About the team
ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. is an Austin, Texas based independent developer and publisher of cutting-edge Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Their flagship title, Crowfall, was announced in January of 2015 and has quickly gained a loyal following of players looking for innovation and vision in the MMO genre.
ACE is founded by two of the world's most highly experienced MMO executives: J. Todd Coleman (creative director, Shadowbane, Wizard101, Pirate101) and Gordon Walton (executive producer, Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, the Sims Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic).
Coleman and Walton have recruited an elite team of AAA game engineers, managers, artists and designers to build and launch Crowfall. The stated goal of ArtCraft is to create online games that "push the boundaries of Massively Multiplayer Online design".
J TODD COLEMAN
J Todd Coleman brings a wealth of creative and entrepreneurial experience to ArtCraft. He founded Reliant Data Systems (acquired by Compuware Corporation in 1999), Wolfpack Studios, Inc. (acquired by Ubi Soft in 2004) and was the VP of production and creative director for KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc. As the co-creator and creative lead of Shadowbane, Wizard101 and Pirate101, Coleman has built a reputation for pushing the boundaries of MMO design. His games have received numerous awards (including Game of the Year, Audience Choice and Family Game of the Decade) and he was personally recognized by Gamasutra as one of the top 50 developers in the industry and by Massive Gamer magazine as the #1 Most Influential Game Developer in the World.
Walton has been building games and managing game development for more than 35 years, with the last 20 years managing massively multiplayer online games. He has been VP of Online at Origin Systems, managing Ultima Online, VP and executive producer at Maxis, managing the Sims Online and VP and executive producer at Sony Online Entertainment for Star Wars Galaxies. Walton then went on to become the co-studio GM at BioWare Austin for Star Wars: The Old Republic and was most recently the VP and executive producer at Disney Playdom. Walton has personally developed more than 35 games and overseen the development of more than 200 games.
Thomas is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Game Design and Development program. While earning his bachelor's degree, he worked at Darkwind Media and Warner Brothers Games, contributing to a variety of titles including République. He is excited to be part of the team creating such a promising MMO as Crowfall for his first full-time job. When he’s not working, he enjoys reading, working out and playing video games.
Former Marine sergeant, Thomas "Blixtev" Blair has been designing and building online worlds for over 14 years. In that time, he shipped two expansions as a designer on EverQuest (Planes of Power and Legacy of Ykesha). He transitioned to the Star Wars Galaxies team during the implementation of Jump to Lightspeed and remained through two more expansions, eventually becoming lead designer. Post Galaxies, he led the DC Universe Online team as lead systems designer while building the initial launch game. Blair is a very "technical" designer, getting his hands dirty in the underlying systems that make MMOs work. He’s listed as the inventor on two patents for work on Star Wars Galaxies, specifically the Beastmaster system and the Entertainer "Build-a-Buff" system.
As a jack of all trades developer, Mark has worked on applications and games for Windows, mobile and the web using a variety of technologies in various industries including banking and financial, military and government, independent consulting, and game development. As the director of technology for Sneaky Games, an indie game company in Austin, TX, Mark released Fantasy Kingdoms, SyFy's Monster Island, Vampire Legacy, Cloud Village and Arena of Heroes. Since joining ArtCraft Entertainment and the Crowfall team, Mark has been actively working on game play systems on the client and the server from combat to crafting to campaigns and everything in between.
Upon graduating with a BA in Animation from Collins College in Arizona, Andy hoped to land a career in the video game industry where the cost of living was more reasonable than his native San Francisco. Austin, Texas seemed like the perfect place to settle with his family. Prior to joining the Crowfall team at ArtCraft, he contributed his talents to a variety of titles for Electronic Arts, Aspyr and KingsIsle Entertainment. Husband to one and father to three, Andy’s rare moments of quiet time are spent not-so-quietly playing video games or watching anime
VP OF PRODUCTION
Since earning a PhD in Astrophysics in the mid 90s, Bill has worked primarily in MMO development. Bill had the good fortune to work on some of the industry's earliest MMO products at Kesmai (Air Warrior franchise), Origin Systems (Ultima Online), SOE (Star Wars Galaxies) and more recently Bill has led technical development at BioWare (Star Wars: The Old Republic) and ZeniMax Online Studios (The Elder Scrolls Online).
