DMI LIVE ft. Robert Atkins, Balanced Media Technology

00:07 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: So I wanna do more than just entertain, I wanted to do something that has purpose and meaning, and I honestly didn’t know what that was, I just wanted to just ask myself that question and I decided that I don’t wanna do anything that doesn’t have purpose or meaning and that’s why once you put that out there in the universe and you live by that and you’re willing to sacrifice everything, meaning, I don’t need to take on work, I don’t wanna go lose some words to make video games. I wanna figure out what that was. And for me, I learned that I don’t need to leave video games to make a difference, I just needed to take the experience that I had and the talents that I had in the industry that I help build and turned that into something if… And when I came upon that, we started working on the game called The salad, I’ll give you a little preview of that as well, I could share my screen. I come prepared. We appreciate it. This is my partner who’s also a street call apparent me, share termed. Actually, share my spring. Let me help.

01:13 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: I keep eating it. Turn it off. Yes, so Carl, Carl had this idea, what if you went inside the body like Halo and you could fight things that are trying to kill you, it’s like infection and disease viruses, we all are… That’s very good. It’s very active of our tongue right now, parasites, all these things, imagine being able to fight cancer, five to things that are trying to kill you. And you have Warriors, you have these friends with you that go on and cooperatively try to kill these diseases, and that that was the idea that spark like, Oh my God, I need to make this video game to help people learn about their body, to learn about what’s really happening, maybe we can make it an educational tool, and we started studying the film, citizen sciences of thing, educating through video games is the future, but I wanted to make sure it can do more, and so what we did was we started building this thing and we were really blessed. A couple of years ago, we had… This live was the macaws program. He was suffering from brain cancer, and his wish was to go to a game studio, asked them to build a game where he could fight and kill cancer, that was His humble little vision, and so we had built this demo for this game 8 in another studio, invite us over to let Jimmy play the game.

02:40 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: And so Jimmy got to kill cancer in the game, and his mother would tell us she would lay in bed at night, visualizing beating cancer and visualizing killing him, and he went… Jimmy’s a miracle kid, he went from having terminal brain cancer to full remission, but he would tell us is another word, tell us, Hey, you helped me understand what was happening, you helped me take the fight to the thing that I was trying to kill you, and it helped me, help me get my head wrapped around it, literally. So here’s a demo of the game, so like I said, I imagine hale in the body and a… We use the Unreal engine, and we built this out, we built this with five grad students that graduated the guild hall, and we built it like an agreement, and so you go down in the body, we say We’re gonna build a mission inside the bone. So those are killer T­cells, Everything’s grounded in the biology. Everything is grounded in the real science, and you do things like you gather anybody or your little friend alpha, you gather these antibodies and you create an antigen, the antigen is what you use to attract the killer, to tell us to the cancer.

03:45 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: These are all things that are stated in the are ways of looking at medicine, and so your body is full of natural resources and your immune system for national resource, and you can use those to equip and create medicine and then treat the body with them. Well, what we’ve been, as we built the technology that lies underneath the games, so you’re solving real problems, you’re actually creating computational biology while you’re playing this game based in biology, so you literally… You’re helping researchers and labs find cures to disease, reverse engineer the gene regulatory network and be able to literally help white disease while you simply play a video game.

04:27 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : That Is awesome. And it looks spectacular too, I know the guys from the ghats just mix… Work on it.
04:34 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Yeah, it was… It’s funny ’cause when we first started working on this. And we would tell people, Thank you by the way. We tell people what we’re doing and they’re like, You’re gonna play a video game and help cancer research. Like, come on. It’s not real. And I’m like, Yeah, it’s real. That’s working, and it’s just when you can tell whenever you talk about something like this to a game, they’re like, Oh my God, it makes so much sense. Of course, we can crowdsource data through a game, of course we could have the crowd save problem together. Of course, games educate. If you talk to someone who’s not a game or they’re like, they go cross­side when you try to get that concept over to them, but it’s weird ’cause the world… The world is needed to catch up to this idea, and that was really the visionary part about what Carly come up with in our partner, Dr. Carla, to create the technology that lies underneath gaming and making this data science through gaming possible…

05:37 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : Yes, when you’re displaying your game to medical doctors and you get out of that resilient or push back because they didn’t grow up with gaming or they just don’t understand it. Yeah.

