Friday, June 3, 2011
3D Pets? Sims, Yeah!
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Today, the game I am currently working on was announced to the public. Sims3 Pets on 3DS. That's right, Sim animals that are for the first time full Sims, and in full stereoscopic vision. See the preview at IGN - yes, exclusive to this platform is the ability to play with a full pet Sim family. Not everyone will care, but for those of you who do, this game is for you. Your welcome!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
MONOPOLY is on the streets
by Neil Melville
Salt Lake City, UT

My latest game project is now available at stores: MONOPOLY Streets. For fans of MONOPOLY, Streets, video games, hotels, characters, house rules and playing online - this game is for you! And Justin Bieber!

Check out these videos of me at Gamespot and Game Trailers.

I am mostly proud of the introduction of new characters that are associated with the classic game tokens (or movers, as some call them) and the house rules... I like that each player can find a version of Monopoly that excites them. For me it is all about the auctions. That is why I love Bull Market and Fast Deal modes. I also created the Jackpot mode for people who love getting payouts on Free Parking and Go, and make winning the game about gaining the most, instead of losing the least.

I started this project as the opposite of a fan of Monopoly. Now I can play it my way, and I have a lot of fun! You should play this game too! Play it! Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200 :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Searching for another designer? Great!
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT
Wizards of the Coast announced only 4 years after a fruitful contest to find new game designers, that they are starting another such contest: the Great Designer Search 2. - this time with more participation from people who aren't actual contestants. They just turn the masses loose on this wiki page. This was a great idea that resulted in chaos. but this maelstrom of designer hopefuls is just the sort of challenge that can test the mettle of the cantidate they are looking for. Being as I like my current job, I will not be attempting to actually win the contest. Also being as I am a designer that loves the game of Magic, I will be contributing to this small area of the chaos.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
These are the voyages...
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

The continuing mission to design strange new worlds, to develop new life and civilizations...
Today markes the release of the long anticipated online MMO role playing game set in the Star Trek universe. I am very proud to have been a part of getting this project off the ground. I have created a page to document a snapshot of what this project was like two years ago:

go to the official Star Trek Online site

Thursday, January 28, 2010
What I saw
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Hey, Just thought I would let you know that I yet live, despite the best efforts of RING agents. The art I have been into lately is photography - check out my facebook photo albums, if you can. If you can't, then I cannot help you. Wait... maybe I can. Maybe I should just post them on this site...

Nah, that's just crazy talk.

Sunday, May 24, 2009
To seek out new life
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

This last weekend, My son traveled in a starship into the neutral zone, where he observed a supernova that collapsed into a black hole. This proved especially dangerous as hostile Romulan ships were there, as well as troublesome Pakleds, and an cellular accelerated shape-shifter. I picked him up at the Christa McAuliffe Space Center after a delicious pancake breakfast at Macey's.

So, the Star Trek movie. I have been waiting for over a year, you know. I saw it on opening day, of course. I would rate it among the top four Trek movies, for sure. What's not to like? A few contrivances? A few similarities to Star Wars? a few references to Sean Connery as the legendary planet where god dwells? Okay not so much the last one. It is a wholly enjoyable summer film, if you accept that it is not the perfect everything film for everybody. But to Trekkies (or Trekkers, who are somehow embarrassed to be called Trekkies), it is full of moments of delight and promise of all new Star Trek moments to come.

Speaking of which, have you seen the latest from the Online game? A character creation trailer. New screenshots. The anticipation builds...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
April Brings Snowstorms
by Neil Melville
Bountiful, UT

April brings snowstorms
National Poetry Month
May spring flowery

Thursday, January 1, 2009
New fears for a new year?
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT
This economic recession thing is getting old. all this talk about it is making it worse. I mean, this is a great time to buy a house, and Christmas was awesome! Two weeks at home with the family playing new games everyday... Spore, Nerf, Boom Blox, Power Grid, Dominion, Ticket to Ride... And that's just the beginning. I think that things are going to be great, despite all the doom and gloom.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thanks for the house
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

We closed on the house and moved in just in time for thanksgiving. Traverse Mountain has nice views, but is a little remote. Plus it means a 40 minute commute each way, barring weather. Still, I expect it will be a while before all these boxes are gone. Now we need to unpack the Chrisrtmas decorations...

Saturday, November 1, 2008
October de LUX
by Neil Melville
SillySoft held its 5th annual LUXtoberfest from the 21st to the 26th - an extravaganza of online RISK. As part of the festivities, awards were given to players and custom map makers. My Mesoamerican map won in the category of BEST GEOMETRIC SHAPES MAP, and was a runner-up in the best North American map category. See the rest of the winning maps here.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Don't hassle my bro
by Neil Melville
Salt Lake City, UT

Well, here we are six weeks later. Not much is happening. We just made an offer on a house and it was accepted, it snowed last weekend, I flew to Rhode Island to meet with folks at Hasbro, I'm now working on my 5th project since starting at EA (they were all my favorite), I helped my daughter catch a dragonfly and impale it with a pin, oh yeah, and I narrowly avoided a head-on collision with a truck on I-15 this morning.

Oh here is some interesting news: I am on facebook. Surprising? Maybe not. but it turns out to be a real time sink. I have been purposefully avoiding MMORPGs, but now I find that I can't wait to click advance my character in the PBBRPG app "My Heroes Ability." Browser based games are more insidious than I ever suspected.

Monday, August 25, 2008
To Boldly Go
by Neil Melville
Bountiful, UT

I love Star Trek. I am excited for the Star Trek Online game to come out, because I think it will be really cool. I think everyone should buy it and play it. And get Champions Online while you are at it. The more people pay to play Cryptic Studios' games, the more they can pay to have people like me make these games for you. See, that's a win-win scenario.

As it is, it is time for me to move on to new adventures. I have been longing to get in more game design time, and it turns out that EA's Salt Lake City studio was in dire need of such a designer as myself. I also considered working with John Romero's new Slipgate Ironworks studio, and Smartbomb Interactive (a smaller independent developer with strong tools and data-driven development, much like Cryptic Studios). It was a difficult decision, because there were 4 very good opportunities to consider.

Remaining and Cryptic, or going to Slipgate, would allow me to avoid moving. But moving was actually appealing, in that the other studios where in Utah, where houses cost 1/5 as much as they do in the bay area. Smartbomb would be an easier transition, in that I am already familiar with the technology and much of the staff. So that leaves EA as the most daring and difficult jump of the lot. So, of course I had to choose it for the challenge factor. I wanted to go somewhere where I could both learn and make a difference.

So it comes down to embracing the philosophy of Star Trek: to boldly go. In the words of John F. Kennedy: "We do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard." I will endeavor to the explorer's ideal, to push myself into new territories, to claim the uncharted potential, and blaze a trail to the benefit of those who would follow.

Monday, August 11, 2008
Stranger newer worlds
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Now you can see what I have been working on: (Note the beamy weapons and chunky explosions)

In tandem with working on this game, I have been reinundating myself into the Star Trek Universe. This means watching between 6 and 20 hours of Star Trek a week. Sometimes as much as 12 hours in a day. Before this endeavor, my kids had not seen Star Trek (I know, I could not protect them from it any longer), now they are Trek junkies.

I have been pushing the boundaries of what Cryptic Studios' online game engine can do graphically, and helping to create systems to generate the vast amounts of content needed to fill the gigantic universe. Will it be enough? As, Jack Emmert says, the game will be done sooner than you think.

Monday, July 28, 2008
Strange new worlds
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos. CA

Cryptic Studios has officially announced today that it is developing Star Trek Online. I am officially announcing that I have been serving aboard this ship as a Lead Artist and the Chief Visual Effects Officer.

We beamed to the development station in February, and had a prototype of gameplay within a few months. This was a vertical slice of basic gameplay, with a few key features yet to be integrated. The next stage was to lay a foundation of systems to create vast amounts of content over the next year. The goal is to provide a near limitless expanse of space for the players to explore. I am confident in Cryptic Studios' ability to deliver the technology to make this game a success.

The game's website was relaunched last night at midnight, and it got so many hits in the first 10 minutes that it crashed. The OCR team responding quickly and restored stable functions. We are now gearing up for the presentation at the Vegas convention only 13 days away.

Stay tuned for more news...

Thursday, January 3, 2008
Welcome to the future
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

The Year is 2008. Global wars are fought by networked computers. Fortunately the projected casualties are not ordered to report to disintegration chambers.

At my house, we have been playing Super Mario Galaxy for days. Everyone wants to play. Everyone wants a costar. That is, if my kids can put down their new DSs long enough. The other night, just after midnight, I thought I heard giggling. I went to check, and they were all in bed... picto-chatting with each other! They each in turn would copy, alter, and send pictures, each trying to make it funnier than the last.

