Secret Level

Building a business in games
MY ROLE
Art Director
Lead Artist
Director of Art

 

In July 2000 I joined a group of friends in starting the video game studio Secret Level in San Francisco. These were some of the most rewarding, stressful, and insanely busy years of my entrepreneurial career. We grew the company to nearly 200 people, tackled dozens of projects, and were acquired by Sega of America. We took on a wide variety of work for hire projects, game ports that focused on either art or programming, and also shipped original games. During my time there, we developed for DreamcastPCPlayStation 2PlayStation 3PSPXbox, and Xbox 360. I left Secret Level for a role at Sega of America in early 2008.

Secret Level in late 2000. (back row) Otavio Good, Pete Clark, Josh Adams, (front row) Ben Bertka, Ross Kakuschke, Mike Aquino, Jeremy Gordon, Dave Pridie, myself.

Jeremy, Otavio, and Josh founded the company in December 1999. By the time I left the company only Jeremy, Otavio, and myself remained from this original crew. Dave tragically died in early 2001, while Josh had left for a role at Epic Games in late 2004.

As the studio Art Director, part owner, and member of the executive staff I was involved with every project, as well as helping planning the strategy and growth of the company. I personally built the art department from just myself to a talented team of over 60 artists with additional contractors and external venders. I was also hands-on, to greater and lesser degrees, with all projects, providing artwork and support where needed.

The Company

Secret Level was originally conceived as three separate legal entities; Secret Level Games, Secret Level Tools, and Secret Level Technology. This was a reflection of the company’s business model for achieving developmental stability. Each group was to have its own income streams. While this somewhat worked, the divisions were merged a few years into the studio’s operation.

Being founded by programmers, the company had a good reputation of being technically skilled. Some of the impressive engineering work done by the studio included: Strobe: Flash for Games SDK, the Unreal Engine for PS2 and Gamecube consoles, the first Maya to Unreal export tools, the Pangaea engine in cooperation with LucasArts and subsequently the Riders engine, the Sidecar SDK for game UI, as well as numerous demos and research papers. My involvement as art director was minimal in these projects, aside from the branding on public facing products and UI work, but behind the scenes I both used the tools and tech, and provided feedback to the engineers in the course of development. More about Secret Level’s tech and work for hire can be found on it’s Wikipedia page.

The art department grew over the course of several game projects, including: Unreal Tournament for Dreamcast, Starfighter Special Edition, Jedi Starfighter for Xbox, Magic: The Gathering – Battlegrounds, America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier, and finally Golden Axe: Beast Rider and Iron Man. Larger projects were opportunities to grow specific departments or capabilities. Magic:, for example, first allowed us to add to the Art department in a meaningful way.

The chart below shows nearly all of the projects Secret Level took on, and their overlap with one another. The ones in italics were investigations that were never committed to, although still took time and resources to evaluate. Some of these projects were programming-only, such as Sidecar and Pangaea, some of these were art-only, like Informant and Apartment. Most others were a mixture.

From its inception, Jeremy Gordon was both CTO and the studio director. Jeffrey Tseng joined the team and became design director in 2002, and Reeve Thompson moved from LucasArts and became director of production in 2003.

Afterward the company was structured with an executive staff of five, comprised of the three traditional department heads (Programming, Art, Design), along with Administration and Production. Other senior roles were added as the studio grew.

The executive staff would meet weekly to discuss the current issues needing to be addressed at the company. And about once per year I chose to write a long breakdown of my views and perceptions of our challenges and possible solutions for my fellow execs in the interest of communication. The image to the right is part of one of these from late 2006.

I added the role of Art Manager to help with the project planning and tracking of art staff and assets in 2004, something desperately needed during the hectic years ahead. The image to the left shows part of my 2005/06 weekly project rolloff schedule for members of the art team.

The composition of the art staff changed with the nature of the projects, but mostly we were adding new skill sets to the team. At first we had mostly generalists who could switch subject matter with ease. Later on Magic I hired more character specific people, while on Army, more level artists. Golden Axe and Iron Man needed animators and concept artists.

