Lead Developer, Framestore VR Studio
I was lucky enough to get a job working on a PlayStation2 title when I left Abertay, which was super exciting because it was prior to the European and US launch of the PS2. I went to work for a company called Interactive Studios but it soon changed its name to Blitz Games.
It wasn’t a conscious decision at the time but, as it turned out, I had picked one of the few studios that was actively investing in its own middleware. I spent the next 13 years there, starting in the game teams and eventually moving over towards the engine side of things. I ended up leading the R&D team, focusing mainly on graphics and animation.
In 2013, I followed my wife to Hong Kong after she landed a great job. Hong Kong is not the centre of the universe for video games so I found myself writing a 3d rendering engine for broadcast TV graphics. This offered me a great insight into the priorities and expertise of a closely related but very different industry.
It seems like such a long time ago now, and the course was in its relative infancy. Apart from the teaching, being at Abertay gave me the opportunity to meet and work with people who had the same ambitions that I did. It helped me focus my mind on what I really wanted to do with my career, and I made some lifelong friendships at the same time.
My main interaction with Abertay over the years has actually been reviewing and interviewing candidates for programming roles. From that perspective, it is clear that the standard of teaching is consistently above average, and perhaps as important the curriculum is more relevant than most.
My advice to my younger self would be to be confident about what you know you can do, but never stop identifying things that you can't. Also get a standing desk.
At the time when Mario Sunshine was released we had also been working on a cartoon platformer Taz: Wanted. In fact, at one point they were even due to be released on the same day but we got pushed back a month or so. It was going to be my very first game and the whole team were rightly proud of it.
Taz was a good game, but Mario Sunshine was in a whole different league. But what made Mario influential for me was that it was the first game that I actually sat down and studied, and compared with my own work. It was an incredible learning experience. At the moment, my future aspirations are to make that genre defining VR hit.