Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Talk Nerdy to Me: Chris McFadden

At the learning and gaming Expo I was given the opportunity to talk to Chris McFadden designer who helped create four Mortal Kombat games and Stranglehold. I got a chance to ask him what it took to make it in the gaming industry and how he was able to leave midway before its collapse.

So Chris my big question is were you apart of that Midway debacle?

Thankfully no, last year we heard rumors that the company was going under, but I didn’t pay much attention, we were Midway’s headquarters for the U.S. So we didn’t think anything would happen to us. When CEOs starting jumping ship I began to worry and started looking for a new job. Luckily I found a job at Vogster Entertainment three months before the company went under. In that respect I’m lucky, but I still had friends working at Midway and its sad to see them unemployed, but thats how the gaming industry works. When a big company goes under or fires a lot of staff the designers who still have ideas and still want to make games form their own companies. Some of the best games I’ve seen cross my desk were from independent developers.

So what is the best way to get into the gaming Industry?

Well there are lots of ways. The gaming industry is pretty huge so they always need people unfortunately this is bad time since lots of peopled are being fired. I think the best way to break in the industry [to be a designer] is to start making levels. The unreal game is the best example. Go use the level editor that is in the game and just start making levels. Its a good way to get use to level design and a lot of companies are using the unreal engine now.

What does a typical day look like to you?

There are two types of days, a regular day were I just work 8 hrs and crunch days were I will work 12-18 hrs. If you ever tell a designer “crunch” there eyes glaze over and become very depressed. I started a game and two weeks into development we had to crunch and it was pretty crazy. With little to no sleep everyone starts to get a little loopy. Let me tell you something someone told me, “The best ideas in games started as joke.” When everyone is sleep deprived they begin making crazy ideas like, “What if we make a chainsaw gun that lets you float and explode yourself whenever you want.” If after a good nights sleep they feel the idea is still pretty awesome they just put it in the game.

How is it working at Vogster Entertainment?

Its good they’ve only made one game and I dare you to find it. I’ve been working there for a couple months and I still can’t get my hands on it.

(Due to time constraints I was only able to ask one more question)

So what projects are you working on?

I can’t really tell you due legal issues and I’m really sorry.

OK so what can you tell me?

Well, I’m working on a game that is basically God of War meets Connan meets lots of blood and guts and it will be available for the PS3 and the X-Box 360 with a a separate game within the universe for the Wii.

Well thanks so much for talking to you Chris, it was nice meeting you.

It was good meeting you and good luck.

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