Favorite bands: A Perfect Circle, Tool, The Mars Volta, Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Porcupine Tree, The Afghan Whigs, Miles Davis, Sade, Al Di Meola
Favorite genre of music: Post-rock
Favorite game console: Nintendo GameCube
Favorite video games: Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Diablo, Kingdom Hearts, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Pokemon Crystal, Super Mario Bros 3, Bomberman 64, Animal Crossing, Silent Hill 3
This is a somewhat self-indulgent blog for anyone who wants to know my influences and basically everything about me.
I was born on June 24th, 1991, and raised by non-religious, liberal parents in Birmingham, Alabama. My memories from this time period are mostly positive. My parents played music in a rock band every weekend. I was always finding new music in their CD collection. I spent a lot of time playing NES, Sega Genesis, and N64. I loved to walk down the train tracks, admire graffiti under the bridges, and explore the world on foot. Life was normal, and I was young and healthy.
My earliest memories are of playing Super Mario Bros 3, Duck Hunt, and other games on the NES. I supposedly had a dream where my deceased uncle told me how to beat Super Mario Bros 3. I do not remember this.
I became a big fan of Sonic games when we got the Sega Genesis, and even collected the Archie comics. They remain my favorite games to this day. I even had a Sega Game Gear, with Sonic Chaos and Sonic 2. I also enjoyed Mortal Kombat II, Vectorman, and (believe it or not!) Bubsy.
I still have NES cartridges for Super Mario Bros 2 and 3, Marble Madness, Tetris, Gradius, Blaster Master, RC Pro Am, Pinbot, and Base Wars. Their influence on my approach to game design runs deep. Sadly I no longer have my Sega Genesis or any of its games. The Archie comics didn’t survive either.
I was properly introduced to the world of 3D games when I got the N64 on Christmas 1996. Before this, Virtua Racing was the only 3D game I’d ever owned. Now I had Super Mario 64, Bomberman 64, GoldenEye 007, Paper Mario 64, Wave Race 64, AeroGauge, and many others. The PlayStation entered my life not long after, bringing Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Jet Moto with it.
Another significant event around this time was obtaining my first computer, and playing video games on Windows 95. I discovered point-and-click games like Myst, Shivers, and AMBER: Journeys Beyond. I found a lot of interesting games and demos though CDs that came with PC Gamer. I played some of the earliest modern first person shooters: Serious Sam, Unreal, and Quake. I also loved Sonic R and Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssee.
But the game that made the biggest impact on me was Diablo, which I owned a strategy guide for and learned inside and out. This planted the seed for my lifelong interest in procedural generation.
I also got swept into the original Pokemon craze when I got Pokemon Yellow for Gameboy Color. I’ve since put countless hours into the series, especially playing Pokemon Crystal which is my personal favorite.
If you had asked me about my favorite musician during the first ten years of my life, I probably would have answered Peter Gabriel or the Offspring. I also heard a lot of Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Green Day and Stevie Ray Vaughan through my parents. They both played in a rock band, so I was constantly being exposed to new styles of music. Rock, punk, post-punk, grunge, blues, R&B, etc. I eventually had to rebel with jazz music in my teens.
School was okay, for the most part, especially given that I was a kind of outsider by not attending church every Sunday like everyone else.
The two most significant personal events of this decade were probably being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in March 2006, and having six inches of my intestine removed in March 2008.
When the next generation of consoles came around, the GameCube quickly became my favorite. The controller felt more comfortable in my hand than any other I’d tried. Games like Super Mario Sunshine and Super Smash Bros Melee felt like they were built perfectly for the controller. I loved the music and atmosphere in Pikmin, Animal Crossing, Wind Waker, and Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door.
The classic Sonic games returned to me on Sonic Mega Collection. The game I hold dearest to my heart – Sonic Adventure 2 Battle – was originally for the Sega Dreamcast. It was insanely ambitious for its time and still has some of the best music in video games. Classic NES games returned to me through the Game Boy Advance, which also brought the Sonic Advance games.
After the original PlayStation, I greatly anticipated the PS2. Jak 3, Soul Calibur 2 and SSX 3 became some of my favorite games. I probably spent the most time playing GTA: Vice City and San Andreas.
One day a friend came by with a video game that would change my entire outlook on horror games – Silent Hill 3. It remains my favorite in the series, although I also love Silent Hill 2 and 4.
