Coming from a background of games journalism and TV production, Bongoboy is equally thrilled and alarmed to be yoked to the Splash Damage cart. Raised by sponges on the floor of the Barents Sea, he communicates in a series of shrill whistles that only dogs and dolphins appear able to comprehend. But man alive, can he punctuate#&ấ◔(Sadly he can't do HTML though, Grrr - ED).
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 Ed does, how he ended up at Splash Damage, and more.
What does the Senior Game Designer do at Splash Damage?
None of us are entirely sure. Something to do with words. And frowning.
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?
I got started, much like everyone else, by getting a History Degree from Glasgow University then moving to Hong Kong, then working in Business News TV, then making TV about games in London, then working as a freelance games journalist and then persuading a newly-formed development studio that I had any relevant skills. It's a pretty standard route.
Tips for people breaking in? Artists, Modellers and Level Designers have some really good online communities to work through tutorials, post work, get feedback and self-educate; writers less so and designers not at all, it would seem. And games writing covers so many different genres, from dialogue-and-lore-heavy RPGs (bows deeply in the direction of Ken Ralston) to almost-all-in-the-environment-and-asset-design world-definers like the HalfLives (bows deeply in the direction of Marc Laidlaw) and the occasional conceptual firework like Psychonauts or Portal (waves fist angrily and jealously at Tim Schafer and Eric Wolpaw). And I still can't actually believe what Steve Meretzky not only conceived of but actually released at Infocom in the early 80's.
The best advice for writers is to learn the medium by actually playing games, and realise they're not novels or screenplays by other means. Maybe get in touch with mod teams and offer to write up/edit/Wiki-ize their design documentation - that'll probably be more useful in terms of games writing and design than re-reading your signed Robert McKee book. Anything by William Goldman about writing movies actually is very useful for writing games, particularly how nothing is inevitable, everything's the result of individual decisions and deadlines and constraints invisible to the end user. Most of all, finish stuff! It almost doesn't matter what you start off, it's what you manage to fini...
Why did you join Splash Damage?
I remember Locki was setting up SD and just wouldn't stop asking me if I'd played Return To Castle Wolfenstein MP. Basically the only way to make him stop was to join the team to help with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. I kid, I kid: it was an insanely good stroke of luck. It had never occurred to me I might actually ever get paid for being nuts about games and being a gun nerd. I had to work very hard not to giggle aloud that not only would I get to see how these strange things get made, I'd maybe even make something someone might even actually play.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Best parts: watching the team produce an actual factual game, greater than the sum of its parts that real people get to play. Worst parts: having to junk content. And killing people. That's almost always pretty tedious.
What was your first gaming experience?
I nagged my parents for a Sinclair ZX80 (which still marks the limit of my coding prowess), but my first proper episodes of game sweaty-handedness came about near coin-op arcade machines and glaring over a friend's shoulder at his Atari ST.
What types of games do you like, and what's your favorite game of all time?
Obviously, all the usual FPS/Action suspects (including Monolith's mighty Blood) with the HalfLives, System/BioShocks and Deus Exes high above the clouds, and most RPG’s and RTS’s. Company of Heroes was simply splendid. I still love stony-faced realism warsims like Harpoon and Atomic Games' Close Combat series, but I'm just terrible at all driving games and almost all sports games, apart from Championship Manager and then Football Manager, but I regard these more as procedural sports-soap-opera plotline generators for the off-season than games as such.
My favourite game of all time is Cloth Touchers 2, which I made up. In a previous life, working in games TV, I'd announce every week in production meetings that CT2 had been delayed so alas we still couldn't get review code to broadcast and no one, NO ONE ever called me on it.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work?
The more time I spend indoors, typing stuff in front of a computer monitor, the more I appreciate the feel of pen on paper and the natural world outside. You should see nature: the real-time lighting, shadow stencils and particle effects are really something.
Where does your nickname come from?
From my by-now-pretty-faltering alternative career as a percussionist. For a very, very lightly talented musician who never practiced, I was...uhm...really very average indeed. Now I'm more of an instrument-owner than musician, with occasional unfortunate outbreaks.
Rumour has it you know how to properly work a ukulele. Is there any truth to that, and is George Formby really one of your childhood heroes?
I own two, arguably three ukuleles, but mere possession of an instrument does not in itself confer any musical ability. I'm much more a Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain man than a Formby-ite, but I do greatly covet his split stroke and triple strumming techniques. Maybe I should start practicing whenever design meetings go over their time limit.