I’m the UI programmer for STO. I am responsible for programming the functionality behind many of our in-game windows, HUD elements, as well as camera and targeting systems, which are in a constant state of iteration and revision. When you think about how complicated a UI for Star Trek can be, you get the duality of a challenging and thrilling job. The UI team is at a stage now where we’re getting some great looking visuals on the screen, and it feels like everything is coming together. This is why I love making games: to create an experience that looks as good as it is fun and functional.
How long have you worked in gaming, and what did you do before Star Trek Online?
Actually, this is my first job in the games industry and I’m really excited and privileged to be working at Cryptic. I was on the Champions Online team before STO, but for an extremely short period of time. Before that, I worked on games in my spare time and dreamt of doing this for a living.
Who is your favorite Star Trek character and why?
I have to say that this boils down to just a question of who is cooler: Spock or Kirk – and that’s a tough decision. There is just something incredibly intriguing about the trials and adventures that define and bond the friendship of these powerful figures, and create the ultimate dynamic duo. But which of the two is strongest on their own? On one hand, Kirk has tremendous charisma and great leadership abilities. He’s calm and collected, witty, courageous, and loyal to his crew. He has a killer fighting style, and his stare could kill a man. Then you have Spock, whose wisdom, introspection, and curiosity, coupled with his long, thin face and sharp features are the definitive Vulcan. I would have to say that he is the single most memorable alien of my childhood - even though I hadn’t seen that much Star Trek in my younger years. So while Kirk’s character is as cool as he is humorous, I’d have to say that Spock wins for the nostalgia and lasting image that Leonard Nimoy created for Star Trek.
What is an interesting fact about you that players would be surprised to know?
Everyone is surprised to find out that I have a twin brother who is equally as passionate about games as I am. All our lives we have dreamt up stories, adventures and games in whatever forms were available to us. Eventually, when we started making computer games, we deviated toward our strengths - he became the artist and I became the programmer.
If you could choose to be an alien on Star Trek, which species would you want to be?
The Vulcans are awesome because they value logic and reason above all else, and the use of such restraint is extremely powerful and admirable. But too much restraint can be boring, and thus the dark side of me leans toward the evil cousins - the Romulans. They are easily my favorite antagonists. The Romulans are hardened warriors like the Klingons, but sophisticated and intelligent like the Vulcans, and spice it all up with ruthlessness, cloak and dagger tactics, cool looking starships, and the desire for aggressive expansion.
Which is cooler: monkeys, robots, pirates, or ninjas?
When I think “cooler,” I think of which one I’d want as a main character in a game. Then I think of things like gameplay and art direction. If monkeys, robots, pirates and ninjas had to remain separate entities, I would have to go with monkeys. Inherently, I see monkeys as more versatile than the others. Robots are too cold and calculating, and pirates and ninjas seem like they are a one-purpose type of character, at least by default.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into the gaming industry?
I think that having an obsession for building and inventing things is all that it takes to make games – with a little persistence and luck mixed in. In my own experience: I was the type of person who was doodling game ideas during class lectures and writing stories during long car rides. I remember the countless hours I spent with my brother, creating vast Lego armies and fortresses, or running through our creek shooting invisible monsters with bows and arrows, or penning story after story about games, movies and books that inspired me. This desire to endlessly create did not disintegrate with age.
What was your first favorite video game?
I was introduced to gaming with the NES. My favorite games were DuckTales, Chip ‘n’ Dale and Super Mario 3. I’d love to rant about how special those games were, but I’ll keep it simple and say that, to me, that was the golden age of gaming. I realize much of that is nostalgia, though. My favorite game since 1998 is StarCraft.