Do you want to join the Portalarium team and work on Shroud of the Avatar? Come work with us!
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: CEO/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
Dallas “Gorn” Snell: With 30 years experience, Dallas is a veteran of the gaming industry. He published his first game, The Quest, in 1983, and a few years later co-founded the Austin studio of Origin Systems with Richard Garriott. At Origin, he Produced/Executive Produced 30+ original games, including such best-sellers as the Ultima and Wing Commander series.
In 1993, Dallas (aka “Gorn”, a nickname he inherited from the main character in his first games The Quest and Ring Quest) became the General Manager of the Origin division after their acquisition by EA. In 1996, Dallas took time off from business activities to spend with his young son and to study research in the growing convergence of the cognitive, behavioral, affective, social, relational, and neural sciences and the practical application of those sciences in the field of individual, group, and organizational development. However, the lure of multiplayer online games proved more than he could resist, and in 2006 Dallas rejoined his former Origin partners as Director of Business Development at NCsoft.
In 2009, Dallas co-founded Portalarium, Inc. to provide online games and virtual worlds that foster people coming together for fun, shared play, good will, learning, and community. As COO, Dallas’ main role is to provide operational management and project guidance to help the Shroud of the Avatar team function as smoothly as possible.
Michael “Hutch” Hutchison started his game industry career in the early 1990’s, working as an artist and animator on many of the classic quest adventure games from Sierra On-Line. Since then, he has worked on projects at Codemasters, Pandemic Studios, NCsoft, BioWare, UTV Ignition Games, and Vigil Games. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design, and with over 2 decades of industry experience, he has contributed in just about every facet of game art development. He has also earned credentials in game design, having been enlisted as a member of Richard Garriott’s world design team on “Tabula Rasa.” For the past 11 years, he has made a specialty of environment art, world design, and scene building, and now brings his unique blend of art and design experience to the creation of the game environments in Shroud of the Avatar.
Role: Art Lead
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
Mathew “Berek” Anderson is the Senior Community Manager at Portalarium. He has over 10 years experience in the industry managing community’s across press and developer organizations. Mathew has worked with the teams of numerous MMORPG projects like EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, and Warhammer Online.
When not working on Shroud of the Avatar, Mathew spends his spare time biking around the beautiful city of Austin, Texas, or spending quality time indoors on various writing projects like his upcoming book, www.ourcosmicstory.com.
Role: Senior Community Manager
Rhys “Attenwood” Romero is a Producer/Designer that joined our team not long after achieving degrees and honors in both Psychology and Game Design from St. Edward’s University and ACC’s Game Development Institute respectively. Games have been a fundamental part of his life since his earliest memories. Vexed by the volatility present in much of the Industry, Rhys has dedicated himself to becoming a catalyst for positive change and stability on the path toward Production.
In the short time since Rhys stepped into the industry he has facilitated the creation of an art contracting firm; became a certified Professional Scrum Master; assumed the role of Volunteer Coordinator for Captivate, a local professional conference; became a student tutor for Agile production, game design, and the Unity development; and was honored as an IGDA Scholar in Production for GDC 2015.
Trivia: Rhys is Welsh for “enthusiasm,” which is fitting for an industry built upon passion.
Role: Associate Producer / QA Lead / Localization Support Manager
Bob Cooksey is a Senior Environment Artist at Portalrium with nearly 17 years experience in the industry. Bob’s published games include Ghostbusters (XBox), Return of the King/Lord of the Rings, Bloodrayne2, Frontierville, and many others.
When not working on Shroud of the Avatar, Bob spends his spare time fossil hunting the Cretaceous shallow seas of Central Texas.
Role: Senior Environment Artist
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.
