More About the Author
Mike McShaffry, a.k.a. "Mr. Mike," started programming games as soon as he could tap a keyboard--in fact he somehow skipped 7th grade math entirely in favor of writing games in BASIC on an ancient Commodore Pet. In his single-minded pursuit of programming knowledge, he signed up for an extended stay at the University of Houston. To the surprise of himself and the Dean of Mathematics, he was actually graduated five and one-half years later. Shortly after graduation, he entered the boot camp of the computer game industry: Origin Systems. He worked for Warren Spector and Richard Garriott, a.k.a. "Lord British," on Martian Dreams, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, Ultima VIII: Pagan, Ultima IX: Ascension, and Ultima Online.
Exactly seven years from the day he was hired, Mike arranged his escape and in 1997 formed his first company, Tornado Alley. Tornado Alley was a garage start-up whose goal was to create No Grownups Allowed, a massively multiplayer world for children--something that was sure to land Mike and anyone else at Tornado Alley front and center of a Congressional hearing. While No Grownups never left the tarmac, a kid's activity program called Magnadoodle by Mattel Media did, and in record development time.
The entrepreneurial bug, a ravenous and insatiable beast, finally devoured enough of Mike's remaining EA stock to motivate him to take a steady gig at Glass Eye Entertainment, working for his friend Monty Kerr, where he produced Microsoft Casino. Ten short months later, Monty asked Mike and his newly assembled team to start their own company called Compulsive Development, which would work exclusively with Microsoft on casual casino and card games.
Mike served as the primary coffee brew master and Head of Studio, and together with the rest of the Compulsive folks, twenty great people in all, produced three more casual titles for Microsoft until August 2002. Compulsive was acquired by Glass Eye Entertainment to continue work on Glass Eye's growing online casual games business.
Mike was hungry for AAA console work, and in 2003 he got what he wanted: - Ion Storm's Thief: Deadly Shadows team called Mike in to create their third-person camera technology and work on fine- tuning character movement at the 11th hour. What started as a two week contract turned into almost a year of labor working side- by- side with programmers that used to call Mike boss.
While it was great to be "one of the boys" again, it couldn't last forever. Mike was recruited to start an Austin studio for Maryland- based Breakaway Games. Breakaway Austin's focus was AAA console development and high- end simulations for the U.S. Military and DoD contractors. Mike and three of the BreakAway Austin team actually visited the USS Harry S. Truman, one of the U.S. Navy's CVN class Nuclear Aircraft Carriers. They flew out, landed on the carrier, spent four days and nights with the officers and crew, and got launched to go back home. Afterwards they created 24 Blue, a training simulator that mimics the insane environment of the deck of the carrier, jets and everything.
After BreakAway Austin Mike founded a consulting company called MrMike. He figured that nearly 18 years in the gaming industry was enough to firmly establish that as a good identity for the company. For nearly two years, he helped small game companies choose their game technology, firm up their production practices, and pitch game ideas to industry publishers like Microsoft, EA, THQ, and others. One of his clients, Red Fly Studio, made him an offer he couldn't refuse and he jumped back into a full time gig.
In 2008 Mike took the position of Executive Producer, and helped ship Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars, Ghostbusters for Wii/PS2, The Force Unleashed II for the Wii, Thor The Video Game for Wii/3DS, and three games for iOS/Android, including Inertia: Escape Velocity and Elenints.
Mike left Red Fly Studio in 2012 to restart his freelance career - helping companies get misbehaving projects under control and using his programming skills to develop custom tools, mobile apps, and anything else that seems interesting.
If Mike's fingers aren't tapping away at a keyboard, he's probably either "downhilling" on his mountain bike or enjoying good times with his friends in Austin, Texas.