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Posted by Brother None

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, what have you accomplished in life?

    Hmmm, well as it pertains to my career in art and games, I'm very happy to have been able to continue to make a steady living doing what I love, which is creating art, as well as continuing to evolve artstically too. I never thought I'd be creating character art for games when I moved to California to go to Otis Parsons art college as an illustration major. My original dream was freelancing comics, book covers etc, possibly film work down the road, like at ILM or something. But back in 1992, games offered steady work, (which is really important to the "starving artist") and the chance to grow/learn the latest computer graphic technologies which were totally new at that time. I'm happy to say that I was able to constantly adapt to various software and pipelines per project, ranging from 2D/2D sprite animation, to 3D/3D sprite animation, to real-time 3D/3D animation, facial animation, cinematics, motion capture, etc. in a nutshell. It was cool eventualy becoming a lead and all that, but if I were to really write about what I'm happy to have finally accomplished, it's getting hired at Blizzard on the World of Warcraft character team. I grew up reading lots of various fantasy books/comics so that's my favorite type of art to work on too and WoW totally satisfies that for me. It's SO great there as an artist, that now all I care about anymore is artistic growth. I work with so many super talented artists there, that it seems like that artistic growth will never end, no matter what skill level I reach. I'm happy I learned to animate, but I'm hoping to forever retire from that and just concentrate on the actual creation process for the rest of my career. It's a lot more artistically rewarding and ironic that I've just about gone full circle back to my 2D roots.

  2. What are your favorite computer games/board games and why?

    Man, we had a ton of late night (and sometimes all night) frag fests playing everything from Doom, Heretic, Duke Nukem, Quake, Warcraft I, II. Duke Nukem was probably my all time favorite, with quake a close 2nd when it comes to 1st person shooters. We also played a lot of streetfighter, racing games, and RPGs. My brother and I grew up playing all the Zelda games and I'd have to say those are my all time favorite RPGs. Great gameplay. Being married with 2 kids now doesn't leave me much time for games anymore, but I still play WoW now and then (beyond our internal builds) and will defenitely play the latest Zelda and probably check out the Age Of Conan MMO when it comes out, because I'm a huge Conan the Barbarian fan. If I do get any freetime these days, I'm usually trying to do personal art instead... I know, but there's only so much time in the day!

  3. What hobbies do you have besides computer games?

    Drawing and painting, reading comics, playing basketball/guitar, and the occasional camping/snowboarding trip are about the only things I do anymore besides spend time with my wife and 2 kids. I just got a new KTM 950 SuperMoto that I love and ride everyday, but I haven't gone offroading in quite a while now. When I was in my 20s, I had a ton of hobbies. Let's see, Tai Chi Ba Gua Kung Fu was the 1 thing that I spent the most time doing outside of work. I snowboarded a lot, rode dirt bikes and even raced ysr's for a little while, went offroading/camping a lot, scuba diving, and just generally exploring California. I used to read a lot of books/comics, play various video games, raquetball, work out a lot too... I'm hoping to bring some of that back when my kids get older, defenitely the kung fu! Just before we had the kids I really got into building/painting resin model figure kits too.

  4. What are your favorite bands/artists (music)?

    These days, I'd say the music industry has taken a big steamy dump. Tool's the only band still making great music. I'm sure there's probably a lot of other great bands out there, but there aren't really any good outlets for em to the public. I'm basically a metal head so I still like the old Metallica, Alice in Chains, Zeppelin, ACDC, Ozzy, White Zombie, Iron Maiden, etc. But I also like a lot of other stuff too like movie soundtracks/scores, flamenco (like Strunz and Farah), blues (Stevie Ray Vaughn), and some rap (Beastie Boys) too. When I worked on Fallout 1 and 2, Scott Rodenheizer and I were officemates and we listened to a lot of angry techno like Crystal Method, Prodigy, and FatBoySlim working all nighters. Sting and Sheryl Crow are cool too, but I don't know... I think I burned out on everything and now I just listen to Howard Stern all the time, because his show is so damn funny.

  5. Tell us a little about your role in the making of Fallout 1/2/3 (Van Buren)/Tactics ?

    I came onto Fallout in it's last year of development along with Scott Rodenheizer to help out with the close up 3D rendered heads. I'd just finished working on the TSR logo cinematic for the Dungeons and Dragons title, which was rendered/composited in Lightwave, and what the heads were being created with for Fallout also, so I guess that helped get me onboard. We both completed the existing character heads (scanned from sculptures) and figured out how to create rendered soft edge ray-traced shadows for the lighting with the help of my friend Mike Sherak (aka Lightwave guru). We also created a series of facial phonems as morph targets, so they could be used for lip syncing. I believe we made facial expressions for A, C, E, F, L, M, U, V, and there were 3 states, neutral, angry and happy. For the intro cinematic, I successfully tested an unused lightwave plugin called morph gizmo that worked WAY better than LWs crappy envelope system. I was pretty happy about that, because another team adopted this into their pipeline after I showed them how much better it worked. I remember acting the parts out and recording the movements for rotoscoping purposes and literally staying up all night looking at wave sound files, and writing down where to keyframe all the mouth movements at 15 frames per second. I had never done this before and was happy to have figured out a way to accomplish this with Sound Forge so the audio would sync up with my rendered video. It's SO much easier nowadays... Back then we had to shoot the scene over to our render farm and wait till the next day to see if it worked once composited with the sound. It was actually a lot of fun figuring all that stuff out.

  6. What's your favourite Fallout memory?

    Seeing my Overseer intro cinematic playing at E3 that year on the big screen at the Interplay booth totally stoked me out.