With Golden Axe we were fortunate to get Silvio Aebischer, formerly of Oddworld, as a studio production designer. He and several other talented concept artists, including Marc Holmes of Neverwinter Nights, produced some really spectacular art.

As we grew I lobbied for, and we added, a formal Technical Art department under Paul Forest in 2006. Since we were building a new engine from scratch, many new tools were needed by the artists to create artwork, and assist an overtaxed engineering team.

In the course of our projects I worked with some really exceptional external venders, including; Blackpoint, Blur Studios, Gentle Giant, House of Moves, Liquid, Massive Black, Mondo Media, New Pencil, Orange Design, Paradigm, among others.

In September 2004, Secret Level moved from its long time small offices in the Flood Building at 870 Market Street, to larger ones at 123 Townsend Street. They were pretty swank by comparison and I think they always helped in our recruiting efforts, giving us a real “Silicon Valley” vibe.

We had our share of small company issues and growing pains. On more than one occasion there was a scramble to make payroll. There was an unfortunate round or two of layoffs in 2004. We execs all wore too many hats trying to get things done. And there were certainly some heated arguments about what path we should follow. But in the end we survived, and made many life-long friendships along the way. There is still a Secret Level reunion at GDC after all these years.

Sega

Secret Level was acquired by Sega of America in April 2006. Sega had recently started buying studios in an effort to build games with more western appeal, and ours was its first North American purchase. Sometime after the acquisition, Secret Level became Sega Studios San Francisco (I designed a new logo at the request of the SOA President in 2007.)

Joining Sega brought a degree of stability which was very welcome after the hectic pace of the previous few years, and deep pockets and resources that we knew could help with our projects and development. I was able to get hardware, software, and staffing resources which we had simply not had as an independent studio.

However, rather than foster measured growth by thoughtfully completing Golden Axe: Beast Rider, the largest project we had done to that date, the company was asked to work on the Iron Man game simultaneously, requiring us to nearly double our size in less than a year while still developing a new game engine from scratch. This was something none of us had done before, nor had anyone at Sega. The decision most certainly affected the quality of the final products, as the challenges of staffing, production processes, and development time were all formidable.

I worked hard to staff up the art department and find lead artists willing to take on the tight schedules. I set up new best practices and reviews for the group. I organized and led the game’s early production design, reviewed work, and did a stint as producer on Golden Axe. I was involved in the early engine development and designed and produced the first real time demo. I also interfaced with external partners such as Blur Studios, Paradigm, and others. I worked with Sega marketing and creative services on advertising pieces. Oh, and I also had to leave the country for a month due to a visa oversight.

The challenge of 2006-07 can’t be understated, but I am proud of the fantastic art team I was able to build, and the artwork we/they created for those games.

I did not end up working on those games until completion as my role took me further away from the day to day at the studio. I began working with Sega directly on their other products by late 2007, and took a role as art director of their content group in March 2008. You can read more about my experiences working at Sega here.

Branding

I was responsible for Secret Level’s branding and identity, and provided various pieces of graphic design over the years. I revised the look a few times, with the most significant rework occuring in 2004. You can read more about the company’s graphic design here.

In addition, I was also the company’s webmaster and designed and maintained our public web page for a number of years.

 

Art Department Management

In my role I was responsible for the operation of the art department. That included initial time estimates and budgeting of the art component of projects, which after the acquisition, amounted to 6-7 million dollars annually at peak (mostly salaries). This eventually moved under the production team, but on most projects I would be the one to do initial estimates of costs/time, including outsourcing. Additionally I took care of workstation specs and, in the early days, purchase orders for the art team.

I did all of the portfolio reviews, negotiation, and hiring of the art staff, with input from the team during the interview process.

I conducted regular artist reviews and had performance improvement cycles when needed. I tried to know what each artist was interested in and if time allowed would try to cater work towards that end, but admittedly that was less often than hoped.

