[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5kttOQ5rEQ]

So the Super Smash Brothers short is out. I’m really happy with it. Kind of funny to see 16 hours or so (plus training/rehersal time) boiled down into three and a half minutes. It was fun to work with such a great cast and crew and to see my training from the last two years pay off. Bonus thanks to Aaron Alexander, Richard Hancock, Ann Wolfe, the good people of Blue Goggles, and everyone else that has supported me through the years.

Also funny to see the intersection of my game life and my stunt life. If we had filmed in a bar, it would have been the complete Nathan experience.

Check out the behind the scenes video for a little about the training for this role.


I’ve been playing a lot of Spelunky lately, and the more I play the more parallels I see with Buddhist practice. The Four Noble Truths form the core of Buddhist and are the framework of Buddhism.

One of the first things that any player realizes in Spelunky is that life is suffering. You throw yourself endlessly to your own doom. As you continue to play you come to realize Damsels, Dude-sels and Pug-sels, Cavemen, Shopkeepers, and even lowly spiders, snakes and frogs are all subject to the same rules and casual cruelties you are. Which brings us to the First Noble Truth: All beings suffer. This isn’t pessimistic, it is just an acknowledgement of how things are. We all suffer. This knowledge allows us to have compassion and connection to others. Any time you have a conversation about playing Spelunky with a fellow player, it will be a recounting of your shared suffering.

And Spelunky provides plenty of ways to suffer. Blind jumps, spikes, spiders, misplaced bombs, angry shopkeepers, the rock you threw that falls back onto your head, traps you didn’t disarm or avoid and the combinations of all of those and more. In his interview with Roguelike Radio, Derek Yu states that “when greed kills you in a game, I think it’s a good thing”. The Second Noble Truth is that suffering has a cause, and that cause is desire (or longing, or craving, or attachment). Desire is occasionally broken down into the Three Roots of Evil: greed, ignorance and destructive urges. Spelunky will promptly kill you for any of these poisons.

I think what makes all the suffering enjoyable (in a game sense) is that you are almost always the architect of your own suffering. I never feel cheated by the game. These are all my mistakes. As I learn and play and repeat I get better. I start to make the jumps, I learn how far I can fall, I can use a rat to disarm that arrow trap, my bombs and rocks start to find their targets. The Third Noble Truth is that there is a way to break free of the cycle of suffering. Nirvana is described as the state of cessation of suffering. By working to free yourself of the illusions presented in the Three Roots of Evil, you can achieve Nirvana.

The Fourth Noble Truth is that there is a middle way that can be applied to achieve Nirvana, and that is the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is the core prescription of Buddhist practice and consists of the following pieces: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Awareness, and Right Concentration. The pieces do not require an order, but are parts that support each other, like spokes on a wheel. By studying the Noble Eightfold Path, you can come to understand the patterns in your world and in your life that are at the root of suffering, and by studying you can over come the Three Roots of Evil.

So, in short, Spelunky and the Four Noble Truths:

  1. Spelunky is suffering
  2. There is a cause of suffering, and it is our attachments
  3. There is a way to the cessation of suffering
  4. That way is the Noble Eightfold Path

This was a quote I over heard during my JetBlue trip in 2009. I was in Chicago, exploring the city on foot. I shared a few beers with a random guy I met on the street and he led me to Buddy Guy’s bar. While hanging out there I over heard the door guy say in a thick Chicago accent:

So I hand the guy a 45 caliber slug and I says to the guy, “If you don’t have my money by Friday, the next one is coming a lot faster.”

The good news recently is that I’m working on a “De-Pixelated” short with the good people at Blue Goggles Films. They do a monthly short that is their live action interpretation of a video game. It will be all brawling too. It was great working with them and a great reminder that I really do enjoy the physical training that goes into stunt work.

I can’t wait to show y’all the short. It is looking awesome!

I’m seeing more video game kickstarters offer “beta testing” as a part of their rewards. As an occasional professional game tester, I see this as a further degradation of an already weakly regarded profession.

Video game QA is a hard road. Your work is downplayed as “playing games for a living.” People discount your long hours and late nights as just playing around. “That must be fun!” they say, not understanding the frustrations of broken levels and gameplay, the careful diplomacy of pointing out flaws in other people’s work, or just the banal repetition of spending 40-60 hours a week on the same unfinished game over the course of months or even years.

