Joining us from down the polished brass fireman's pole that disappears up into the ceiling near the office RenderWombat comes Olivier. Originally turned and shaped upon a colossal gallic talent-lathe of unique design, Olivier's is an industry veteran with 15 years' experience. He started out at Marseille Art School using the state-of-the-art bleeding-cutting-edge killer art app that was Deluxe Paint on the mighty rendering mainframe that was the Amiga. He has since moved on to more advanced solutions involving trained parrots, sandbags and the reverse osmosis process.
Olivier recently worked at Ubisoft Montreal on Myst Revelations, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones and Rainbow Six Vegas. Outside of work, he's a mad keen snowboard addict (his nickname deriving from a particularly stylish manoeuvre). Indeed, one of the main reasons he joined the Splash Damage tribe was to take advantage of the crisp steep snowfields stretching out in every direction from Splash Damage's secluded alpine lair. As long as we provide him with fresh boardwax and anterior cruciate ligaments, he is content.
Things You Were Too Afraid To Ask...
Every once in a while, we interrogate one of our own and put their answers up for all the world to see. Read on to find out more about what Olivier does, how he ended up at Splash Damage, and more.
What do you do at Splash Damage?
Well, I'm the Art Director, and that means I must define the art style of the game and make sure that this style is consistent throughout all visual components. Basically I’ll be harassing the art team until I get what I want... and if I don't I’ll call Joe Pesci!
Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?
I started in a small company in Paris, creating environment scale models made from foam board and plastic straws, everything was shot with a camera and painted over with Deluxe paint on an Amiga 2000 then integrated in the game... that was fun!
What other games have you worked on?
I joined Ubisoft Montreal in 2003, working first as Associate Art Director on Myst Revelation, a PC game using huge pre-rendered environments, and then as Art Director on Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the last chapter of the Sands of Time trilogy, released on PS2, Xbox and GameCube. Then, again as Art Director, I worked on Rainbow Six: Vegas for the Xbox 360. This game was a huge success, sold very well and pretty much put the Rainbow Six franchise back on the map. All three of these games were pretty intense work experiences; I learned a lot there and had the chance to work with very talented people.
Out of all the games you've worked on, which is your favorite and why?
I think it would have to be Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. The setting allowed me to have complete freedom on the artistic choices, the city of Babylon, the new characters, the story, everything was very appealing. We had to create 26 brand new maps, a new playable character, new enemies and bosses, new game modes in a minimum amount of time and all this happened thanks to an amazing team, with some of the most talented concept artists, level artist and character modelers. In 8 months they managed to deliver a game with a really high visual quality. I was pretty happy with the end result and I think we managed to end the trilogy in a very nice way.
Why did you join Splash Damage?
Well, I think I was impressed to see that during my job interview here, none of the Splash Damage guys were using the words: SKU, mainstream, Wow! factor, seamless integration or maximized customer satisfaction... one more: scalability.
These guys know that making a videogame is not a process, it’s a nicely handcrafted piece of work. I hope these words will be banned from our vocabulary for a looong time.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part is having the opportunity to work with talented artists, and watch the worlds you've envisioned being built, evolve, move, and then please the person who's gonna play the game and see these things. The worst part is maybe that sometimes, you can't fully accomplish this...you lack some time or some people. It's done, it’s on the market, everybody can see it and you know it's not really what you've planned...and it's really frustrating!
What was your first gaming experience?
The Vectrex 8 bit console! Amazing! Monochrome screen, with different colored gels that you stuck on the screen depending on what game you were playing... Armor Attack was my favourite game...
What types of games do you like, and what's your favorite game of all time?
I like games with a strong art style: Okami, Shadow Of The Colossus, the Final Fantasy series, Team Fortress 2, all games trying to get away from the photorealistic bloomy gritty all round look.
My favourite game of all time? Hmm, that's hard... Raiden II, a vertical scroll shooter, 1993 on arcade, which was renamed Raiden Project on PSOne. It had amazingly detailed sprites, and was hours of fun.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to break into the gaming industry?
Be passionate, be humble, and remember that you'll be part of a team.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?
Well I have a pretty busy life. I'm pretending to be a Playmobil pirate searching for treasure in a shipwreck, I'm racing against Lightning McQueen occasionally and reading stories about a pig having a thistle stuck on his bum. And then when my kids are asleep, I play games!