More Information About Me

Simeon Peebler started out in the early 1980s programming his Commodore 64 and making his own games and music when he should have been doing "more appropriate" things. Flash forward to the present day; after years in game development and technology, he works as a game designer and programmer and has been working the last few years in teaching game design and game development at a leading digital arts college in Chicago Tribeca Flashpoint Academy In 2011, Simeon created Brain Bump, a trivia game for the Amazon Kindle. He also has been working on composing original music and songwriting (go to his songwriting site and hear his latest album).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Note About Requirements for Career Success in the Game Industry

I came across this really great piece -- it is short -- but there is part of it that is in my view rather important for game developers in training and indeed anyone working to prepare for tomorrow's digital media careers --

"...the nature of the game industry [is] one that requires DaVincis -- not in the sense that only geniuses of DaVinci’s caliber can succeed, but that like DaVinci, successes in the industry are people with a diverse group of interests who are constantly working to master and refine their singular core skills.

This was as DaVinci did with painting throughout his life. He also pointed out that DaVinci was not an overnight success, but a man who began his career with years of apprenticeship.

'What is presented to us about games and game designers are little sound bite moments that only talk about went right,' said Daglow. The stories of long years in the trenches, like medieval apprentices had, and public fumbles, strikeouts and errors of judgment and moments of doubt like those borne by professional athletes are also part of a long career -- unless, of course, you quit.

'If you quit,' Daglow joked, 'you won’t have a long career. I can prove that to you mathematically.' He also emphasized the need for team skills..."

For the full piece, follow this link...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Flashpoint Students Win Game Design Competition

I am proud to announce that in one of the leading active game design competitions regularly managed by (part of – the game industry’s most important news and job site), we have had more brilliant success by our advanced year two game design students!

Recently Jeff Koerber, year two student, received an honorable mention in a similar design competition on “How to Make Monopoly Fun.”

This time, the challenge was "Create a brand new game that uses the Guitar Hero controller." and students Patrick Mousel and Ben Gettleman were at the top.

"Best Entries
Patrick Mousel, student at Flashpoint Academy, Chicago, Elevator Frenzy (see page 2)
Elevator Frenzy is a little like Diner Dash in that the player is an employee who provides a service to patrons, managing time and prioritizing tasks in order to maximize gains. Of all the submissions, we felt it made the best use of the control system in a unique way.


Ben Gettleman, Lumberjack! (see page 4)
Admittedly, we're suckers for Monty Python references; couple that with the mental image of a plaid-clad tweenager hurling a plastic guitar around his mother's living room, and this game idea was just too funny not to highlight. Bonus points for describing a less dangerous two-player option! (In his last paragraph, though, we would like to ask, which "popular lumberjack films," exactly, might you be referring to?)"

Go to the above link for the rest of the entries.

IGDA Meeting at Flashpoint "State of the Industry"

On Monday night, October 20, 2008, Flashpoint will host a professional meeting of the International Game Developer's Association (IGDA).

The following panelists will speak about the "State of the Industry":

Matt Booty, interim CEO of Midway Games
Andreja Djokovic, Founder of Babaroga
Scott Herrington, Lead Producer at WMS
Eugene Jarvis, Founder of Raw Thrills
Tom Kim, Executive Producer for Gamasutra Podcast on GDC Radio
Alex Seropian, Founder of Wideload Games

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Exclusive Big Fish Games presentation at Flashpoint

Flashpoint students spent the day on October 10th with Patrick Wylie, Vice President of Big Fish Games’ Studios, a successful producer in the game industry. Patrick spent time discussing the production process behind the new game Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst. This upcoming game is their most ambitious game production to date involving the work of game developers, visual effects artists, game designers, along with a team involved with the creation of filmed live-action components and original music recorded with a full orchestra in Berlin. While speaking to students live from their Seattle game studio by way of Flashpoint Academy's Matrix facilities, this industry expert helped set the stage for the new Production In Action course, and gave many students an opportunity to ask questions during the presentation. He also shared behind-the-scenes images, concept art and exciting final game graphics.

Patrick heads up game the development Studios for Big Fish Games, one of the fastest growing and most successful casual games companies. Releasing such hit franchises like Mystery Case Files, Azada, Hidden Expedition and others, “Studios” has been an industry leader for several years. Prior to Big Fish Games, Pat spent nine years at Humongous Entertainment, a leader in children's adventure, sports and edutainment software. He has played several roles in gaming from Production, Programming and Testing. On the side he even dabbles in music. Pat has a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Washington.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Get Ready -- Year Two at Flashpoint Academy

A few weeks from now, it begins.

