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Posted by Brother None

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

    I grew up in Southern California. I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in ’93 (thinking I was gonna be a graphic artist). Soon after graduation, I answered an ad in the newspaper from Sega in Diamond Bar. They were looking for artists, so I put together packages of images and other work from school, since I was very into package design. Then, I just waited outside the door at Sega ‘till someone went in and I just went in after ‘em and told the secretary I was applying for the art position! They called me for an interview like a week later. Apparently, they thought I went to Art Center, but I didn’t, sooo they didn’t want me. Jerks! They liked that I had lots of computer experience, kind of rare then, but since I didn’t go to Art Center, they didn’t want me. Turns out Leonard Boyarsky interviewed there too. He had no computer experience, but actually went to Art Center. Well, turns out they didn’t want him either! Pretty funny, I didn’t know Leon then and we didn’t know this ‘till years later!

    Anyway, that sparked my interest in a field I had always dreamed about, video games! I took the first job I could, a small developed called Ringler Studios in Costa Mesa California. Worst place in the world to work, but I learned a ton! Worked on Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and Atari Jaguar games. Two years later, Rob Nesler hired me at Interplay. They were just starting a new game they were calling GURPS, and you know the rest of the story! Leon, Jason and I hit it off right away. We all liked the same style of art, so it was easy getting things off the ground. I was a lead artist on Fallout 1, making backgrounds and wall sets mostly. Then when the threesome left to form Troika, I became art director for Fallout 2. After that shipped, I also worked on some backgrounds for Planescape Torment. Altogether, I worked at Interplay for about 4 years. Currently, I’m the Lead Environment Artist on World of Warcraft at Blizzard. I’ve been helping to create the exterior environments in WOW for the past 10 years! And it’s still the best job ever!

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

    I’ve always loved first person shooters! Left for Dead was amazing! Back in the Interplay days, we played Duke Nukem ‘till we couldn’t stay awake! I also love WOW! It’s as fun to work on, as it is to play!

  3. What hobbies do you have besides computer games?

    For a few years now, I’ve been doing amateur stand-up comedy! It’s a rush to get up in front of people and make ‘em laugh! I started to get out of the business, until an old comedy buddy, Dat Phan, contacted me. He hit it big when he won the first ‘Last Comic Standing’ on NBC. So whenever he’s in town on tour, he forces me to open for him at comedy clubs around southern California! It’s fun, and I’m always surprised he keeps asking me back!

  4. What are your favourite bands/artists?

    During my Fallout days it was pretty much White Zombie and Metallica 24/7. But I truly enjoy ALL kinds of music. I know people say that a lot, but it’s really true with me. I like metal, jazz, American folk, bluegrass, gospel, Hawaiian folk, classical, opera, Irish folk, club… A while back, I got strange looks for buying Mozart, ACDC and Paul Simon! Ya gotta be open to everything.

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

    On Fallout 1, my main job was making ground tiles and wall sets, plus any other props needed to fill out the zones and maps. At first the team was just rendering props out from Lightwave and throwing ‘em in the game. I had never used Lightwave, so I wasn’t that good at texturing. So I would render out walls and other props and then painted on ‘em in Painter (like Photoshop, only better)! I would add more details like scratches and paint-chips, shading and color. That really worked out well, soon we were all doing that. I really loved making all those wall sets and doors and crap!

    On Fallout 2 I found myself in the art director role, so I ended up doing a little bit of everything! Leon and Jason were gone, and I was the only one on the team left that actually knew how to do most of the work! Believe me, I’m not bragging here, I became art director because Leon and Jason did so much art, and I had worked so close with them on all the art assets. We only had about a year to do as much as we could. So I wanted Fallout 2 to feel familiar, but improved and new. I redid the interface, helped add more features and basically tried to improve how we made the zones. I did most of the intro cinematic at home, and Chad Moore and Michael McCarthy from Rock and Roll Racing made other cinematics. I grabbed anyone I could from other Black Isle projects to help finish this game. I even got 7 art interns and a couple contract artists to help make inventory items and wall sets.

