#actors who are actually their character
the greatest casting ever.
Even better when you think about how Dan got a place for himself in NY to continue his career, Emma went to a school in USA, and Rupert bought a fucking ice cream truck.
Follow your dreams Rupert
I didn’t know this. So I looked it up and - HE ACTUALLY DID.
‘I keep my van well stocked. It’s got a proper machine that dispenses Mr Whippy ice cream and I buy my lollies wholesale – 50 for a tenner – so I never run short.
I’m not allowed to sell my merchandise. I’d need a licence for that. ‘I tend to avoid July and August, but the rest of the year I’ll drive around the local villages and if I see some kids looking like they’re in need of ice creams, I’ll pull over and dish them out for free. They’ll say, “Ain’t you Ron Weasley?” And I’ll say, “It’s strange, I get asked that a lot.”
It makes it even better that he just GIVES the icecream away. [Source]
As promised, here is the second part of the interview with my 2 undergraduate game design friends Ryan Anderson and Julian Noble. Last week we learned what their favorite games where and why, what they like about their internship at the indie game company Chronic Logic, and their hops and fears with entering the game industry in a few years.
Press Start (PS): Who do you look up to/aspire to be like in the industry?
Julian: Todd Howard is a pretty cool guy, I like him. I think he has been working on the last three Elder Scrolls games and those were the best and they have just been progressively getting better.
Ryan: I’m personally really inspired by Notch (Markus Alexej Persson), the creator from Minecraft. Mostly, just because I really like the idea that it was just some side project he had, that he made himself, and its what allowed him to make his own company and start doing all the games that he has always wanted to make. He’s also completely and wonderfully insane.
Julian: Its kind of a weird game too, because until recently he didn’t really have any game goals, you know? Its just like, “go mining for things”, “when do you win?” “You don’t, you just keep mining for things.” [laughs]
Ryan: It gave me a lot of hope for the industry moving in a much more innovative direction. Because it shows that things like that can actually make a lot of money even though he pretty much gave away the game for free . I feel that shows the industry can still thrive even with piracy. Its just all about customer service and making your game available. I also like his outlook on the industry.
PS: What is game you want to make?
Julian: A game that I want to make…? I want to make a fantasy game. Or a survival horror kind of thing, I think those are done pretty poorly most of the time, when it doesn’t seem that hard to make something really interesting. Like a really interesting world that’s not your everyday survival horror world.
Ryan: I also would really like to make a survival horror game, just because its purely about the experience and you’re trying to make the player feel something. And its interesting, because you are trying to make the player feel something they don’t normally feel in games, which is vulnerable. You’re not afraid of the monster, no matter how disgusting it is, if its easy to kill. The scariest moments in survival horror games, I feel, are when you have no weapon or you are almost out of ammo and you are about to die, if anything shows up you are just going to die immediately, because they are just too strong for you. But nothing happens! You are just walking down the hallways freaking out over every tiny movement, because you think something is going to get you, things like that.
Ryan: Oh God, Amnesia…
Julian: They did that like perfectly.
Ryan: That was probably one of the better survival horror games I’ve seen recently, just because you have no way to fight the monsters. So even though it (the monster) looks kind of dorky, its so frightening! Even when you’re just watching someone else play…
Julian: You feel actual fear when you see it, whereas like, maybe the monster wasn’t as scary as a lot of monsters in other games, design-wise, but within the context of “you-can’t-fight-it-back” and you don’t know when its going to show up, made it the scariest monster in any game pretty much.
Ryan: Survival horror when done right. Its not scary because of the graphics or the art or the sound. Its scary because of the game design and the experience it makes you feel. For example, Dead Space is terrifying at the start because of quality design and absolutely stunning command of atmospheric sounds. However it becomes much less scary when you can just hack your way through hordes of enemies towards the end. At least while I was playing it there’s a definite shift from survival horror to 3rd person action shooter midway through the game.
PS: What are your guys’ views on Tim Schafer’s success on KickStarter?
Ryan: I actually really liked that a lot of the smaller companies are turning to KickStarter, because it allows them to be able to go for those ambitious projects without having to risk losing their shirt if it fails. And they can actually be supported by their fans who want them to make higher quality, but still innovative games. I feel like a lot of companies that can fund themselves for projects like that don’t want to take that risk because there is just so much on the line when you are developing a game.
Julian: That’s why there are so many sequel games coming out. They don’t want to go out there throwing money at a new title, I think its because games are so expensive to buy now, people don’t want to chance buying a bad game. So people tend to buy sequels more often, because they know its probably going to be an improvement from the last game that they loved.
PS: Are you guys getting tired of the sequels that just keep coming out?
Julian: A little bit.
Julian: It also depends on the series. Some series change it up every time significantly, but some series like Modern Warfare don’t change at all with each title. I’m pretty sick of that.
