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.
Rena has worked on various projects in the entertainment industry and her favorite is The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius with DNA Productions for Nickelodeon. There she was a production coordinator working alongside an incredible team for three seasons. After that she worked on The Ant Bully animated film with Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers as the animation department manager. Soon after those projects, she began her journey into video games. She worked at Gearbox Software, KingsIsle Entertainment, and now with an amazing team at ArtCraft Entertainment as a project manager on Crowfall!
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 almost two decades. 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.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPER RELATIONS
After spending time as a Merchant Marine, 5 years in the United States Navy as an E-5, and 8 years in Business Management… Rob decided he wanted to be a game developer when he grew up. Since going back to college, he has worked at Disney Interactive, and ran Samsung’s 1st ever in-house game studio, Black River Studios, which happened to be located in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.
VICE PRESIDENT 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).
SENIOR ENVIRONMENT ARTIST
Rudy was born in the borderland city of El Paso, Texas. He learned how to walk in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. After a short stint there, his family returned to El Paso where he learned how to run! After high school, he went to The Art Institute of Phoenix to study 3D game art design. It’s been about 14 years since his first gig and he hasn't looked back since; actually, he did look back once but quickly turned around. He loves his family, Austin, making games, riding mountain bikes and working on his never-ending project: an old VW bus.
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.
PRINCIPAL TECHNICAL ENGINEER
After discovering the back of a Donkey Kong machine missing in the early 1980's, Thomas "Hanse" Eidson found the maintenance manual and fiddled with things called "DIP switches" to give himself unlimited lives. This was the turning point that inspired him to modify and make RPGs on his Apple //e. As a student at Texas A&M University in 1991, he discovered the Internet and MUDs; some of the MUDs he coded in college still run to this day. He went on to work on Ultima Online, Star Wars: Galaxies, DC Universe Online and Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising as a technical designer.
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.
Following his graduation from Virginia Tech, Tim moved to Austin hoping to break into the game industry. His big break came at Aspyr Media (like Doggett) where he got his first taste of MMO development by coding for Starport: Galactic Empires. His path eventually lead him to Wizard101 and Todd Coleman at KingsIsle, which Tim left in favor of being a remote employee for Trendy Entertainment to help ship Dungeon Defenders 2. Using Doggett as bait, Todd lured Tim back to an office to join the Crowfall team. When not complaining about having to wear pants to work, Tim enjoys raising his son, trading sleep for video games, board gaming with friends and staying caffeinated.
DIRECTOR OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Helping teams work efficiently and effectively is Lisa’s passion. With a bachelor’s in Computer Science and a master’s in Business Administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, she spent two decades integrating software with hardware at Compaq, HP and Dell. Her first app was a digital version of Star Wars: A New Hope that was designed to get children excited about reading. This inspired Lisa to teach her sons to read before they started school by playing Zelda on Game Boy Color systems. Her career in project management began with BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. In the last few years, she has helped publish many mobile apps in the financial sector. She’s happy to return to the games industry to join the Crowfall team at ArtCraft.
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.
PRINCIPAL 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. Two decades 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.
Vice President of Engine Technology
Josef Hall has been architecting and building massively multiplayer engines and managing game studios for over two decades. Prior to joining ArtCraft Entertainment, he was vice president and director of technology at KingsIsle Entertainment where he co-created the critically acclaimed games Wizard101 and Pirate101, created a highly-scalable MMO engine to support over 50 million players, and served as the creative director and executive producer of numerous family-friendly mobile titles. Prior to joining KingsIsle, Josef was the co-founder and president of Wolfpack Studios, the creators of Shadowbane, overseeing both technical and production aspects of development up until its acquisition by Ubisoft Entertainment in 2004.
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.
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.
THOMAS "PUZZ" MAHLER
A creative at heart who chose the tech path as a career, Thomas is happy to have landed with the imaginative team at ArtCraft. He loves solving logistical puzzles and has been building up a plethora of IT, infrastructure and DevOps skills for the past 25 years. A native Austinite, Puzz is deeply involved with the Regional Texas Burning Man community and, through them, numerous volunteer undertakings. When not trying to herd cats at the office or in his volunteer work, he can be found making and facilitating art projects, remodeling his house and spending quality time with loved ones.
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.
A lifelong passion for games created a thirst for understanding how it all works that led Charlie into programming. Before joining ArtCraft, Charlie was a member of the DC Universe Online team, where he built content generation systems, player abilities, AI, and everything in between. Along with the logic puzzles of programming, he enjoys history, movies, history movies, and the Oxford comma.
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.
SENIOR CONCEPT ARTIST
Nik’s dream of breaking into the video game industry was sparked when he was 10 years-old and received his first video game system, a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64. After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design with a B.A. in Illustration, he’s worked on a number of projects over the course of more than a decade. Prior to joining ArtCraft, he worked on Wizard101 and Pirate101 at KingsIsle Entertainment.
An early life immersion into the performing arts and gaming has led Jonathan 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 continuously strives to learn and expand his skillsets. Before joining ArtCraft, he was involved with projects at EA BioWare, Disney, and KingsIsle. In his free time, Jonathan meets with local indie developers, competes in national e-Sport tournaments, and live broadcasts local Austin multiplayer gaming events.
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.
SENIOR GAME DESIGNER
First introduced to online gaming via MUDs, Brandon eventually discovered the joy of MMOs through Star Wars: Galaxies, which created an obsession with social, cooperative and competitive gaming. It’s now been more than a decade since he began his career in the video game industry doing quality assurance at KingsIsle and Sony. Since then, he’s contributed his talents as a designer to a number of titles including DC Universe Online, Wizard101, Alphacat, War Goonz and Faxion Online. In his free time, Brandon practices the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira, competes in the local and national Killer Queen Arcade scene, livestreams multiplayer video games and travels the world.
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 ARTIST
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.
SENIOR CHARACTER ARTIST
Frank has worked in the game industry as an artist for 15 years, contributing to myriad AAA, MMO and mobile projects with various studios such as 2015, Inc., Liquid Development and KingsIsle Entertainment. Frank loves bringing characters to life and keeping up with the evolving technology surrounding his craft. When he isn't spending his time with family and friends or playing video games, Frank enjoys riding his mountain bike in the scenic Austin outdoors.
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.
VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
DebySue is a video game industry marketing executive with a distinguished career reflecting continual advancement, a depth of knowledge and significant achievement in driving player-first brand strategies. Most recently, DebySue architected EA BioWare’s emergent live service strategy, as director, global brand marketing. She enjoys the unique opportunity that live service games offer brands in terms of integrating player feedback into the development process. An avid comic book fan, DebySue actively follows the path of the heroic crime fighters in the DC Universe.
QUALITY ASSURANCE TESTER
Originally hailing from Oxford, Michigan, Samantha had lived in many different places before settling down in Austin. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Game Design from University of Advancing Technology. Prior to joining ArtCraft, she was responsible for mid-level quality assurance for a number of titles, including Dreadnought, Grey Goo and RiME. Away from work, she says her life “is basically dogs and video games” as she divides her attention between her furbabies--a Great Dane, a Yorkshire Terrier and a shepherd mix--and playing video games.
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.
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