  6. What's your favourite Fallout memory?

    The power armor helmet on the box of Fallout 2. Scott Rodenhizer got to design the box cover helmet. And he was very…’adamant’, about making a better power armor head then Leon! First off, Scott is an amazingly creative modeler, and his redesign of the helmet was astounding! But for a while, it remained uncolored and untextured. He kept adding and editing things, and just never got around to coloring it. I took a render of the helmet and just started painting over it. I had some ideas for color, and wanted to try ‘em out. I added some gold eyes, some rust and put in a foggy dark blue atmosphere with shadows falling over the helmet and shoulders. I showed it to Scott and said ‘what do ya think of these colors for the box cover?’ He looked at it, sat down, stood up, covered his hand over his mouth…he must have looked at it for 5 minutes without saying a word! Scotty was a tough little nut, and he was…let’s say, a tricky artist to work with. But we both knew something…that colored helmet looked f***ing hot! And I know, it took every part of his being to admit, that what I had done, looked pretty good. Hilarious!

    I will never forget that. I was mostly just proud that I could actually do something that Scott, reluctantly, actually liked!

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

    It was a great team! I really learned a lot with these guys, especially from Jason! He was a great teacher, and seemed to be able to trouble shoot almost any problem. I think the best part about this team, was that everyone really brought something unique to the table. We all had our ‘specialties’ and everybody seemed to mesh well.

    It also felt kind a secretive. It seemed that the rest of Interplay didn’t really know what we were doing. I always got the feeling that Tim was protecting us from Interplay. It felt like we could do whatever we wanted!

  8. Were there things that you wished you had added to either of the Fallouts?

    I actually think about this a lot. Just knowing what I know now, I wish I could redo all of the backgrounds. I think we could have been much more creative with the walls, tiles and buildings. I guess artists will always want to go back and improve their work!

  9. What were you favourite places in Fallout and why?

    The cliffs in Arroyo, is that right? Where you start in Fallout 2. It was really fun trying to give the game some real height and depth! We had never done anything like that in Fallout 1. We kept trying to do it more, like in the Enclave. It was always a challenge though.

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

    One thing we could have done better with Fallout 1 and 2, was really convey the ‘50’s sci-fi look. The movie ‘Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow’ really did it right visually! So I had high hopes for Fallout 3. And I was hoping Bethesda would really push the art style! But, to me, it ended up looking like any other shooter game. And that’s a shame, ‘cause the best thing ‘bout Fallout, for an artist, is its genre. It has such visual potential! But, yeah, I would have loved to be on the Fallout 3 team!

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

    That’s easy, fun! Games can add all the cool bells and whistles ya want, but if it isn’t fun to play, its crap. All good games have that in common. The developers, most likely, were just making the game they would like to play. And that’s what we did with Fallout and World of Warcraft.

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

    I don’t think fans really hinder projects. Fans are fans because they love the game you’re working on, and they just want to help make it better. Sometimes fans suggest things that are outrageous or silly, but you can’t just dismiss it. I try and entertain at least some aspect of player suggestions, no matter how crazy!

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

    That was a little difficult sometimes. Making games is sort of like playing ‘em. You have a set of constraints and parameters that you have to work in. That’s where you have to be really creative to get what you want. Because all game art has to tell a story. For example, we wanted to make the buildings appear to taller than they were. But you could only go one hex high. So we ended up faking the second floors with ground tiles, kind of on a second layer. It’s basically a ground texture placed near the top of a roof. It just appears to be on top. We did the same thing with cliffs and anything else we wanted to add depth or height to.

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

    I really enjoy the Fallout universe. It would make a great MMO!

  15. Any last word to the Fallout fan base?

    Thanks for all the long term support of Fallout! When we first shipped, we weren’t sure if anybody would appreciate or understand what we were trying to do. It amazes me that after all these years, people still love the game. I’m very proud of Fallout. It was a fun game to make and a great team to work with!