Following his graduation from Full Sail University, Eric’s career began over 10 ago at Aspyr Media. Since then, he’s pretty much run the gamut of roles—QA, tech support, environment artist, tech artist—before settling into animation. With a number of titles—including Sims 2, Guitar Hero, God of War—under his belt, Eric was working on Pirate101 at KingsIsle when he met Todd Coleman. And the rest, as they say, is history. In his free time, he continues his longtime pursuit for perfection in martial arts (karate, kung fu and taekwondo), no doubt to retain the quick reflexes essential to survive sharing his home with his two sketchy cats, Boomer and Spike.
Nelson Everhart has been composing music for games since 1996 and greatly enjoys contributing his voice to the creative talents at work on Crowfall. Nelson is probably best known for the soundtracks for KingsIsle's Wizard101 and Pirate101, but can also be heard on numerous (and diverse!) titles from the past several years including South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter 3 & 4, Vexx, Age of Booty: Tactics and Hello Kitty Picnic. When he’s not writing or playing music, Nelson enjoys building things out of wood and attempting to give them sentience with embedded electronics.
Sam came to ArtCraft from Singapore with a long layover in Pennsylvania to pick up a master’s degree in Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon. University. He chose to pursue a career in the video game industry because it presents far more interesting challenges than standard software development - and playing awesome video games, of course.
UX DESIGN LEAD
Billy is an accomplished artist/designer that lives and breathes creative development. His biggest strengths include brand building and user experience which he has provided to dozens of games on mobile, PC and console for nearly 15 years. Billy's love for retro games, good art and 80s cartoons is second to none.
From middle school through graduation, John convinced his teachers to let him make films in lieu of writing reports. This not only gave him the opportunity to avoid ‘real work’ but also to pursue a passion that eventually led to a career. His mélange of credits includes the original trailer for Duke Nukem Forever, documentaries, commercials and military recruitment ads.
Dave has worked in the industry for over 10 years at companies such as EA, THQ, and KingsIsle Entertainment. Projects include the Madden franchise, Superman Returns, Frontlines: Fuel of War, Homefront, Wizard101 and Pirate101.
SENIOR GAME DESIGNER
Mark Halash has a life-long passion for gaming. As the rise of PC and console games brought his video arcade management career to a close, Mark returned to the real world. There he studied social sciences, earning a B.A. from Northern Michigan University. But the siren’s call of gaming was strong! A chance opportunity lead to a support position at Verant Interactive on the game EverQuest. It wasn't long before he moved into design. Seventeen years later, he is now credited on more than a dozen titles and expansions for EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies and most recently DC Universe Online where he served as lead combat designer through release and lead systems designer post-release. He holds two patents, one for his "Dynamic Reverse Engineering" system and another as co-inventor of the "Build-a-Buff" system.
Hailing from the exotic lands of central Kansas, Aaron joined the ArtCraft team as a 3D artist upon graduation from grad school. Inspired from a young age by the productions of game and movie studios such as Nintendo and Disney, Aaron committed himself to becoming an artist and pursuing opportunities that allowed for the design and creation of new worlds, characters, and stories for games. Since joining the ArtCraft team, Aaron has spent his time creating art for the world of Crowfall and absorbing all the knowledge he can from the experienced team around him. When not creating art, you can find Aaron eating good burritos, drinking fine beer, working out, or playing some video games.
Eric is a 3D artist that's passionate about bringing characters and worlds to life. Some of his earliest gaming memories involve playing online against other players. Warcraft 3 helped whet his appetite for competitive games and his desire to one day work on the type of games he grew up playing. When not playing games or working on a new project, he enjoys finding new places to take his dog Joey for a hike or finding new restaurants around Austin.