05:50 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: It’s weird, we have a master collaboration agreement with LSU, actually a street for… We started a Dr. Galli Galli there, and Dr. Chris Ford, kettle, we went pitched all of the department heads at the med school, and when I was in college at LSU, I actually worked at LSU Metzner industry port, I was doing graphics for their graphics department, so we visit… I was visualizing in agricola was there too, I was one of his jobs. We’ve doing medical illustration, doing grass, we were visualizing Doctor’s Data in a early rudimentary way, and so this is a more immersive way, this is being able to go inside the body and being able to visualize things in context and how they work in conjunction with each other, it was really amazing for us when we put the game meat into front of kids who are 10 years old, we’re 30 minutes a game play, they’re repeating that college level microbiology and they understand how it works because they’ve just gone through the process of needing to do it in order to get the resources to as a game, so really safe learning, we put it the same thing in front of med students, first year med students, and they turn our look at…

07:06 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: And I just learned about this today in class as an educational tool… Absolutely as a compliance, like medical doctors tell, if we could just get our patients to be compliant with their treatment, there was a fun way to teach them, Hey, if you’re getting chemotherapy and if you don’t stay hydrated, you’re going to be… Your chances of recovery are smaller, so just understanding, if you can visualize, oh my… I can see dehydration and a form in a game, maybe I can start to understand, you know what, I gotta get water ’cause I don’t wanna look like what I saw in that video game. Look at the… Absolutely, they see the value of this. Yeah.

07:47 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : Alright, that’s really is awesome. I like that. As far as like Mars go, I’m a reality. How do you encompass that into the product that you’ve been making? Well.08:03 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Balance meeting technology is a value­driven company, our mission is to empower people to help make a difference in power communities, so we absolutely want to… When we start looking at the game, we started looking at the characters that we learned, design the stories that we wanted to tell, we wanted to tell a very inclusive story, we wanted the humanity, humans, human biology is part of all of us, and that’s the great thing about a game based in the body is we all have one, so we can all relate, but we all look at how we all look at spirituality, we all look at… Our culture is a little different, and that’s okay, that’s the great thing about humans, is that we’re not all the same, that we have differences, and we wanna tell the stories from different points of view, so all the characters that we have that are human in the game have a different point of view, stories, so we’re trying to tell as many of the stories of humanity and the morality around that as much as possible in… So our companies are driven to do good with our products, and we’re also driven to connect people, so we want people to feel like they’re part of…

09:11 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: They’re part of the answer is to reach to them, not tell them what the answer is, but help them understand that together we are the answer.

09:21 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : It’s great, I like that, right? So it’s opening up new doors and pathways for people to actually connect with one another…

09:29 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Absolutely. No games do great. Right, that’s right, that’s the thing that games more than ever, or have allowed us to connect and share a relationship to taste for where you literally can’t go outside and you’ll meet our friends in a church or a bar or whatever we do, we need games more than ever to be able to connect with each other. And so as a social tool, and that’s the thing that most people who don’t understand games, they think that kid that’s in their bedroom is not being social… It couldn’t be further from the truth. They actually are on the game with all their friends, connected with them through the headset, they’re talking and playing with their friends or just not going outside like we did growing up. They’re very social.

10:16 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : I like being on the bleeding edge of technology, how close are you to that is…

10:29 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: I think that’s the great thing about the gaming industry, almost every five years, you see a completely new paradigm of technology, completing the paradigm of… I’ll give you an example. So Duncan, I worked on that in 96. That wasn’t true 3D. Even done wasn’t true, 3D quake was the… The same year, 96 QAM out as a 3D engine, and that was genuine 3D Jud lighting. And so that was one of the big steps. And then the fact, the multi­player, another big step, real­ time physics that came out in normal math ten and some of the engines that things that came out in 2007 changed the industry yet again, how we made models, in having me characters, how we made textures all of those things change from being hand pain ­at hand created to using 3D tools, and so the gaming industry has always been pushing the envelope across many, many paradigms, mobile, mobile wasn’t what smartphones were… They were great things that are… In the smart phones, even AR, that’s been around and smart proposes forever, no one knew about it until Pokemon. Everyone was walking around it in with their art tool, and the ability to do that with that phone had existed years before that, but the game had to open it up to the community, and even how we sell product, gaming industry is the leader in that.

12:07 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: We used to be in 96, for instance, all retail, you could sell direct, you could download it a little… There was some direct download, but it wasn’t really a big deal, and then retail everything per box wasn’t in a Walmart, you weren’t gonna make money in a company called Valve software with half life to said they wanna stop letting retail be controlling how they deliver their products, so they created steam, and steam became digital distributions golden chalice to… It was the way we now download games, so we don’t go to stores anymore necessarily, by games through them digitally. That’s the gaming industry, that’s people who have vision and talent that want to solve a problem and they don’t need permission to let’s go do it, and that’s right. That’s the game develop for mentality.