Gina “FireLotus” Dionne got her start in the gaming industry working with Richard Garriott and team after being “discovered” doing what she loved; moonlighting as the Community Manager for a popular Tabula Rasa fan site. She moved to Austin, where she spent the next few years working as the web content writer and editor for both Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes. Since then, Gina has lent her talents as an independent contractor to several projects, most memorably Star Wars: The Old Republic. But Gina’s heart and her passion never strayed far from Community, and it wasn’t long before she was called home to work as the Community Manager for Shroud of the Avatar.
“I’m looking forward to my continued role in building a strong community where the players and Developers will have an unprecedented ability to communicate with each other, as well as my role as a content writer for Shroud; where I have the amazing opportunity to work with both Richard and legendary author Tracy Hickman to help weave the tales of New Britannia.”
Role: Community / Content Writer
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 “Lum” Jennings has been playing roleplaying games since 1976, when at the age of ten, during a game that had just come out called Dungeons & Dragons, he lost his first character, a 1st-level wizard, to a balrog. He’s been complaining about poor game balance ever since. More recently, he has been involved in the massively multiplayer gaming world in various capacities. In 1999, he posted tales of his various frustrations and amusements with “Ultima Online” on a web site, which he named the “Rantings of Lum the Mad” after his character. Over the next three years, as the number of people who played MMORPGs grew, the combination of humor and commentary on Scott’s website proved popular, both with the players and the creators of these games, including Richard “Lord British” Garriott, whom Scott first met during an Ultima Online player gathering. Over ten years later, he’s still working behind the scenes of online games, in both programming and design. He can’t think of a more fulfilling career than to tinker at the machinery that makes worlds tick.
Role: Senior Designer/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.
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
Erik “Scrambler” Touve started his programming career in 1995 and later entered the games industry in 2000. His accreditation’s include: Microsoft Casino, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Warhammer Online, Mushroom Men, Ghostbusters, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, and Thor. He has worked with the following companies: Glasseye Entertainment, Compulsive Development, Ion Storm Austin, Knockabout Games, Mythic Entertainment, Red Fly Studio, and Portalarium. He is currently working as a Client Programmer on Shroud of the Avatar.
Role: Senior Programmer
Kevin “UglyFist” Wells recently graduated from the Art Institute of Austin where he majored in Media Arts and Animation, with a focus on 3D art. Before graduation Kevin interned with the character team at Sony Online Entertainment. Growing up in a very rural area of Texas, Kevin found video games as a fun outlet to farm life. From NES to Sega to PC, Kevin fell for games and sci-fi/fantasy at an early age. While very new to the industry, he is excited for the opportunity to be creating art for Shroud of the Avatar.
Role: Lead Character Artist
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: Senior Server Programmer
Esteben “SorcerousSteve” Zaldivar is one of the youngest chaps on the Shroud of the Avatar team. He graduated with Honors from the College of Communication at the University of Texas with a concentration in game design. Throughout this time his research spanned open-world games, educational applications, and virtual reality games leading him to be awarded the ESA Video Game Innovation Fellowhip. During his studies he interned at Team Chaos where he was a game designer on several of their titles.
Role: Junior World Builder/Level Designer
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
Matt Schmitz is an Animator with several years of experience working in the video game industry. He has had the fortune to have worked on several games from some of his childhood interests including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel Comics’ Thor, and Star Wars. Matt has always had a great interest in fantasy stories and medieval lore so having the opportunity to work on Shroud of the Avatar is a thrilling and exciting opportunity for him.
Matt graduated from University of Texas in Austin and then went on to study 3D Animation at Vancouver Film School. He has also studied renaissance martial arts as a hobby and hopes to bring his knowledge and experiences to the world of Novia. He also likes beer, pizza, and dragons.
Role: Lead Animator
Dan “PlagueOfLocust” Brennan breached the walls of the game industry in 2010, after earning his Masters of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development from The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University. He spent two years at BioWare Austin as a World Designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic, and has worked on content for several mobile games for a number of studios in Japan. On Shroud of the Avatar, he heads up Player Owned Town implementation, in addition to working on combat and resource spawning, world building, and a variety of other tasks. Deeply influenced by Ultima: Runes of Virtue II (GB) at an early age, he is very proud to be a part of the team at Portalarium.
