Browsing articles tagged with " Stories"

Drawn By Fate (Part 2 of 2)

Feb 15, 2013   //   by Mark Maia   //   The Facts About Mark Maia  //  No Comments


WARNING: If you’ve ever been to my other blog (which no longer exists) you might have already read this.

Continued from “Drawn By Fate (Part 1)

…Illustration Technical (ILT later to be renamed DMA: Digital Media Arts) that’s what she (my good friend Mimi) chose, and that’s what I applied for… nothing else. I convinced myself that if I didn’t get into this course, it just wasn’t meant to be. And low and behold I got in… legitimately this time.

On day one I knew I had to make my move and pick a college buddy before the good ones were all taken, enter Denis Cawson. The story of how that friendship came to be is an interesting tale onto itself, but we’ll save that for another day.

Half way through the course and everything is going great! I’m at the top of my class with my now good buddy Denis, and my future is looking bright. During one of our classes our teacher Derek Elliot gives us a heads up on what’s to come in the second half of the course, “great!” I thought, ‘cause in truth, I never actually looked up the curriculum. So when I heard that we were going to learn 3D animation I thought “all right bring it on!… hey Denis… what’s 3D animation?” Ok, so I had no clue, but it all worked out in the end, between me and my good pal Denis, we had the two top animation spots nailed down.

2 years later, college is over and the search for a job starts again, but this time I got a subpar student reel to back me up, ain’t nothing going to stop me now! My future as an employee of an animation house is set, except… I never sent out a single reel, why? Because an easier opportunity landed at my door step before I could lick a stamp (those things you used before e-mail… ask your parents) and I took it.

You see, my mother was working as a custodian at an advertising studio, and in passing she tells the owner, “Hey, my sons an artist” to which he replies “Oh really, well bring in some of his work and I’ll have a look”. Upon hearing this story I hand my mom one of my old Photoshop assignments from school. She takes it to the advertising guy and he loves it and gives me a job on the spot, things are looking up.

Six months later and I get the second of 2 calls which got me where I am today. While sitting at home on a Sunday watching American Pie on my brand new VHS, the phone rings, the caller ID reads “Sandbox Studios” video game developer and current employer of my good buddy Denis. I answered the phone expecting it to be Denis on the other line, I’m surprised when I hear the voice of a complete stranger, but being the friendly type of guy I am, I chat it up with the stranger, never once asking him his name or why he’s calling. We talked about video games and art, two subjects that I was very familiar with. By the end of this most delightful conversation with this complete stranger, he tells me he wants me to come work at Sandbox Studios in London, On. “Did I just have a job interview?” I thought to myself… “Well I’ll have to think about it” I tells him. We say our goodbyes and hang up… what the hell was that! Apparently Denis dropped my name at the studio, and whatever he told them had them sold, and less than a week later, I’m the newest employee at Sandbox Studios in London, Ontario… a city I didn’t even know existed up until a few weeks ago. So what do I do now? I’ve got no savings, and I don’t get see my first pay check for a month. Oh wait a minute, I just started dating a girl from London just a few weeks earlier and she tells me I can crash with her parents till I get my own place… isn’t it nice when all the pieces just fall into place.

First day at Sandbox Studios: I started off as a pixel artist on GBC (Game Boy Color), “what’s pixel art” I ask myself, and that’s where that form of questioning ended, I knew if I wanted to keep this job I better learn to how to sling a pixel and fast. Oh, did I mention I was the only “pixel artist” on staff? Ipso facto, I land the title of Lead Artist by default.

Game design was something that always interested me and I made it my goal to get involved as much as possible. Eventually that persistence paid off and I was official named lead designer of the GBA team (Game Boy Advance), but by that time Sandbox was bought out by Dice, the creators of the hit Battlefield franchise.

4 Years into my career and I’ve had the opportunity to be Lead Artist and Lead Designer, not to mention my work as level designer, UI designer, 3D modeller, voice over actor and pretty much everything else but programming.

