Let me start off by saying how much I love you guys and everything not only that you do but equally what you stand for and how devoted you are to the community. I’ve been in the community for quite a while and I also try to attend each Twitch and look forward to each release of the engine but I have encountered issues within the engine as of recently that have extremely worried me and touches upon some things Hourences talked about in the last Twitch Stream.
To briefly sum up the issue(s), these have been ones that have corrupted levels and have completely either locked me out of them and now in the most recent case, has completely locked me out of my project. The issue is explained in detail on the Unreal AnswerHub at the following link (https://answers.unrealengine.com/questions/99944/urgent-bug-now-locked-out-of-project.html)
I know a lot of you in the community and some of you know my story and/or are good friends. To those that don’t and to the developers at Epic, let me explain a little about my story a little further so you can understand how much this could potentially impact me now or soon in the future.
My name is Matthew Castellana. Video Games are my passion in life and ever since I was very young, I’ve wanted to start a successful video game company. I’m nearly 32 now but I started programming at age 5 with BASIC on an Apple-II GS and then started doing 3D Modeling at age 7 when my close friends’ father used to work for NASA and had the first 3D program I ever laid eyes on. I got a great taste of it and really enjoyed it when the Doom Shareware released and I quickly became a part of that original modding community. I’ve dedicated my life and as of now, I’ve worked with roughly 15 programming/scripting languages and have worked as a hybrid doing Art, 3D Modeling, UV Mapping, Texture Art, Materials, UI/UX, Video/Audio/Music Composition/Production, HLSL Shaders, etc. Growing up, I used to save all my bday and xmas money for graphics cards or books/software to learn as much as I could and that never really stopped. I am self taught and I dearly love the advancements in technology (hardware/software), methodologies and practices regarding game/software development that continue to open up new doors for us to raise the bar and to push our creativity in new and exciting ways. Unreal Engine from where it started into what it has grown and evolved into today, has become a huge part of that and a true driver for unleashing that creativity not too mention lowering the learning curve for say new kids today wanting to take a shot at learning game dev or creating their first game. In many ways, I kind of wish I could grow up with the same aspirations all over again today with what kids have these days accessable to them today. Then again, I take a lot of pride in coming from where things got started and that day I went with my family back in the mid 80s to pick up what was called a “Nintendo”, little did I know how that would change my life and how profound that impact would be come.
Moving a couple of years ahead to about 2008, I was working on a game concept back then with Vivendi. I developed it including the underlying engine and it was meant to be an XBLA title. At that time, Ross Erickson, who was 1 of 5 people who worked at Microsoft and launched that platform as well as picking the launch titles. He later went on to work for Sierra Online who was a sub-entity of Vivendi Universal. I also worked every day on that project from early till late and did that for about 2.5 years straight to have gotten to the point of actually getting a publishing contract. Ross was the person who led my interaction with them and supported me and my title. However at this time, he said we cannot support you financially and enter into contract until the merger (with Activision/Blizzard) had completed. I didn’t care, I was so excited to have gotten to that point and realized everything was going to come true and I’d finally be able to launch a company. What was supposed to be a 15 minute meeting lasted 55 minutes and with Ross walking me out telling me he believed in me and was excited for the next build.
Unfortunately, after the merger completed, Sierra Online was shut down and I started getting scared and freaking out inside. I finally got in contact with a certain individual who is in charge of product acquisition at Activision and he was excited to pick up where Ross and I left off. I was relieved… until he asked if it was an XBLA title. I paused and said yes. He had a long sigh and told me after the merger, they didn’t see XBLA titles as lucrative enough and only were going to focus on the AAA big-budget titles. I lost everything I worked for and all my dreams were completely shattered. I was depressed for a while and took some time to get back on my feet and recoup.
Fast forward to present day, while working at 20th Century Fox, I had continued doing prototyping at home on my off-time and started considering giving game development my full dedication. After leaving Fox, I still needed to save up around 50K+ to really get this going correctly. During that time, I worked as the Senior Developer for a company that did high profile work for companies like Microsoft, Disney and the NFL to name a few. It was a great job but I eventually couldn’t stop thinking about video games and starting my company every day I was in there. It was a very good job but after coming back inspired from the ID@Seattle event at Microsoft last Oct, I had to plan my escape and get this going.
Since quitting my last job, I’ve given up and lost everything since March trying to develop a prototype that I’m going to try and hopefully get a publishing contract so I can easily raise investment capital. The day I quit my job to take this risk, I made a huge gamble on using UE4 exclusively for this new studio and work from very early till roughly 5am every night. I’ve lost friends and in some cases, people I thought were good friends, I’ve lost because they consider me the guy who never wants to come out and party. As much as they couldn’t understand it was the sacrifice I’ve had to make, it does completely suck not having a girlfriend, seeing or spending quality time with my friends and/or even going out to the beach. You think I want to wake up early and go to sleep at 5am every day working roughly 80-90+ hours a week, hell no. I wish I could enjoy life to some degree and I’ve sacrificed so much of that enjoyment to follow these dreams. I know once the studio gets started, 80 hours will be the norm for me for a while and that’s fine as long as I know I can provide for myself on top of doing what I’ve always dreamt of. Especially after coming so close to it back in 2008, there was no way I would give up after that. I am finally in the early stages of talking to Microsoft Game Studios and just got senior council from Perkins Coie and the guys over at ID@Xbox love the game and want to see it on the platform. So far, it’s going amazing and I hope it keeps moving forward and I’m not going to stop.
However, if everything I’ve sacrificed ends up being compromised at the end due to a couple of bugs in the engine, I don’t want to imagine how I would feel or what I would do since I am now in the stages of being required to demo my concept. The issue I posted today to Answer Hub is a blocking issue and I have a couple of solid ideas to workaround it. But this is not the first time these things happen or that create a near level or in this case project-block. That’s extremely scary especially when my prototype as it stands resides in roughly 99% Blueprints. I get a lot of crashing and I do my best to post consistently to AnswerHub. Members like TJ Ballard, Sean Gribbins, Tim Hobson, Adam Davis, Doug Wilson and others are amazing over there and have been great in helping me resolve the issues. But when I’m still seeing serious issues like this that affect the end-developer pretty bad and or could corrupt their project, it is a really scary thing, especially when the well beings of others are potentially affected by it.
I always try to stay positive and I’m confident I can get past this and in the worst case, will have to restore old files but I can easily see a situation where maybe if you have multiple dependencies on a corrupt file, that it could make matters pretty bad, pretty quick quite possibly. I don’t plan to end my subscription or start a crazy upset rant about you guys because all of you guys, including all the amazing people that are also a part of this community, makes it worth it. But I will update my AnswerHub post if things get really bad and I cannot restore things but I wanted to express my feelings since so much depends on it.
As a suggestion, I agree with Hourences and maybe all the amazing progress should be slowed down to sacrifice time to make what is already there more solid and better in some cases. Besides, at the pace you are going, lol, I’m not sure much of us are going to get our games out on version 4 of the engine
To my friendly buddies out there and the kickass community as well as the awesome developers over there at Epic, Thanks again for being awesome guys and I’m keeping my fingers crossed and staying positive