My New Year's resolution? 1080i.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

An Update?!? That would be in all ways utterly and completely inconceivable! Why do you ask?

It's just that I happened to look behind us and something is there:
The Princess Bride Downloadable Game Trailer from PrincessBrideGame on Vimeo.

Monday, August 13, 2007
City of Special FX
by Neil Melville
San Jose, CA

Huzzah! An update!
And it is a new page filled with pictures, both still and moving!

But what is the subject of this new page? Perhaps the image to the left will give some little hint...

(go ahead... click it. See if you guessed it correctly.)

Oh you clicked it already? and now you want something more? Well, you are going to have to earn it, buster! Send me an email to tell me what you were really hoping to see, and if it is very well written, I will consider adding the requested content. So don't say I never did you any favors. Sheesh!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
How Cryptic is your Car?
by NeMato
Los Gatos, CA

Introducing he CRYPTIC STUDIOS animation rig!

Cryptic Studios has launched a new web site featuring the Cryptic AR (Animation Rig), a free professional tool for animators of all skills levels released under the GNU General Public License. By releasing this tool, Cryptic is creating a new community of aspiring and professional animators at The tool was developed for release by Sean Burgoon. The site was designed by Jason Olmstead. Thanks also go out to Chris Stewart, Neil Melville and Brett Harris for their contributions to bringing the tool and the site together.

Yeah, I made the 3 default character models. Now all I need is to make a Pirate for the Cryptic ARRRR!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
by Neil Melville
San Francisco, CA

Its that time of year again!  GDC (Game Developers Conference) was last week!


I nearly starved to death on the long march around San Francisco's Moscone Center before I could get inside to see Mr. Miyamoto.


waitaminnit.  It feels like I've written this before. Let me check the news from a year ago... Yup, apparently I'm honoring some unofficial personal tradition to revisit this format. So now I am supposed to say something about wheter or not I was going.  


And I did go. Hooray! This year I was specifically interested in getting to a couple of sessions, and the keynote in particular. While I was there, I spent some time assisting Cryptic Studios' recruitment efforts at the job fair. Thanks if you stopped by to say hello.


Seems like there is an echo in here. Hmm. Anyway I was happy with the presentation given by Clint Hocking, but really dissapointed by the guys at Three Rings. Ah, well, not every session can be a winner.


Well if there was a winner, there must be a prize! Here's what I got: A Magic the Gathering Mug and Core Set Starter Box, A squishy THX mascot robot, BioWare Eggs filled with experimental government by-product (silly putty), a flashy light keychain from TechExcel, An Activision flippy flyer, a Motorola glowing pendant, and a DAM frisbee.


Thursday, November 9, 2006
Crazy Days
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Here are the latest crazy cryptic sketches:


Happy Holiday! Which Holiday? The next one of course. (who knows how long before this site will see another update). At the moment of this writing, the next holiday is National Neil Melville Day. Of course, I have to share my day with all war veterans.

And here's an update that I know everyone has been waiting for:

This site is certified 92% GOOD by the Gematriculator

It feels good to know that I am making progress.

Friday, September 29, 2006
Marvel and Behold
by Neil Melville
The Future

It has been declared: Cryptic Studios is working on the Marvel MMO.

There is a teaser video you can watch, but the real scoop is Spider-Man's new arsenal. No Thing can touch him. He is the greatest superhero in the world. Next time there is a Secret Wars, he will totally dominate. Unless the President of the US also had a giant robot.

Thursday, August 24, 2006
Blue shadows...
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

...on the trail.  Little cowboy, close your eyes, and sleep...

See, this is why Cryptic Studios is so cool.  Once a week we get to do a company art contest.  A random topic is chosen and we get 2 hours to come up with something.  Then we have a vote and one lucky employee gets the "Debbie" for the week.  The "Debbie" is an silver cup trophy award of excelence that has been in the possession of Cryptic Employees from before there was a Cryptic Studios.

Say, did you know that Cryptic Studios is hiring?  That's right we gots to staff up for the next big project.  City of Heroes is good, and it is still being updated, but it's not the only thing we are working on. Oh, no... there are other things.  GOOD THINGS.  Just you wait and see...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Oh my stars and garters!
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Believe it.  Here is the update:

Fumiko likes to watch 24 in japan.  I bet Jack Bauer knows How to eat Sushi. He eats it while shooting terrorists and flying his ROFLcopter, and drinking Epicac. How does he do it? Could it be some sort of Wonder Drug? 

Who is Fumiko? Fumiko is a girl I met in Japan back in 1984.  She has since married and moved to Las Vegas.  She was browsing the net a few months back and stumbled across my site.  She wondered if this could be the same Neil Melville she met way back when.  Well, of course it was.  She sent me an email.  I got that email.  I read it.

The moral of the story is that if you send me an email, I will read it.  You might get an email back, but even if you don't, rest assured that I read all the emails I get.  Its true.  Trust me.  Believe it. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Mr. 4000
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Hi.  If you are new to this website, I say to you: Welcome!  For those who regularly visit (and I know you are out there, because this site has been accessed over 4000 times now), I offer my sincere apologies for not updating more consistently.  And if those updates were at least always quality upgrades or major content uploads at the least...  well, as I said, I am very sorry, and I thank you for your patience and dedication.

Here's the news:

GDC was as good as it could get for an attendee with an Expo only pass.  I got some black T-shirts that I shared with my family, and some nifty pens (including the much coveted VMC "greenlight" pen), and talked to many aspiring artists while at the Cryptic recruiting booth.  Some portfolios I saw were amazing, and some others... not so much.  To all those aspiring to land a gig with a game developer, I pray you find what you need.

Hey, do you remember when I said that I would tell you all about my Christmas Vacation?  Yeah, I remember that too.  And I intend to keep that promise... at a later date.  I am going to go back to work now:

At Cryptic I have finished implementing enhanced FX scripts for PC with Ageia hardware cards.  This means if you buy their hardware (dedicated to processing physics simulations, you will see more and flashier FX in City of Heroes (and Villains).  This data is available as of the Issue 7 update that is in the testing queue at this very moment.  Future updates are being planned to include even more FX goodies to frost the cake of gameplay.  So go get yourself a heaping helping of MMO and enjoy the particles!

Thursday, March 16, 2006
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Its that time of year again!  GDC (Game Developers Conference) is next week!


I could just wet my pants with anticipation, but for the fact that I am not going.


waitaminnit.  That's what I wrote last year.  What's more, THIS year I am going.  


Well, to the expo at least, and more specifically, I will be spending some time assisting Cryptic Studios' recruitment efforts at the job fair.  So stop by and say hello if you are in the area, I would love to chat wit' ya.  Oh, and we are going to give away some cool Cryptic Studios swag.  Heh, swag...


Monday, February 13, 2006
by Neil Melville
Happy Valentines day!  I love you almost as much as XBOX.  Why do I love technology so much?  Because of the cool things it will let us do IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE, which is so near that... Oh look! It is here!  (watch the video)
Friday, February 10, 2006
Too many comic books?
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA
I love the Japanese culture.  Underfunded space programs:  Check!   Goofy rock videos:  Check!  Where do they get all their wacky ideas?  Japanese manga? American comic books were never so bizarre.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Latest Craze
by Neil Melville
San Jose, CA

If you thought the plague of rampant zombies was spreading fast, Then you will be astonished at how quickly The cult of Maiyaha is gaining strength.  You can see for yourself.  But who is its enigmatic and charismatic leader?  Maiya Who?  Maiya He?  Ha ha ha ha!

Not to be outdone, we zombies are gathering tonight...  I am taking my zombie son to his zombie cubs annual pine box derby.  I have fond memories of these events from my youth while I was still amongst the living.  In my case it was a block of wood that my Dad would cut with his table saw into the shape of a car.  We would paint it garish colors, glue pennies to it, and after racing it down a track with other such pinewood derby cars, I would thow it out of the second story window to see if it could fly.

But the traditions of the undead are a litle diferent.  In this version, we take turns laying inside a big pine box with the lid nailed shut, and see who can claw their way out the fastest, using naught but rotting teeth and finger nails.  Good times!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Zombies ate my updates 2
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

The zombies have returned.  And this time, I am one of them.

It seems that I did not survive my first encounter with zombies, and have now joined the ranks of the living dead.  This might explain my extremely poor update practices.  Once again I have let a month go by without posting news.  FABNUS would be very upset about this, except that I smashed them to smithereens in a zombie rage while drunk on human brains.  R.I.P. F.A.B.N.U.S.