On each project I developed workflows for art asset development. The balance of visual development with design iteration had to be worked out. For example, to the right is an idealized workflow I did for the environment team on Army.

In 2004, as normal maps were first being introduced to video games, I produced a series of tutorials for the team on normal map authoring and Zbrush. We occasionally would have other members of the art staff give presentations to the team to share insights and specialized knowledge.

Alienbrain was always a favorite asset management tool of mine. I was in a small video testimonial for Alienbrain Studio that was released for GDC 2005.

In development I like to try to be methodical about cost benefit decisions. I used risk charts like this one to help visualize these choices. This example was from  Golden Axe during my stint as producer, trying to weigh the importance of game systems vs development time for an upcoming milestone deliverable.

Working with the company’s engineers and tools programmers, I would help spec out the art workflow needs, and often be the first user giving feedback before rolling them out fully to the team.

And finally, for a while I hosted weekly drop-in figure drawing sessions in the office.

Slide

Unreal Tournament for Dreamcast

Secret Level’s first released game was Unreal Tournament for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001, a port of the PC game by Epic Games. The game had additional content created and work done to increase its appeal to a console audience, including a new UI. I was very excited to work on the project as I was a big fan. The reception was excellent and the game received an Editor’s Choice Award from IGN. It scored 90 on Metacritic.

During production, Dave Pridie, one of the main programmers and a good friend of mine, passed away suddenly a few months before the game shipped. It was almost a disaster for the project.

The game also began a longtime relationship between Epic and Secret Level, with the latter supporting Unreal Engine technology on the PlayStation 2 and Gamecube for several years. Our engineers supported numerous development teams using the engine and helped them ship their games.

Jedi Starfighter for Xbox

Secret Level’s 2002 port of Lucasarts’ Playstation 2 title included graphical enhancements and new levels for the Xbox version. Our artists outside of the original Lucasarts team included; myself, Kern Nembhard, Chris Kniffen, and Clarence Johnson.

The game’s predecessor, Starfighter: Special Edition, began a relationship between Secret Level and LucasArts which led to this project, and continued work between the companies for a number of years.

Our largest new art contribution was the Coruscant level. This image below was one of several PR shots I created from PC screenshots, with a little Photoshop love. We built pretty much all you see here but the Jedi Starfighters and the Queen’s ship. I designed and directed the visuals and did a lot of the buildings, textures, and lighting, as well as new ship HUDs. We also added to the existing game with visual enhancements for the Xbox, new unlockable ships, new multiplayer game modes and more. The title’s rapid 5 month development was to coincide with the release of Star Wars: Episode II.

Originally we were also going to build a Kamino level for the game, but it was cut relatively early on for time.

As part of the research for the game, a group of us were sent to the Skywalker Ranch to view early footage of the new movie. That was very exciting, and a childhood dream to visit the Ranch.

The game was built using 3D Studio Max and Lucasarts’ proprietary Europa engine.

Below are some early development screenshots of the level. They show untextured buildings as we tried to get a feel for the poly counts needed for gameplay and frame rate. I provided the direction as well as the layout, skybox, and lighting. Later I built and textured several buildings, and the landing pads/plazas.

While not specific to the Coruscant level, we also added environment mapping to the shaders of the ships and select objects in the game for the Xbox. As well, carried over certain features like the dimensional trees from Starfighter: Special Edition we had created.

It was only later in development that it was decided the Coruscant level was to be used in multiplayer only, which is a shame since the single player version was really what it was designed for. Marketing really wanted to showcase the multiplayer feature on the Xbox.

Unfortunately the raw amount of polygons needed for the buildings (even when many were removed) didn’t lend to adequate frame rates in multiplayer, and this was a big complaint of the level in reviews of the final game. Kamino would have been a better level for multiplayer in hindsight for everyone.

Right is a screenshot of the final multiplayer game. Check out some of the reviews on Gamerankings.com.

Magic: The Gathering – Battlegrounds

Magic: The Gathering – Battlegrounds was a strategic turn-based action game for the Xbox and PC released by Atari in November 2003. It was Secret Level’s first original title.  I served as the project’s Art Director and occasional lead artist. I was also able to produce numerous concepts and assets over the course of the project. The game was built using the Unreal engine.

