A generation ago it was not unusual to spend your entire career, 30 plus years, at a single company. Maybe it’s Silicon Valley, or the gaming industry, or generation X & Y, but six years has become a long time to spend at a single job. It’s strange to think I’ve been an employee at Electronic Arts for a longer period of time than I was in high school. But all good things must come to an end and today is my last day down in Redwood Shores. As for me, I’ve decided there are some new challenges and growth opportunities for me outside my cube. I’ll be doing a number of freelance design projects, but for most of the next year I will be traveling in order to spend more time in the ocean and on the mountains.
Looking back six years ago I don’t think I could have chosen another company where I would have learned as much – with the obvious exception of Google, I mean with all those stock options I could have paid Stephen Hawking to be my tutor! Very few companies combine technology and art like EA and I feel privileged to have participated in a number of great projects that helped me become a better designer. In thinking over my time at EA there are a few esoteric numbers that come to mind:
When I was a teenager I had a beautiful Italian language movie poster of The Godfather in my room. It was jet black with a red silhouette of Marlin Brando and text that read “Il Padrino”. Little did I know that years later I would have the opportunity to design and develop for The Godfather the video game.
As The Godfather was brought to the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii we added a handful of new UI screens primarily to compliment new game play features. It was very exciting to work on one of the first open world video games to implement controller based mechanics to initiate action within the game world. Our user interface faced a whole new challenge as we attempted to design intuitive controller tutorials and other UI tips to help teach a player how to effectively fight by gesturing with the controller being held in his/her hand.
If you like adventure/open world Grand Theft Auto style games you’ll have fun with this game. Give it a try, if nothing else you can watch my name go buy in the credits.
For years Tiger Woods Golf has been the measuring stick to which all sports video games are compared. For 2007 we gave the user interface a new look and feel and enhanced a number of features. A highlight for me in working on Tiger Woods 2007 was the chance to design the gameface user interface which allows players to control facial and body features for their custom characters using the analog sticks on the game systems controllers. This enhancement adds a new level of efficiency within the user interface allowing players to quickly adjust the look of their player.
There are very few projects with the history and pedigree of James Bond – and this was Sean Connery’s James Bond. Artistically the User Interface From Russia with Love had to look like it was from the early 60’s but still have the high production values and modern look of a twenty first century video game. This hybrid look was achieved by integrating classic footage from the original movie along with a retro graphic design for the user interface. In a very short timeframe (11 months) Sean Connery was successfully brought to life in a modern video game.