Richard “Lord British” Garriott is the self-proclaimed “Old Man of the Team”. Needing no introduction to most RPG and MMORPG fans, he is arguably one of the most influential game developers in both the online and offline RPG world. He has been publishing games since 1980 (Akalabeth), and created both the Ultima Series and Ultima Online, the first large scale MMO. Richard believes that with Shroud of the Avatar, we can now create a new paradigm of multi-player RPGs!
Role: Creative Director/Founder
Starr “Darkstarr” Long has been making videogames for twenty years. Starr started his career with Richard Garriott at the legendary studio Origin Systems, where he was the Director of Ultima Online, the longest running MMO in history. In 2010, UO was inducted into the Online Game Developers Conference Hall of Fame, the first MMO to be so honored. In 2000 Starr co-founded Destination Games with the Garriott brothers, and later that year it was acquired by NCsoft. In 2008 Starr was named one of the Top 20 Most Influential People in the Massively Multiplayer Online Industry by Beckett Massive Online Gamer Magazine. In 2009 he joined The Walt Disney Company as an Executive Producer, where he produced the Disney Parent App for Facebook, 8 learning mini-games in Club Penguin, Club Penguin mobile 1.0, 5 Educational Game apps for iOS, and the Disney Connected Learning Platform.
Starr’s extensive leadership of Lord British Productions projects and specifically his leadership of Ultima Online, is a clear message to Shroud of the Avatar players, that this will be the epic fantasy role playing game they have been waiting almost 15 years to play!
Role: Executive Producer
Tracy Hickman is known world-wide for creating the incredible worlds and stories of Dragonlance, the Deathgate Cycle, the Annals of Drakis and ‘Wayne of Gotham’. He, with his wife Laura, pioneered the use and integration of story into role playing games. He currently has over fifty books in print and is also a pioneer in the New Media publishing world of e-books and online serial publishing.
“There is a tremendous opportunity to create something meaningful, challenging and wondrous in Shroud of the Avatar. I’m thrilled to play a part in it.”
Role: Lead Story Designer
Chris “Atos” Spears has been slaving away in the pixel mines for more than 25 years. He has shipped titles on consoles dating back to the PS1, hand helds, PC games, MMOs, mobile games, and even a few smart toys. Chris joined the games industry after his brother tricked him into quitting his job teaching graduate students how to program this crazy new language called C++ at the University of Texas at Arlington. Chris usually wears the “Tech Director” or “Lead Programmer” hat, but is taking on more of a leadership position for Shroud of the Avatar.
In the small amount of time Chris spends away from the office each week, he enjoys playing with his daughter, cooking for his wife, playing computer games, hiking, and playing with his Italian Greyhound. While Chris believes that any good game is worth playing no matter the genre, fantasy RPGs are where Chris spends most of his time. Most recently Chris played Skyrim, Diablo 3, and Guild Wars 2 but enjoyed them all far less than he should have because he continuously studies their design and tech choices instead of just sitting back and letting art flow.
Role: Technical Director
Rick “Chaox” Holtrop started playing Ultima 4 as an 11 year old on a friend’s Commodore 64, and a lifelong obsession with Ultima began. Fast forward to age 22 where he began working in QA at Origin systems; within a few years a close working relationship with Richard Garriott began. He later moved into development and design on Ultima Online 2, Tabula Rasa, and Thor: God of Thunder. In September of 2011 he began working with Richard again when joining the Portalarium tribe, spending the next year-plus as a designer and programmer on “Ultimate Collector”.
In December of 2012, Rick began working on “Shroud of the Avatar” as a designer, a return to his PC RPG gaming roots. Since that time he has migrated into the role of Associate Producer, a task-oriented position that he loves, and that his many years across departments and disciplines prepared him well for. He looks forward to every day of work, helping to make sure his team is on task and having every single thing they need to thrive.
Role: Studio Services Manager
Brandon “Bzus” Cotton has over 12 years of game industry experience covering a wide variety of technology, platforms and game types. He is a founding member of the Portalarium tribe and also a published author. Brandon has built games for NCSoft, Ubisoft, and Microsoft, and holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas. His years of experience as a professional systems designer helps bring a high level of technical expertise to the design team. He is currently involved in most every aspect of design from conceiving to implementation. His short term focus is Overworld design and creation along with a prototype of the crafting system.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to bring Richard’s new game to the fans. We’ve discussed different aspects of the game over the past few years and it’s great to see all these ideas finally come together. I’m really excited about Kickstarter and believe it is the best avenue for what we are trying to do. We have always been a fan of player feedback around here and I’m excited to get to talk to our supporters and deliver the game they’re look for.”