At some point in high school, Aislynn realized she needed to justify the multitude of hours she was spending in World of Warcraft. Making games--and, particularly, creating visual effects--offered the unique blend of artistic and technical creativity that would allow her to combine the things she loved into an actual career. She graduated from Hampshire College and then attended the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy at University of Texas Austin. You’re likely to find her at one of the farmers' markets in town but even more likely she's inside playing games.
As a kid, Jack’s parents tried their best to steer him towards being more interested in playing outside than in video games, but his obsession couldn’t be swayed. He spent much of his time sneaking over friends’ GameBoys and playing them in secret. That passion followed him right into a position with ArtCraft. This is Jack’s first foray into the game industry, and he’s eager to learn everything he can. When not working, he spends his time taking care of his menagerie of pets or nerding out at local LARP events.
A professional game designer and frequent writer on issues of interactive design, Raph Koster was the lead designer on the seminal online world Ultima Online, which first brought online worlds to the mass market. Until March 2006 he was Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment, makers of EverQuest, where he previously led the design of Star Wars Galaxies.
With over a decade of game development experience, Valerie got her start working at EA Redwood Shores as a game tester for The Sims PS2 and Battlefield. After a brief stint in Northern California, this native Texan returned to Austin, TX and furthered her career in Quality Assurance working on games such as Area 51, Area 51: Blacksite, Midway Arcade Treasures Extended Play, and Wizard101. She then became a game designer for Wizard101 where her interest in world building and systems design thrived. When she's not helping create the game you can find her enjoying time with her pets, playing Tower Defense and platformer games, studying archaeology or knitting.
Max has always dreamt of building new worlds. Growing up, he spent his time writing short stories and developing custom maps in Blizzard’s editors, yearning to one day share these universes with others on a grand scale using games as his medium. He refined his skills and expanded his network at Indiana University, and landed a job at ArtCraft in a production role upon graduation. He is currently absorbing everything he possibly can from the veteran team around him and doing whatever it takes to make Crowfall successful. When Max isn’t at the office, he’s likely working on a new D&D campaign, writing music or gaming with friends.
Chris double-majored in Physics and Computer Science in college, until he realized it was a bit of a time sink. He chose to finish his Physics degree, then jumped into the game industry full-time in 2002. (Prior to that he did a little stint writing the level editor for Descent 3.) He has worked on various game titles including Blacksite: Area 51, TMNT: Out of the Shadows and several mobile games including I Dig It 2, Catacombs and Monkey Quest. He hopes to finish his flight training someday, and when he's not working, enjoys good food, TV, movies and music.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY
Val is living the dream, combining her background in journalism and marketing with her love of games. She’s forged a successful career in community development and public relations and has been responsible for the ground floor community development of a number of titles including EVE Online, Auto Assault and Imperium: Galactic War. A longtime advocate of the positive benefits of playing games, she devotes her free time to raising awareness and donations for Get Well Gamers, a charity that provides video games and game equipment to children’s hospitals.
MIKE MCSHAFFRY "MRMIKE"
Mike started at Origin Systems in 1990 working on Warren Spector's Martian Dreams as a programmer and worked as a project director on the Ultima series with Richard Garriott. After Origin, he founded two Austin-based game studios, Tornado Alley and Compulsive Development, working on kids and casual PC titles. He's filled engineering and production roles on action/adventure games such as Thief: Deadly Shadows (XBOX), Mushroom Men (Wii), Ghostbusters the Video Game (Wii) and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (Wii). Mike also worked on four mobile games for iOS/Android including Inertia: Escape Velocity and Age of Booty. Lastly, he wrote a game programming book, Game Coding Complete, first published in 2003 and now in its 4th edition.