Saturday, December 24, 2005
The post before Christmas
by Neil Melville
San Jose, CA

Not to leave any one out, but its just that Christmas is a holiday that I choose to celebrate. It is a tradition of my people that dates back several years, at least.  I'm not exactly who I would lump into this group of people that I call my people, other than they may or may not also be your people, if any people can truly be anyone's people.  I would say people in general, but apparently some may not want to be included in the generalization that is implicit in a statement like "people celebrate Christmas," because it sounds like that if you choose not to celebrate Christmas that somehow you must not be a person.  Such a concept as this is not only untrue, but it is not at all what I am trying to say.  But in this age of political correctness, it does not suffice to sacrifice precision to brevity.  Therefore, it is not in an air of exclusion, but of inclusion that I say: "Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night."

Meanwhile, in Cryptic news:  I am making lots of new things and improvements to existing things in the game world that is "City of..." for hero and villain alike.  But I am now enjoying a Holiday break, spending time with the family, playing board games, baking cookies, singing Christmas Carols, and so forth.  It is my intent to give a full account of the Holiday proceedings at a later date.  I apologize for the scant news updates.  I have in my new residence in San Jose, thus far evaded any repercussions for breach of FABNUS standards... because I have not yet unpacked the toaster (a.k.a. the enforcer), and we have a brand new can opener who is not yet up to speed on the whole FABNUS movement. 

Monday, November 14, 2005
Road Trip
by Neil Melville
San Jose, CA

Before we dive into todays update, I thought I would share a special link from Japan: Morning Musume is like a Japanese school-girl Menudo band, and apparently they also strap meat to their heads and fight with iguanas.  Thanks to Matt Harvey for bringing this to my attention.  Hey Matt - ULTRA BEAM FLASH!

November the Eleventh is a nice holiday.  I got the day off from work, and my kids got the day off from school.  I thought that was rather nice of the country to make my birthday such a big deal.  I am not even a vet, although I do like animals.

We decided to pack up the van and take a road trip up the penninsula to San Francisco.  I charted a course, and we rolled out just after lunch.  We left I-280 at skyline drive, right by San Andreas Lake.  After passing through Pacifica and Daly City, We arrived at The Great Highway at the Pacific Coast, and we stopped to get out at the beach across from the San Francisco Zoo.

We continued up the coast to Point Lobos and headed inland to Park Presidio Drive, then north across the Golden Gate Bridge.  We got out at the scenic vista in Sausalito, and took some pictures.  It was really quite foggy, but we could see most of the bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the North Beach area of San Francisco.

Back across the bridge, we made a loop around the Palace of Fine Arts, and then cruised down Lombard Street to Telegraph Hill.  We went inside Coit Tower to look around.  At this point we thought we might need to make dinner plans.  We decided to head down Columbus and Montgomery into the Financial District and ChinaTown before going to Fisherman's Wharf.  However, the traffic was quite thick, and we decided to park in ChinaTown for a while.

We found a very good restaurant that served, of all things, chinese food.  We also did some shopping, and I picked up a pair of kung fu shoes and a custom carved name seal.  Actually we spent a lot of time shopping, and decided that we would make do with only a drive-by of Pier 39 before heading back down Embarcadero to the Freeway.

The next day I picked up one final birthday present (the tie, pajamas, peg puzzle/games and radio/flashlight were all very nice too, but I felt obliged to use the gift certificate from my mother).  I knew I wanted a video game, but they were all out of Guitar Hero and Shadow of the Colossus.  Next on my list of must-haves:  We Love Katamari.  And indeed, we do love katamari.  The TV has not been on for the last 48 hours but that that game is being played upon it.

When I returned to work today, Lead Animator Steve Stacy had a nice treat to share with us all: the Jones Soda holiday gift pack.  MMmmmm...  Who hasn't longed for brussel sprout soda?  And turkey and gravy?  You just can't go wrong with meat flavored soft drinks!  The Wild Herb Stuffing was a bit too much for me though, and I had to wash out the after taste with a handful of Andes mints from Tracy's desk.

Saturday, October 29, 2005
by Neil Melville
San Jose, CA

Did I scare you?  It's been a while since I updated, so maybe it comes as a surprise.

City of Villains hits the shelves this week!  Its a really great game and everyone in the world, especially in Korea, will be playing it.  Except maybe you.  So, why don't you play it?  What's not to like?  You can read more about our fantastic beta testing period and its huge turnout.

Also, Halloween is coming.  We all wait with anticipation for the zombies to rise from their graves at midnight, and if they see their moon shadow, winter will come 2 weeks early.  So go stock up on candy corn, it could be a long winter.

Friday, September 16, 2005
the Roller Coaster Ride is over.
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Or is it?  and if it is, am I not just going to get back on and go again?  Of course I will.

Two and a half months ago, I moved out of the hotel room which Cryptic Studios was putting me up in.  (nice.  TWO prepositions at the end of that sentence!)  And I moved into a room at my brother's house.  Fortunatly, it was the brother that had a house in San Jose, which is very near Los Gatos, where I needed to go for work.

We took a week off from living in San Jose to visit the whole family (and I mean ALL my siblings, and their spouses, and their kids, etc.) in Utah.  We went to Heber and rode a train, waited two hours for burritos, swam in the hot springs at the Homestead, and played a lot of Time's UP!  That was all in just one day.  The rest of the week, we also went to a park, and to another park, and to the amusement park that they call LAGOON, and rode on the apline slide at Park City, and to the IMAX, where we got stuck in the parking lot because I didn't have enough cash to leave.  All in all a whole lotta parkitude.  But I'm not finished yet.  There was a hike, and a cave, and a baseball game, and a FIREWORKS WAR...  Man, I needed to take a break from all that vacationing.  So I came back to San Jose to work some more.

Soon afterward, my wife and kids drove out across the desert to visit.  (They drove past a sign that read "Deeth Starr", and in Battle Mountain there was a hill with a giant BM on it.  EEEeeeww.)  We drove down to the beach in Santa Cruz, where they keep most of the sand and waves, and dug up sand crabs.  The kids also enjoyed swimming in "Uncle Pool's paul." 

Before they left, we found a house that we thought we could live in, but the people who owned the house wanted us to pay them money to do that.  So, that's what we did.  We paid them money.  And any money we had left, we paid to these guys with a large truck to pack up all our belongings and drive from Salt Lake to San Jose.  And they arrived on the day before school started.  Yay!!!

Flash forward a few weeks to today, and the kids are adjusting to wearing school uniforms, waking up early, and going to school.  The house is almost looking unpacked, and Cryptic Studios has just put together the final beta build of City of Villains.  And I kept my arms and legs inside the car the whole time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Riddle me this...
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Dave Sawyer sent me this link.  What a hoot.  Owl be laughing for sure.  Oh, the puns!

Also, City of Villains is almost ready.  I just got to throw in a few more amazing special effects and fix all the bugs...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005
10 minutes to meeting time
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

It's the last day of this month.  I have a meeting in 10 minutes to discuss the sounds that accompany the visual FX I am making for Cryptic Studios' City of Villains.  After that there will be cake and ice cream in the break room.  MMMmmMmm...  Birthday cake.

This morning I called SBC and asked them to hurry up and connect my phone.  I called them from a different phone than the one I wanted connected obviously.  I spoke to Aaron, and he was most helpful.  He even offered to hook me up with DSL and satellite TV.  I told him that I would rather keep the ComCast cable modem service, and that, being previously unaware of his generosity, I had already had Roger the technician set up the Dish Network.  Now I can watch reruns of Monk and FireFly on the DVR.  I don't subscribe to any movie channels.  I actually prefer renting.  But I do not tolerate the exorbitant prices at the Hollywood and Blockbuster Video(s) stores.  I usually get the dollar rentals from Albertson's or the NetFlix by mail subscription (Their offices are across the street from Cryptic Studios).

Meanwhile, there are only 3 days until City of Villains goes Beta.  So, I gotta get back to work.  My 10 minutes are up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Crazy News
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Quick update: according to this "reputable" website, I am a schizoid freak.  To that I say, "you call that news?"  For more details you can also check out this topic at the Sci-Fi-Kabbal forums.

Here's some real news: It took 2 years to reach 1000 hits on this site, and only 6 months for 1000 more.  I wonder if that kind of acceleration can or ought to be maintained...

Friday, August 12, 2005
Too Busy for Neil
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

Man, have I been busy.  Too busy even to make an account of all the things I have been doing.  But I saw that it has been a month since last updated this site, and I felt sad.  Not as sad as the 3 people that actually came to the site during that month expecting something new, and getting nothing.  But still pretty sad.

I plan to make another, more detailed, update soon.  Until then, here's a link.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Theoretically Speaking...
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

So I flew back to Salt Lake City this last weekend.  I thought I would try a little experiment to see if I could actually fly "space avilable" on a regular basis.  The theory failed in the first part in that the Delta flights out of San Jose were booked up.  So I tried my luck at the Oakland airport.  I had to leave directly from work on Friday night, and travel by car for an hour.  based on this, I opted not to take a taxi to the airport.  I found the "economy" parking ($19.00 a day...  I sure ain't in Kansas anymore, If I was ever even in Kansas in the first place, that is).

