The Faces Behind The Story – Katie Hallahan and Weldon Hathaway

by on May.14, 2014, under developer diary, featured, phoenix people

Last week we got to meet Cesar and Richard’s story, the two who founded the team from early 2004 and on; now we get to discover another two faces from the team that are worth knowing as well: Katie Hallahan, whose name you’ve probably seen around because besides being a game developer she is also our PR Director, andWeldon Hathaway, who once was one of the most helpful community members who eventually became an important technical lead as Programming Director, and the guy we always run to when something breaks.

Let’s get started, ladies first! Katie has been around since 2003 or so. Way back then she was working directly with everything script and writing related – she was Cesar’s right hand – but after my departure from the team back in 2008, PR became somewhat of a shared duty in the team and that gave room for Katie eventually grow into the role positioning herself as a Phoenix Director as well as Chief Communication Officer of the team. Katie became a vital part of what the team is, because believe it or not, she not only works directly with game development and PR duties, but also nowadays she assists directly with Marketing efforts into distribution and partnerships as well as production coordination and even HR as needed. She is quite a force to be reckoned with. While sometimes it may feel like everything is overwhelming, – work gets insane sometimes for a department lead – I do admit that one of the things I admire the most about her is her devotion to learn and to move forward, to help however it may be possible. There is no “can’t” from her, just a “let’s do this”.

Way back then we didn’t work that closely – I was PR and she was development – but working closely now I realize that at some points we probably did not click at all, maybe even disliked each other! After all, we all come from the same place but we are both quite different people; but the fact is, it is impossible to be against someone who works with the same values and the same passion as you do towards something as beautiful as everything that Phoenix has achieved. It is just impossible to deny and not to respect all that hard work; in fact, now that I have had the time to be around her more I can honestly say she has taught me a thing or two about dedication and commitment. She is truly amazing, and we are all quite lucky to have her with us.

Having introduced her properly, let’s hear her story from her own words:

In late 2002, I was an unemployed college grad with an English degree, living at home and working crappy temp jobs. When looking for any new King’s Quest games one night, I came upon the old KQ9 website, thought this was an amazing and awesome idea, and saw they were looking for staff writers too! I immediately applied, writing aFour Winds article about the Isle of the Scared Mountain as part of application, and soon after, I was on the team!

I went from staff writer to co-designer on the game fairly quickly – I know that within a few months, I was deep into writing and designing the chapters that focused onRosella, who is my favorite character from the original KQ series. Now days I still work in design, but I also playtest frequently. I also directed Cognition Episode 2, and I’m also the PR Director, which involves tasks from planning release schedules to drafting press releases to emailing and interacting with the press and interacting a lot with the community. Every day is different!

One of the best memories with Phoenix will always be back in 2004, the voiceover auditions in NYC and the first time a number of us met in person. It was kind of nerve-wracking traveling to NY that weekend, but once we all got in the same room, it really just clicked! It was so much fun and I’ll always remember the auditions, and staying up late watching them and casting roles and making up songs and watching Buffy and wandering around NYC with Cesar the following weekend when I came back for more fun.

My favorite Phoenix character would be Erica Reed. I love Erica, she’s tough, vulnerable, smart, badass and a redhead. What’s not to love!

Weldon has been part of the team ever since TSL days, around 2010 or so, he was the most helpful poster around, always assisting everyone with anything people would bring up and I personally believe his story to be one of the sweetest and remarkable in the team, because he not only just helped everyone around him, eventually he joined the team and he basically pushed himself further into programming and quickly becoming a lead in the team, and nowadays is one of the most valuable team members we have. I think if both Weldon and Aaron go offline for a whole day, Media freaks out. We break everything, and they are always there to help – no questions asked.

I must say his patience is infinite; personally, I have got no idea how many times I keep pestering him in one day alone, and he’s just always helpful – he’s simply brilliant from the point of view that he knows what he’s doing and he’s most certainly that one person that you can rely on for important things to get done. Sometimes a bit grumpy, but that’s some sort of a downside for most intelligent people – they have got low tolerance for little things sometimes and they just go straight to the point and just get things done.

Also, it must be said that Weldon is one of the most fascinating people I have ever worked with. He has got so many unique things happening to him – one of the most remarkable had something to do with a chicken invading his house one day. That shall be a story that will always be in our memory.

Now, let’s hear Weldon’s story told by the man himself:

I followed TSL for years and was always very excited about the work on that game. I have some background in computer technical support, so when the first episode of the game finally released I was just sort of lurking in the tech forums on the site and helping people out with any issues they were having running the game. After a week or so of doing that, Cez contacted me and asked if we could have a chat over Skype. I honestly thought he was going to ask me to stop messing around in the forums like I owned the place or something like that, but instead he asked me if I wanted to more “officially” take on that role of watching the support areas there. I also started beta testing Episode 2 of TSL, and after doing  that for a while he asked me to lead up that department as well. I started teaching myself some programming and figuring out how to fix things in the game. Things just continued to grow from there, with Cezgiving me more and more things to do, and me always scrambling to learn what I needed to figure out to accomplish those tasks, until I found myself working as one of the studio directors.

At the time I first started helping out with TSL I was working as a high school math teacher. I gradually shifted from teaching into working for the studio full time, and now my time is split between working on the new Gabriel Knight game and post-release Moebius issues, and a small accounting business I run.

The absolute best was going down to GDC to show Cognition and getting to meet a bunch of other people from the studio in person. We all work remotely, so getting more than a couple of people together is pretty rare. It was very cool to hang out with a bunch of  wonderful folks that I normally only hear on the phone.

My favorite character is Terence from the Cognition games. It seems like he always has some weird and goofy thing to say, no matter what’s going on.

It’s kind of lovely being able to revise the background of people I work with and being able to get a few words across, because sometimes we get so caught up into the every day routine I don’t think I’ve ever been able to let Katie or Weldon know how much I appreciate them, which I’m sure is a general feeling in all the team. Sometimes when you realize how much one person does, and they take a day off for medical reasons or personal stuff, you do understand the impact of their everyday routine. Having said that, every single member is more valuable than we might imagine when we stop to recognize how important they are in the big picture.

There are updates yet to go – next week we will have Aaron Light’s story and the team doodle dork, this noob called Say or something. Aaron and I have been community frands even before I was PR Director and before he was Programming Lead, he is like this adorable – and a little bit crazy – little brother or something; so, I guess it should be interesting to say the least. Thank you for reading and following through with all our anniversary updates. I have read even the feedback on the doodle updates and you are all far too kind.

Say Mistage
Social Media Director
Phoenix Online Studios

#Phoenix People

Team Feature – Cesar Bittar & Richard Flores
Team Feature – Katie Hallahan & Weldon Hathaway
Team Feature – Michael Fortunato & Aaron Light

Comments are closed.