Joining us from Nuna, Rodinia, and then Laurasia comes Marc. Marc was formed from the coalition of five great noble houses of limbs which then formed a union with the massed clans of internal organs, and a band of freelance teeth allied to the previously floating head he'd cunningly had forged earlier by Almus of Decca, one of the greatest headsmiths still extant.
In his spare time he holidays in either of his Cold Seep biome holiday homes, one on the ocean floor off the Florida Escarpment, the other South-Southeast of Rockall. He's twice half-as-tall as you'd expect, and can turn into a full stop just like this. He's available in a regular pentameter, but we went for the dithyramb.
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 Marco does, how he ended up at Splash Damage, and more.
What do you do at Splash Damage?
I work as a Technical Director here as Splash Damage, looking after the technical side of all of the company's current and future projects. I also manage the entire programming team, which consists of about 16 engineers at the moment (and we are hiring btw...!).
On a day to day basis and as a manager, I split my time between lead duties like attending meetings, coordinating with the other disciplines, or interviewing candidates for example, and also doing more technical things like writing code or preparing/discussing/reviewing various things that the programming team is working on.
Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?
Because it's sexier than working for a bank or the military! Seriously though, I got fascinated by computers when I was a kid, back in the golden days of C64, and CPC 464. I think it all started when my dad had a few programming lessons. As I watched him, I found amazing that you could program machines to do things for you if you were clever enough. Then I got my first computer and spent most of my time playing games and writing little BASIC programs and creating simple graphics. I got even more hooked in the 16bit era; I remember waking up at 5am to play Dungeon Master before going to school.
After that, I started to focus more on studying and eventually graduated in Maths, Physics, Computer Science and Computer Graphics. During my last year in engineering school, I realized that I could connect what I learnt to my passion for games. I managed to get an internship at Ubisoft and off I was.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to break in?
Most people in the industry and with no doubt at Splash Damage have a combination of passion an skill. Passion for games, but also for building things, solving problems, working with talented people and taking on challenges. Regarding the skills bit in the programming area, there are a wide range of profiles from self-taught coders to people with PhD's, but I personally think a good strategy to break into game programming is to get a degree in 'academic' computer science - so you get solid foundations - while learning the "game" side of game-programming with personal projects, by applying what you know and exploring further. And with this, I just won an achievement for the longest sentence on this website (no kidding! -ed). Gamification anyone? :)
What other games have you worked on?
Just before joining Splash Damage, I was working at Ninja Theory as a Lead Gameplay Programmer on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Before that, the games I worked on that you might have heard of are Dead To Rights II for Namco on PC, PS2 and Xbox and Rayman II, back when I started in 1998. And even before that, there were several other projects that for the most part got cancelled at various points in their development. This happened quite a lot during the 00's in the French game industry (I feel bad for anyone who ever pre-ordered Mission Impossible II or Highlander...).
Which of your past projects was your favourite to work on, and why?
The game I am most proud of is definitely Enslaved: Odyssey to the West by Ninja Theory. I love the concept and the art-direction. We need more colourful games in my opinion! The attention to detail that the team of Ninjas put in it is incredible. I think the game is great and unique in several ways and I'm glad that I was a part of it.
Why did you join Splash Damage?
A combination of different things really. When I looked back at the games I had worked on in the past, most of them were single-player third person combat games. So I thought that joining Splash Damage would provide a good lot of opportunities to work on something outside of my comfort zone, and this is the kind of challenge I like. Here, I get the opportunity to have a wider role and I like having quite a large range of areas to explore. On a personal note, I am more of a city type and I felt that moving closer to London is something I would quite enjoy.
What is it like to work at Splash Damage?
You get pastries and beer every Friday! Not speaking of the numerous cakes and other sweet stuff that people bring in constantly. The Frenchman inside me is in heaven. :)
More seriously, you get to work with a great bunch of friendly people, each with different profiles and experience. There are a lot of countries represented amongst the staff and it's great to have this plurality. There are a lot of things to do and work on as the company has quite ambitious goals but that's what's makes the whole thing interesting.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part is definitely working with other great talented individuals and learning from each other. The worst part is probably the impression of being spread to thin between different tasks, projects, meetings etc... and not being able to give as much attention as would like to some people or tasks.
What was your first gaming experience?
Decathlon on a CPC 464. You had to press R and T alternatively really fast to get the guy on screen running. My parents soon realised that the integrity of the keyboard was in jeopardy and ordered a joystick the next day. I still wonder how the computer's keyboard survived that ... Would have been ha_d _o w_i_e wi_hou_ the le__e_ _ and _ ... :)
What types of games do you like, and what's your favourite game of all time?
I tend to be quite eclectic in the genre of games I play. Recently, I've been playing Batman: Arkham City, Read Dead Redemption and Mass Effect on consoles. On PC, I am playing a bit of League of Legends and Battlefield 3, but I need to upgrade my 2 years old laptop before I seriously get more into it. I also play a lot of smaller, indie games as I find them more in line with the limited amount of time I have to dedicate to playing. And there are some brilliant design ideas in there. Apart from that, I've always had a soft edge for shoot em' ups and adventure games, so my all time favourite would probably be either Monkey Island or Ikaruga.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?
At home, you could find me randomly playing games, reading, coding, playing guitar or cooking. Did I mention that I love bacon and cakes (but not necessarily bacon cakes)?
You can find out more about all that by following me at @mfascia!
What's the meaning behind your nickname?
I am French but most of my family is Italian and my mom calls me "Marco". Strangely, as we have several Marks / Marcs at Splash Damage, "Marco" kind of came out naturally when I got asked how people should call me. Plus it was the only non-shameful nickname I could share with these guys.