Ryan: I miss shooters being ridiculous. I sort of miss the crazy guns…
Julian: Like what Duke Nukem tried to do.
Ryan: Duke Nukem failed miserably when they did that, just because they focused so much on the rudeness of the main character. The Halo series sort of has it, but I don’t feel that it’s fully committed. But yeah, zany guns in shooters, that’s what its all about for me. The realism, there’s too much of it these days in my opinion.
PS: Wrapping up with the last 2 questions; where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Julian: Bethesda. Well I mean it depends on the job, I don’t want to be modeling barrels all day. There’s probably like 80, 80…
Ryan: 80 modellers trying to make every single barrel. At the same time. [laughs]
Julian: Like somewhere middle in Blizzard. Like I don’t know, I don’t want to be doing all the…
Ryan: You could be doing all the gameplay programming for the barrels. [laughs]
Julian: Oh, that sounds great. [laughs] They (Bethesda) haven’t changed their game towards multiplayer, which is what most franchises have done now, just because there is such a market for multiplayer games, but they haven’t moved because they just make the game they want to make. What I like about Blizzard is that they take their time and they finish a game and its like perfect when they finish it. It takes forever and its frustrating as a fan, but they do a great job with their games too. And they release sequels, and it takes them forever to release the sequel, but the sequel is really different and a welcome addition.
Ryan: Pretty much any company where I’ll get to have a good say in the project and actually be directly involved. Just because its a really exciting industry that I am really looking forward to being apart of.
PS: Is there anything you guys are worried about when entering the industry?
Julian: Well I originally had just considered being a concept artist, but that’s like the dream job for every artist going into the field. Because all you do is draw pictures and someone else does all the work of putting it into the game and making the models. I’m a little worried, because I don’t really have an art portfolio to present right now and there is a huge demand for artist positions in the field.
Ryan: I don’t know. I’m just mostly worried about what position I’d get involved in and what companies, because I gotta eat, but it would not be very enjoyable to be stuck with a job that wasn’t something that I was meant to do. So I’m worried about being stuck in a painful, code-monkey position where I don’t get any creative output on a project and stuff like that. But I don’t think I’ll end up in a job like that, because that would be too soul crushing and I’d just go crazy.
PS: Do you have any advice others trying to make their way in the industry?
Julian: I know when we were applying to our internship they really liked that we had made a game in that 80k class, so I definitely recommend making a little game, just something.
Ryan: I say just get out there and do it. You don’t need to be making giant AAA games to be appreciated. Just get a really simple idea, make a bunch of really small, tiny games that are just fun and get involved. Make friends with different artists, stuff like that. Its a lot of fun and there are a lot of programs that you don’t even need to be that good at programming to use well. There is GameMaker. (Julian: Stagecast Creator) Stagecast Creator if you want to go really low level. (Julian: Chess or something) Using Flash, you can look up tutorials for different languages and sooner or later you’ll have a bunch of enjoyable games and that’s how you get into the industry. They want to see what you can actually do.
Thanks for the entertaining and informative interview Ryan and Julian. I look forward to playing your game when it is released and I wish you both lots of luck when you start hunting for a job in this exciting and innovative industry.
In this two part installment of Industry Insider, I sat down with two of my good friends who are currently studying game design at an undergraduate level at UC Santa Cruz and both of whom currently intern at the indie game company Chronic Logic.
Press Start (PS): What are your favorite games and why?
Julian: I think Ryan probably has the best answer for this question so we will start there. [laughs]
Ryan: Ok, thank you Julian. My favorite games are ones that really try to provide the player with a certain experience. They are much more about story telling and everything, such as Half Life 2, BioShock, Shadow of the Colossus, Fallout 3. All those games were all about the story and having the player’s experience that story in a very innovative way.
Julian: Good point, some good points Ryan. [laughs] But I like games that excel at everything. No wait, no no. I like games that are exceptional in one regard or another. So if they have really fun gameplay, but like a completely crappy story, I can overlook that. And so basically I just like games that are fun, but if the gameplay isn’t terribly fun but it has really good story I’ll also overlook the bad gameplay. So like, I don’t know, Final Fantasy VII, I like the story a lot, I like the characters, but I didn’t really think the gameplay was very fun, but I would still be able to play it. And then games like Ninja Gaiden 2 I had so much fun with, but the story was like the worst story I’ve ever encountered in a game probably, because I think they built the story upon their boss battles that they designed. (Ryan: “Fiends are EVERYWHERE!” - Ryu Hayabusa) The dialogue was subpar, but it was fun and so I like games like that. Although my favorite games are games that do everything well obviously, so I think Skyrim and Braid and Portal, good stories and good gameplay. I don’t like racing games though, they’re alright. Sports games are awful.
PS: What made you guys passionate about game design?
