Shroud of the Avatar Developers

richard-garriott-de-cayeuxRichard Garriott de Cayeux
Also Known As: Lord British
Role at Portalarium: Co-Founder, Creative Director

Richard Garriott should need no introduction to most RPG and MMORPG fans, as he is arguably one of the most influential developers in both the online and offline RPG world. He has been publishing games since 1980 (Akalabeth), and formally began work on the Ultima series in 1981. He co-founded Origin Systems in 1983, and between 1980 and 1999 oversaw the development and publication of Ultimas 1-9.

He also oversaw the development and publication of Ultima Online, the first major massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). UO was released in 1997, and continues operating to this day.

He made the controversial decision to sell Origin Systems to Electronic Arts in 1992, and remained with the company until the release of Ultima 9, after which he went on to found Destination Games in 2000. NCSoft bought Destination Games in 2001, and while at NCSoft, Garriott oversaw the development of the short-lived MMORPG Tabula Rasa, which was released in 2007.

In 2009, he co-founded Portalarium with Dallas Snell (another Origin Systems alum), Fred Schmidt, and John Erskine. And now, in 2013, he is heading up development of the Shroud of the Avatar series, the first episode of which will be titled Forsaken Virtues.


starr-long-portalarium-croppedStarr Long
Also Known As: Darkstarr
Role at Portalarium: Executive Producer

A veteran and respected online game designer, Starr Long got his start in the gaming industry as a QA tester at Origin Systems, where he quickly established himself as a likeable, competent leader. He quickly rose through the ranks there, and by 1995 was serving as a producer and project director for Ultima Online. Indeed, Starr had been the one to lobby for taking Ultima into the online realm. He was instrumental in devising and implementing many of the game’s distinguishing features and systems.

After leaving Origin in 2001, he helped found Destination Games, and served as the producer for Tabula Rasa. He also oversaw and facilitated Destination’s acquisition by NCSoft.

More recently, he worked for The Walt Disney Company on the Disney Connected Learning platform, and served as the producer for a number of education-focused titles released through it. Shortly after leaving Disney in early 2013, he established the Stellar Effect game design consultation company, and in July of the same year signed on as the executive producer for Shroud of the Avatar.


chris-spearsChris Spears
Also Known As: Chris
Role at Portalarium: Technical Director

Chris Spears has worked for a number of different companies in his career, beginning as a programmer at the likes of Intracorp, Top Dog Software, Human Code (where he wrote a number of games), 3DO, and Inevitable.

In 2002, he joined Acclaim Studios as Core Technology Director, later becoming Core Technology Manager, and resuming the previous role when Acclaim rebranded into Acclaim Entertainment. He then worked as an Associate Lead Programmer at NCSoft until 2008, before joining Red Fly Studios as a Technical Director.

He has been with Portalarium since 2011, also in the Technical Director role, which puts him in charge of helping the studio decide which development technologies to leverage and which people to hire to work therewith. He is also heavily involved in the development of Shroud of the Avatar, and has appeared in most of the developer chats that have been released to date.


rick-holtropRick Holtrop
Also Known As: Chaox
Role at Portalarium: Associate Producer

Rick Holtrop’s career as a game developer has been in close orbit of Richard Garriott’s for much of its length. Rick began working at Origin Systems as a Customer Support Representative for a number of games, including Privateer 2, Jane’s ATF, Crusader: No Remorse, Crusader: No Regret, and Wing Commander 4. He also worked as a Lead Customer Service Technician for Ultima Online, the Ultima Collection, and Wing Commander 4. Coincident with these roles, he also worked as a Quality Assurance Tester for Privateer 2, Ultima Online, and Ultima 9.

From 2000 to 2001, he worked as a designer and programmer on Ultima Online 2 (which was ultimately canceled), after which he left Origin Systems and joined the Tabula Rasa team at NCSoft as a systems designer. Following this, he worked at Red Fly Studios as a designer on Thor: God of Thunder.

He joined Portalarium in 2011 as a designer and programmer, working on Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale. Since the end of 2012, he has been the Associate Producer at the studio, for both Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale and, now (presumably) Shroud of the Avatar.


dallas-snell-newDallas Snell
Also Known As: dallas
Role at Portalarium: Co-Founder, Chairman, Executive Producer

Dallas Snell got his start in the gaming industry in 1983, when he developed The Quest for Penguin Software. He joined Origin Systems in 1985, becoming VP of Product Development there before being promoted to the studio’s General Manager role in the wake of Electronic Arts’ acquisition of the company.

