Kyle Gray achieved his biggest goal at EA and now has three or four more.
Having filed his taxes early this year, Kyle Gray, 27, had April 15 free to do two other important things.
Dressed in a suit and bowler hat, he went to work at EA Tiburon, the studio where he led the creation of the creative DS game Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. He bid his colleagues farewell and left his company. He said his suit was Hatsworth-ian.
(He also sent them a video message which he has now shared with us.)
Then he took off the bowler, kept on the suit, and headed to a justice of the peace. He met up with his fiancee and the two got married. The official ceremony was days later, but technically he was married that day.
With that, a chapter in Gray's life is done.
Gray joined EA four years ago and is letting the world know now, through, Kotaku, that he's ready for at least three new challenges.
What he accomplished in the last several years was to graduate from Carnegie Mellon with game development friends like World of Goo's Kyle Gabler and land a job at EA. From within the giant publisher — a company branded for years as innovation-resistant — he managed to pitch and then create Henry Hatsworth, the original and unusual DS game that released to acclaim in March. He did it as part of a team of seven nestled in the EA studio best know for making Madden games.
"I guess it was one of those things where the goal was to see if I could get a game made through a major publisher," Gray said. He succeeded. But he didn't think EA was the right place for his next step. "From there, the possibility was either to go bigger, which is something I didn't think I was capable of doing with a team of the same size — or to do the same thing and fade away to obscurity." Gray said he found himself drifting to the indie developer crowd at GDC events and decided he should go indie too, to better keep himself and his work prominent.
Gray leaves EA with no rancor. He spoke highly of his team and of the company, saying he would hope to be involved with a Hatsworth sequel if EA should decide to make one. (He doesn't own the character, of course).
Gray's gone solo. He has no company name yet nor a website, but he has a few projects in mind.
"My goal is to do three things at once," he said...
1) He and Jay Epperson, Hatsworth's art director and also now an ex-EA employee, are working on "something" together.
2) Gray's in talks with another friend about making an iPhone game.
3) Gray said he and World of Goo's Gabler will be working on a game together.
Oh, and there's a fourth project: Gray and Gabler hope to revive the Experimental Gameplay Project, the former home to a Carnegie Mellon student project they helped run that was designed to generate 50 new game prototypes in one semester.
"I guess the new goal is to entertain as many people as possible," Gray said, swiftly apologizing for sounding sappy. He encourages others to try the path he took and to make themselves known if they're working for a giant developer and want support for their ideas. Branch off, he suggested. Run a website on the side. Make prototypes of games. Speak at GDC. Do things that send a message to the bosses that you're not a random, anonymous developer.
Do that all and someday you can earn the credibility to go to work in a bowler, get hitched, and move along.