myself thinking critical thoughts about the details of the abutments, embankments, bents (columns), and so forth EVERY time I pass beneath one. My advice is, if you value the "magical" quality of something, Do NOT make a career of designing it. (I have also entertained the thought of becoming an Imagineer, but I know that it would more or less spoil the illusions that I so value when visiting any Disney park. (Maybe when I retire, I'll try that, but I still need to be able to get away from my work and WDW is my Nirvana.) Best Regards, George, (obviously an alias), Riley

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You have an amazing job Robb Congratulations. Is really pretty awesome. But I got a question what should I study for desing rollercoasters?

*snipity*

Huh. Never looked at it that way before...

I am going to take a CAD class next year, and I already have experience with NoLimits, so that's a good start for now.

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^ I think it kicks a$$. I like the fact that Nintendo does different things. Remember that they brought us the rumble back, they brought us the 'modern' analog stick, and now perhaps they are yet again going to revolutionize how people play games. We'll see.....

 

--Robb

 

I know this is years old, but...good call!

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I'm new to this site but I'm also in IMDB. Check out Vampire Sisters. As for getting into CG, although I use mostlly high end software, there are cheaper alternatives to start with. Blender is a FREE open gl program with fairly good results. Although I use World Builder Pro and now Vue Infinite for my background plates (landscapes) you can get a FREE version of Bryce 5.5 in the current issue of 3D World Magazine.

Also an artist can learn how to use a software package but it is difficult do "learn" to be artistic. Just my 2 cents worth.

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Saw your post just surfin around... I'm an engineer who graduated HS in 1986 and wanted badly to design coasters. Ron Toomer (former god-like Arrow president) personally replied to my letter (pre e-mail) stating that a mechanical engineering degree would be a good start. (I started as mechanical engr, but after taking Thermodynamics, I realized that if I didn't make it as a coaster designer, I'd get stuck manufacturing either automobile engines or carboard boxes... Thus, I now design bridges and RIDE rollercoasters.) (Another word of warning to would-be coaster designers... Once you start a career designing a product, say for instance, bridges or rollercoasters, the product stops being so interesting or enjoyable. I am SO GLAD I decided not to take a career designing coasters, especially since Arrow, my former icon, went bankrupt (I found out how badly their coasters aged after graduating college). Now, since I design bridges for a living, every time I drive on any freeway anywhere in the world, I find myself thinking critical thoughts about the details of the abutments, embankments, bents (columns), and so forth EVERY time I pass beneath one. My advice is, if you value the "magical" quality of something, Do NOT make a career of designing it. (I have also entertained the thought of becoming an Imagineer, but I know that it would more or less spoil the illusions that I so value when visiting any Disney park. (Maybe when I retire, I'll try that, but I still need to be able to get away from my work and WDW is my Nirvana.) Best Regards, George, (obviously an alias), Riley

 

Well somone has to build them

 

Honestly, i really want to get into this type of job, but i wouldent know where to start unless you told me that.

 

Why should i just enjoy them, instead i could be the person that makes them and enjoys it

 

I would love to desighn them!

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This will give you some idea:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0994791/

 

http://pc.ign.com/articles/507/507252p1.html?fromint=1

 

--Robb "or simply put...I make video games..." Alvey

 

Hey Robb,

 

It's really cool that you worked on several of my favorite videogames especially "COD". I've been playing video games since PONG came out, and on the original NES with Robbie the Robot and the Light Gun. Just wanted to thank you and the crew for all you do on this site, it is really great. Keep up the good work on the video games and this websight.

 

Thanks,

Kevin

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Robb, I worship you. I cant believe that you created my favorite game in the world!!!!

 

I call of duty!!!

 

I had br1 but i dont have it anymore but i didnt see you in the credits

Anyway, i was also kind of sad when, (spoiler) Brookland died

 

Brooklyn got blown up by a mortar!

I almost cried...... Btw it Cod Big red one

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A lot of people have asked how Robb got into the industry. I'm not sure how he did, but I can tell people how I did, and why I am no longer in it.

 

I grew playing games on the 2600, then C64, Amiga, NES, etc etc. In the early days of the NES I used to call Nintendo up and give them tips. It was a free -1800 number and Nintendo was in its infancy so it was easy to get a hold of someone there. I remember a few of the "gameplay counselors", Brett Gow in particular. I think Rob Lengang was another. I remember giving them the unlimited free man trick on stage 3-2 on SMB where you bounce off the turtle on the stairs at the end. A bunch of my friends and I did it on accident and they at Nintendo hadn't heard of it before. Brett kept calling me back to ask for more advice on how to repeat the trick he finally did so. From then on I had his direct extension to call. I found a few other tricks, like how to get the turtle to walk on air on 3-3, and soon I was able to talk to several of the counselors when I would call. My name got around and when publications like Boys Life magazine wanted to do a story reemergence of video games they would give them my name. Both Boys Life and Omni magazine did articles which featured me even though I was not a Boy Scout and had never read Omni!

