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Dave Mirra BMX, Coding, Nintendo, Tax Breaks, Tokyo, and Sucker Punch

By John 'JP' Podlasek

Summary: *Learn about Dave’s role as a CTO for Kitazaru. *How he got started in the video game industry doing audio programming. *What it was like working at Z-Axis on games like Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX. *Discover how he formed his own company with 6 other colleagues. *What is was like working in Japan at Square Enix on Final Fantasy XV. *Advice for getting in the industry, like building a playable demo. *What kind of roles are always in demand. *Thoughts on improving as an engineer if already working in the industry. *Why it’s not good to leave a job on bad terms. *The importance of attention-to-detail and treating your work as a craft. *How Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX was his favor game to work on. *Hear about how well the Sly Cooper series was engineered by Sucker Punch. *Hear ideas and thoughts on Machine Learning. *Thoughts about working on Spyro Reignited Trilogy. *What it’s like developing for Oculus VR, along with an odd physical challenge. *Learn how everything changed in the industry at 2007. *Opinions about what kind of jobs are at risk for the future. *Hear the average numbers of years people have worked in the industry. *Learn how no-union companies skirt around the policy for voice over talent. *Hear which classic game reboot left a debug option in to skip levels. *Hear discussion about the ups and downs of Nintendo. *Learn about living and working in Tokyo. *Hear about a Canadian tax break for game development, along with the U.S. city that tried it. *Learn about some of the games that have influenced him the most.   Quotes: *“I’m the CTO at the Kitazaru which is a Canadian subsidiary of Sanzaru Games.” *“I got a job doing pager hardware design back when pagers were a thing.” *“I was a musician growing up and everything so I knew my way around MIDI.” *“Dave Mirra, that was my game. I was the lead.” *“I did the physics on the Thrasher, Skate Destroyer game which was Rockstar’s very first title.” *““6 other guys and me said “we can have our own studio doing this” so we split off doing this.”” *“I worked for Square Enix  for 6 months on a what became the Final Fantasy XV.” *“They don’t do anything smarter than anyone else, they just pay people less and throw more people on it.” *“Best thing you can do is build a playable demo and send it out.” *“Don’t burn bridges.” *“Treat people like you want to be treated.” *“Back in the day it was kinda like, QA is almost like bootcamp.” *“It’s craftsmanship really in some ways, it’s about your craft.” *“There’s no excuse to not download Unity or Unreal to get something up and running.” *“We’re always short on VFX artists.” *“If you go around burning bridges it’s going to come back to haunt you.” *“I spent a year working 7 days a week.” *“Those ones were done by Sucker Punch, those guys are absolute bad asses from a programming standpoint.” *“90% of the time programmers say “this code is crap, I’m going to re-write it!” *“Normally porting games are just train wrecks.” *“Machine learning is out there and I’m trying to find a good excuse to learn it.” *“Last year we partnered with Toys for Bob on the Spyro Remastered Trilogy.” *“VR’s cool once you have the touch controllers in.” *“On the Rift you really have to optimize the draw calls.” *“Everything changed around 2007” *“Before iPhone we could make a good living selling $40 games on consoles.” *“If I was an animator I’d be worried about what people are doing with Machine Learning.” *“I don’t really know too many people from this industry that have retired.” *“Breath of the Wild climbing mechanics are really nice, I’m sort of an animation nerd so I’ve been really getting into how they’re doing IK on the hands and to keep on the walls.”   About My Guest: Dave Grace is a 20+ year industry veteran and CTO of Kitazaru, a Canadian subsidiary of Sanzaru Games, a studio he helped start 12 years ago. He’s programmed on the original Playstation, and has worked on just about every console since as well, including PC and Oculus VR. He's lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Tokyo, and now Canada, and worked for Viacom, Activision, Square Enix, and his own studio.   Resources: *Kitazaru on Facebook *Sanzaru Games *Sanzaru Games Twitter *What a pager used to do *Viacom New Media *E93 editor *Z-Axis, Ltd *Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX *Thrasher Presents: Skate and Destroy *Rockstar Games *Square Enix *Final Fantasy XV *Full Sail University *University of Utah *Sly Collection *Sucker Punch *Sucker Punch Twitter *Toys for Bob *Spyro Remastered Trilogy *Oculus VR *Marvel Powers United *Asgard’s Wrath *Oculus Quest *Metal Gear Solid *Level Ex Careers *Game Dev Advice Twitter *Game Dev Advice email *Game Dev Advice website *Game Dev Advice Hotline (224) 484-7733

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