We also got an Xbox, which was mainly used by my father for first person shooters. Serious Sam returned to our lives. The original Halo became a great multiplayer experience for me and my friends and cousins. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath was another favorite – a very deep, moving storyline for its time.
Though we briefly owned an Xbox 360, I never really moved past the GameCube / PS2 era of console games. PCs have become strong enough to run most of the games I care about, and I don’t see much innovation in the realm of hi-def 3D games that appeals to me. I even use a GameCube controller in place of my computer mouse, and to play and test my games.
I started designing my own games in 2004, when I found Game Maker 5.3a. My early projects included 2d platformers, point-and-clicks, and experiments with destructible terrain.
In the early 2000s, I mostly listened to Linkin Park, Garbage, Eminem, and related artists from that time. I became a huge fan of the Roots when they released The Tipping Point in July 2004. I remember they played the album on repeat for a week straight on VH1 Soul, one of the music video channels.
That was also the year I discovered A Perfect Circle, through the music video for Weak and Powerless. A Perfect Circle and Tool undeniably became my favorite bands – I know most of their songs by heart. Deftones, The Mars Volta and Porcupine Tree were some of my other favorites as well.
I began learning bass guitar around this time. The first bassline I ever learned was Three Days by Jane’s Addiction. I moved onto electric guitar after a year or so. One of the first songs I learned on guitar was Trains by Porcupine Tree. I got my own electric guitar (a ’94 Jackson Concept) while living in Ohio in 2007, which I still use to this day.
I really tried to broaden my horizons at this point. I listened to a lot of jazz artists like Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. I also discovered avant-garde composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Kayo Dot, and Glenn Branca. Then there were impressionist composers like Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. The lists go on.
I saw Nine Inch Nails live on June 6th, 2006. Bauhaus was the opening act, and they were both amazing. I saw Tool perform live on May 26, 2007, where they played an interesting version of the song Lateralus with Melt Banana. The real highlight of that night though was the opening act, Kinski. Their freeform energy electrified me – this became my formal introduction to post-rock. I also saw Yellowcard and Flyleaf perform at City Stages on June 17th, 2007.
2010s (The Present)
This decade has seen a lot of ups and downs. I lost my home in 2012, and moved a couple of times before ending up in Cullman a year later.
If you really want to get a sense of how the past few years have been, just read my mom’s blog Cocaine Widow.
We were also raided by police in late 2013 over cannabis. I spent a night in jail, while my mom spent two weeks. We were each held on $1,000,000 bond. We were never convicted of anything, but it was a traumatic event nonetheless.
Other than that, things have been alright since moving up here. I started watching movies on a semi-daily basis in 2014. I’ve rediscovered my love of 90s gothic manga, especially the works of Kaori Yuki. I’ve also achieved a number of random video game-related accomplishments that I’m proud of:
- I’ve collected all 180 emblems in Sonic Adventure 2 Battle in 29:40:50.
- I’ve collected 284 trophies in Super Smash Bros Melee.
- I’ve collected all 134 figurines in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (including Knuckle).
- I’ve unlocked everything for Soul Calibur 2 on PS2.
- I’ve racked up over 250 hours in Burnout 3: Takedown.
Unfortunately, many of my favorite bands – A Perfect Circle, Tool, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta – did not carry on into this decade. Thankfully, some bands like Deftones and The Afghan Whigs have, and I’ve been fortunate to watch them grow.
These days I listen to a lot of post-hardcore – Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa, Sianvar, Hail the Sun, Stolas, etc. Alexander Scriabin’s music deeply touches me. I listen to a lot of Danny Brown and Run the Jewels as well.
I injured my right arm in 2014 and briefly retired from guitar to work on my programming projects. I experimented extensively with generative music, and finished a platformer game I started in 2010. Now that my arm has healed, I’ve returned to writing music.
I’ve released eight video games so far: 2 platformers, 2 music generators, 3 space shooters, and one horror game. They are all available for free here, though you can donate if you’re feeling generous. ❤
I’ve released three albums of progressive electronica music, which are available on bandcamp for free under a CC-BY-4.0 license (Attribution only). As long as you give me credit, you’re free to sample and remix them in any of your own work.
Thank you for reading! ❤