Beginning in 1996, and for nearly a decade thereafter, he stepped away from the gaming industry , and focused instead on his family and on research into behavioural sciences and related fields, and their application to group and organizational development.

However, not unlike the cat that came back, he just couldn’t stay away from the gaming industry (especially MMORPGs), and in 2006 joined Richard Garriott at NCSoft, as the Director of Business Development. In 2009, he helped to co-found Portalarium, and continues to work there as Chief Operating Officer.


bob-cooksey-newBob Cooksey
Also Known As: bobcooksey
Role at Portalarium: Senior Environment Artist

Bob Cooksey has amassed seventeen years of experience in the gaming industry, working on such varied titles as Ghostbusters (for the XBox), Return of the King, Bloodrayne 2, and Frontierville. And when he isn’t creating amazing game art, he can be found exploring areas of central Texas, looking for dinosaur fossils.

He joined Portalarium in mid-2013.


beeBrandon Cotton
Also Known As: Bzus
Role at Portalarium: Game Designer, Programmer

Brandon Cotton has been in game development since at least 2000, in which year he began work at Microsoft as a game designer. He fell into the same role at Wolfpack Studios for a brief time in 2006, before joining NCSoft, where he remained for three years. He has been at Portalarium since its founding in 2009.


stephen-danieleStephen Daniele
Also Known As: carvaggiosWolf
Role at Portalarium: Concept Artist

With more than 15 years’ experience in video game concept art and art direction, Stephen Daniele is a passionate (if recent, having only joined in early 2013) member of the Portalarium team, whose work will be key to the visual style of Shroud of the Avatar.

You can check out a selection of his concept artwork at our Concept Art page. He also hosts weekly video sessions — currently entitled Pen of the Avatar — every Tuesday, during which he discusses the development process and creates new concept art.


gina-marie-dionneGina Marie Dionne
Also Known As: FireLotus
Role at Portalarium: Community Manager

Gina Dionne got her start in the gaming industry, it would seem, as the site administrator of Planet TR, a Tabula Rasa fan site. She then joined NCSoft as a web content writer and editor for both Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes, and during her time there she pursued training in game development tools and the SCRUM development process. She then spent approximately three years, between 2008 and 2011, as an independent content developer, assisting NCSoft and other studios with web design and the publicization of games.

In 2011, she joined the team at BioWare Austin as a QA specialist, working on test plans and customer support for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and on localization for the game as well. In late 2012, she was hired for a QA role at Portalarium, and has since accepted the Community Manager role for Shroud of the Avatar.


justin-gJustin Gilbert
Also Known As: oneandonly
Role at Portalarium: Programmer

Justin Gilbert started as a software developer at Infowave Technologies in 2000, and got into game programming in 2007 at Multimedia Games. He joined Red Fly Studios in 2008, and remained there for the next four years.

He has been at Portalarium since January, 2012.


tracy-hickmanTracy Hickman
Also Known As:
Role at Portalarium: Lead Story Designer

Tracy Hickman is the author of the Dragonlance series of fantasy novels, among many others. A pioneer in the field of story-driven role-playing games, and a pioneer in the field of online publishing, he is the author of over fifty books, and is known for creating epic-scale settings with intricate histories in which to set his stories.

He joined the Portalarium team in March of 2013, just as the Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter campaign reached $900,000 of its initial $1 million goal.


michael-hutchisonMichael Hutchison
Also Known As: Hutch
Role at Portalarium: Art Lead

Michael Hutchison has worked in the game development industry for over two decades, at a variety of companies including Sierra On-Line, Pandemic Studios (where he worked on Star Wars: Battlefront), NCSoft (where he worked as a world designer on Tabula Rasa), BioWare Austin (as an environmental artist on Star Wars: The Old Republic), UTV Ignition Games, and Vigil Games (where he worked on environments for Warhammer 40k: Dark Millenium Online). He has also worked as a contract 3D artist for Somnio Solutions, maintaining and enhancing a Unity 3D-based demonstration application for them.

He joined Portalarium in May of 2013.


scott-jenningsScott Jennings
Also Known As: Lum the Mad, Lum
Role at Portalarium: Web Guru

Scott Jennings should need no introduction to fans of online gaming; his “Lum the Mad” persona was a powerful voice of commentary and criticism in the world of MMORPGs. As Lum, he commented on a wide range of games, including Ultima Online. His unique writing style, mixing humour with white-hot anger, earned him a dedicated and massive following, which included no small number of MMORPG developers. He continued writing as Lum the Mad until 2001, during which year he was hired by Mythic Entertainment. He also started a new website at that time, Broken Toys, where he continues to blog to this day.