The project also allowed us to grow the art department significantly, with several character and level artists being added to the team.

I worked to establish tone and continuity with the Magic universe, and directed the overall look and feel of the game. I also worked closely with Wizard’s of the Coast’s art director  to approve all of the assets.

One of the things I wanted was to have a meta graphic style that tied together the disparate cards and creatures. So I worked up a visual language for magic similar to primitive style tattoos of the 90s, and had that arressive, bladed and barbed look extend onto many of the game’s visuals, HUD and UI.

Sadly I lost most of the archive of Magic’s development artwork to a hard drive failure years ago.

The game cards used in Battlegrounds were largely based upon the Magic: The Gathering Eighth Edition card set.

Juzam Djinn

Shown here is the Mana Vault used for the game’s menu system which I designed and built. Each side of the cube would serve a different screen function in the UI, with the camera zipping between faces.

While we did use the actual card art as a basis for the game creatures and locations, we did have to concept practical interpretations for the game.  Ben Herrera and later Ryan Savas were our in house artists. I did some concepting for some of the assets, like this Sengir Vampire, Magma Giant, and female Black Mage.

I also designed and built the Map Room in Unreal, used to display a player’s progress through the game. The land mass below showed representations of the core Magic lands, and would highlight as the player progressed.

Steven Geering was contracted to design the audio for the game. I had a great time working with him in setting direction and reviewing the final pieces.

I contributed a section to Game Development Essentials by Jeannie Novak in 2004, where I discussed the challenges and joys of working with licenced properties like Magic: The Gathering.

Here is a partial bestiary of some of the card creatures created for the game by the artists of Secret Level. Each creature also had their own unique effects for their abilities.

I also did storyboarding of spells and other sequences.

Here are various screenshots of the final game.

Overall the game was received very well. Check out some of the reviews on Metacritic.com.

America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier

In early 2004 Secret Level enlisted to develop America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier for Ubisoft. The game was to be a console version of the popular freeware game created by the United States Army as a recruiting tool.

The game bears some similarity with the original PC version of America’s Army, although included new maps, a new UI, and new game modes and training.

The game included a single player mode based on Special Forces Major Jason Amerine‘s experiences in Afghanistan in 2001. He would work closely with the designers during development.

The project was an opportunity to significantly grow the design department at Secret Level, and we even hired members of the original game’s development team.

As part of our research for the game, a group of us were sent to the Fort Lewis army base in Washington for a tour of their Striker division and to watch training maneuvers. Here is Josh, Leif and I inside a Striker.

Although we had access to all of the original game’s art assets, the Secret Level art team had to rework and add to the library, as well as create new maps. I reviewed the maps with the artists and gave feedback to my lead artist on the project.

The game was completed in November 2005. Originally there was to be a PS2 version as well, but it proved to be technically infeasible and was canceled. Unfortunately this led to a lawsuit by Ubisoft against Secret Level which was fought. The suit was settled out of court.

Below are some screenshots from the final game. The game was received well, with a score of 70/100 on Metacritic.

Golden Axe: Beast Rider

Golden Axe: Beastrider was an action/adventure game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 released by Sega in October 2008. It was Secret Level’s largest and most ambitious project to date. I juggled several roles on the project, certainly in the early days, as we struggled with staffing. and the bulk of the art team was wrapping up Army. I was, at one time or another – and often at the same time; lead artist, art director, producer (for a month or two), graphic designer, and 3d artist.

The latter half of 2005 was spent in preproduction for the game, which was arguably the most exciting and rewarding period of the project for me. I worked with Massive Black on concept art, put together a style guide, and contracted with Blur Studios to create a game play concept video. We also produced a real time demo of the game’s brand new Riders rendering engine that I designed and built with several other artists. The early progress was quick and impressive. For more discussion on the artwork and preproduction of Golden Axe, see here.

