My name is Ethan James Petty. I don’t look like the monstrous thing to the left, but he’s pretty bad-ass, so I went with him.
It’s tough to sum up the interesting parts of your life, even more-so what matters enough to share with other people. I certainly have strange, disturbing, and hilarious stories (we all do), but I feel I should list some of the paths I’ve chosen, some of my (bad) tastes, and what knowledge or entertainment I can and will share as this blog rolls on. Seeing hits to your page without any comments tends to make you paranoid, so please, feel free to comment. You may have to wait until I approve your first post, but after that, they will be instant. I am happy to answer any questions you have.
I was born in 1975, mostly survived the 80s, and spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Wichita, Kansas.
In the early 90s, a couple of my high school buddies and I started Bloodlust Software, an irreverent shareware company in the heyday of shareware. Looking back, the humor was there, we put a ton of work into those things, and to this day, we still have a handful of loyal fans. The tough part is putting the games on a resume. We were making full games when we were 15, and that’s worth mentioning, but they were very politically incorrect. I guess my main defense now is that we poked fun at ourselves as much as anyone, our goal was absolutely to shock (our idols included GWAR and Troma Entertainment), but never in a hateful way. We lived in an era where video games were really starting to become “dangerous” and censorship was jumping from cinema to electronic entertainment. Bloodlust was our ugly little way of fighting back. Did we succeed? It didn’t matter. We lived video games back then and nothing was more thrilling than making your own. I have to give credit here to Icer Addis, who made those crazy years possible with his insane knack for programming, years ahead of where he should have been in skill. He could have worked at a professional game company at age 12. I’m not even exaggerating. I handled the (so-so) art and humor, but Icer made everything go. We made quite a bit of money off of our hobby, too. Bloodlust paid for more games, music, and movies than I should have had at that time. And those? More fuel for the engine.
I have to mention the transformation. Awkward teenager Ethan Petty, back-brace and all (I’ll tell that story at some point), became Lord Hellbent Marstorius Deathspew IV. He became my alter ego and even my in-game representation. People started calling me Hellbent in person. I had a costume, complete with priest collar, wig, and top hat, that allowed me to become Hellbent when we’d go to Halloween keggers or for those random trips to Kansas City when we just wanted to be weird.
The identity stuck. I was Hellbent when I met my future wife on IRC. Over the years I’ve done many projects as Hellbent, Ringmaster Bent, and eventually just Bent. I’m cool with that. I don’t put on the costume anymore. It wouldn’t fit anyway, and I’ve got grey in my beard. That’s the fun thing about the internet, though. Sometimes I get to be Lord Hellbent again when I get an email from an old fan or find a post in a forum. So I encourage you to visit the old Bloodlust site, try out the games (Timeslaughter is the one you want), and before you judge us, think about how much fun we must have had making them. I will share some of the best Bloodlust/shareware stories within this blog.
Moving on… crazy internet drama and the opportunity to escape Kansas (relax, I still love you, Kansas) landed me in Ithaca, New York. While there, I worked in the porn industry. Maybe I should clarify. Thanks to the desperation of thousands of horny men (whoa, that’s not helping), my friends and I found an amazing money-maker. Just like Bloodlust was right there at the shareware boom, my New York buddies and I found a way to make money from the fact that most porn used to cost money. The secret: a link. That was it! We created a website, gave it a tempting name like “The Private Eye” or “The Ass Factory,” and then put a simple link to a real porn site. We didn’t buy (or make) any porn ourselves. I don’t even think we had any nudity on our sites. We were the “gateway” to the real stuff. Anybody that clicked through and signed up on the other site, we got a check. Why not? Worth a try. Then the first checks came in… hundreds. HUNDREDS for 10 minutes of work and then doing nothing else. Party time.