Ryan: The things that I appreciate in games are what really drew me to that, uh, sort of field. I really enjoy telling stories and I see games as a way to express that story in a really interesting way. Because with a book, you’re directly telling someone a story as they are reading it. With films you are showing it to them, whereas when you make a game experience for someone you are having them actually experience the story you are trying to tell.
Julian: Yeah, I think for just about the same reasons. It’s like a movie tells a story, but if the story is bad you can’t really overlook that because then it’s just a bad movie. But a game with a bad story can still be fun. It’s just much more flexible than movies or even books, especially books, books aren’t that fun.
Ryan: Yeah, who likes books? Forget reading… [jokingly]
Julian: I don’t like books, that’s for sure. [not sarcastic]
Ryan: Put him on the record for that.
PS: What do you guys like best about your internship at Chronic Logic?
Julian: What I like best is that we actually get a say in the finalization of the game. The guys who are running it, you know they have a plan, but our input is really valuable to them, obviously, because we get to change a lot that’s in the game. And I don’t feel like I can’t speak out about something. If I think something is a bad idea, I don’t feel uncomfortable saying that.
Ryan: Much of the same in that regard and I also just really enjoy being a part of every aspect of the project they are currently working on. Which is really nice. I’ve worked on everything from the editor design to making the Net code work for multiplayer online gaming, all that stuff. It’s very rewarding and I feel like I’ve learned a lot more through this than I have through just classes alone.
Julian: Its also the ideal way to get experience in game design, because it’s a small game design group you get to kind of dip your fingers into all the different roles, or batches of pudding, I don’t really know what I’m saying, but you get it.
PS: Going off of that; what do you find most frustrating about working there?
Julian: Well I don’t like not getting paid. But I think getting into the industry will solve that in its own magical little way. [Both laugh]
Ryan: Yeah, the fact that our internship isn’t paid does kind of suck. But at the same time, if anything aside from the fact that it was an internship and not a high paying job, it does kind of grate on you to be working on the same project for such a long period of time and everything. But even that is not too big of a deal, because it is cool watching that project develop from the point at which you joined it.
PS: What comes to mind about the game design process?
Julian: It can be pretty frustrating when you are bug fixing or you’re implementing some new code and its just not working like you want it to, but all that is made up by the fact that it is extremely rewarding when it does work. (Ryan: Yeah). Sometimes the process can be frustrating, but it ends up paying off pretty well.
PS: So what does each of you specifically do there?
Ryan: I mostly do programming for a project they have that is intended for the Xbox Live Indie marketplace as well as a PC release.
Julian: Mostly I’ve been working on this game that’s already out called Zatikon, its kind of been a work in progress so I went in and did some new game play changes, like some power up type thing and a new chat system, bug fixing. I did a lot of new art for some of the units that had art that didn’t really fit in well with the rest of the game and lately I’ve been working on the same game as Ryan, doing some texture stuff, some art stuff.
PS: What do you guys hope to do when you get into the industry? What is your ideal job?
Ryan: My dream job is probably like a head game designer position where I would be more of the director, if you are thinking about it like a movie, I have the vision for the game and I figure out what needs to happen in order for that to happen, then I pass different tasks off to other members of the team.
Julian: I would be willing to do everything but like the nitty-gritty programming. I don’t want to do network code, I could do some user interface code, some stuff like that. But I would like to do animating, 3D modeling, concept art, even sound editing would be pretty cool. I guess my dream job is also be a lead game designer.
PS: What has been your most inspiring moment through out your studies, or your internship, or just playing games in general?
Ryan: Well the thing that got me into game design initially was when I was really little, probably around 7 or 8, I was really into computers and games in general and I was also extremely creative (weird) and my parents really supported that and ended up buying me this really low-end sort of like, “my first programming experience” software called Stagecast Creator. Just playing around with that when I was a little kid and getting to make games using that, even though you couldn’t really do too much with it, it was super low-end, but it was still like something that I understood at the time and I just really enjoyed having other people play the little games I made for them and actually enjoy them. So yeah, there’s my childhood in a nutshell.
Julian: Growing up I played with Legos when I was young and my favorite games have always been games with user made content. I couldn’t always finish things, like in Warcraft 3 there was the world editor and I’d start a million different games that I would never get to the nitty-gritty details of finishing it and actually getting all the spawning points right. But I really like user made content in games and it’s probably what got me into it.
Ryan: It’s the God-complex.
Julian: I’m a control freak. [Both laugh].
PS: What has been your favorite class that you have taken in your studies and why?
Ryan: 80k. 80k was definitely really, really great. I’m currently in a game AI class that I also really, really enjoy. The 80k class at UCSC, it was the sort of entry level classes for the game design major, so rather than focusing on all the high-end programming, we used GameMaker. It’s just super simple and there is already a game engine setup in it and everything. We used that over the course of 3 months to make a game that was entered into a contest and judged by people in the industry. The whole focus of the class, because it wasn’t programming oriented, it was all focused on what is good design, what are you looking for when studying games, why are games made, what makes them fun and enjoyable, and I feel like I learned a lot as a designer from that class.
