Hiring at Disney [Updates!]

[Updated Nov 1, 2013]

I’m not only building up the studio but I’m building a whole new game team. Here are the positions we have open right now for Disney Mobile in Palo Alto..

Software Engineer (open to Sr, Lead, Principle++)
We need someone to be the lead on a whole new game. Help drive the tech platform, prototyping and build up the team.

Senior Game Designer
Its a small creative team with chances to do new game design, live game design, systems and content. If you are a generalist with Free-to-Play experience and especially if you have live ops experience, this is the job for you!

Director of Product & Lead PM
I want to focus on making the games awesome and leading the creative. So I want to add a business-focused, product management-focus partner to help run and build the studio.

If you are interested apply using the links or email me! If you dont have my email, find me on linkedin

Lead Producer (open to Sr, Lead, Exec+)
Who wants to build a whole new team, get a game greenlit, launch it and run the business?

Elegant Progression

I’m loving Jetpack Joyrides progression system. Great example of one system’s output creating another systems input.

The achievement/missions are there to create fun variety to the same core running mechanic.

And they output stars, which feed right into the level system.

I’m a big fan of chunky progression systems rather than the little bit at a time XP model that a lot of games use.

Chunky goals provide a clear milestone that the player works towards through more than grinding.

I’d love to try an elegant system like this soon.

Eclipse. What a cool two player game.

Designing a wedding game


I’m getting married in October. For a table favor, I’m going to design a game for the guests to play while they are seated. It needs to be simple, easy to learn, easy to master and tempting to pocket and take home.

I’m mulling three options. 

  1. A Lotto-style game. Something similar to mexican bingo.
    mexican bingo  
  2. A dice game. Maybe a variation on liars dice. Lovers dice? Or I’ve always wanted to tackle a crazy-simplified version of craps.
    lairs dice  
  3. A card game. Custom cards maybe? The cards could even have the rules on them?

Any suggestions or opinions?

Thanks to YetiZen!

I had a great time last night giving a short talk on how virtual currencies are better when your game has a relationship with its players. I plan to turn the talk into a series of blog posts this weekend.

I got a tour of YetiZen’s new space above the Temple nightclub in SOMA. They plan on hosting more meetups and inspirational events.

Thanks to Sana for the tour and Gordon for helping me out during the talk. 

Check out YetiZen when you get a chance. 

The Arrival of Mobile Gaming

Here at Zynga we share a lot of stories about run-ins with our players. Its pretty common for an email to go around to the whole company about an airport security guard complimenting someone’s mafia wars t-shirt, or about a family who spent all Thanksgiving playing Words With Friends with each other in the same room, despite a real life scrabble board sitting in the closet. 

In the last year, I’ve noticed a pattern. Co-workers aren’t sending pictures of their aunts in front of a computer showing off their farm. In recent snapshots, they are holding up their iPhones. I’m more likely to get noticed wearing a Words With Friends shirt than I am a CityVille one. 

Another example of this pattern is recruiting. I interview a lot of college students looking for their first job. A typical softball question I warm up with is “tell me about your favorite Zynga game.” Three years ago the answer was always Poker or Mafia Wars. Two years ago it was Farmville. A year ago it was FrontierVille or CityVille. This year? Scramble, Words With Friends, Draw Something, Dream Zoo… Nine out of ten describe a mobile game. 

Sure there are lots of studies, examples, stats and other reports that show a trend. But my spidey-senses are tingling. The mobile gaming market has arrived. 

Game Designers are Pack Animals

Ever hear how domesticated dogs are pack animals, and when they are alone they get sad?

Game Designers are the same way. They need to run with their own kind. A game designer around other designers is more productive and does better work.

Why? My theory is that they need a sounding board to externalize their ideas. I know when I communicate a concept it is forced out of its original, squishy, vague form to something more concrete. That process of distilling an idea to a form that can be explained makes the idea better. I often do this then realize “that idea isn’t bad now that I hear myself say it.”

So why can’t a designer just talk to a product manager or artist or the wall? That can very useful but critique and argument from others practicing the craft has no substitute.

So if you are a designer, do you have a pack? If not, can you find one? Maybe a lunch group, bar buddies, ex schoolmates?

So Skylanders is modern Mail Order Monsters? Makes so much sense. And I’m jealous, being someone who wanted to resurrect that game a few years ago.

First GDC talk was Sid Meier on interesting decisions. Lots of great bullet points and reminders. The subtext I took away is to always sit in the players chair and imagine what they are thinking at every moment.