That party time led to two other projects of mine that still creep around the internet — Book of Skin, a really weird industrial CD complete with my own terrible singing that has all but disappeared from the web, and the Deck of the Dreamers, a complete tarot deck made about 10 years ago, rejected for publication (I didn’t realize at the time, but the quality and resolution were not where they should have been), that I’ve recently resurrected in High Definition. While I likely won’t ever touch music production again (trust me, this is a good thing), I will have some stories to share about creating tarot, meeting the types of people who collect and read with them, and the struggle to find time with them. If you’re interested, you should definitely follow the DoD blog linked above.
I met my beautiful wife Julie in a Marilyn Manson chat room. Yup. I have some stories about Manson concerts, as well as GWAR, Danzig, Clutch, Bile, Nine Inch Nails, and hell, if I’m drunk enough, maybe I’ll eventually post about my first concert — Poison. Every rose has its thorn, C.C.
Julie and I have been married since 1999. She’s French Canadian and I was living in Texas when we got hitched. There are some stories to tell. Painful ones. We’ve since had two kids, Sarah Victoria, our little princess who can throw air-Hadoukens and cheers for me when I shoot “monsters” in my video games, and Samuel Ray, our monster baby who is bigger than 98% of other babies. How does a total horror geek who loves violent video games raise two kids without wrecking their lives? I’m still working on it. I’ll be sure to share my highs and lows.
About horror. Horror has been my #1 addiction since elementary school. I’ve watched and own ridiculous amounts of horror movies since the 8os, I own a nice chunk of horror games released for consoles with the goal of a complete set, and now that I live in Montreal, Canada (yeah, she won the relocation discussion), I attend the Fantasia Film Festival here every year. I should mention I eventually got to work with Troma and while most will probably scratch their heads, I still smile at the Toxic Avenger figure on my office desk. I’ve got a nasty little mini-game on their Terror Firmer DVD set and I used to have some games up on their site. Now they can be found on the Bloodlust site. As you can tell by my blog design, horror will show up a lot here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Let’s talk about Montreal. It’s very French here. I’m very English. Sometimes it can be a pretty extreme culture clash, but overall they’re great people who provide me with endless entertainment. I am not a fish out of water, I am a “Poissons hors de l’eau”, according to Babelfish. The best part of our move to Montreal, though — I got to work in the video game industry for a living.
I worked a couple of years at Strategy First, before they imploded, with a solid group of very talented people. I began in QA, testing some interesting indie games and some real stinkers, but soon moved up to level design, and eventually, game design. While there, I worked on the Disciples series (even lead design on the Rise of the Elves game and you will find some of my artwork in the unit portraits as well), O.R.B. and we were working on some great new concepts when the company ran into some nasty legal action and stopped paying us. I love that, as I type this, the wiki entry has a very short description followed by a CONFLICT section. That about sums it up. I’d say probably 50% of the people I worked with ended up at Ubisoft (the creative ones, not the managers).
Ubisoft still takes care of me. I started there as a level designer for the Splinter Cell games (cargo ships and prisons were my life for a couple of years), worked as a level designer for Rainbow Six Vegas and then as lead writer for its sequel, Rainbow Six Vegas 2. I went on to write for Shaun White: Road Trip, James Cameron’s Avatar, and many smaller projects with smaller writing tasks. I worked on a few projects withing the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and now I’m co-writing Watch Dogs. Teenage Hellbent Deathspew never would have believed it.
I have a lot of information to share about the gaming industry. Specifically how a hardcore gamer can get into it, how to work your way up to the position you desire, and what life is like in the sweat-box. Of course I have an N.D.A. with Ubisoft and I won’t be able to leak any juicy secrets, but I can give you an honest perspective from within the machine. As with any job, there are ups and downs. This is where I have to say my views do not reflect the views of my current employer in any way other than that we would both appreciate it if you’d buy Ubisoft games, particularly Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Thank you.
I should mention that alongside the Tarot Deck revamp, I’m also writing a book. The main character’s name is Shit. It’s about hobos that will eventually fight inter-dimensional garbage monsters alongside a possessed rhinoceros. You think I’m joking, but I’ll post excerpts and then you’ll feel uncomfortable.
If you waded your way this far, you’ve made it into the deep water. Let’s float together, we’ve got a lot to talk about.