 

It established some contacts for me at the age of 14 and when I turned 17 I was able to go to the Winter CES as press since I wrote a fanzine (fan made magazine). At this time the CES was being taken over by video games which is why they started the E3 show a few years later. I was able to meet a lot of contacts at the CES. I met people like Tommy Tallarico before he was 'big' and came across the publisher Sandwich Island Publications. I started helping to write chapters in Sandwich Island Publishings strategy guides for the Genesis and NES/SNES. My last project with them was writing Popful Mail The Official Strategy guide which was a great Sega CD game. I then wrote for various companies like Sendai/Ziff David (EGM's Guide to Sega Saturn, Bushido Blade 2 Official etc). I even worked out a deal with Panasonic to do a strategy guide for them under my own publishing company, it was never published as they folded on the 3DO, but I did finish it and got paid!

 

A few years down the road it was clear that the big companies were taking over the strategy guide industry. In order for your guide to sell well you really needed communication with the company that made the game so you could get it finished before the game came out. A guide sold 60% of it sales on the release date of the game, and if you missed that release date it was death for the guide. Prima and Brady started singing exclusives with all the big companies so now the little companies like Sandwich Island could not do official guides or even get help when doing a non-official guide. I started working for Prima then got quickly got burned out. I was never impressed with the quality of their guides back then and I realized the guides were subpar because of the time crunch the authors had to write them which were usually no more than a week or two with really tight milestones. During this time they were still making changes to the game and you'd get new betas changing moves or whatnot and have to redo parts of the guide! I worked my butt off doing Thrill Kill's official guide for Prima then the game got canned by EA when they bought Virgin. While I still got paid it was deflating to put in that much work and not get to see it published. They switched me to Bushido Blade 2 for the PSX but I had only about a week, not only does that game not merit much of a strategy guide (its almost more like Rock/Paper/Scissors with some emphasis on reflexes) the time crunch turned turned into a glorified instruction manual/moves list, the worst guide I ever did - I even saw someone trash it with a review on amazon.com, I wish my name wasn't on it! I figured that I would need to get out of that part of the industry so I set a week to go to SoCal and interview for jobs.

 

At this time the 3DO and new CD systems were confusing the game industry. What to do with all this extra space! Everyone thought they had to have actors and FMV in their games, or make games catered for the media (ie. Night Trap, etc) With the industry changing the movie companies saw the huge piece of the pie they could get out of the video game market. Movie companies like Universal Entertainment started with own game divisions, and other electronic companies like JVC jumped into the industry without really knowing what they were doing...

 

I interviewed with several companies but ended up signing a letter of intent with JVC Interactive Entertainment as Assistant Producer for their N64 project and I was going to also work on an edutainment device (like the Sega Pico) they were working on. The CEO really liked me even though I really trashed their current project "Iron John" which was a horrible PC game (and never made it to market). They made me a nice deal and for a 20 year old no college, $39k a year starting sounded great even though it isn't a lot in CA. They were also going to pay for my move and first 3 months of living expenses. I still have a copy of the letter of intent to this day.

 

Unfortunately when I returned home I had some problems in my family and decided to stay home and not make the move. It probably turned out for the best because all these new companies ended up closing their video game divisions, including JVC who as far as I know never published a game from that date on. I got a job with a Nasa contractor doing computer work and that is what I have been doing since (computer work, no longer at Nasa).

 

Sometimes I wonder how things would have been different if I would have taken that job. I kinda wish I would have at this point, it was always a dream for me to work in the industry I grew up loving. I envy those that make a career out of it, but at the same time I would get so burned out testing and playing the games for the guides that it turned my hobby into a chore. I'm not sure if there would have been a balance to be found?

 

So, after reading over what I have written I see that I mainly wrote this for myself as a trip down memory lane! I hope its not too boring for the other gamers here

 

I'm still an avid gamer, just beat Halo with my brother Tuesday night/Wednesday Morning. We were two of those game geeks in line at midnight waiting to buy

 

Oh, and since this is the Ask Alvey Thread, my original question to Robb which spawned this long post was to ask if you have worked with Brett Gow or Rob Lengang, the two gameplay counselors I knew as a kid? I know they went on to work with Activision as I met them at several CES and an E3 but have lost track of them since.

 

-GG

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