Year two at Flashpoint Academy in Chicago.

As time goes by, more and more professionals are recognizing the value we are bringing to these various industries. I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of this incredible effort in building the new standard in digital arts training, and the results in our labor will be most evident in May of 2009 when our first graduating class starts their new careers.

Understanding exactly what is involved in the various aspects of production in game development, film, recording arts, broadcast media, visual effects and animation is paramount to the interview process and in the presentation of a professional reel and portfolio. This will lead to realistic expectations and also a truly focused personal selling package that will enable our students to make sure that they are successful in launching their new careers.

This is their responsibility, but we are setting up the shot. We are throwing the ball down the court.

Be ready to give it everything you've got. And then more.

See you in class!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Playing Video Games = Good for Us


Skills Transfer to Classroom, Surgical Procedures, Scientific Thinking

BOSTON—Certain types of video games can have beneficial effects, improving gamers' dexterity as well as their ability to problem-solve – attributes that have proven useful not only to students but to surgeons, according to research discussed Sunday at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

End of the First Year at Flashpoint Academy

Last week we wrapped up the first year at Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, a new digital arts and sciences school redefining education for professionals -- training them in skills vital for modern entertainment and business in today’s world.

In the game department, dozens of game students, guided by several seasoned industry professionals, have worked hard in building games and creating game designs, 3D models, original game levels, game music, and learning the production and workflow behind today’s game efforts. Most of these projects have been conducted within team settings where communication, leadership and personal responsibility are keys to success.

And like getting pushed out of a nest, nobody seems quite ready for the shock of it all. When things go wrong, there’s plenty of blame to go around. When the dust clears, the birds in flight are the ones who relied on themselves, listened to directions, and worked hard to deliver what was expected and even beyond. And for those whose achievements were not so great, we are patient and guiding, pushing you to get off the ground. You can do it. You will do it. Persist and work hard.

For everyone, in collecting materials for the end-of-year portfolio gathering assignment, ultimately there is a collective gasp. Wow. What we’ve done. What we’ve learned. For some, perhaps, who are farther along in the learning process, they know that the next thought should be: Even with all that we’ve done, what can we do better? What more can we do now?

So, now that this first year is complete, we’re ready to face tomorrow with the experience and knowledge that will most ensure victory at the end of the journey – at the end of the two years, each student will have new skills and industry experience that will make them ideal leading candidates for positions in a variety of areas in game development, visual effects, film, sound engineering, and broadcasting.

Let’s get to work.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why I am playing Grand Theft Auto IV

As a part of this industry, it is a requirement that I play current games. Mostly I want to capture the essence of the experience, to appreciate the play mechanic or technology or story, and so playing a game for 100 hours is really not necessary. As a game creator, it is vital to do this on a regular basis for a variety of reasons.

In the last six months I have only fully completed a few major console games (in campaign mode - Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Portal, to name a few), and I am well on my way to completing Crisis Core on the PSP. Many games have gone unfinished (an hour or two in, or maybe five or six hours in). But in the last week I have taken a side step into Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City and I want to talk about it, because I think I am going to try to finish this one.

So far, I have about six hours of game playing time. There are a hundred points of statistics that the game captures while you are playing (but these aren't important for you as you are playing, just sort of interesting all the same). The game says I have completed %12 of the missions. If this is true, it will take me a long time to get to the end because I only play a few hours per week.

So far, here's why I am living a few hours per week in Liberty City:

This game is the single biggest entertainment launch in history across all mediums.

This game has a very high metacritic score -- the quality of the game is the pinnacle of today's marketplace in terms of technology and user experience.

The writing is amazing. Among the best dialogue written yet in this medium.

The physical mo-cap acting is really great.

The universe is realized in stunning detail. One word: EPIC.

The music is perfect.

The player's sense of power over the environment and over "people" absolutely impacts real-world self-esteem and stress in a more powerful way because of the high level of "realism" in this generation of game technology. This is really fascinating to experience personally.

Employing this power over the environment and over "people" is a choice. Do you randomly kill "people" or do you simply play the story line?

Game developers at Flashpoint Academy are discussing this product daily right now, sharing experiences and discussing how the game could have been improved. One thing we all agree upon: young people should absolutely not have this game. This is purely adult entertainment -- 18+ for sure. If you know anybody with an Xbox 360 or PS3 with children in the house, lock this game up!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Do it Right, Do it Simple

In our final Year One Game Project Production course at Flashpoint Academy, two game teams are building up for a sprint to the finish. Time is short. Resources are limited. Critical design and planning decisions are in progress right now. Can everyone pull it off? The student team leads are kicking into gear under faculty guidance to make things happen, and work on the next big milestone is under way.