13:02 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : I like that mentality, and you were very power us and telling us that, especially when you were at the goal, tell me what keeps you going to wanna do this? And how do you hold yourself accountable to meet your deadlines? That’s

13:21 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: A good question. So I’m an artist. So I’m a creator, if you wanna use the word creator artist, I can’t… If you have that in you, you can’t stop… You’re going to be creating or you’re going to die, I mean, that is really… And so I may have stopped making fine art for myself, which I don’t recommend, but I kind of got to place because I was at the Art Director level, the creative director level, I started my own company and my fifth company was I was always able to live through the product, so the product is still my art, still my creation, and so I’m very… I’ve always had that drive. The secondary thing, when I found the purpose, and I recommend everyone finds their purpose as soon as possible, and you’ll know it when it happens, is to create… Create technology that can empower community, create products that educate, that expand the minds of people so they can start to see the world in a different way. That’s what drives me is like, I’m not gonna stop the tool it sells in educational pool in school, so I’m not gonna stop too… Were crowdsourcing the world’s most complicated problems to video games are not gonna stop two games or the way we educate students…

14:46 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Because we all learn at different rates. We all… Standardized testing is a bunch of bullshit. If we had a way that was interactive and could learn the AI or the Test and Learn where you’re at, and then go, Oh, this person is stuck here, that’s what we’re gonna focus on for a second, and the teacher doesn’t have to stop and do it, it’s all done through the interactive experience, that’s how… And that is possible, like my partner, Cory far, who is also at the mill Paul, he the one who created the human platform that our games run on, he won an enterprise for adult literacy, he created a video game that with his team of grad students from the Bell Hall graduates, and they use it to… And they move the meter faster than any other product, the reference Apple and Google and all these big companies, a little team of five people, I highly recommend you do that. Build in product that taught people how to read faster and guess why it was more fun, and it’s safer because you’re interactive learning, a safe place to learn, and it’s how we learn as humans is to Mersin.

15:56 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : That’s right, I think that all of our stuff will be downloadable content maybe in the future, this may be a affection, but have you seen anything from the movies that’s encouraging to what you’re doing now?

16:12 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: I think thematically, movies have always been pushing the… On the love, I think when you looked at Black Mirror, they had to choose your own adventure. And I grew up reading those books that use verbs, I think that customized content is part of the future, ’cause we all… We all wanna be part of the story. And I think that there’s other things that are happening, even just on text, I like what was happening with on a real engine, where you’re able to create these 3D experiences that are being delivered through film now too, so they can cut production costs, they can do things that you can do with a traditional camera rigs, it’s less expensive than some of the other more traditional higher entering time processes, and it lends itself toward hopefully the future or some type of a genuine 3D movie experience where we could be in the movie and look around and be part of it. So I think that that’s… I think gaming, if anything’s, pushing the envelope into other genres, like the film, more than film in pushes better stories on the gaming, which we still haven’t done well, game pushes more bizarre experiences that movies are now starting to take on, so it’s kind of…

17:36 Balanced Media Technology
// Robert Atkins: We’re starting to see this kind of more intertwined experience.

17:41 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : I like that. You mentioned also about working in teams, how important is it to find somebody that has a shared interest issue or like­minded individual is yourself… Yeah.

17:54 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: It’s critical, and I think that’s the hardest part of one of the reasons why I wanted to leave the industry or I didn’t find satisfaction is to say as much as I had was because I wasn’t working with people that I enjoyed working with, and that’s really that’s hard, ’cause we all are creative, we all have passion and we all have desired, and sometimes you just conflict, and because gaming is such a team effort, you have to have everybody willing to pull the same direction or you have splintering and you have a message, product can be homogenized, so it meaning all the peaks and all the cool things could get pushed down because not everybody buys into the vision. There’s all these different things that dynamically can have effects if you don’t have the right people, and so you’ll know what as an individual, if you’re always in conflict with your team, are you always in conference with others about the vision, not personal conflicts, then you may be in the wrong team, and you have to make that decision to to… And at the same time, you as an individual have to get buy­in, that’s the hardest part, is constantly getting buy­in, you always have to be…

19:11 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Even if you own the company, I’ve been… It’s like I can just go tell people, no one has done this way, that’d be the wrong way to do it. There’s some… I wish I would have done that, but you really wanted… You wanna get everybody excited about the same stuff, so you were always internally having to sell the ideas, sellers sell things to people and everybody’s busy, no one wants to hear something that you thought of, but you really need to have open forms or everybody’s always thinking about the product and living in the product space, if all you did was go to work, do your job and go home, you’re not living in the product, if you’re living an inside a product, you are always thinking about it, you’re always coming up with ideas, you’re always… You can’t wait to tell somebody. And when you get to work about, Hey, this or that, or has the… I solved this problem or I think I thought about it differently. What about this character idea, whatever it is, you have to live within the work, and if you’re not, that means you’re just not connected to the work and you need to figure that out.

