Joining us with cyanoacrylate, short lengths of safety chain and good old-fashioned flour and water comes Chris. Chris loves making things come to life, both on-screen (making two children's short films on his own) and in real life (via an amazing array of test tubes, coffee mugs and golf shoes wired up to a potato). Showing a flagrant disregard for the usual standards of developer fitness, he ran the London Marathon and is threatening to do so again. This gives us a very crinkly mouth, but he seems otherwise sane and safe.
Chris snatched a BA in Modelling and Animation from the jaws of the University of Hertfordshire before working on Black Hawk Down and Rogue Trooper at Rebellion. He then dropped down some sort of flume to the dank under-cistern that is Splash Damage wherein he now toils and moils. His hobbies include foaming, lobbing, combing and bobbing. He has the whole world in his hands and also has us under his skin. Additionally, he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good so be good, for goodness' sake. He's over there. No. Yeah, him.
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 Chris does, how he ended up at Splash Damage, and more.
What do you do at Splash Damage?
I'm the animator of Splash Damage HQ. I take the awesome characters/weapons/pretty-much-anything-else model-related that the artists have created and hopefully instill some life and character into them by chucking them around the screen.
Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started? Do you have any tips for people wanting to break in?
Like everyone here, I've had a love of computer gaming since my more youthful and carefree days and always had a fascination with how they were actually made. After studying Computer Animation at University and working on two ‘animated shorts’ (not the wearable kind!) in which I did everything, I knew I enjoyed the animation part the most and just really concentrated on getting my skills to a point I was happy applying to companies with.
As for tips to break in, I guess it comes down being passionate about what you do, create some cool work (a showreel) and to be persistent, apply to everywhere you can imagine to start with, and not just if they have positions advertised.
What other games have you worked on?
My first game was the PS2 version of Black Hawk Down in which we completely remade everything from the PC version. This experience really threw me in at the deep end, especially since there was only me and the lead animator. After that, I animated a fair few cutscenes on the multiplatform title Rogue Trooper.
Why did you join Splash Damage?
After my first two games, I felt ready for a real challenging role, and QUAKE Wars, when shown to me for the first time, looked absolutely amazing. It was a pretty easy decision to accept a position working on such a cool franchise as QUAKE! It's been a lorra lorra hard work being a small team but definitely worth it!
It didn't hurt that, unlike most people who work here from a wide range of backgrounds, I actually grew up a hop and skip away from the office, or maybe more like a stones throw away... if thrown by a pretty big cannon, or something.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part has to be seeing a positive reaction to something I've just committed to the game! I enjoy the whole aspect of actually integrating animations into the game and making sure they work to enhance, rather than get in the way of the core gameplay.
Worst part is when you don't have enough time to make an animation as good as you can see it in your head, but it has to go into the game regardless. Obviously we make sure there is enough time to get them polished in the end, but sometimes you have to accept block-out animations in game for quite a time during development, especially these days when there are thousands of animations to do.
Of all the things you worked on for Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars, what are you most proud of?
Most proud of, I guess, is that I actually managed to get all the animations to what they ended up as, considering I was the only animator at the time. I learnt a lot during its development, all good experience that I can put to good use on our current game which I'm really excited about!
Happiest moment was making it to the end of the seemingly never-ending bug database!
What's the meaning behind your nickname?
Never really having been one to have a nickname that I'd stick with when gaming, I just chose a classic Arnie character. “GET YOUR ASS TO MARS!” :)
What was your first gaming experience?
First was a ZX Spectrum 128k, which had loads of great games! Ones that I recall fondly include Rambo, Robocop, ChaseHQ, Ninja Scooter, and Colin the Cleaner. I remember vividly waiting excitedly for the next issue of CRASH! Magazine with its demo cassettes! And of course, the competitions used to be really cool too!
Then we had an Amiga 500; where I first started to dabble in digital art. I used to think my spyrograph creations in Deluxe Paint were awesome! My favourite games on that platform were probably Lemmings, Samurai Warrior (man that was hard!), and not forgetting the 9 disk wonder that was Street Fighter II (didn't have a SNES :().
What types of games do you like, and what's your favorite game of all time?
There are probably others I'm not thinking of right now, but today I'm gonna go with 'The Dig' (a Lucas Arts point & click adventure game), which I just remembered being so impressed with at the time. The cinematics with the awesome score would get you right there! Haha! It drew me in so much, I actually did kinda care about the characters, and even though I still remember it being quite a frustrating game at times (I did have to cheat here and there to get through some of the nonsensical puzzles), it still stands up as one of my all time faves!
As far as first person shooters go, my favourite is Soldier of Fortune 2. I just really enjoyed ‘so much’ about it... the weapons felt and sounded so great, like they actually would do some real damage and John Mullins is just awesome to play as! :)
And in the RTS genre I really like Command & Conquer: Generals - many a late night spent online with this one!
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?
Well 'enjoy' is pushing it a bit, but I do spend a lot of time renovating my flat, it's had a pretty big overhaul! Other than that, I like to keep fit, play games, and make and animate cartoony characters. I've also recently found I really enjoy a spot of gardening and wanting to spend money on plants!... erm, how quaint :)
Finally, as the proud owner of the very first Splash Damage baby, do you feel that videogames have adequately prepared you for real life?
Erm.... No!! Haha, though I just wish I had a pause key when she starts crying at 3 in the morning! :)
If you have any questions you'd like to ask Chris, feel free to post them in the comments below. Our forum-trained tapirs will try to answer as many of them as possible.