Once I got to Salt Lake, my leisure time was business as usual.  The return flight on Monday morning had 7 seats available when I listed for the flight on Thursday.  So, just before I left on Friday, I checked again and found the number had shunk to 5.  I figured that as long as there were 2 seat available, I should be able to make it just fine.  I checked again on Sunday morning to discover that there were now a grand total of 0 (that's ZERO) seats available on the flight.  Hmmm... This could be a problem.  I looked at all of Delta's other flights and connections and found no better options to getting me back to work on Monday.

I had tried this whole "space avilable" thing in order to find an economical solution to weekly round trips, and buying a ticket on top of the space avilable ticket did not seem like an acceptable solution.  So, I turned to Southwest Airlines, who apparently offer a reasonably priced, COMPLETELY REFUNDABLE, ticket to Oakland.  As I read about the refundiness of the ticket online, I had doubts about it.  Where was the small print?  What are they not telling me?  I called them.  The nice lady who answered explained to me that the full purchase amount of the ticket would be COMPLETELY REFUNDED to whatever credit card account with which the ticket was purchased.  Wow.  So now if I did not make the Delta flight at 8:25am, I could have the safety net, knowing that I could hop onto the SWA flight at 8:40am.  And If I did make the Delta Flight, I could Cancel the SWA reservation.

Monday morning, I got to the airport at 7:25.  The check-in line was considerably long, but I had no problem getting a seat request card that would allow me to go to the gate.  I headed over to the security checkpoint, and found an enormous line that spanned across the terminal, out onto the skyway over the 6 lanes between the terminal and the short term parking structure, and then back again.  I stepped into the end of the line.  I looked at my watch.  7:45.  I waited in the line and moved about 2% closer to the security checkpoint.  I looked at my watch again.  7:52.  Half a mental calculation later, I checked to see if anyone was watching, and then slowly slinked away from the insanely long line.

I stepped out from Terminal 2 into the dry warm Salt Lake summer morning.  I strode boldly towards the international check-in terminal.  A few minutes later I was back inside, looking at another security checkpoint, with another line of people.  5 people, to be exact.

It turns out that this was also the security checkpoint closest to my gate.  My gate, which was the gate furthest from every other gate in the entire airport.  I think that this gate was in Nevada, in fact.  Fortunately, the Salt Lake airport has a series of conveyor belts to wisk me down the long hallways to the hallways without conveyor belts beyond.  I arrived at the gate at 8:10.  I showed my seat request to the young lady manning the counter.  "Wow," she said, "Your're lucky.  A lot of people have not showed up."  (Some of them may still be in that line that fills terminal 2?)  She handed me a ticket with a seat assignment.  I boarded the plane and made a call to SWA before shutting off my cell phone.


Wednesday, July 6, 2005
What I did this 4th of July weekend
by Neil Melville
San Jose, CA


  • Miniature Golf - I scored 53 at Golfland.  I love those cool dragon heads.  I always have.  Oh, and I rocked out on Konami's Guitar rhythm game.
  • Time's Up - A really fun game of guessing the names of famous people's names based on increasingly less verbal clues.
  • Bang! - I had fun with this old west shootout card game.  I was the sheriff, and the outlaws were all gunning for me.  except they didn't try too hard.  So I shot them.  And I paid some indians to finish off the deputy that stole my gun.


  • Swimming - My brother has a pool.  I jumped into it.  Twice.  The I played some air hockey.  Then after that is when I jumped into the pool the second time.
  • Puerto Rico - A resource management board game.  Grow and ship crops for cash and fame.  More for the fame actually, but the cash sure comes in handy.
  • Curses - a crazy card game that rewards you for having speech impediments and neurotic behavior.


  • The Airport - a place where I took my wife so she could finally fly back to Utah, and rescue the kids from being spoiled by their wonderful overworked grandmother.
  • Princes of Florence - Another resource management board game.  Win prestige by sponsoring mighty works in the dawn of the age of reason.  All I can say is Jesters are da bomb.
  • The Aviator - this movie was never really on my radar as I movie I wanted to see, but I did get an opportunity to see it, at no cost other than 3 hours of my life that i will never get back.  The good news - it lived up to my expectations.  the bad news - I had low expectations.  My take - some exhilirating moments and some very good performances in what is ultimately a disappointing movie.

Monday the 4th

  • Headache - the aftermath of watching that movie, and not getting enough sleep from all the games I played this weekend.
  • Fry's - after tylenol, naps and Mt. Dew, I headed out to California's electronics super warehouse to get a DVD player.  I was sick of watching the shows that they put on TV, and not being able to pause or resume later the stuff I actually want to see.
  • Spanglish - then I stopped in at Bluckbuster Video to rent this little gem.  A sometimes funny and sometimes touching drama about communication barriers both obvious and subtle.  I am not going to rave about it, but I did enjoy it more than The Aviator.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
CA boom
by Neil Melville
Los Gatos, CA

You wants an update?  I gots one for ya.  I'm in Los Gatos now, see?  Los Gatos.  I bid farewell to my compatriots at Saffire and loaded up my car (Vlad the Impala) to head off into the Nevada desert.  Then I kept going until I was in danger of driving into the Pacific Ocean, and hung a left.

It was strange being in San Jose after all these years (I moved to Utah from SJ when I was 13).  Strange, but in a good way.  I am getting accostumed to the procedures and personnel at Cryptic Studios, while living in a hotel room.  And I did get a nifty City of Heroes t-shirt and coffee mug for my troubles.

My wife flew out to help me look for a place to call home.  We looked at rooms and apartments and houses for rent.  We took a shine to this little home we found in Morgan Hill, and are trying to work out moving the whole family into it soon.

My wife was supposed to fly back to Utah today, but as of today the entire Bay Area decided that they had to overbook every flight out for the entire next week (I think that many Californians are ill at ease at home during the 4th of July weekend because they don't enjoy the same freedom to blow their fingers off with firecrackers as people who live in other states).  So she gets to stay a bit longer.  Probably for a week.  And she was only packed for a 3 hour tour.  A 3 hour tour.  And meanwhile, our 3 kids are orphans in the custody of their grandmother...

Monday, June 20, 2005
World Wide Hero
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

In honor of my upcoming trip to Cryptic Studios, I thought I would give this hero themed update:

Jackie Chan is still the man.  Working on the design of a Jackie game has been a dream project for me.  I first heard of Jackie from my brother Paul while we were riding the bullet train from Tokyo, way back in 1984.  I was a teenager, and a superhero role-playing game enthusiast.  I thought Jackie would make a great character for a game.  20 years later, I get the chance to work on that game.  I even got this autographed picture from Jackie.

Last year, we made a prototype of the game at Saffire, based on the same engine that was used to make Van Helsing.  But there were many improvements, in camera behavior, object interaction, and enemy "spawn in."  We showed this demo to a few Publishers at E3.  Due to timing issues, we did not partner with any publisher at that time.  Since then, many publisher and other parties have seriously considered committing to the project, as Saffire has moved forward in its development.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
The Cats meow
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

How did I let 2 weeks go by without updating this site?  I have been very busy: catching up with old friends, backing up my art files, getting the oil changed in my car, and working on a new 3D cell phone game project at Saffire.  We are now working with 3DStudio MAX once again, as the tools that our publishing partner have provided do not support Maya.  Good thing I am a switch hitter when it comes to 3D authoring packages.

Also since my last update, I got to show off that last update while I was visiting Cryptic Studios in Los Gatos.  It is hard to know for sure what Cryptic is so cryptic about, but I think it has something to do with a city, and possibly even some heroes. 

We ended up discussing how we could combine our "Wonder Twin Powers" -  where they would take on the shape of a game development studio (no one said they had to actually change their shape), and I would appear in the form of particle FX artist (I just knew that one of us would become something to do with water).  We are both very happy with this new arrangement, as long as nobody winds up being a space monkey.  I can hardly wait to start my commute to sunny California, but wait I will... for no more than 2 more of your earth weeks.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Memorable Day
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Fab New FABNUS News!  Yesterday:

All hail the cook-out!  Plans for a family and friends B-B-Q were dampened as hailstones were dashed against the roof of the house early in the morning on Memorial Day.  It continued to rain until early afternoon.  But then the sun came out, the grill fired up, and char-broiled animal flesh was enjoyed by all.  The kids broke out the marshmallows to be toasted until crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside - not unlike eating giant bugs on a stick.