There are some really invaluable pieces of advice your new game team should keep in mind, and it is truly important for our students to follow these points as they work on these final year one projects in our game studio.

1. Keep it simple.

Why keep the game simple? Well, the reasons for keeping it simple mostly point to limiting production risks and alternatively potentially making the game more accessible and possibly more fun (and then...more successful, and maybe even complete). Production risks can include getting in over your head in terms of how much time it will take to complete various tasks along the way both in the creation of assets and in the development of technology. Further, it is easy to get "ambitious" in the creative process without a real market need for features or eye candy or to serve the core of the product's unique selling advantage. This can often times only be assessed after considerable work has been done on a game, after which point it might be too late to fix major problems or reach the deadlines.

2. Remove production bottlenecks.

Some main issues here center on management and technology. Appropriate delegation of tasks and oversight really make a huge difference in the efficiency of various teams. Big projects require lots of hands in the mix. They all have to work together and use the tools in concert. This means that everyone needs to be on the same page, and people need to promote the utmost in mature communication and professionalism. On the technology fronts, it is key to make game content data driven. With small projects and inexperienced developers, this is often a critical point of failure, usually leading to people saying, "Oh, we have to wait for the programmer...again." When fifteen people are waiting for one person to get something done, that is NOT good. Plus, most game teams have or require people to be dynamic and willing to do more than one particular thing. Pitching in as much as possible on the critical tasks at hand wherever they exist as directed by the team leads is a normal process in game studios. When team leads don't do their job, express your concerns to others in a positive and appropriate manner. Your feedback may prove helpful to everyone.

3. Work hard and make the deadlines.

Okay, this seems like a simple piece of advice. But here's what you must do: Listen. Take notes. Prioritize. Focus. Complete the tasks. Review the work. Communicate and collaborate (don't just make random decisions on your own -- check with your team or you manager! Chances are you can use some advice on how to tackle things, especially the first time).

So, in short, remember these three words and it will help you along the way:


Good luck teams!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Flashpoint Game Developers

So far, things have been very interesting at Flashpoint Academy this academic year, and what has been most surprising does not really exist within the typical “gaming” mentality you might expect from new game-developers-in-training here at our state-of-the-art school in Chicago.

This process comes down to establishing in our students what amounts to them becoming “modern digital professionals.” The patterns initially are the same as they have been in the past across all industries. It takes hard work. Sweat. Tears. It takes drive and ambition. It takes attention to detail. It takes the ability to deliver on time and on target, meeting and exceeding expectations in every way. Communication, both written and verbal, is essential. That feeds right into one of the most important parts: team work. No person is an island. Everything is done in collaboration. Sure, there are leaders, but without the rest of the production team, none of it is possible. Project management and time management skills are invaluable. These are all things that game studios desperately need, and so far I have not mentioned anything about their technical or creative training in the game medium! So the final pieces for the “modern digital professional” include not only these baseline “soft” skills, but new skills in balancing forever advancing technology and creativity, and making each serve the other in any task put forward.

So, does that fit the mold when it comes to your idea of a stereotypical gamer? For those interested in Flashpoint Academy: If you don’t have the capacity to go down the difficult road of being a successful “modern digital professional” and “digital artisan”, we will encourage you to get serious and get ready before you consider the unbelievable program we offer here at Flashpoint.

The exposure students here have had to those in the game industry has been exceptional. Here’s a quick recap: they have spent countless hours with our incredibly senior faculty members (each have at least ten years of professional experience in their field – well beyond what you find at typical institutions trying to teach interactive media in the way that we are doing right now), to special visits by game documentarians, game industry executives, and composers from the Halo series and Final Fantasy series (yes, Nobuo Uematsu spent a morning with us a few week ago!). And more are coming. I have not mentioned the incredible things going on in our film, recording arts, or visual effects departments (along with the cross-department collaborative projects!).

Our students have worked on developing a large number of innovative games, and they are working with cutting-edge game engines right now using the latest tools that were literally just “science fiction” a few short years ago. The whole production process, the digital asset management system, the workflow, and the responsibilities of each team member – these are all critical things for these new game developers to learn in their efforts under our guidance and supervision within our curriculum.

So, you can see, this is not just for people who are interested in playing games for a living. This is for people who want to make games, and who are willing to do what it takes to achieve the challenging heights they must reach before we launch them into this competitive industry. By the time they complete our program, they won’t need “launched” – they will be on their own feet, ready to work hard and face the challenges ahead without fear.