Beyond his love of gaming, Dan is a rabid fan of mixed martial arts, dark Korean films, MF DOOM, and Thai iced tea.
Role: World Builder/Level Designer
Fletcher Kinnear has been working as an artist in the games industry for roughly 4 years. He first got his start as a concept artist for the game Starlight Inception by Escape Hatch Entertainment. Since then he has produced art for a number of indie game projects working for companies such as Kalani Games, Virtuix, and Meta 3D studio. He currently lends his skills to the creation of characters creatures and accessories for Richard Garriot’s Shroud of the Avatar.
Fletcher is passionate about high-fidelity art creation for interactive entertainment. Be it concept art or 3D modeling, he always has an obsessive attention to detail and drive to make each piece look pristine.
“Working with the team at Portalarium has been one of the single best experiences of my life, both professionally and emotionally. This studio is filled to the brim with the most talented, open-minded, and fun people I’ve ever met. I don’t think I’ll ever have a game job quite as good as this right here. I love how far the whole project has come, the mountains this team has moved, and how involved and passionate the community is about the legacy and state of this game. I feel so proud and privileged to be here and there hasn’t been a single day where I didn’t come into the office excited to work on something.”
Role: Character Artist
Sarah “Serafina” Dworken is the Customer Support and Quality Assurance Specialist at Portalarium. 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.
Sarah is here to answer any of your Customer Support questions and concerns!
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
Chris Wolf left his five year military career to pursuit a career in the game industry, and recently graduated from ACC’s game development institute. He discovered his passion for game development early, and prior to joining the industry worked on small personal projects and mods. He is extremely excited to work with, and learn from, the talented game developers here at Portalarium. When he isn’t gaming, or working on games, he enjoys long-sword fencing, philosophy, art, and binge watching shows on Netflix.
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
Damien “Puuk” Foletto has journeyed through game design and development for the better part of 18+ years. He got his start at Interplay’s Black Isle Studios working as a game designer on Icewind Dale 2, burning the midnight oil (crunch time) making back stories for the myriad of items in the game, as well as fleshing out and designing the epic end game of the Severed Hand. After Black Isle’s closure (sob), Damien infiltrated many other popular game companies, working on such titles as Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth, X-men Legends 2: The Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Tabula Rasa, DC Universe Online, and several more, lesser known titles from overseas (The Fall: The Last Days of Gaia, for example).
When not designing epic boss fights, quests and back stories, Damien enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, a wiener dog and puguahua (not a spelling error), reading, working out, playing games (all types), and participating in whatever his wife plans for his off time, whether he likes it or not.
Role: Senior Quest Writer/Designer
Andrea “Lexie” Vinyard got her first break in the gaming industry was back in 2001 as an Ultima Online Game Master, but her love of gaming goes back even further. Her first video game was “Kool-Aid Man” (Intellivision) at the age of four. She has worked on the following titles: City of Heroes, Auto Assault, Dungeon Runners, Lineage, FIFA, and Madden. When she is not running around New Britannia switching deck builds as a Life/Death/Archer she is usually watching football – or playing with her dogs.
Role: Quality Assurance
Kat “Bread Vendor” Wenske is the the newest torch bearer for Shroud of the Avatar’s sound design. She has experience as a sound designer, composer, and audio producer, and has worked on AAA and indie titles on platforms ranging from consoles, PC, and mobile devices. She enjoys the challenge of new projects, unique game experiences, and adding neat, hidden textures to sounds (what do you mean there’s a tiger growl in that light bulb and a walrus in that floor creak?).
Some of her favorite games include Earthbound (SNES), Space Channel 5 Part 2 (Dreamcast), Eternal Darkness (GameCube), and Age of Mythology (PC).
Role: Sound Designer