We capped off the day with the customary playing of sundry games, including:

Monday, May 23, 2005
It's back! On the heels on box office history!
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT
This just in!  The Sci-Fi Kabbal has returned!  The quirky, independent geekdom fan forum site has put on slick new duds and is ready for another go at the internet community scene.  And what better way to get this baby rolling, than to join the rollicking discussions about the little franchise that could - STAR WARS!  If you have seen the Revenge of the Sith, you must have an opinion.  I will share mine at that other site, where I can avoid the hate mail by posting anonymously as "Twonky".  ...Oh, darn. 
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Big Weekend
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

At the urging of my giant brother Mark, and my toaster, and my Jeremy Throckmorton, I make this update to my web FABNUS news log.  And in their honor I am pleased to announce that this coming weekend is, in fact, A VERY BIG WEEKEND.  So big in fact that it cannot be contained within a single weekend, even with the entirety of the globe to fill.  What exactly makes this weekend so big, you ask?  Let me break it down for you:

STAR WARS (not so long from now, in a theater near you) - This weekend sees the long anticipated showing of the final episode of the episodes before the original episodes (Not unlike last weekend's Star Trek airing of the final episode of the episodes before the original episodes).  In Star Wars Yipeesode 3 we will get to see the little kid who likes to yell "Yipee!" get so sick of the constant teasing and put downs that he dons a hideous mask that makes it impossible for anyone to tell if he has any acting ability at all.  And then his voice will be dubbed over by a large black man who will never, EVER, say "Yipee!"  Afterwards, all of the other Jedi are so ashamed to have been associated with this that they change their names and move to places where only a whiney kid with a persnickety R2 unit can ever find them.

Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3 to the syllabically challenged) is starting, oh about now, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  The Expo is multiple large rooms with flashing lights, shrill noises, spokesmodels for the teenage hormone manufacturing companies, expensive junk-food, and free low-quality t-shirts and kid's meal toys.  Oh, and a few opportunities to see some video games that haven't come out yet.  A nice trick that the vendors use is that the more you want to play a game, the harder it is to actually see it.  Obviously you already want to play it, so why should they bother to show it to you?  It's the games that are all marketing glitz and no substance and that you wish would just die and go away that you cannot seem to escape.  Seriously, they are pumping a lot of money into those games, and so now they need to makes sure somebody wants to buy it.  E3 has its moments where the entire trip is justified in finding a game like Xtango hiding in a room that many attendees don't even know exists.  Oh and new hardware like Xbox2 and PS3 will be touted.

Magic: the Gathering Pre-release tournament for the new Saviors of Kamigawa set (episode 3 of the Kamigawa card world) is on the same weekend as the Magic: the Gathering Invitational event to be held at E3 in Los Angeles.  The invitational brings 16 Magic playing greats to one place to play Magic Online over the world-wide internet.  Last year this set-up made it hard to enforce a "don't cheat by leaning a little to the left or right to see the cards on the screen of your opponent" policy, but since we all know that tournament players don't care that much about winning, I'm sure it was never even a temptation.  The Pre-release, on the other hand, is a real paper cards event that draws the largest attendance of Magic players, with vastly varying skill levels, play styles, ages, and hygene.

Conduit - Salt Lake City's Sci-fi and Fantasy Media Convention was unable to fit into this weekend and will therefore be pushed back to the following weekend.  This is the event where 10 years ago, Talengarde made it's debut.  These kinds of conventions are a lot of fun for anyone who is into fanatic geekdom, and those who love them, or their money.  Actually there are many activities scheduled that should appeal to all sorts, even self-professed "normal" people.  My advice: give up the boring charade and just go enjoy yourself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Zombies ate my updates
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

What?  You say zombies aren't real?  Oh, but what if they were?  We could predict their behavior and plan some sort of defense if only we had some sort of zombie population simulation game.  If such a web page existed, it would probably have links to alternate simulators as well.  But perhaps a simulation is too impersonal to illustrate the horror of a real zombie attack.

Well, I was thinking about posting some more mundane news, but I was distracted by the lumbering shape of a rotting corpse as it smashed its way through the cubicle wall.  I was going to tell you about my latest digital painting, but in a moment of panic I forgot all about it.  Now I am running for my life, hoping to lead the hordes of undead into the crossfire of armed militia, or ground zero of a MOAB detonation.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.  If I survive, that is.

Friday, April 29, 2005
News chock full of Gold
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

I have 2 items for today:  First the news, and then a brief movie review.

But you know what the news is already, don't you?  I mean, if you were paying attention you would have noticed right?  What?  Do I have to point everything out to you?  Really?  Well, okay... fine.  I will.

First off, there is a new picture in the spotlight section.  But that is not so interesting, is it?  But did you look at it?  It looks a little like this.

Now let me draw your attention to the left, where you will see a Menu.  On this menu is an item called Web Articles.  It wasn't there last week.  But now I have some web articles, and there they are, over there, on their very own web article pages.  In fact I just posted web article number 4 - all about drafting in Magic: the Gathering Online.

Movie Review: Sahara

Yeah, I saw it.  I had a pass for a free movie, and it was the only one playing at the theatre that looked remotely interesting.  I took my wife with me, and we enjoyed the movie together, the way all good movies should be enjoyed.

The plot was somewhat predictable, yet I did not predict every detail, or I would have warned Dirk Pitt (the hero - played by Matthew McConaughey) about the guys behind him in the tunnel.  Dirk is a character from a series of books written by Clive Cussler, all of which I have never read.  For fans of the books, the movie is a must see, because you really need to take a break from all that reading, and go see a movie of some sort.

Dirk has a buddy (played by Steve Zahn - I love this guy... in a purely platonic way, of course) and they go on adventures all around the world finding things that could in no way actually exist.  And they team up with a doctor from W.H.O. (played by Penelope Cruz, and not THE Doctor Who incidentally) who coincidentally is looking for a plague that exists somewhere at or near the thing that can't exist - and yet is in no way related to that non-existent thing.  But that thing DOES exist, and it's FULL OF GOLD.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who has ever wanted to see a man swing from a camel's neck, or a truck shot with a flare gun, or Penelope Cruz in a skimpy bikini, or a plane that can't fly crash into the only building for miles around in the middle of a vast and unforgiving desert.  Oh, and the chemistry between the characters is very good.  The little throw away lines really make this movie entertaining, and make the somewhat clichd story somehow believable.  Plus, William H. Macy is in it, so you know it has got to be good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Proud to be chicken
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Let me see.  What news is there today?  I saw some crazy things happen last night on "24" with the last 5 minutes culminating in an adrenaline charged fire fight between an evil assassin terrorist and the mousy computer expert girl.  Oh, wait... If you haven't seen it yet, and you were planning to, then I should give a "spoiler alert" first.  Hmm. Okay, so as I was saying, it ends with this cliff-hanger where Jim and Huck take off on a raft down the mighty Mississippi river....

In other news, We are less than a month away from the biggest, and most revered entertainment trade event of the year!  No, not E3 and the LA Convention center - that show is so tired (can you detect any sarcasm?).  If it wasn't for Katamari Damacy, I don't think I would have played anything last year.  All the games are starting to look so much alike...  I mean when everyone is doing dark and edgy, it's really not so edgy is it?  (Okay, maybe not entirely sarcastic)  No, the event to which I must draw your attention is the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, Colorado.

Mike's story is one of an iron willed never-say-die attitude, that is all at once inspirational, heartwarming, and disturbingly macabre.  We can all learn a little lesson about persistence and not letting people tell you that technically, you should be dead.  Just let that kind of negativity fall on deaf ears, if you still have ears at all.  Mike's legend is approaching its 60th anniversary, and is something that is truly worth celebrating.  Kind of like a simple farm town version of Day of the Dead....

Oh! That reminds me:  Is anyone else playing the demo for Psychonauts?  And why not?

Thursday, April 21, 2005
classic games go for broke
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

I want to show my kids the games I loved when I was growing up.  So I take my 3 kids to the Nickelcade, where retro arcade goodness can be found at the bargain price of 5 cents per play (after $2.25 cover charge per person).  I show them Bubble Bobble (broken joystick), 720 (broken joystick), V-ball (broken joystick) and Off-Road (just eats nickels).  I have now proven to my children that old games are no fun at all.

The older two instead fall in love with the ticket payout machines and drop all their coins into skeeball and the "push the big piles of nickels over" type games.  My boy's skeeball technique includes trying to get the balls to bounce before hitting (or possibly overshooting) the ramp.  After collecting 163 tickets (50 from a large dump-truck load of spilled nickels, and 60 donated by a stranger) they redeem them for assorted trinkets with a street value of 60 cents.  Once all their nickels are all gone, they settle on playing through Battletoads, which is set up for absolutely free play.

the youngest wants to drive cars and motorcycles.  She starts a Sega GT race, and stalls at the starting line because her little legs can't possibly reach the pedals.  I jump into the seat, put her on my lap, and hit the gas.  But due to the force feedback on the steering wheel, she can't even turn.  Next she tries a down hill street racing game, that once again requires me to step up to the controls, and we become a 2-man luge team.  She decides the little boat that goes up and down is more her speed.  No video screen, no buttons.  Just 2 blissful minutes of pure mechanical undulation.