In what sometimes feels like a distant time and space, Andy created avionics and flight software as a NASA engineer. After grad school at UT Austin, he began crafting the planet's first MMOs, including Meridian 59 (3DO), Ultima Online 2 (Origin/EA) and Saga of Ryzom (Nevrax). Later, he led of team of experts at Ninjaneering, consulting on premium MMO titles for NCsoft, EA and others. Somewhere in between, Andy ran his own whiskey bar where he concocted strange cocktails.
LEAD ENVIRONMENT ARTIST
Jon has been in the games industry making art for 10 years . He's worked on wide range of projects, ranging from handheld games, AAA console games and games for the personal computer. Jon enjoys a healthy lifestyle, taking advantage of the many outdoor activities in and around the Austin area as well as being a connoisseur for items with history. His favorite possession is an old tank top, colorfully named "Old Blu".
At the age of 9, Lars got his first game system, a Gameboy Advance SP. After he saw the worlds that other people were able to bring to life inside that little box, he set a goal to someday create those experiences, too. He has released one game on the App Store, Symmetrica, in an effort to learn more aspects of game development. He attended the University of Wisconsin (his native state), and then went on to a year at the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy at UT Austin, learning about leadership and management in the video game industry. In his free time, Lars enjoys hiking or playing Nintendo games.
An early life immersion into the performing arts and gaming has led Jonathan Pollard to believe that video games are one of the highest forms of artistic and creative expression. Thus far focusing his career and studies on the development of game systems and combat design, he strives to continue learning and expanding his skills. Before joining ArtCraft, he was involved with projects at EA BioWare, Disney and KingsIsle. In his free time, Jonathan meets with local indie developers and runs a guild campsite at a nearby renaissance festival.
Melissa has a Fine Arts degree in studio drawing and painting and came to the video games industry for the potential it held for her as an art form. She started her work in games as an environment artist and is especially drawn to games that put effort into creating worlds that evoke mood and emotion. With a keen eye on quality and direction, she was quickly promoted to lead roles and has since led two MMO art teams with upwards of 30-40 artists, including Pirate101 and a yet unreleased title at KingsIsle Entertainment.
Akshay started out as a Computer Science undergrad, making video games for mobile devices. He later attended grad school at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, where he worked on game projects for different platforms. Upon graduation, he heard about ArtCraft and decided to apply for a position on the Crowfall team. In his free time Akshay plays bass guitar and loves to attend local gigs around Austin.
Raymond first experienced his passion for game development at Hoosier Games while attending Indiana University where he started a studio with some friends that helped foster his entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating, he worked as a freelance developer creating art before making his way to ArtCraft as the QA Tester. Raymond enjoys gaming with friends, 3D modeling, cooking and petting dogs.
SENIOR VFX ARTIS
A longtime MMO player, Greg loves making games as much as he loves playing them. He perfected his craft at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and then joined High 5 Games where he worked on game animations and VFX. Other notable projects followed including Gachapon Runner and Magicus. If he's not making something pretty, he's blowing it up. In the rare moments when he’s not doing something game-related, Greg dodges hecklers as an aspiring stand-up comic.
After earning a degree in Business Administration, Susi took a job at a Silicon Valley education technology start-up. Two years later, she realized it would be more fun making games than marketing them. So, she returned to the University of Colorado for a BA in Computer Science. A Crowfall backer, she spotted the job posting in the weekly newsletter and, voila, landed her first official game industry gig.
Before joining the Crowfall team, Steven spent seven years developing MMOs for Sony Online Entertainment. His credits include Resistance: Fall of Man, Stars Wars Galaxies and DC Universe Online. Much of his time has been spent writing modular content creation tools, scripting systems, matchmaking algorithms and guild systems. As a native Coloradan, he’s still adjusting to our Texas summers.
Ed has worked on numerous MMOs including AirWarrior, BattleTech 3025, The Sims Online, Wild West Online: Gunfighter and Elder Scrolls Online. He's also worked on both mobile and web apps. He's a native of Virginia, but is enjoying all that Austin has to offer.