Secret Level was acquired by Sega of America about 9 months into the title’s production. Unfortunately by this point things were starting to slip. Staffing was slow, and game design was undefined and untested, partly due to an inability to test in-engine. It was suggested at one point that all new game designers also had to be programmers. The engine and tool work were behind and probably needed a year to develop independently. Art asset lists were always changing and much work was redone several times, frustrating the artists. In addition, soon after acquisition, Sega asked the studio to develop Iron Man in parallel to Golden Axe. Finally, while most of the studio’s directors had been directly involved in the Golden Axe preproduction, the practical needs of the rapidly growing studio demanded their increased attention.

In the early versions of the style guide I wanted to showcase the epic nature of the landscape offered by our engine against the dramatic combat of the game. I drew upon visual references from the Hudson River School of artists. The early design also had the environment play an almost secondary character in the narrative, so this reinforced this.

For me, this image by Nox of Massive Black really encapsulates what an aspect of the early game design was intending to be.

I was able to find a lead artist and fill most other staffing needs in the art department by late 2006. However, I was also forced to leave the country for the month of October due to a visa oversight by the company’s admin department.

This was the studio’s first game using normal maps, among other things that came with the new engine. In order to familiarize members of the art staff with newer features, I created tutorials on how to author them.

I worked with the studio Paradigm and brought Erich Rigling onboard to manage cinematics for the game.

In June 2007 I travelled to Sega China in Shanghai to help set them up as an outsource solution for Sega’s north american games. By coincidence, the studio head was Makoto Uchida, the game director of the original Golden Axe games.

As the game progressed I worked with Sega marketing on a variety of materials, including the box art. We also created a number of poster images for PLAY magazine and other PR. I lobbied for and got an art book to showcase all of the fantastic concept work that had been created for the game.

I painted this first piece of key art for the game’s pitch to Sega in March 2005.

I had less involvement in the development by around mid 2007 as the team was figuring things out under a new producer, and the Iron Man game, and Sega requests were picking up steam. Long before the game shipped I had moved on to a new role as art director at Sega, but I still felt close to that title.

A postmortem of Golden Axe: Beast Rider by project producer Michael Boccieri, which appeared in the February 2009 issue of Game Developer Magazine, discussed the project’s troubled development cycle.

For more discussion on the artwork and preproduction of Golden Axe, see here.

Iron Man

In mid 2006 Sega of America had won the rights to develop four titles as part of Marvel’s Phase One: Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Well actually more than that since the Wii versions were mostly games to themselves done by separate studios.

So consequently Sega had been trying to line up dev studios to take on that roster and in late 2006 we were “asked” by Sega to develop Iron Man in parallel with Golden Axe. As noted elsewhere, this decision was probably the most impactful on the fate of the two games and of the studio.

Although hugely exciting, the reality was Iron Man had to be completed in time for the film’s release date in May 2008, and that meant a development time of less than 18 months. And at that point there was no team, no design, and a still incomplete suite of tools and tech.

I began staffing as quickly as possible, although it was a very competitive environment in the Bay area at that time and took some time. When I got a lead artist in place in January 2007, things started to progress faster on the art side. Unfortunately we also had to move artists over from Golden Axe, which set that project back.

The first design docs were completed by March 2007, allowing for just over 12 months of actual production.

Marvel was very forthcoming with concept art and production stills from the movie. They really wanted to support the games, and we had heard director Jon Favreau was a big gamer. Our designer was even able to speak with Robert Downey Jr at one point.

Things progressed so fast that assets started to simply be made and put in the game library, so I worked to provide style guide notes to the lead and team to distinguish the enemy factions. Maggia vs AIM vs Stark tech. I also visited A2M, who was developing the Wii and other versions, to help coordinate style issues.

For the MTV Video Music Awards in 2007, Sega had gotten a prime advertising slot and wanted to promote Iron Man in it. I designed, captured footage, and edited a 30 second spot (with producer Mike McHale) in under a week. The game at that point was buggy and quite incomplete, so it turned out quite well.