I did try a classic game that I had not played before: Namco's Numan Athletics.  It's like a super-powered anime version of Track and Field.  This game is very fun, with a missile toss and train catching events.  I later learn that it had a sequel in 1994 called Mach Breakers.  To get rid of the rest of those pesky nickels, I played some Metal Slug 4, Time Crisis, and Konami's new motion-sensor rhythm game, Dance Maniax.  The kids are uninterested in any of these games, though they always enjoy listening to the music from Konami's rhythm games.  Viva la Dance Dance Revolution!

Monday, April 18, 2005
Blade Mistress
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Here is my most recent image:

       Digital painting of a a quick sketch.

Thursday, April 14, 2005
Fresh cubicle
by Neil Melville

Today I moved to a new desk at work.  This new desk is the same one as the old desk I was at when I started.  I had moved once to be closer to the new project team, and then moved again to be closer to the engineers, and now I moved back to be closer to the artists, because they moved away when there wasn't enough room for all the artists to this new old place that would have more desks.  Gee that was fun.

One good thing about moving desks... it forces me to straighten up my work area.  Sometimes the accumulation of papers and plastic cups and pencils needs to be reversed.  I like this.  I think I will be very productive now.  There is more light here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Who is Neil Melville?
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Is Neil Melville a long-distance runner?  Or is he a movie star?  Or maybe a rocket scientist?  He is all of these things, and more.  Yet I am Neil Melville, and I am none of those things.

I am not confused about who I am, but perhaps some others are.  I am but a humble game designer and meager artist, who sees so many possibilities for life to be fun and exciting and sublimely beautiful.  I am told that I am only human, and I usually believe what I am told.  I believe that true happiness is embracing "absurdity".  I value truth, mercy and generosity.  I feel to live, and I live to create.  That is who I am.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
You call that a blog?
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT
Don't get me wrong, I love Dave Barry's blog.  But it seems like most of the time he just links to someone else's blog, and then makes some random comment about it.
Saturday, April 9, 2005
It's beginning to look a lot like tax day
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

I see the unmistakable signs that tax time is upon us again.

I do my own taxes, and my Lightning Studios business taxes, and my retired-correctional-officer mother-in-law's taxes.  The more familiar I become with the tax code, the less I like it, from a game design standpoint.  It's unintuitive, the controls are sluggish, the reward system is uninspiring, and the graphics just plain blow.  Bah, humbug!  I guess I'm just not the type that gets into the spirit of this season.

I am certain that many a working stiff has festooned their living rooms with shredded documents and ornamental mailboxes.  The home business owners have erected little tax shelters with sheep and oxen on the mantle.  The social security check collectors have hung their empty envelopes from tinsel and ribbons.

Yes, a wonderful joyous season is upon us.  Even now, as I write this, I can hear the faint sounds of tax collecting carols, and smell the rich aroma of misfortune cookies baking in the oven.  I even spied my children writing letters to Uncle Sam, asking for big tax refunds.  I told them that they were very good at being deductions this year, and that the taxman would be leaving a little something for them underneath their pillows on the night of April 15th.

But just because its a magical time of year, doesn't mean I'm not stressed out.  Like any true patriot, I have chosen to procrastinate.  And because of my first amendment rights, I can proudly declare that I hate the tax code, and it really doesn't matter if I meant it.  Oh well,  Happy Tax Day to all, and God bless us, every one!

Thursday, April 7, 2005
I don't know what it is, but I like it...
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

It's not animated, but it's not exactly live-action either.  It's not even super-marionation.  It's Oh! Mikey, and it's a zany and original new TV show from Japan.  Not since Shingo Mama have I seen a Japanese TV show with so much irresistable wackiness as OH! Mikey. I could not help laughing out loud as I read the description of this mannequin drama.

Speaking of laughing, how many of you have seen these Dinosaur Comics?  Now that's how to do a web comic - no pesky drawing to hinder you from creating a new one every day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005
I am Curiosity
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

I will kill the cat.

Yesterday the cat bit me, real hard.  It hurt like the Dickens, which as everyone knows, is quite a lot of hurting.  I bled from my pinky finger for over 30 minutes.  Why?  Why did this happen?  Being the living embodiment of curiosity, I both wanted and needed to know.

There are several facts you need to know to understand the inevitability of this situation.  First, this house cat is a pet that lives in the house.  House cats are much like the big cats, only smaller.  And like all cats, this house cat (who used to be named Cleo, but I have forbidden its name to ever be uttered again) hates baths.  It hates baths more than it loves food, and it is a very fat cat.  And according to my wife, a stinky cat.

Operation De-stink-ify started out smoothly.  The wife (who we shall call Tricia, because I rather like that name) put the cat in the sink, and added a few inches of water.  The cat complained.  Loudly.  Tricia asked for my help in restraining the cat.  The cat had had its front claws removed (and only the front - we didn't want it to be totally defenseless), long ago - back when it broke its leg while trying to climb our dresser.  Its foot had become trapped, and I freed it.  It scratched me a lot, despite it needing my help, because it really didn't want to be there.  And now, with this bath, it was threatening to bite.

Another fact you may not know: Cats can bite with lethal force. If the cat had bitten my neck, and I had bled for over 30 minutes, it is possible that I would have died.  Death has proven to almost always be fatal.  Like 99.9% of the time.  But there are always exceptions.

So it bit my pinky finger, because it was much closer to its mouth than my neck, and I didn't die... yet.  I did cry like a baby.  Well, not like a baby, but more like a teenager.  Actually, more exactly like a grown man that has just been bitten to the bone on his sensitive pinky fingertip by a fat stinky house cat.  And the cat cares nothing today about this feral behavior yesterday.

For those of you that must live with cats, I have the following advice:
Do not bathe the cat - this is a job for trained professionals with expensive protective gear.
Do not keep the cat in the house - cats are wild and solitary animals.
Do not feed the cat - it will only see you as a source of food.

I will heal.  And according to Nietzsche because I did not die, I will be stronger.  And my strong vengeful reaction is to not want the cat to be any stronger - So, it now must die.  But that would be a very tooth for a tooth response, bringing myself to the level of a dumb animal.  No, Nietzsche was a jerk, and I will choose rather to follow the advice of Alexander Pope: "to err is human, to forgive, divine."  Yes, I will become the living embodiment of forgiveness.  I am Forgiveness.

Sunday, April 3, 2005
Hour hero
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Thank you Mr. Benjamin Franklin, for messing with my internal clock, not once, but twice a year.  As I write this, it is an hour later than I think it ought to be, because of the daylight savings program arbitrary annual springtime destruction of an hour.  Yet we do not mourn the passing of this hour, passing in a blink of an eye as it were, because it will return just six months hence.  Just in time to let the sun slip further down the sky to plunge the evening into darkness for Halloween.  We will then witness the spontaneous creation of an hour, to duplicate the hour of 2 am.  And like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, we will be forced to re-live the activities of that hour.  Fortunately for most of us, that means an extra hour of uninterrupted sleep... and good thing, because I would hate to be awake for that duplicate hour.  Helplessly repeating my actions, making the same mistakes, saying the same dumb things, accidentally setting fire to my favorite shirt AGAIN, only to toss my last glass of Mountain Dew on the flames in a futile attempt to quench the flames...  no, no.  Not again.  Not me.

Thursday, March 31, 2005
More wacky games!
by Neil Melville
at Saffire

Jeremy and I were recently talking about how a game can change the way a person thinks even when they are not playing it.  Like how after I had played Katamari Damacy every day for 2 weeks:  I'm driving to work down a little road, and I see this mail box at the side of the road - and I think to myself, "I'm big enough to pick that up."

Wow.  This simple game had trained me to instinctually evaluate the relative size of objects around me to my own perceived mass.  Good thing I did not also instinctually swerve to pick up that mailbox.

I guess this leads to the thought - If this game has trained me to think this way, what about violent games?  I played Grand Theft Auto 3 for a bit.  The sensational violence was ancillary to what was the true experience - exploring a large game world with a larger number of interaction options.  I never attempted to play out the story.  I enjoyed "borrowing" the ambulances to go pick up injured people.  I played for about 6 hours total. 

Months later, I am leaving a health clinic, and I see an unoccupied ambulance with its motor running.  I admit the thought popped into my head:  "Wow, I could just jump in and drive away, like in that game..."  But, just like with the Katamari Damacy thought, this realization followed closely on its heels:  That this passing thought based on a virtual experience did not belong as an option in this real situation.

