Going Pro: Programmer Kaleb Grace
Issue: September 1, 2014

Going Pro: Programmer Kaleb Grace

Kaleb Grace was programming for seven years at jobs in the medical and fashion industries before deciding to return to college and pursue his passion: games. Previously armed with only an A.S. from a tech school in Phoenix, Grace enrolled at regionally-accredited Cogswell Polytechnical College (www.cogswell.edu) in Sunnyvale, CA, to earn his Bachelor of Science degree. Despite his previous vocation, Grace majored in the Digital Audio Technology program, where he specialized in Game Audio Production.

"I already felt confident in my programming skills, so I wanted to challenge myself and study something that I have a lot to learn about," says Grace. "Music, an area where art and engineering meet, is a creative skill that I've always dreamed of diving into."

Although a life-long fan of videogame music, Grace had no formal musical training prior to enrolling at Cogswell. While audio was largely new territory for him, his programming history frequently came in handy during the times when engineering was necessary. In the end, Grace graduated with the highest GPA in his department, and was Salutatorian for Cogswell's Class of 2013.

"I came to Cogswell because of the people: the knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructors, and the ambitious and talented students," says Grace. Even with the myriad of assignments completed for classes, Grace's biggest accomplishments came from extracurricular collaboration with fellow students. One of these projects, Wizard Prison, a 16-bit inspired computer game about an evil wizard breaking out of a magical prison, was programmed solely by Grace. Another game, Monocle Man, was a launch title for the OUYA console, and had a 10-track chiptune soundtrack composed by Grace and a few of his friends. 

"When I arrived at Cogswell, my goal was to learn enough for me to be able to work on a game after I graduated. However, by the time I was done at Cogswell, I had already worked on nearly a dozen independent titles."

After Cogswell, Grace went to work for Twistory Entertainment Studios (www.twistory.com) in Santa Monica, CA, where he was a programmer for the mobile games Belle's War and Ouch! Couch. He also collaborated with fellow employee Javier Kadry to write the musical theme for Ouch! Couch. Spending just a couple days in FamiTracker, the duo was able to create a short, catchy, chiptune composition for the game. 

Grace was later promoted to development manager, where he organized priorities and tasks for the entire programming team. He is currently preparing to work on music and sound design for the upcoming title, Pinwheels.

"Twistory gave me the opportunity to channel my expertise in both the programming and audio fields for game development, and that is simply fantastic!"

Kaleb Grace can be reached via email at: 2014@kalebgrace.com.