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Developing Thoughts

Oh Lucky Man…

I’ve recently had cause to look back over the last eleven years of my life and take stock. Often when you embark on such a reflective journey the gems and turds you discover along the way surprise you. Fortunately for me, my introspection turned up far more gems than turds and for this I consider myself a very lucky individual. For instance, how many people get given their chance on the say-so of a talented comic artist of the calibre of Dave Gibbons? Or to work on a day to day basis with a gaming luminary such as Charles Cecil?

I must admit to bluffing my way through those first few weeks in the job. I knew next to nothing about computers, and less than nothing when it came to creating and editing graphics on one of the damn beasts. But I’ve always been a quick learner and this, along with the support and understanding of other talented individuals in the team, enabled me to pull through. It wasn’t long before the feeling I was going to be rumbled began to recede. From such a humble beginning it’s been an uphill road the whole way, due to the constantly shifting goalposts of the gaming market, but the satisfaction I’ve derived from it has more than kept pace.

One of the most gratifying aspects of my time in development has been the chance to meet and to work with so many talented individuals – programmers, artists, animators, musicians, designers, writers, directors, producers, and testers. People who have made my work much easier. People who have helped catalyse brainstorming sessions to the point where an electric charge fills the air. People who have put in long hours of very hard work in order to add the polish prior to immovable deadlines. People I have a great deal of respect and admiration for.

My eleven years have seen a lot of exciting changes in the way that games are developed and the way they are presented to the player. What was once seen as sophisticated at a screen resolution of 320×200, is now relegated to the realms of the retro section at the back of many gaming magazines. Where once a team of eight completed a game, a top-flight game will now pull in the talents of forty, fifty, sixty or more people. From counting the number of 2D sprites a game would put on screen, we now measure the number of 3D polygons and texture memory a game is able to wring out of state-of-the-art graphics cards.

For me, the most exciting time in game development is still to come, in the area of my own field of expertise – writing and design. Long gone is the time when a superficial story would do and the quality of translations didn’t matter too much. Now we endeavour to tell a story through dynamic dialogue that would be at home in the best Hollywood films and ensure that the translated versions are equally powerful.

With such exciting challenges still ahead of me, is there any wonder I consider myself so lucky?

© Steve Ince, 2004

Steve Ince is an award-nominated Writer-Designer with eleven years experience in the games industry. He has worked on such critically acclaimed titles as the Broken Sword trilogy and Beneath a Steel Sky.
He also creates his own comic strips and his first print collection, Crescent and Claw has just been published.

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