Later I worked with Sega marketing and creative services on several pieces of promotional material for magazines, and painted a few myself, including the box art. I also provided feedback to various agencies working on the marketing materials for the game. I painted this image to the left for a magazine cover.

The image below is an example of the Maggia style notes, identifying a palette and design forms to carry throughout the faction assets. Many of the vehicle sketches were done by contract artist Marc Gabbana.

Pitch Work

Over the years we did various pitches for new work at Secret Level. Some were simple Powerpoints, others were taken up to a demo.

In 2007, as we were working on Iron Man and Golden Axe, we were asked by Sega to provide a pitch for a Thor game as well. (Sure… why not.) Nothing was known about the movie at that point, so we concepted a few takes on the Asgardian and took one to 3d. We even had a real-time render demo up and running, shown here.

Arcata and Assault were both projects that never made it past the pitch stage, but serious development work went into them. The Phone game pitch had a working demo. And before Golden Axe came along, we were working on several pitches for a project to follow up America’s Army. For all of these I worked with Jeff Tseng to put them together and provided concepts for them.

Smaller Art Projects

Some of Secret Level’s smaller art-focused work for hire projects we took on included:

  • The company was approached by Sony in late 2004 to explore a game pitch based on the book Robota, by Doug Chiang. Artwork and a level was produced using the Unreal 3 Engine, but the project never moved forward.
  • In 2005 the company was hired by a high profile architectural firm to provide walkthrough visualizations of their luxury penthouse project in the San Francisco Four Seasons residences. We produced the highly iterative work working with the owner using the Unreal Engine. Full props to artist Clarence Johnson.
  • The company was also hired in 2005 by Stottler Henke Associates to create content and levels for a United States Navy training simulator, called Informant. The project was done with several artists using Lithtech’s Jupiter Engine.

Art Staff

Silvio Aebischer, Marshall Almeida, Louise Bell, Keetsie Berbel, Jonali Bhattacharyya, Dalma Bolech, Mick Buckmiller, Matt Butler, Scott Callison, Ruth Caspary, Eric Chyn, Jeff Cooperman, Brenton Corns, Jason Courtney, Dave Dawson, Dustin Davis, Clayton Douglas, Lukasz Drozdek, Nate Van Dyke, Kevin Evans, Hector Fajerdo, Cathy Feraday, Jay Fitt, Collin Fogel, Mia Fox, Michael Friedrich, Marina Goldberg, John Hayes, Ben Herrera, Belinda Heywood, Marc Holmes, Greg Holt, David House, Travis Howe, Clarence Johnson, Richard Katz, Chris Kniffen, Ryan Lee, Sandy Lin, Anup Lobo, Dan Lyons, Jon McBain, Ace Miles, Cathy Miller, Ivan Moy, Kern Nembhard, Andrew Nielson, Mirena Rhee, Erich Rigling, George Rodgers, Ryan Savas, Laura Smith, Nicholas Stohlman, Michael Stribling, Kai Swift, Caroline Tello, Casto Vocal, Brian West, Michael Yen and I am sorry I am forgetting others !

Secret Level Notes

Select headlines ripped from Secret Level’s old webpage.