  7. What specifically inspired Fallout for you? What were the biggest influences?

    Like I wrote before, I came on later, but I'd say Mad Max/Road Warrior were most of our influences artistically for this project, which reflected Leonard Boyarski and Jason Anderson's artistic vision.

  8. Pop Culture played a big role in Fallout, what pop culture influences you?

    Again, Mad Max/Road Warrior. Some of the stuff Tramell did was really cool and defenitely influenced by the funny commercials from the 50s/60s with cartoons in em. I'd also say that there was a vibe of the older "vision" of the future, like tomorrowland at Disneyland, with old rocketships. I think it's great that those guys capitalized on that look.

  9. How was it to be a part of the Fallout team?

    Awesome! Next to my current Blizzard team, it was my 2nd favorite team in my whole career over all the other teams I've worked with by a long shot. The guys were SO talented and Leonard was an awesome art director. Between his and Jason's vision and Leonard pushing me for higher and higher quality, it was the bomb. I think those were some of my favorite times of my career. Working alongside Scott was great too, man he's so talented and totally fun to work with. I think we spent most of the day laughing about the funniest stuff while we were making all this cutting edge (at that time) kickass character art. I was really bummed when Leonard and Jason left to form Troika (but happy for em too). I'll never forget the awesome painting that Justin Sweet made of that old Fallout comic book cover, totally inspiring. Tramell was always coming by and cracking jokes, I mean the atmosphere was just awesome. It's hard to describe, but with the imminent deadlines and late nights, we all had a blast and pushed our art to a pretty high level, really cool and rare to have that kind of team comradery.

  10. Were there things that you wished you had added to either Fallouts?

    Not really, but I will say that I would have liked to have worked on some of the F2 heads and also the cinematics. I had gone over to Torment after Fallout shipped and setup the animation pipeline, so when I was moved back to F2, they mostly needed 3D rendered sprite animations. The heads are a lot more fun and Scott's work had evolved to an inspiring level also that I wanted to jump in on. I left interplay before the project finished to contract for Dreamworks, so I didn't get to work on any of the F2 cinematics either. Gary Platner even called to offer me the cinematics as contract work, but I was so busy contracting, I just didn't have the time unfortunately, even though I was totally waiting to work on those sequences.

  11. What were you favourite places in fallout and why?

    The opening cinematic was my favorite, as well as other cinematic sequences. I unfortunately didn't get to test the game much and moved right onto Planescape, so I honestly couldn't tell you. Plus, and this is gonna sound really bad, I'm not much of a turn based gamer... I just had a blast making character art for it.

  12. What is your hope for future Fallout games? Would you like to be a part of a future Fo team?

    The latest Fallout game has a nice look to it, but I've only seen screenshots so far. I'd say carrying on with the spirit/style of the original F1 game. As to me being part of a future Fallout team, no, only because I'm totally happy at Blizzard and could picture myself retiring there if I get that lucky.

  13. Who would you bring with you in a future Fallout team and why?

    I'd totally work under Leonard and Jason again (except that Leonard and I are both at Blizzard now and have no plans to ever leave). And DEFENITELY Scott Rodenheizer, but I seriously doubt he'll ever make the jump back to games again, just because of the hours and stuff. He's got his own gig going now anways.

  14. In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that every RPG should have?

    Great gameplay design (and story) in addition to high quality art. Easy to play, but progresively getting more difficult, while continually introducing new elements/quests and having the character evolve too (with various better gear) in addition to the ever changing gameplay mechanics with big payoffs as each end boss is killed. I really hate when a game gets repetitive like so many hack and slash games out there. I hold the Zelda's in the highest regards on the gameplay level as a great example of excellent game design. Interacting with the level is key too for a more interesting game experience.

  15. Where do you see computer RPGs going?

    More and more MMO RPGs, with normal maps.

  16. How does the fan base hinder/help the projects that you've worked on?

    Having a fan base TOTALLY helps development push the envelope. Working on WoW is proof of that, we're all about making great stuff because we know there's SO many fans out there. It's really great to have art seen, recognized, and appreciated that we poured our hearts into. On Fallout though, it's funny, there wasn't a fan base yet and it was more the great art direction/vision that drove the project to a level that eventually attracted all the fans.

  17. When planning the story how do you go through the process of integrating themes and story with the constraints on software?

    Story's not my area, but I can say that it's always best to have a proper pre-production cycle to really test everything before production forges ahead. Without naming any particluar projects/teams, I can defenitely say that it totally sucked to work on titles that were either marketing driven, or just because a company had to start immediately on a contract in order to get paid without a solid plan on multiple fronts. Art style, design, technical knowledge. Too many studios don't have the right philosophy/balance of those elements in my opinion and nothing sucks worse than rework except shipping a crappy title with your name in the credits.

  18. If you could make any computer game that you wanted, which would it be and why?

    A Conan the Barbarian RPG because I'm a huge fan! Also a Dragonlance RPG because I love that universe too. I think the Death Dealer could make for an awesome game to work on if someone could figure out how to make the game fun but still mesh with the story, he is the death dealer after all and practically invincible.

  19. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    Hopefully still at Blizzard as some crazy fast uber talented character artist. And hopefully with a steady freelance illustration side gig or several getting published. That's always been my goal since before I even came out for art college. Eventually I hope to have a decent body of artwork published that would help me get into an art teaching gig way down the road if I ever get sick of production art and want to pass on my knowledge to the next wave of artists. I actually really enjoy teaching, it's fun. Who knows??? Whatever the case I hope to still be surrounded by really talented artists that help continue to inspire/push me to keep creating better and better artwork.

  20. Any last word to the Fallout fan base?

    Yea, thanks so much for playing and creating such a great fan base community that keeps what we did so long ago still alive. It's really cool to see how much it's still enjoyed this long afterwards.