It's a wonder I have any time to sleep


harmonix    Last time I updated this page, in 2002, I wrote, "I work at Harmonix Music Systems, developing the coolest music software ever made. No, really." I probably do not need to be as insistent on that score as I used to be, since in the last few years we have made Guitar Hero and then Rock Band, which apparently the whole world has played. Woo hoo!

I'm the lead gameplay programmer there, which means I'm in charge of the actual game part of the games: keeping track of the song data, interpreting controller input to decide what you've hit and missed and hammered on or what have you, manipulating the audio in response, giving you points and streaks, making the game work over the net, that sort of stuff.

looking glass    Before I joined Harmonix, I worked for 5+ years at the computer game company Looking Glass Technologies (which turned into Looking Glass Studios and now sadly is no more) and its predecessor Blue Sky Productions. I was a member of the core team on Ultima Underworld, doing lots of programming (including AI & physics) while also being responsible for a lot of the design, including writing the plurarity of the text and integrating everybody's contributions. Ultima Underworld was elected to the Computer Gaming World Hall of Fame a few years back.

I worked on a few different projects after that, including cowriting the music to Ultima Underworld II and working some on System Shock's physics, but my main achievement at Looking Glass was as project leader on Terra Nova, an outdoor 3D squad-based shooter. A few years back, Terra Nova was named the 15th best game of all time by the British edition of PC Gamer, and even I think that's a bit high, although the game is pretty damn good, thank you.

m.i.t.    Before all that, I went to school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving undergraduate degrees in computer science and music composition.


honest bob    Well, of course, I lead the band Honest Bob & The Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, but you probably saw that on my front page. Honest Bob has been going strong since 1992.

We have three albums by now: It's Not As Bad As I'm Making It Sound, Second and Eighteen, and Third Time's the Charm. Buy them today! Or at least listen to our MP3s.

Due to my involvement with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, we've managed to sneak a lot of our music into those games. You can play "Hey" in Guitar Hero, "Soy Bomb" in Guitar Hero II, "I Get By" in Rock Band, and "Entangled" is now available as DLC for Rock Band.

gamelan galak tika    From 1997 to 2006 I played in a local Balinese gamelan, Gamelan Galak Tika. A gamelan is an Indonesian percussion orchestra. The music is great, and lots of fun to play. I had the privilege of writing a composition for the gamelan, titled A Dangerous Thing, which was performed at the Bang On A Can Marathon among other concerts, and a link to a radio broadcast of the piece can be found on my compositions page.

compositions    Other than that piece, I haven't written much "serious" music (i.e., in the classical tradition) in a few years, but I have a lots of ideas kicking around in my head and maybe a few of them will escape sometime. I have a bunch of older pieces for piano, or piano and voice, that perhaps I will put up on the web at some point in the future. I have now at least created a compositions page with some info about them.

and a whole lot more    Besides all that, music is, like, the best thing in the world, so I spend a lot of time listening to my zillion CD's, analyzing scores, or reading books about music history and analysis. Maybe at some point I'll construct a list of my faves, or put up some mini-reviews. As a start, here's my list of favorite recent rock albums.


fiction, mostly    After a dip due to spending too much free time in front of a computer, my fiction consumption has been going back up. I manage to go through a steady diet of books, largely a mix of contemporary novels (the post-moderner the better) and classics (so that I feel like a good member of Western civilization). I started keeping a book diary to keep track of what I've read, and it's grown to be pretty extensive.


chess    I learned to play chess when I was three, and although I gave it up for a long time, I'm now playing again on and off, and my USCF rating is in the low 1800s, which is at least respectable, although it's unlikely to ever get much better than that. My handle on the Internet Chess Club is dfan.

go    Recently I've been playing the Asian boardgame Go a lot, so my chess skills have been slipping. After Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov at chess, Go was in the news a bit as the game in which humans are still much better than computers. My Go rank is 4 kyu according to the American Go Association, which basically means I'm 4 steps away from being an expert (at that point, I would become 1 dan and the numbers would start going up). If you know anything about go, you know that means I've already wasted far too much time studying this game. My handle on the KGS Go Server is dfan.

interactive fiction    On the creation side of the games topic, I've become involved in the interactive fiction community, writing text adventures. One of them, For A Change, even won an award. My IF stuff is over here.

diplomacy    I also enjoy playing the board game Diplomacy by email. Diplomacy is a seven-player game in which everyone tries to take over the world, which usually involves a lot of negotiation and even more back-stabbing. It turns out to be uncannily suited to email play, where you can negotiate as verbosely as you like over a period of months rather than trying to cram a whole game into a single day. The Diplomatic Pouch is the place to go if you're interested, and once you are, I've written some handy tools which I have here.


ultimate    Like all good athletic nerds, I like to play Ultimate Disc (Ultimate Frisbee, if you must be vulgar about it). Back when I was more serious about it, I played in the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance's Summer League.


&cetera    I tend to get really excited about something every six months or so. Some interests which have since faded a bit (but I still revisit from time to time) are Esperanto, combinatorial game theory, poker, Latin, and generative linguistics. Perhaps you'd like to suggest a new obsession?

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Last updated 18 January 2009