Role: Senior Designer/Founder
Joaquin “WizardSmoke” Del Canto is a largely self-taught programmer who recently began his career in the game industry. Drawn to creative projects of all kinds, Joaquin first earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of New Mexico before returning to his hometown of Austin to study Game Design at ACC’s Game Development Institute. In April of 2013, he joined Kalani Games as a UI Scripter, and went on to join Portalarium in November as a Junior Programmer focusing on UI.
Role: Senior Programmer
Justin “OneandOnly” Gilbert has been programming professionally for 11 years. He cut his teeth at Leading Edge Media where he created robust database driven web applications and back-end intranets. He then decided to go back to school and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Development at Full Sail Real World Education. After graduating he moved his family to Austin where he started his game development career. Justin likes all areas of game programming and finds it hard to focus on just one. He is excited to bring Lord British’s vision to life while working hand-in-hand with the players to create an unforgettable experience.
Role: Senior Programmer
Scott “Scottie” Jones has nearly 19 years of experience in the gaming industry, spanning a wide variety of computer and tabletop games. He cut his gaming teeth as an intern with Origin Systems doing pencil sketches and concept art for Ultima 9, eventually shipping the game as Art Director. He’s worked as an environment artist, concept artist, world builder, and interface artist for companies such as Origin, NCsoft, and KingsIsle, and has published a variety of tabletop RPG products after co-founding Shard Studios. Drawing upon his passion for fantasy and role-playing games of all kinds as well as his skill at crafting 2-D and 3-D art, Scott brings a unique, creative expertise to the team. He is currently involved in conceptualizing and creating the initial dungeon pieces, as well as a first true stab at user interface, and will eventually be involved in all manner of environment art and world-building.
“Joining up with the folks at Portalarium is a lot like coming home for me. Having worked with Richard in the past to bring Ultima to life in the world of 3-D graphics, it only seems natural to help him realize his goals and dreams for his new project. We’ve come a LONG way with what we’re capable of doing in the realm of computer graphics since the old Ascension days, and I just can’t wait to interpret our team’s new ideas with the kind of beauty and depth that simply wasn’t possible decades ago.”
Role: Senior Environment Artist
Ken “BurningToad” Pfile is a software engineer who got his start in the industry with a summer internship at NCsoft Austin in 2006. He loved it and continued working there part time while finishing his Computer Science degree at the University of Texas. His next position was at online game company KingsIsle Entertainment. At both companies his work focused on core game technologies, servers, and tools.
After learning that Portalarium was brewing up Shroud of the Avatar, he knew he had to help make it. Ultima Online more than any other game helped create his greatest gaming memories. He plans to do all he can to help make Shroud of the Avatar just as unforgettable. Ken’s forum name and online handle is BurningToad, which was the name of his original Ultima Online character on the Great Lakes shard.
Role: Senior Programmer
Tassilo “Tass” Philipp is a self-taught programmer originally from southern Germany. Starting at Spellbound Studios in Germany, Tassilo is active in the games and the game middleware industry for way over a decade. Before joining Portalarium, he worked for Creative Patterns in France, Trinigy and Havok. He joined Portalarium in July of 2012, and is currently working on Shroud of the Avatar’s server backend. He’s an open-source enthusiast, mostly active in the FreeBSD world, but at home on many different platforms.
Role: Senior Programmer
Keith “Sannio” Quinn has worked on massively-multiplayer games since 2001, starting in community relations for Ultima Online. Along the way, he’s been a game designer on several MMOGs for PC, mobile, and PlayStation, including DC Universe Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. As a level designer, Keith helps bring adventure scenes to life by adding interesting visuals, harvestable resources, exploration rewards, and, of course, challenging bad guys all along the way. Born in New York, Keith currently lives in Texas with his pets. He sometimes creates comics in his spare time.
Role: World Builder/Level Designer
Dave Robinett has been Portalarium’s outside corporate attorney for over 4 years. During the past 11 years, Dave’s practice has focused on helping founders, management teams and venture capital investors establish, finance, and grow start-up and emerging growth technology companies. Work with his clients has ranged from general outside corporate and securities matters, venture capital and private equity financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, debt financings, public securities offerings, and formation of venture capital and private equity funds. Dave’s practice has included clients from a wide range of industries, including: software, hardware, clean energy/clean technology, videoconferencing, semiconductors, telecommunications, wireless, consumer products, services, and medical device/technologies.
