The People

Lloyd M

Level Designer

An unexpected benefit or our long-standing subscription to the Lloyd Of The Month Club is Lloyd M. Joining us from The Real World, Lloyd studied engineering at university in order to get a job as a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force. Exposure to near-lethal levels of Half-Life and Doom caused him to abandon his dreams of blowing stuff up for a living, opting instead to create virtual stuff for other people to blow up. He's all about the giving. Born and raised in London (although he briefly defected to live in the Americas), Lloyd claims that the only time he's ever nearly died was while snowboarding which he does whenever he can (although Lord knows it ain't easy in central London). This shows that he has consistently mistaken our exchanges of gunfire as harmless fun, and not the homicidal flurry of lead that it really is. And that we can't aim for toffee.

Lloyd worked for Fountainhead Entertainment and Virgin Interactive before joining the mud-caked code-bothering mechanical monkeys of Splash Damage. The shortest time he's ever taken to build a map was 1 day. The longest is 7.5 years (and counting) for his CTF Tempest Utopia. It is said that should he ever complete this map, the dead will rise from their tombs, and Enemy Territory will be released as a free standalone download. No, wait!...AAAAGH!

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 Lloyd does, how he ended up at Splash Damage, and more.

What do you do at Splash Damage?

I’m a level designer here at Splash Damage. That basically means I design the layout of a map and work with the environment artists to make it look nice, play well, and run smoothly.

Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?

I was always interested in games since the days of the Sinclair zx81 and Acorn BBC micro when playing a game generally meant copying out pages of code from a magazine, only to find you had made a syntax error somewhere. Being more interested in the design side of things and wanting to see places that didn't actually exist, I decided to build them myself.

The breakthrough came with the release of DOOM. I made one map which was essentially a giant psychedelic room filled with demons and pretty much every texture in the game. As you can imagine, it was an eyesore, and, unsurprisingly, I took a break from FPS level design for a while. Half-Life was released in 1998 and I spent time learning the editor until I properly got to grips it. For the next few years, I spent days and nights making levels for Half-Life and Quake III Arena. Spare time was waiting for compiles to finish and my only daily worries included the results of typing r_speeds 1 into the console.

I eventually got an offer from Fountainhead Entertainment to work freelance. I met some of the nicest people I ever worked with there and got to travel to QuakeCon, see a rodeo and eat my first (and only) corn dog. After my contract was up, I wanted to experience office life, so I took a job at Virgin Interactive in London. Before long, though, I returned to Fountainhead to work full time on another project.

When that project ended, I applied at Splash Damage and after initially thinking it was too far from my home on the other side of London, I decided "what the hell" and took the job. Five and a half years later, I can confirm it is a bit far from home but reading the paper in the train helps pass the time and I get to keep up to date on what Amy Winehouse is up to.

Do you have any tips for people wanting to break in?

We see a lot of unfinished maps, box maps and generally maps without any care put into them. My advice for anyone starting from scratch would be to learn the editor backwards and inside out; build some test maps to try the features but don't flood the internet with them. When you are confident that you know what you're doing, make a map which you can be proud of and get it tested by the online community and listen to the feedback. While it's not essential and even less so nowadays, I always made as many of the assets as I could for the map to make it look different from the rest. Of course, the most important thing is to make a fun, balanced level and have fun building it.

Why did you join Splash Damage?

Splash Damage was a company doing the type of game I was interested in making and on top of that was located in the city I already lived in. That made the decision pretty simple. I just turned up one day and started work. :)

Of all the work you did for Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars, what are you most proud of?

That I stuck it out to the end! Just kidding. Seriously though, a lot of work went into the thing and while the learning curve is steeper than that of your average shooter, it's a really fun game when you stick with it. I was most proud of the critical reception the levels got - a lot of the reviews praised them so that was really rewarding for us level designers.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The best part is seeing everything come together. When the project starts to take shape and you can actually play it, that’s extremely satisfying. I suppose the worst part is that you have to wait for it to get to that point.

What was your first gaming experience?

My first gaming experiences date back to the dawn of personal computing... suddenly I feel old! Everything from Pong to Asteroids, Pitfall to Pac-Man, and flight sims that were merely lines with some numbers (in hindsight it was probably harder to land that than a real plane). There was a game called Monster Maze 3D (which must have been one of the first FPS games) where a T-Rex chased you through a maze.. I never made it out alive. Games on ZX81, BBC, Atari, Amstrad, Commodore 64, Amiga, NES... ah, the good old days.

What types of games do you like, and what's your favorite game of all time?

I generally like first/third person RPGs and shooters. I prefer playing single player because everyone here seems to kill me too easily in multiplayer. I'm pretty sure they're cheating. I think the line that I use most in multiplayer chat is "AS IF!"

But my favourite games of all time are definitely Final Fantasy VII and Half Life.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?

Learning to be a pilot (never finished) and snowboarding (not nearly enough practice) are at the top of the things I wish I was doing while I'm sitting at my desk. I also love traveling and I do that quite a bit. I especially like going to places where I can't understand a word anyone is saying. Driving to the country and of course spending time with my girlfriend, family and friends is nice. The usual stuff.

What's the meaning behind your nickname?

That's a tough one. It's derived from my name.

Actually, the real reason for that is that I once thought that if I made a map and released it online under a made-up name, when applying for a job, there people there might not believe I was the actual person who made it. Well, I was a bit of an internet noob back then. :)