Julian: It was a lot better as a starting course than just a programming class, because in a programming class they are kind of just geared towards computer science majors and not really game design majors so its all about like search functions and efficient ways of sorting data, its not exactly game design. It helps, definitely, but kind of at its core its not really an overview of game design. So that (80k) was a really good class.
PS: Can you tell me anything about the game you are working on at your internship?
Ryan: I’ll just say its coming out for the Xbox Indie Arcade and it involves combat and rock climbing. That’s about all I feel comfortable leaking.
Check back next Friday for the second half of the interview!
After a brief introduction and a lengthy hiatus, I am pleased to be able to continue the industry Insider column I started several weeks ago. Normally this column runs on Fridays, but since there has been such a delay I am going to post a little teaser now. Below is an excerpt from the full interview, the rest will be posted on Friday, so check back then!
I was able to sit down with Ken Hullett, a graduate student about to finish his educational career in UC Santa Cruz’s game design program.
Me: What was your favorite game when you were young, like what got you into being a gamer?
Ken: Probably Civ 2 [Civilization 2] was the first game that I really played a lot. When I was young, there weren’t a lot of game companies around. So a lot of the games I played were these little downloaded games you get off of bulletin boards or what have you. But Civ is one of the first big commercial games that I played. It really got me inspired about gaming.
Me: What got you into game design specifically then?
Ken: I was definitely interested in game design and did make some small games as a kid and did stuff like play D&D. I was a Dungeon Master designing D&D campaigns. Though I never really thought about game design as a career until I had a friend who got a job as a programmer at a game company and they were looking for testers, so I wound up being a tester at that company. It was a small start up. And then after being a tester there for a while they asked me if I wanted to do some level design on a game. So that was the first time that I really realized that people actually got paid to do game design.
Me: I saw you have an extensive list of games that you have worked on, I saw MechWarrior a lot, which by the way I love, I grew up on that game.
Ken: I do remember that game.
Me: So then what was your favorite game to work on and why?
Ken: Uh, yeah, I don’t know. They’re all good. MechWarrior 2, maybe, for various reasons. It was the first big title that I had worked on, I had worked on smaller games before. And because of its history as vaporware, there was certainly a lot of pressure and there was very much a camaraderie and a team attitude among the people building the game. We had a short time to finish it and it was a large team, so there definitely was this sense of common purpose. We knew we were making a cool game. It was more successful than we had hoped. Certainly at the time we knew it was going to be a good game, but other games I’ve worked on it was like, “aw, well you know, maybe it’s not the best game, but you have to make it anyways.” But that was the game that we knew would be successful and I worked with great people on it, so that was probably my favorite game to work on.
Check back Friday for the full interview!
Here is a link to an interview I transcribed for one of my bosses at Official Xbox Magazine. Check it out! I particularly liked the part where Inafune-san talks about the differences between Japanese and Western game developers and why some Japanese aren’t as interested in FPS games.
What I found funny about transcribing this interview was that it took no time at all. It was a 40 minute interview session, which would normally take about 4 hours to transcribe when both parties speak English, but this one took an hour and a half. Since Inafune-san is Japanese, he requires a translator to listen to the interviewer’s question, translate the question into Japanese for him, listen to his answer while taking notes so they don’t forget any of what he is saying, then regurgitate that answer back in the best English possible. From listening to the interview and hearing the answers Inafune-san gave in Japanese followed by what the translator said in English, I can tell a lot gets lost in translation due to the large time difference in how long Inafune-san spoke in Japanese and how long the translator spoke in English. This is nobody’s fault per se, but it cries out for a better method of doing cross-cultural interviews.
Also, have you ever thought about the amount of trust that there has to be in a relationship that requires translation? So much! If you were the non-native speaker, you have to trust that the other person is saying exactly, or as close to exactly, what you are saying. There is so much room for error and since you don’t speak both languages you never know if what you are saying is coming across at all like you want. It’s scary when you think about it, you pretty much give up your voice to the will of others. Not to say that I think translators are bad at their jobs or are malicious in anyway, but that possibility is always there and would make me nervous if I had to communicate through someone else, especially because I think I’am very good at conveying my own thoughts and I have my share of OCD.
I really wonder how much of what Inafune-san said was accidentally left out or didn’t translate well between the 2 languages. Both those factors could severely change what he said.
I think Japanese is a beautiful language. With lots of hard sounds mingled with others that flow in an almost poetic fashion. I find transcribing the Japanese interviews at work a lot more enjoyable than transcribing any English speaking people, because the language is so interesting to listen to and most of the interview is translation, so there isn’t as much work.