Dear Tim, I love you! Marry me, okay… if not that, let’s settle on founding a new city!?
All kidding aside, this is a long post. But one that I think many creators and game designers can identify with. So here is my story.
As a kid I always wanted to make games, when other kids would say they wanted to be an Astronaut or fire fighter I said I wanted to make video games. I remember combining my love for loony toons with Super Mario and imagining Mario being flattened into a pancake and floating up, like Wile E Coyote, after being stomped by a Thwomp… at five years old.
So from an early start, I was focused on what I wanted to do: make games. But in going to do it I have only been met with hurdles. Making a game is hard enough, but the extra challenges of simple life navigation add into the difficulties.
In 2009 I graduated with my degree in electronic media, I immediately joined an indie team volunteering my work in the UDK (pre UE3) and we ended up placing 3rd places in a level design contest, yay! But as I was living in south Florida this is around 2010, there was no real market for game designers and after being laughed out of the room for asking for a 40k salary at a middle-wear company I left south Florida for the bigger market of Los Angeles. I figured I could pursue both games and films VFX and animation there as there is an overlap in the skill sets.
After 5 years of working in games media with a few of the early gaming MCN’s I decided to start developing again when Oculus came out. I had gotten a DK1 and a DK 2 and was developing in unreal around 2015. I had actually purchased UE4 the last month before you decided to give it away. This really blew my mind.
Here I am spending money on software… Adobe suite, maya, plus plenty of plug ins. But you guys make an awesome piece of software and give it away. It was amazing… it’s like finally some one get’s how hard it is to make a game under normal conditions… imagine how hard it is when you are not being paid to do it and are bootstrapping or loss leading! It is very difficult and any help in a reduction of up front costs is a god send!
So I started to make my VR game in 2015, but I was making the game with a controller in mind, as at the point touch controllers didn’t exist. But then touch came out and VR was not the same with just a controller. So I went back to the drawing board. Also, at this time the Unreal market place was not really all that populated. There was some content but not like it is now, and certainly this was before Quixel.
So I spent a lot of time making trees and foliage assets for my world which are now kinda redundant with other content. Anyway, all this is to say that you are racing, and timing other releases, yet things are constantly changing from a tech perspective so you need to keep up with the industry.
All of this is normal, this is normal development. So then add in on top of that needing to keep up a freelance job and freelance clients, as well as just living in Los Angeles. In 2017 an art residency I was living in shut down, and I was left on short notice to find a place to live. I found a house next to a Hospital, but a year later the hospital shut down and has filled with gangs, drugs and prostitution. Literally feet from where I am writing this. This scenario has gone on for nearly 2 years with little action from the city, and little penalty to the property owner. I am 100% a housing rights activists and look for housing fairness, however we must ensure basic needs like pluming is functional or feces quickly becomes a public safety issue in normal times and a tipple threat during a pandemic. Yes this is gross…
All this to say is that in 2020 merely living has it’s challenges, so living and making a game is extremely challenging.
But that brings me to the big idea. What if we founded a new city in Western North Carolina in the the Blue-ridge mountains. What if we could make a new municipal design that could not only be a boon to gamers, and game creators, but could be a new model for municipalities moving forward.
What if we could have design a central city district that can support independent creators and small team as well as facilities for larger teams needing a safe destination for crunch time?
There is plenty of reasons why Unreal and the Unreal eco-system needs a central location for a physical Studio, and in the post covid world, this could also be a destination for film production. By looking at these production issue from the municipal level, we could factor in additional stability through the means to raise revenues through local taxes, municipal bonds, local city center ownership income, in order to ensure things like positive policing and green power grids.
After being super impressed with how you are dealing with Apple’s shenanigans and hearing you talk about the Blue Ridge Mountains on NPR. As some one who has been going to Asheville every summer since my youth, the protection and long term health of the geography is also an important personal goal, so setting up a municipal structure to protect nature is central to my design as well.
I think with leadership and creativity, Unreal is uniquely positioned to have a large say in the future of the American Municipal structure. And come up with a way to balance local municipal needs with the global economics of an Internet enabled media production center.
My thoughts are that you keep it with in an hour drive to Asheville and more like 30 to 40 minutes is better. I think Black Mountain region is good choice for it’s history as well as location.
The basic business play is that of sub division development with the investing entity managing of the central plaza and creating sounding subdivisions for purchase as well as rental income in central plaza. And overall it’s good in general for Epic games in that creating a stable place for creators to make games would increase the amount of finished games getting to the market.
Introducing Fuller, NC ! For Buckmiester and Black MTN college…
But we could change the name to Sweeny NC?
Anyway, I’d love to start a discussion! If people are curious I have a lot more written but this is enough for now. I have a few property developers interested in the idea.