It is my belief that the ability to distinguish the validity of a trained behavior is independent of the exposure to the training.  I do not believe that violent games can be held responsible for an individual's decision to act on thoughts inappropriate for a real situation.  Still, I support all those who wish to avoid exposing kids to violent games, and violent thoughts.  In fact, I really wish we had more family friendly games like Katamari Damacy.

Well, this wish may not be purely wishful thinking.  There are many truly innovative and fun games out there.  Some are waiting to be green lighted by big marketing departments that lack the data to feel comfortable with such "high-risk" projects.  High Risk!  Because the numbers show that the majority of game players and game buyers want unimaginative and violent games?  Because something new and different could mean making changes and going to unexplored territory?  Phooey!

Its time to show support for the risk takers.  Makers of the fun, the different and the wacky:  GISH  -  Black Knight  -  Experimental Gameplay Projects 

My thanks go again to Jeremy for these links.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Looks sketchy
by Neil Melville
up way past his bedtime...

<----- LOOK!  Right over here, to the left!  A new menu item!  A sketchbook!
                     Click it!   CLICK ON IT RIGHT NOW!!!

Now that that is out of the way, I can give you this news:  That is all the news for today.  I thank you, and my sketchbook thanks you.  And my desk, chair and computer thank you.  And honestly, now that you've seen the sketchbook, I am pretty sure that you are thanking yourself.  If I was you, I would.

Monday, March 28, 2005
the social network of blogs
by Neil Melville
Somewhere in cyberspace

Just a quick update today:  I was talking with my sister Julie this weekend about social networks and blogs and such.  The full details of the discussion exceed my current retrieval capabilities, but here are my thoughts as I reflect on it now:

Amazing how Google is often used as a barometer of connectedness, or internet centrality. Can a person increase their cultural relevance by linking to popular sites, like a socialite name dropping?  Which site does this referral help more?  I have noticed that while I am working on keeping the content on this site fresh, it is my efforts on other sites that actually generates the traffic coming here to find that content.

I have probably ventured deep enough into that subject for now.  Let me finish by saying this:  Read more blogs.  Bloggers like Jeff Jarvis, Xeni Jardin, and Orson Scott Card are far more adept at this sort of thing than I am.  And they make good reading.



Go ahead and visit those other sites now... I really won't be offended.

Saturday, March 26, 2005
No News
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

News update:  There was no news update yesterday.  There won't be any news update for today either.

On Friday, March 25th, this site experienced technical difficulties.  It was inaccessible for most of the day due to the database format requiring an update.  Kudos to Mark at Giant Brothers for getting the site back up and running on the very same day.  Yay, Mark!

There will be an actual lack of updates made this weekend.  I will be spending more time with the family. Now I choose to spend time with them because of my love for them, but this doesn't mean I love any of the guests of this website any less.  Do not fret, oh cherished few who read the bloggings of Your patience will be rewarded with many joyous rewardings.  Rewards of pictures and words.  And love.  Lovely pictures and words.  And my thanks.

This update is approved by FABNUS.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Cheesy Famous France
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Hmmm.... It seems I am now listed in an RPG database in FRANCE

Ah, France... a land famous for fine art, vineyards, goat cheese, really flat pancakes, avant garde filmes, et le mime Marcel Marceau.  Let us not forget Joan of Arc, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Jean Reno, Luc Besson, and Jean-Luc Picard.

Okay, so I'm no expert on France.  But I do know Famous Fromage.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
over 1000 web surfers served
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Today marks a milestone in the history of this website:

This site has now been viewed* over 1000 times.
*a viewing is defined as a specific computer (unique IP) connecting to the site on a particular day.  the same computer returning to the site later in the day does not constitute another viewing.

In other news, Jeremy just ate a taco from Taco Bell.  I recently played an awesome party game called Apples to Apples.  AND More updates are going into the soon to be unveiled "projects" section of the website.

Monday, March 21, 2005
More News
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Here is the news:  It has been 4 days since the last news update.

So, if there is no news to report, what keeps me so busy that I can't just post "no new news" everyday?  I'll tell you.   

  1. I AM updating the site, but not always in obvious ways.  There are pages that are not readily accessible that are under construction.
  2.  I am posting to OTHER websites, such as my sketchbook on
  3. I am browsing other websites for inspiration.  I found the websites of and particularly inspirational this week.

But this still doesn't answer the question:  why can't I just post "no new news" everyday?  The answer:  Because that isn't really news, now is it?  And I have standards to keep.  FABNUS standards.

Still, some people just can't get enough of a good thing.  Today my coworker, Mr. Jeremy Throckmorton, told me this story:  He he went to this site yesterday, saw that the news item had not changed from the day before, and then left.  From this story I learned 2 things.  1) People will return to a website to see if it has been updated, and 2) if it isn't immediately obvious that it has been updated, it will be assumed that nothing has changed.

So here is the new FABNUS formula:  The amount and/or quality of a news update must be proportional to the amount of time elapsed since the last news update.  The longer I go without an update, the more newsworthy the news must be.  Quantity of updates can and will make up for quality.  And rest assured that I won't just wait for a grandiose event before the next update.

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Better News!
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

This just in: The previous news item lacked in both substance and quality!

In an anonymous poll of random website viewers, 100% of the respondents indicated that they felt the last news update was below acceptable standards for a decent news update.

Yesterday, at approximately 9:14 am MST, I asked myself, are you happy with that last news update? and I promptly answered myself, Of course not, are you blind?  I mean cripes, man, what a stinker!

I then asked my dog the same question, to which he replied, Ur-rowf.  After consulting my Berlitz Dog to English dictionary, I found the translation to be Pet me now, foolish human.  Not wishing to appear foolish, I declined the polite invitation with some baby talk.

I determined that since my dogs response appeared to be in no way related to my original question that I had to do what any self-respecting empirical method wielding scientist would do:  throw out that particular bit of collected data and label my dog as contaminated.  However, he wouldnt stay still long enough for me to attach the label I had made with my label-maker gun.

I still had a bit of time to collect data for my objective and completely unbiased poll, so I asked my chair, the table lamp, and the computer desk the same question.  I marked all their replies as no response.  That sampling seemed pretty random to me.

Follow up report: Policing news updates

So, the facts were clear:  That last news posting was lacking in substance and quality.  Determined to do something about this distressful situation, I proposed that enforcement of minimum standards for acceptable news update practices ought to be enacted.  The motion was seconded by my chair, and ratified by the table lamp and the computer desk. 

Having passed this resolution by unanimous consent, I began drafting said articles of decent news update practices.  While I was thus engaged, the other members of this newly established committee met via telepathy and passed a second motion by a 3/4 majority.  This second resolution banned me from the organization, as a conflict of interest was present.

The lamp, the chair and the desk then recruited the telephone, the video tape recorder, and the toaster oven to join their group.  These were the 6 founding members of FABNUS (Furniture and Appliances for Better News Updates Society). Since the computer is now a member of their union, they have just sent the can opener to me as an official agent of their organization to inform me that 1) I have to pay a fee of US$100 a year for a FABNUS web news posting license and 2) I could be fined up to US$10,000 for any breach of their regulations for decent news update practices.

So, dear readers, fear not.  For better news is on its way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Good News
by Neil Melville
American Fork, UT

Bible loving Mathematicians have decreed:

This site is certified 73% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Now I just need to work on the other 27%

Friday, March 11, 2005
That snow devil...
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

I just finished this picture, and thought I would show it off:

You can also see it at Concept Art and at Deviant Art.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2005
Making my own noose
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Time for NEWS TIDBITS!!!

Frank Frazetta is awesome.  I am working on a game concept that involves his art, and while I've always been a fan, I was just blown away by his biography (as detailed on his official website).  My immense respect for him as an artist is now even more immensier.

I am working on getting the Projects section of the website completed.  It will probably take a while.  I am also scanning in a lot of old art to create an electronic archive.  AND I am trying to finish up an illustration or two just to, you know, show off and stuff.  All that will probably take about a hundred years.

I was watching this cartoon the other Saturday morning:  Dave the Barbarian.  Fantastic show, seriously.  And then I was wondering, what happened to all the Saturday morning cartoons?  Moved to special cable channels have they?  yeah, pretty much.  You know what are some other really good cartoons?  Don't answer that.  First, I can't hear you, and second, I am going to tell you:  Invader Zim, Dexter's Laboratory, Kim PossibleFairly Odd Parents, and the Venture Brothers.

Just in case anyone was wondering, I have made myself a promise to blog out a news item at least twice a week.  Regardless of whether I have anything actually interesting to say.  If you ever catch me not updating, or not saying anything interesting, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.  I might read it in time to fix the error.  Or I may have skipped the country with a duffel bag full of pure tapioca. 