When the game boy department shut down, I was put on Battlefield 2 where they had me building what felt like the same vehicle over and over again, I was board out of my mind. There were points when I swear I was moving backwards. So the time came where I had to make my move, I had to leave Dice.

By the time I made the decision to leave Dice, Damir Slogar (now former dice programmer) had started a little company called Big Blue Bubble, he offered me a job as creative director and I took it, it was the fresh start I needed (although I was scared out of my mind. You know, job security and all). That was back in 2004, now 7 years later, Dice Canada is no more and Big Blue Bubble is bigger and more successful than ever, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Someone once asked me “What is your biggest regret in life” and I answered “I have no regrets.” To which he responded “everyone has regrets”, so I explained “Everything that’s happened in my life, both good and bad have lead me to where I am today, so if I’m happy with my life, then how could I regret any of it?”.

Drawn By Fate (Part 1 of 2)

Feb 14, 2013   //   by Mark Maia   //   The Facts About Mark Maia  //  1 Comment

 How I Got In To Video Games

Me face

WARNING: If you’ve ever been to my other blog (which no longer exists) you might have already read this.

How did I get into the video game industry? Well, I’d like to think that hard work, raw talent and persistence got me to where I am, at least I hope so. I mean… to make it this far in my career and simply chalk it up to dumb luck, well that’s just sad. Dumb luck is for people who fall over backwards into circumstances that they would otherwise never achieve on their own, winning the lottery for example. What happened to me… that was fate, I was meant to be here. Allow me to explain the chain of events that got me to where I am…

It all started way back in 95. It was my last year at Western Tech high school in Toronto, when I met one of my best friends, Mimi (seriously that’s her name). The semester was almost up and it seemed that everyone but me had a list of colleges and universities to apply to, they had a plan, and they knew what they wanted to do with their lives. Me… I just didn’t want to end up on the street living out of a box, so I started to panic.

In an attempt to salvage what was left of a misspent youth, I signed up for a “career path & planning class” hosted by the school’s guidance counsellor, in which I paid no attention, and got called out for talking in class. After class she sat me down in her office, and went on to tell me what an excellent radio voice I had. Now, anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m a rambling mumbler at best, two qualities that don’t go over well in the radio biz, but I was 17, WTF did I know?! If you told me I had what it took to be a tap dancer, I’d be falling on my face right now auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance, but I digress… After our little talk I thanked the nice lady and went on my way to start my ever so promising career in broadcasting… NOT.

Over the next 2 months or so I applied to every broadcasting course at every college I could think of, but to no avail. Then the mail strike happened, so instead of sending out rejection letters, colleges had to call each student to let them know whether or not they were accepted, not a big deal for me, I was already turned down by every school I applied to. I even applied for jobs at the mall and nothing… at the MALL… who can’t get a job at the mall? I was truly in dire straits, well not so dire I was living with my parents after all, but you get the idea.

Then the call came, this would be one of 2 most unexpected calls that contributed to my present state of affairs. It went something like this…


Mark (aka, me): Hello

Centennial Desk Jockey (aka, CDJ): Hi, is this Marco Maia?

Mark (aka Marco): Yup

CDJ: We’re calling to let you know that we loved your portfolio and that classes start on blah, blah, blah.

Mark: Oh…um, great…what course is this?

CDJ: The visual arts course. You’ll need to come down to the campus to pick up your schedule for the coming semester.

Mark: Oh, of course… duh. Um… what campus exactly (trying to figure what school was calling)

CDJ: Centennial’s Warden Woods campus

Mark: Ok… thanks a lot (hang up).


Now, at a glance, you wouldn’t think there was anything particularly fascinating about that call, I mean, I am an artist, no big surprise that I would go to an art school right?… But take into consideration these little morsels of knowledge.

Now, at a glance, you wouldn’t think there was anything particularly fascinating about that call, I mean, I am an artist, no big surprise that I would go to an art school right?… But take into consideration these little morsels of knowledge.