He left Mythic Entertainment in 2006, and went to work for NCSoft in Austin, Texas. He remained there for two years, then returned to the company again in 2010, before leaving it in late 2012. As of May 2013, he is working at Portalarium, taking care of their web presence and working on the dialogue system for Shroud of the Avatar.


scott-jonesScott Jones
Also Known As: Scottie
Role at Portalarium: Environmental Artist

Scott Jones worked at Origin Systems from from 1994 until 2001, and was (notably) the art director for Ultima 9 during his time there. After leaving Origin, he founded SHARD Studios, who have been working on the pen-and-paper RPG Shard — an adaptation of Dárdünah; World of the False Dawn — for a number of years now.

He also worked on Tabula Rasa at NCSoft.

He joined Portalarium in May of 2013.


bill-kirkmanBill Kirkman
Also Known As: chillblain
Role at Portalarium: Content Designer

Another of the rather sizeable crew at Portalarium who worked at Red Fly Studios, Bill Kirkman worked as a game designer both there and at Lightbox Interactive. A relative newcomer to the gaming industry (he has been a game designer since 2008), he has nevertheless amassed a sizeable body of experience and the praise of his peers in that short time.


geoff-mellonGeoff Mellon
Also Known As: QBall
Role at Portalarium: Character Artist

With over a decade of experience in film and video game art, Geoff Mellon brings a wealth of experience with 2D and 3D art, scripting, and game engine lighting to the Portalarium team, which he joined in mid-2013.

Before joining Portalarium, he taught animation and game design at the Art Institute of Phoenix and worked on many entries in the Guitar Hero franchise.


isaac-osterIsaac Oster
Also Known As: ioster
Role at Portalarium: Artist

A BioWare Austin veteran, Isaac Oster worked on character and environmental art for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and in his spare time authors tutorials for 3DTotal. He has also taught game design at the Art institute of Austin.

He joined Portalarium in mid-2013.


Tassilo-newTassilo Philipp
Also Known As: tphilipp
Role at Portalarium: Server Engineer

Tassilo Philipp is a relative newcomer to the game development industry, having gotten his start at Spellbound Studios in 2004. He worked there for less than a year before joining Creative Patterns as a Lead Graphics Engineer. He worked as a programming consultant for the University of Göttingen from 2007 until 2009, and as a freelance programmer at Trinity GmbH from 2008 until 2009. At the latter, he worked on the Wii port of the Vision 3D game engine. He was the Lead Tools Programmer at Trinigy, Inc. from 2009 to 2011, and took on the same role at Havok in August of 2011. He joined Portalarium in July of 2012.

He also founded Potion Studios in 2006, and continues to work on middleware for 2D and 3D content creation there.


erik-touve-newErik Touve
Also Known As: Scrambler
Role at Portalarium: Senior Programmer

Erik Touve, in addition to having founded a successful, family-run Mexican restaurant in the Austin area, has served in a programming role with a number of different game development companies. He got his start working at Glass Eye Entertainment in 2000, working on Microsoft Casino. This work would see him move between Glass Eye and Compulsive Development, and into a Senior Engineer role at both. In 2003, he joined Ion Storm, and worked on pre-production for Deus Ex 3. He also worked on Thief: Deadly Shadows during his time there. His time at Ion Storm was followed by a short stint at Knockabout Games, and a somewhat longer stint at BreakAway Games. In 2007, he joined Mythic Entertainment, and worked on the Warhammer Online team for just under a year.

In 2008, he too joined Red Fly Studios, working on a number of titles for the Nintendo Wii there. He has been at Portalarium since January, 2012.


bren-wilsonBren Wilsom
Also Known As: Bwilson
Role at Portalarium: Senior Animator

Formerly at Disney Interactive, Bren Wilson joined Portalarium in mid-2013, where he will be working on animations for characters and creatures that will feature in Shroud of the Avatar. Despite being a relatively new hire at the studio, however, he has worked closely with many of the people at Portalarium before, in the course of his 17 years in the video game industry. He even worked on Ultima Online, so it can’t be said that Shroud of the Avatar is his first Lord British game.


ken-pfileKen Pfile
Also Known As: BurningToad
Role at Portalarium: Software Engineer

Formerly a core game systems engineer at both NCSoft and Kingisle Entertainment, Ken Pfile is a relative newcomer to the computer gaming industry (having gotten his start as an intern in 2006).