Role: Corporate Attorney
David Swofford is a 20 year veteran in the games PR biz. During that time he’s managed PR launches for multiple titles including Ultimas VIII and IX, BioForge, System Shock, Ultima Online, Wing Commanders III, IV and Prophecy, Alpha Centauri, Guild Wars and Tabula Rasa. Before that he was an award winning TV journalist and investigative reporter while covering national political conventions, the Reagan-Gorbachev global summits, Gulf Coast hurricanes, West Texas tornados and killer bees as they made their way through the jungles of Mexico. He also owns Conley Swofford Media, a public relations company based in Austin, Texas.
Role: Media Relations Manager
Jason Yenawine began his career in the game industry at Origin Systems in the early 90’s, working on a game called Strike Commander. He wrote the AI for wingman and enemy pilots, and ended up writing a DOS Extender (JEMM) that allowed the game to use 1M of memory, breaking the 640K barrier. Jason has since worked on many titles, including The Sims (PS2), and Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa. He is currently working on the back-end systems (server-side) that will power the world of Shroud of the Avatar.
Role: Lead Programmer
Reid Rollo: As a lifelong gamer, a fan of role-playing games and a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Austin in the game art & design program, it has been a dream of mine to work in the game industry for quite some time. Game art and design is my passion and to be able contribute to Shroud of the Avatar with this talented team is a very exciting opportunity.
Role: Environment Artist
Sarah “Serafina” Dworken is the Player Services Lead at Portalarium, handling customer support, community, and quality assurance. After working in accounting in Tokyo, Japan, for six years, Sarah decided to leave the financial services world to pursue a career in the gaming industry. She took the leap in 2015, when she got her foot in the door with MMO and mobile gaming QA at KingsIsle Entertainment, then later joined the Portalarium team in 2016. Sarah is a podcaster (oneofus.net) and contributor to a Let’s Play channel (rageselect.com), and fancies herself a somewhat funny person.
Role: Player Services Lead
Brekken Holtrop is a Design Assistant here at Portalarium and handles several other tasks we throw at her, including becoming our Shipping Department. While she is new to Games in an official capacity, Brekken has been in the background supporting Portalarium for many years. She has worked in a variety of fields, including Office Management, Designer Pillow Fabrication, and even held the title of Lunch Lady for a time. Her agility is proven by learning skills needed to fill in gaps, such as Unity for propping out dungeons and assisting other team members where needed.
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing several of these Portalarium “veterans” for 10+ years, and their loyalty to a vision is inspiring. I’m proud to be on this team, and together we’re doing great things.”
Role: Design Assistant
Travis Koleski joins the team as a World Builder with 14 years experience, and a background in traditional art. He’s worked on a wide range of titles including MMOs like Tabula Rasa and Warhammer 40k Online. Before getting his start professionally he was an avid map creator in his youth, making mods and maps for shooters and RTS games since he was 12. Travis enjoys creating all kinds of art, from pipe cleaners and cardboard to oil paintings in his free time. He’s also an avid online gamer, favorite games including UO, Mount & Blade, and Chivalry.
Role: World Builder
Damon Lane Waldrip has been making art for games for over 23 years. He began his career in 1994 at Origin Systems where he worked on several Wing Commander and Ultima games, among others. He has served in a number of capacities as Art Director, Lead Artist, Character Technical Director, VFX Artist, and Technical Artist at illustrious game studios including Sony Online Entertainment, Spacetime Studios, Red Fly Studio, Super Happy Fun Fun, and MaxPlay. Apparently, Damon likes variety – he has contributed to PC games, console games, mobile games, plug-n-play TV games, and MMOs. He’s made his mark on all kinds of titles, from several Star Wars titles including Star Wars Galaxies, to hunting games, fishing games, cooking games and music games. He also contributed to Mushroom Men (Wii), Ghostbusters (Wii), Thor: God of Thunder (Wii, 3DS), among many others. He’s delighted to have rejoined so many of his compatriots here at Portalarium!
Role: Senior Technical Artist / VFX Artist
Robert “Undone” Thompson has a PHD in Computational Astrophysics but has chosen to make videogames instead! We call him “Dr. Bobby” sometimes. He also has his own game he works on in his spare time: Saga of Lucimia
“My current position at Portalarium allows me to work on a variety of tasks including the development of gameplay elements and data analytics for a large player base. Previously I was a postdoctoral scholar at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications developing tools for streamlined simulation analysis. I continue to be involved in the scientific community through continued collaborations and software development.”
Role: Senior Programmer