  1. I never applied to Centennial College
  2. I never even considered art as an option, let alone apply to a visual arts program
  3. I don’t have, or up to that point in time ever had a portfolio

So, how did I get accepted into a course I didn’t even apply to? Who cares, I’m going to college baby! (Mom will be so proud) While attending the visual arts course I made some long time friends and coincidently, my friend Mimi also got accepted into the same college (although a different program that she did in fact apply for).

So I did the college thing and when that finished up, I did what all college graduates do, I started looking for work.

Fun Facts:

  • I wasn’t allowed to display my artwork at the end of the year exhibit, because my professors didn’t consider comic book illustration art.
  • With the help of a few classmates, I cleaned up a portion of the studio next to the exhibit to display my work and made signs that read “More ART this way”, and it was a hit!
  • My portfolio and all my work was stolen less than a week later.

So where was I?… oh yes, looking for a job. Still no idea of what kind of job I could get as an artist (I honestly thought unless you wanted to be an architect, there were no jobs for artists, that’s why they’re called “starving artists”), I was lost, then I saw the sign… actually I was watching an episode of Who’s the Boss and thought “hey Angela’s got a pretty cool job, I’ll do that, I’ll go into advertising”. So I sent resume’s to every advertising studio I could find in Toronto. Less than two weeks had gone by before the rejections letters started pouring in, one studio actually rejected me twice, and I only applied once.

Broken and feeling defeated, I decided to give up on art as a career option, and for the next year and a half, I took on jobs as an extra for movies shot in town, things were looking grim.

Mimi, friend and voice of reason, thought that I should give school another shot. I wasn’t completely convinced but I thought what the hell. I started looking through a phonebook of available courses around town; I had no idea what to do. Turning to Mimi I hand her the book and said “here, you pick a course, any course at all (as long as it doesn’t involve math) and I’ll apply” and so she did…

To be continued…




Feb 11, 2013   //   by Mark Maia   //   The Facts About Mark Maia  //  No Comments

Back in the day when My Singing Monsters (one of our games here at Big Blue Bubble) was just an idea, I was asked to write a short story for it. What I wrote didn’t really fit where the game was going, but I rode the inspiration wave just the same.  One of the artists on the project Chris Elliott sent me a few of his monster drawings to help get my creative juices flowing and this is what came out…


A simple poem inspired by the works of the fine artists here at Big Blue Bubble.

Monster life

Banner art by: Chris Elliott

In times of great despair, when the situation looks most bleak, the creatures of good will rise to see us through the evil. When darkness was all that we knew, and fear was all around us, the creatures of light came to beat back the darkness and chase away our fear. When the land dried and cracked along with our hopes, the creatures of rain showered us with new life and new possibilities, and when the silence, so deafening, muted our inspiration, the creatures of music filled our lives with song and fuelled our imaginations.

Life is a song, so dance.

My Top Cow Talent Hunt Submission

Jan 7, 2013   //   by Mark Maia   //   So-Called Living: The Blog  //  No Comments

As you all already know, I submitted a script to the Top Cow Talent Hunt. I’ve posted out-takes from the script in the past, but now I’m posting the script in full, for any of you interested. Keep in mind, these are not my characters. All characters in this story are from the Top Cow universe, as per the rules outlined in the submission guide lines.

So, here it is. I’ve included both the script and synopsis. Enjoy!… I hope.

Synopsis: Bad Blood

Script Submission: Bad Blood


I also had a second submission that’s a lot shorter. Here it is.

Synopsis: Puppet Master

Script Submission: Puppet Master

Mark’s Pecks vs Toronto Batman

Mar 12, 2012   //   by Mark Maia   //   The Facts About Mark Maia  //  No Comments

I met Toronto Batman while visiting the Toronto ComiCon this weekend (March 2012). Click Batman’s face to hear what he had to say…