Interview: Part 2
This question is from Aaron Patel. "How did you get your position as Lead Designer / Project Director? As someone who isnt too interested in game development, always cool to hear a bit of a career success story in a skill based industry". From My understanding you started as a Web Designer for Interplay?
I got the job and wound up being the webmaster for Planescape: Torment and eventually Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights. I worked closely with the development team on Torment and when a position opened on the Icewind Dale design team, Feargus gave me a shot as a part-time junior designer. So in my case, I found a side-door into development via marketing/web.
This question is from Micah Beaumont. "What are some of the specific things (such as Movies, Artists, Books, Games) that greatly influence you?"
I take a lot of inspiration from history. History books contain some of the most interesting characters and conflicts I've ever seen. I like the histories of "great men" (and women, like Joan of Arc and Lucrezia Borgia), but I'm really fascinated by the lives of ordinary, less well-known people put in difficult or unusual circumstances. In particular, figures like Martin Guerre, Domenico Scandella (aka Menocchio), Matteo Ricci, and Hans BÃ¶hm are really inspiring to me. St. Waidwen in Project Eternity is based on legends of Hans BÃ¶hm, aka the Drummer of Niklashausen.
Along the same lines, I like history and historical fiction, both in films and books. I really enjoy the historically-focused works of Umberto Eco, especially The Name of the Rose and Baudolino. Lawrence of Arabia and Roland JoffÃ©'s The Mission are both favorite films of mine and were inspirations for the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts.
I love the art of Pre-Raphaelite painters (most notably, John Everett Millais) and late 19th century Academic painters like William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and Jean-LÃ©on GÃ©rÃ´me. I also really enjoy Art Nouveau work, especially from Alfons Maria Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Steinlen, Aubrey Beardsley, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Outside of specific movements, the art of Albrecht DÃ¼rer, Ilya Repin, Maxfield Parrish, Egon Schiele, Arthur Rackham, John Singer Sargent, Howard Pyle, and Andrew Wyeth are all inspiring to me.
What is your favourite feature or rule from each edition of D&D (2E/3E/4E specifically) ?
In 2nd Edition, I loved the sheer number of spells available. I'm looking at a stack of 2nd Ed. reference books right now, fondly remembering my 9th level cleric's list of ~300 spells she could select from. In 3E, I loved how much flexibility I had to build a variety of characters, including gimmick characters like a fighter/rogue specialized in sneak-attack shooting people with quick-drawn pistols at the start of every encounter. In 4E, I like how important tactical considerations like positioning and movement are. I also like that each class feels like it has clear value.
Is there any music that you find helps you brainstorm ideas for a project like this ?
Ideas don't come quickly to me, to be honest, and high-intensity brainstorming often feels counterproductive for me, personally. But when I'm writing, I listen to a variety of instrumental music, often Amon Tobin, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
, or the Valhalla Rising soundtrack.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I've seen you in a cycling jersey for instance.
I do a fair amount of road cycling and I just got into cyclocross. I also try to spend time reading about current events, history, and just... stuff.
For anyone in Australia interested in travelling to Los Angeles or California, is there any places in particular you recommend visiting ? (restaurants, shops, wilderness etc)
There's a lot of stuff to see in California. In Los Angeles, I would visit Griffith Park, the Getty Center, Venice Beach, and the Santa Monica Pier. In California in general, I would try to see Yosemite (which can be difficult, depending on the time of year); the central coast up Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Big Sur; Los Angeles; and San Francisco.