An avid Ultima Online player, Shroud of the Avatar was of immediate interest to him when it was announced, and he happily signed on to the Portalarium team to help make the game a reality.


jason-YenawineJason Yenawine
Also Known As: jyenawine
Role at Portalarium: Senior Programmer

Jason Yenawine got his start working as a programmer at Origin Systems, designing the AI system for Strike Commander. He then moved on to the Wing Commander team, implementing video codecs and working on editing tools for Wing Commander 3, Wing Commander 4, and Crusader: No Remorse. In 1996, he joined Digital Anvil, where he worked on Conquest: Frontier Wars as a Senior Programmer. In 2001, he moved on to Edge of Reality, where he again worked as a Senior Programmer on titles like The Sims, and then joined NCSoft in 2005 to work on Tabula Rasa. Between 2008 and 2009, he did a brief stint at Certain Affinity, before returning (briefly) to Edge of Reality. He joined Red Fly Studios in 2012, again as a Senior Programmer for The Force Unleashed II and Thor: God of Thunder. He has been at Portalarium since 2012.


jay-reichmanJay Reichman
Also Known As: JayReichman
Role at Portalarium: Artist, Level Design

Jay Reichman might just be the youngest member of the Portalarium team, having graduated (I assume from high school) in 2010. She is now presumably in college, and her DeviantArt profile indicates that she has significant talent as a cartoonist and digital painter.


kevin-wellsKevin Wells
Also Known As: 
Role at Portalarium: Artist

Kevin Wells graduated from the Art Institute of Austin, and did internship stints at both Sony Online Entertainment and Headrush Games. 

His principal skillset seems to be character art.


MelissaSoestMelissa Soest
Also Known As: 
Role at Portalarium: Animator

Melissa Soest joined Portalarium in early 2014, filling a void in the team’s 3D modeling and animation resources left by Isaac Oster’s departure. She got her start in the gaming industry in 2007, working as a background artist and animator at Ready at Dawn Studios. She left Ready at Dawn in 2010 and moved over to Edge of Reality Studios thereafter, where she worked for several years as a 3D animator as well.

Her animation reel on YouTube lists The Sims 3: Pets, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and God of War: Ghost of Sparta as projects she has worked on prior to Shroud of the Avatar.


finn-staberFinn Staber
Also Known As: fstaber
Role at Portalarium: Programmer/Designer/World Builder

Finn Staber is a designer and programmer who, when he isn’t making games, teaches game development workshops, using the Unity engine, at many Austin-area colleges and schools. He has also done more than a bit of voice acting in his career, and is a talented 3D artist and world builder. His design experience is complemented by an educational background in film and music.

Before landing a job at Portalarium in October of 2013, he worked at Kalani Games and Logo Games.


joseph-toschlogJoseph Toschlog
Also Known As: Vitralis, Rustic Dragon
Role at Portalarium: Web Developer/Community Relations

Joseph “Rustic Dragon” Toschlog should be well known, by now, to Ultima fans; his excellent Hearth of Britannia website and the periodic Dragonsmeets he hosts have become a fixture of the online Ultima fan community.

After hosting the Telethon of the Avatar (a fundraising drive for Shroud of the Avatar) and catering the first Lords of the Manor event at Richard Garriott’s New York City home, Joseph was approach by Portalarium to take on a hybrid web development and community relations role, which offer he gladly accepted. He has been a Portalarium employee since October of 2013.


joaquin-del-cantoJoaquin Del Canto
Also Known As: wizardsmoke
Role at Portalarium: Programmer

Joaquin Del Canto is a recent addition to the Portalarium team. Like Finn Staber, he comes to Portalarium from Kalani Games, whereat he worked primarily on the interface for Rube Works, a Rube Goldberg machine-focused game built with Unity.

His game design experience also includes a short stint at Twisted Pixel Games, whereat he worked as a QA tester. He also contributed to the development of The Great Dragon.


james-cousarJames Cousar
Also Known As: Thud
Role at Portalarium: QA Lead

James Cousar is another recent addition to the Portalarium team, and like Finn Staber and Joaquin Del Canto comes to the company from Kalani Games, where he worked as both a QA tester and a scripter/designer. Before that, he worked as a Game Master for World of Warcraft, and for a brief time after leaving Kalani he worked with Nest Labs as a technical support engineer. He also contributed to Rube Works, mentioned above.

When not working on QA-related tasks at Portalarium, he dabbles in the creation of Dark Echoes, a Unity-based adventure game for which he serves as the lead designer. He also blogs at Azeroth to Zork.


Note: A few of these images were taken from the official Team Bios page at the Shroud of the Avatar website. Most of the rest were taken from LinkedIn, although one or two were screen-capped during one developer chat or another.