Even within the game industry QA is often considered a lesser position, something your neighbor’s kid can be brought in to do for minimum wage. Just as good programmers are significantly more productive and effective, so is it with QA. A skilled quality assurance technician will be able to find more and better issues, and write them up in a clear, consistent and unbiased manner.

And this brings us to the problem. By offering beta testing as an “award” you further reinforce that it is not a job that should be paid for, and doesn’t require any particular skills. You also put yourself in the hands of untrained testers, and can have no confidence in the results of their testing. Without a proper vetting and testing process, you will be swamped with poorly written opinions masked as bugs. Also, because they have put in the time and work writing the bugs and having paid for the privilege of doing so, they will expect those issues to be addressed, even if they are not actually bugs.

So I urge you, hire competent testers, pay them appropriately, and I look forward to playing your game when it comes out.

I am also available for contract QA, by the way.

Closing in on two years of underemployment. My unemployment ran out back in February. I’m applying for just about any job I’m vaguely qualified for, but not getting a lot of bites. I’ve had interviews, even a few second interviews, but nothing past that.

It is hard to keep showing enthusiasm in interviews after being turned down for so many jobs. Another brush-off couched in neutered corporate-speak. Bland and perfectly inoffensive. Keep an eye on our website for future opportunities. Or worse, we would love to hire you but we don’t actually have funding for that position. Or the requirements have changed. Great.

Do I have a passion for quality software? Fuck no. How is that a job requirement? Do I want to work on something that doesn’t suck? Sure. But a passion? No. Your website/app/game isn’t going to be the messiah coming down from the heavens to solve the world’s problems. I will work hard to polish it’s rough edges, but come on. I’m a professional, not a zealot.

And I get it. We probably wouldn’t work out in the long run. You are looking for a deep specialist, and I’m a wide generalist. A great guy to talk to at a party, but hard to pin down in a job. I’ve worked at a lot of places for short amounts of time. I haven’t worked in tech for two years and last time I did I was more of a manager than a worker.

I get it. I’m just hungry and tired of scraping by.

A guy just came up to the door. I asked for his ID and he tried to hand me a dollar.

I said “no, I need to see your ID”. He said “ok” and tried to hand me a five.

I asked him for his ID again and he seemed to get it and fished around in his wallet. This time he pulled out a ring and tried to hand it to me.

Finally he pulls out his ID and all is well.

Hey friends,

I hope this finds you in good health and happy times. I’m writing because I’m looking for work and putting the word out to friends that have helped me out in the past. Things have been threadbare lately and I’m maintaining, but I’d like get back to being a little further ahead of the ball.

I am putting my intentions out into the world, and hard on the job hunt trail, but I’m running into a lot of close misses. I feel like I’m making good connections in phone interviews, but failing somewhere past those first few people. I know part of the problem is my scattered work history and eclectic selection of tech jobs. I’m not an easy person to pigeonhole or describe, like an album by Firewater, I don’t entirely fit a single genre or description. I feel like my diverse background makes me a useful person to hire because I bring a very different and wide perspective, but it is hard to express that on a resume.

All the references/recommendations on my linkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/nathanregener) are positive and reflect the “Nathan is awesome to work with” but that is a hard thing to brag about in an interview without sounding like an ass.

I’m starting to get glib on my cover letters, but I don’t know what else to do. I am really frustrated with the whole process. I’ve been told four times that the interviewers loved me, but the position doesn’t actually have funding, or doesn’t exist.

Any advice or leads would be appreciated. I’m looking for contract QA, any kind of small team management, or that guy on stage that plays tambourine and dances. I’m a Problem Solver and a general all-around Bad Ass.

I’m working on reworking my resume, let me know if you want a copy when I’m done, should be later this week.


PS – check out the latest Firewater album, The Golden Hour, you won’t be disappointed, a great listen from beginning to end.

There comes a time in all vanity websites lifecycles where you just have to say, “Man, I haven’t done shit with this in at least a year. Might as well start over-ish.” And there you are, sitting in a coffee shop, avoiding working on projects that are more pressing.

A fresh page.
Scraps of the previous site.
Deleting old posts about a project that never saw the light of day.
Half-hearted updates to the “About” page.
A new wordpress theme.

One new post.

Yes, that time has come.

Now I’m going to go buy some new pants.


This was precisely a block east of where a cat that had been hit by a car was breathing out its last.