Friday, March 4, 2005
by Neil Melville
American Fork, UT

Its time y'all got a news update!  GDC (Game Developers Conference) is next week!


I could just wet my pants with anticipation, but for the fact that I am not going.


I would really love to go... I went to GDC in 2002, and it was great - but that year I didn't have to put up all the money for the show pass (Thanks Kris Johnson!)  As a game designer at a dev studio that has no project, I should go, but as a game designer at a dev studio that has no project, I can't.  It just costs so much.


I mean, that paycheck that may not come is already spent.  I am the head of a household of 5 (7 if you count the furry four-legged freaks some call pets).  If I saved up ALL of my disposable income for a year, I still would not be able to foot the entire bill to get to GDC.  Its a shame really.  I guess I could volunteer to work the show.  But, to late for that this year.

I just wish I had some interesting news to give.  Instead, I just use this as an opportunity to blog.  I just like the way that sounds: blog.  heh.  blog...  BLOG.


Tuesday, March 1, 2005
A slight deviation
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

I just posted this picture on the art community site: Deviant Art

Yeah, it is a picture that you can see on this site, but if this site was the only place you could see my art, then not many people would see my art.  So to help spread the love, and direct the voluminous traffic of Neil Melville fans back this way, I had to put it out there.  And that's what I did.  I put it out there.

Friday, February 25, 2005
Aliens vs. Supernatural Bicycles
by Neil Melville
American Fork, UT

Today I worked on some new game concepts at Saffire. I can't tell you the details just now, and to be frank, the details are quite boring. I will probably never tell you. I WILL tell you about some completely unrelated things that I found while browsing the internet in the course of doing research for these new projects. I was not fully prepared for the awesome magnitude of these discoveries, and I am still reeling from the life-changing impact of this new knowledge. So, if you are stout of heart, keen of mind, and phlegmy of pancreas, prepare yourself to be duly amazed...

If you have ever wanted to repeatedly run into somebody with a teleporting bicycle, HERE IS YOUR CHANCE:

            NANACA CRASH!!!

Quite possibly the most amazing flash game ever - use the single mouse button advanced physics system to launch the target of your wrath (hereafter referred to as the victim) for height and distance. Once the victim is airborne you can click the button for additional AERIAL strikes (you get 3 red ones to kick him up on the way down, and can earn blue ones to smack him down on the way up). My record today is 110m up and 3490m across. I have seen results over 18000m!

For a few essential facts you may not know about lightning, El nino, and Walt Whitman; be sure to checkout these SENSATIONAL ESSAYS. Highly informative and cautionary tales of a sad poet, human sacrifice, and a preternatural loathing for trees. I smell Pulitzer!

Finally, I have an answer to the question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time:

Which Aliens Colonial Marine are you?

Cpl. Dwayne Hicks (played by Michael Biehn)

Most level-headed of the Marines, and survived all the way to the end. Favors a hands-off, managerial approach to problems ('nuke 'em from orbit. Only way to be sure.')

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.
Monday, February 21, 2005
The Story So Far
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

As you are no doubt aware, 2 years have elapsed since this website went live, and a lot has happened since then. One short month after leaving Beyond Games, I got another job as Lead Designer at Beyond Games. They had just landed a hot new project deal with 3DO and needed to staff up quickly.

6 weeks later 3DO shut down their offices and cancelled the project. Beyond Games had received no compensation to the 2 completed project milestones and was likewise forced to shut their doors... forever.

Not content with being jobless, I promptly sold my house and big screen TV, cancelled all insurance, and paid a neighbor's dog a dollar to bite my son. My wife and I moved in with my parents, and our 3 kids moved in with theirs. To make the package complete, I rented a cardboard box in a downtown alley (only $20 a square foot per month!) to run a little 3 card monte business on the side.

My big break came in August when I got tossed into the clink on some drummed up embezzlement charges. A man from CID approached me to become a mafia mole. I told him no amount of money could get me to rat on any of those murdering low-lifes (a man has got to have his principles). He agreed to pay me no amount of money, and I spilled the beans. Which made me sad really, because I rather like beans.

After that, I was dispatched as a clandestine agent of the Mossad. A few details of my mission have just been declassified this very week. All I can tell you is that it involved a spear gun, 6 circus midgets, Warren Zevon, the ruins of Angkor Wat, and a jar of raspberry marmalade. They gave me a good reference and I got another video game development job at a start up named Gearworks Games.

Gearworks had put together a crack team of industry veterans (complete with battle scars, and karate chop action). Through patience and dedication and perseverance and good old fashioned hard work and effort and a dash of luck and a dollop of knowing the right people, Gearworks was awarded a contract to produce a sports franchise video game for Midway Games. Gearworks had taken on many debts and obligations to make this project happen, and 3 days after I started working with this group, Midway cancelled the project and shut down their sports division. Gearworks voluntarily liquidated all remaining assets in an effort to make good on those debts and obligations. God bless them.

To be continued...

Friday, February 18, 2005
The rest of The Story So Far...
by Neil Melville
Lehi, UT

Some people have asked me how it is that I ended up where I am today. And those people as it turns out consist of a group comprised solely of me. But who am I to deny their and/or my clamoring cries for the spine-tingling and nearly-factual account of my recent vocational exploits? I am I, Neil Melville, that's who. And deny them and/or me, I will. If, that is, I really wanted to. But I don't really want to deny me my own clamoring crying. Because I, like many of you at this moment, just want me to shut up. And so I proceed with my story.

In September of 2003 I was contracted By Saffire Corporation to create visual FX for the VAN HELSING video game then in production. By December I had became a permanent member of the Saffire Staff and it was noted by the project's Art Director, one Mr. Walter Park of Eagle Mountain, that, "Dang, but don't those FX look good in this game!" To which could be replied, "That's not a real quote. You just made that up." After a Herculean combined effort, the project team shipped the completed and acceptably bug-free game in time for a simultaneous release with the movie. The movie VAN HELSING.

After VAN HELSING, Saffire turned its attention on its next project - finding its next project. We called it: "Project: Gedda Project." I accepted the task of leading a small second project team to get a more different new project than the new project that the first and originally VAN HELSINGish team was already getting. This way there would be 2 new projects. VANtastic!

Our humble team made the goal to have something to show for the 2004 Game Developer's Conference, now only 3 weeks away. With no programmers assigned to our team as yet, our course was clear: We immediately held a pajama party bake sale. With that now out of the way we could focus our rag-tag crew on producing a 1 minute promotional video for the new game concept, from as yet unimagined assets.

Several very stressful weeks later, the promotional video was very well received, and opened many doors to new project possibilities. Since that time almost 1 year ago, I have continued with Saffire to create over 400 pages of concept and design documents for almost 2 dozen games. And now I am updating my website, because I have negligent in doing so during those times.

Please stay tuned for more updates, both in the news and in the website in general. I expect to add content to the projects section, and give more information about the happenings in my little corner of the world. Thank you for tuning in, and have a good night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Testing 1 2 3
by Neil Melville
American Fork, UT

In a random moment of boredom... I just wanted to see what kind of things I could do here...

     Indented bold italics underline color small large

Order of the stick site - TRY THIS LINK!!!

That's the old title logo image, using the serpentine font. Cool. now I need to find an easy way to upload new images...

Neil, you are wacky. You're using the news as a sandbox! I can't believe you would post such NONSENSE on your site for everyone to see! - Mark

HEY MARK! I see you are on this site too! And yeah, this site is my sandbox. As for everyone seeing it, maybe we could just have one of these editable boxes on the private page, so we can send eachother secret messages. OH! and I could edit the links pages the same way! Hmmm... -Neil

Monday, February 14, 2005
Holy Guacamole! It lives!
by Neil Melville
Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains

Brand new news item added fresh today!

After 2 years, is awaking from a long cold slumber. This news item is only the first in what should be many regular ongoing updates.

A new feature has been added to this site that allows me to add these news items from any working computer with internet access, at any time other than the past. I am so excited by this prospect, that frothy streams of glee are at this moment oozing down my chin and onto the computer keyboard. And its not even MY keyboard! Yipee!!!

Saturday, February 1, 2003
Neil Melville Hits the Streets
by Neil Melville
Salt Lake City, UT

Due to an untimely project cancellation, Beyond Games, Inc. has been forced to downsize. The upside to this is that Neil Melville, Lead Designer and Art Director, is available to pursue work options elsewhere. If you have interest in putting his talents to work for you, please contact him.

Saturday, February 1, 2003
Website is Online
by Mark Melville
Lehi, UT

Mark Melville DBA Giant Brothers Multimedia is pleased to announce the arrival of this new site, dedicated to the exhibition of Neil Melville's artwork and design talents.  Questions about this site, excluding content can be directed to Mark via Giant Brothers.