20:13 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : You… Could you tell me about a time that you was working in a studio on a game that was a really, really good experience for you, like you were just so hard to be there every day.

20:26 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: I’ve been there many times. I think I’ll give you a little bit of history and why this experience meant so much to me, so I would say when you start earning money as an artist, even if it’s a commission or it’s you’re winning awards with cash or whatever… I’d say 17 years old, I started getting money from being arts and went to school, and I went and got my first job at Apogee where I did all the marketing, so all I got to do as the boxes, so I can show you some of licensure again, so I get to do a lot of box art and did that for three and a half years, and I kept begging my boss, man, it’s like, Man, I wanna make games dude. I don’t wanna just do the marketing anymore, so I got to do… I got to do logos and advertising and all this, I have to work on some cool stuff, like rise the triad was one of the big games they got to work on first, that’s awesome. And then I got to work on doing them, so I did all the marketing here, I’m the guy who did the box art, but it illustrated the box art, I designed the logos and the wrote the copy and did all of the layout and all the fun stuff.

21:49 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: The box art frankly, was a homage to Army of Darkness, which we all love, and that whole game is a motto Culture, they still use it 20 years later, it’s one of the most iconic images in gaming, and so I was in a great position just doing that kind of stuff, but I was like, Man, I gotta grow, I gotta do more. And so I was begging him to let me make games and they were like, No, you’re good at your job. You do your job. And so I was like, I brought up a personal computer back then was just a desktop, and I brought the desktop and I set it down next to my mat that I used to do the just publishing for all the boxes and stuff. And I just had lunch time, I just learned how to do pixel art for a video game, so I started just doing pixel art, meaning like the texture, the texture are and stuff. And that year, my friend Adrian heron, I was like, Hey, we’re gonna release quick, we wanna do some expansion packs, would you guys be interested in doing an expansion pack? So I got…

22:47 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: In 96, I started my own company and some of the people left that worked on Duke, and we got to work on the quake expansion pack, and that was 10 years, 10 years as being a professional artist before I ever got to design a character design, a level idea to have any say over the actual content of the game, so that’s the one that I would say is like, if you don’t give up, you gotta lay on just ’cause the boss says, don’t do something. Or don’t know, you can’t do this if you really want to. In your heart, you’ll find a way, you’ll start making you home and you work on stuff, no one’s gonna tell you that you wanna make games and just when you decide in your own mind, I’m gonna do this. There’s no excuse. And so you gotta put in that extra effort and you gotta put that extra work, and I would sit there and do that at night and during lunch, and then in 96 I got to work on SCRAM, which is a quaternion, ended up winning the product of year for its thing, and for years, it was one of the most popular games out there that our version, because it had things like the space map from the red base map, I was multi­player.

23:58 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Cool stuff that we did. And it took 10 years though. That’s what he got, I realized as a young person, because at the beginning is like, this don’t happen overnight, and gonna keep pushing hard. Even when you work on something big like Duke Nukem that just should propel you forward to do the thing you wanna do, don’t just sit back and pat yourself on the back, we just did this, we left that company to go do the thing that we wanted to do to be our own boss to work on stuff, it was like, sometimes you go… When you’re on the top, you just need to ratchet it up or change because that’s how you grow and that’s how you advance, and that’s why this industry is so amazing is because creative control it.

24:44 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : Right. That was very motivated. Right there on it. Somebody who listened to that. Doesn’t get motivated then. I don’t know what’s wrong with. That was pretty awesome. I fired

24:57 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Up always. Man, you know, you guys… How do I get motivated? I live this… To me, my problem, I can’t run fast enough like that.

25:03 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : That’s right. There’s so many ideas and some of the time…

25:06 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Yeah, and you just gotta be on fire, you gotta figure that out, and I didn’t grow up like this, I grew up playing outside, I grew up, you know, I didn’t have TV, I didn’t have a computer games, I just have my imagination, so when you’re giving these amazing tools that we have now with 3D tools and art tools and Unity and Unreal, all this stuff that we didn’t have 20 years ago. A raffle of ways to learn over to tour on the worlds out there, amazing schools like DMI and colleges like in graduate programs, I guess one below, you have no excuse not to empower your creativity and power in mind, you will go way further faster than I did the reason it took 10 years from me is because the was just not in the same position it is today, to tell you…

25:54 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : That’s right. Alright that was really awesome and really really opening and touch them thank you for being our guest here at the in my life I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart I

26:11 Balanced Media Technology // Robert Atkins: Play here right any time any time you wanna talk man

26:14 DMI LIVE // Baron Capers : Alright well guys we Boothe time we don’t know version my life this was I guess Robert Akins industry professional legit so you can file all the information in our Dropbox and check us out don’t forget the light subscribe and sure thank you and we’ll see you guys later!