12/01/1999 Secret Level founded
03/07/2000 Secret Level talks at Sony PS2 DevCon 2000
05/18/2000 E3 2000! Flash for Games SDK prototype.
09/07/2000 SegaNet launch party
10/23/2000 Secret Level Tools Xbox Support Update
11/11/2000 Sega Gamer’s Day Press for UTDC
12/03/2000 3December talk
01/12/2001 David Joseph “mArtist” Edgerton Pridie remembered
02/16/2001 Stomped interviews our own Pete Clark!
02/18/2001 Strobe featured in Flash Forward keynote
02/18/2001 LucasArts releases Starfighter for PS2 with Flash UI
03/07/2001 Secret Level talks at Sony’s PS2 DevCon 2001
03/14/2001 Unreal Tournament for Dreamcast in the stores!
03/23/2001 Secret Level, Iomega, UT PS2 at GDC!?
03/23/2001 Unreal Tournament for Dreamcast gets Editors Choice
05/02/2001 Mike Aquino leaves SL for the East
05/03/2001 Star Wars Starfighter SE for Xbox announced
05/17/2001 Secret Level talks at E3 2001
05/17/2001 LucasArts announces Secret Level to bring Starfighter SE to Xbox
05/19/2001 IGN posts a first impression of Starfighter SE from the E3 show floor
06/15/2001 Strobe UI SDK development suspended
06/18/2001 Starfighter postmortem in GameDeveloper 07/01/2001 Secret Level talks at Maya Games Developers Conference
09/12/2001 Making a difference in the aftermath of Tuesday’s horror
10/01/2001 STAR WARS® Starfighter™: SE for Xbox trailer now on-line
10/05/2001 LucasArts announces Secret Level to bring Starfighter™ to Windows PC in 2002
11/30/2001 STAR WARS® Starfighter™: SE for Xbox in stores now!
01/11/2002 Skywalker Ranch!
01/16/2002 STAR WARS® Starfighter™ for PC in stores now!
02/01/2002 Secret Level Unreal Developer Network Update!
02/15/2002 STAR WARS® Starfighter™ PC demo!
03/07/2002 Secret Level talks at Sony’s PS2 DevCon 2002
03/15/2002 SL at GDC 2002!
03/19/2002 LucasArts announces Secret Level to bring Jedi Starfighter™ to Xbox in May 2002
05/05/2002 STAR WARS® Jedi Starfighter™ for Xbox Gold!
05/27/2002 Secret Level does E3
08/27/2002 SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs™ hits the PS2 and the Internet with SL VOIP
08/30/2002 ECTS Announcement: Maya to ship in the box with Unreal Tournament 2003
02/13/2003 Secret Level at GDC: Maya Masterclasses
03/25/2003 Tom Clancy’s: Splinter Cell™ hits the PS2!
04/03/2003 Sony DevCon 2003: Secret Level NATs it up
05/13/2003 E3 Announcement: Secret Level to bring Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering® to Xbox and PC this fall
05/15/2003 Secret Level at E3 ’03!
06/30/2003 Secret Level names Reeve S. Thompson Director of Production
07/14/2003 Postmortem: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell™
09/03/2003 Preview Magic: The Gathering® —Battlegrounds at GameSpot
11/13/2003 Ubisoft’s XIII goes gold on PS2 and GC!
11/19/2003 Magic: The Gathering® —Battlegrounds Ships!
01/05/2004 Secret Level joins the Khronos Group
02/20/2004 GDC 2004 Conference Talks
03/25/2004 SL Art Director Christopher Bretz in Game Development Essentials
05/01/2004 Secret Level to sponsor E3 IGDA party!
05/05/2004 SL to speak at E3 Conference ’04
05/17/2004 Secret Level at E3 ’04!
09/06/2004 Secret Level Moving!
11/09/2004 Konami ships Karaoke Revolution Xbox
12/04/2004 Secret Level on TV: VP Development Reeve Thompson on CBS Bay Area
12/31/2004 Josh Adams leaves Secret Level to join Epic
02/22/2005 Ubisoft announces “America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier™” for Xbox and PS2
03/05/2005 GDC 2005, Oh My! Conference graphics by SL’s own Chris Bretz
03/10/2005 Secret Level becomes Ageia’s first Novodex solution development house!
04/02/2005 Secret Level becomes licensed PSP developers!
05/01/2005 Maya API Developer’s Conference ’05
05/17/2005 “America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier™” at E3
05/17/2005 Secret Level to bring Capcom’s “Final Fight” to Xbox
06/02/2005 Secret Level’s Siggraph ’05 contribution
07/06/2005 SEGA partners with Secret Level to create PS3, Xbox 360 content
11/15/2005 “America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier™” hits the street!
03/03/2006 Secret Level’s Sidecar™ in X-Men: The Official Movie Game
04/03/2006 Secret Level becomes SEGA’s first North American studio!