Ryan Feltrin 2005

20 December 2005 on method.gamedesign.net
A = Ryan Feltrin (A.I. and effects programming)
Q = Yan Ostretsov aka Method

Method: Please tell us about yourself and how you got into gaming industry?

Ryan Feltrin: Born and bred in Adelaide, Australia, I studied at Blackfriars Priory School, moving onto the University of South Australia, for a Bachelor of Information Science. Never a keen student, but always a keen gamer, I soon found myself getting poor grades, but mastering the art of gaming, and writing useless programs to feed my appetite for creation. After receiving runner-up in my final year project, I got a job working with a lecturer and began my seemingly exciting journey into the professional programming world.

However all was not rosey, as I had once thought. Working with computers was actually quite frustrating and difficult when stressed out clients were involved, and business type ethics came into play. I soon found solice in creating my own games, and decided to give it a real shot at getting into that professionally.

The next 3 or so years were packed with over-enthusiastic ideas, long hours locked away in a room at my parents house, madly programming away and attempting to assemble what I thought to be the ultimate games. It didn't take long for reality to kick in, and for me to realize that this thing ain't as easy as it seems from the outside, however I still enjoyed it enough to stick it out, and get each project I started, to a point where it could be released.

These projects ranged from silly little mods for the classic CTF and the exhaustive QuakeRally mod for Quake1, through to the rather large and popular EraserBot for Quake2. These were released under the "Impact Development Team" logo, which enjoyed a rather successful stint in the old Quake community.

During the final days of the QuakeRally project, I found myself involved in my first commercial gaming project, the X-Men: Ravages of Apocalypse add-on for Quake1. Not the most successful project I've been involved with, however it was a valuable learning process and gave me a lot of insight into the industry and how difficult it can be for startup companies to get.. started.

Following this, I began work on the EraserBot for Quake2, and was later hired by Xatrix Entertainment to develop technologies for their upcoming game, Kingpin.

Meth: What kind of work you did for Kingpin?

Ryan: My role for Kingpin was initially just to provide navigation and AI, however it soon branched out to include most technological additions and enhancements, like multiple colored light sources on characters (very important for the look and feel), character interaction system (RPG element), persistent level data (returning to a previous level should restore the world as it was when you left), effects (like flamethrower, bullet sparks, rocket flames), locational hit detection, multiple pain skins, shootable body elements (hats, cigars) and finally, the multiplayer code (and related Linux ports) and "Bagman" game mode.

Meth: What kind of challenges you encountered while working on Kingpin?

Ryan: So many challenges, the biggest was probably the introduction of the RPG interaction, and trying to make that work in an FPS setting. It really was a huge challenge and I think it turned out quite good.

Meth: How did you come up with idea to make a Bagman mode for KP?

Ryan: This was something that still there is a lot of conjecture over, however I remain adament that it was my idea. I was always a huge CTF fan from Quake1 and even moreso Quake2. So adding a similar element to Kingpin was very important to me. However, I wanted to make sure it had that Kingpin feel, so it couldn't just be a straight copy. Since a fundamental aspect of the game was money, I figured this should be the basis of the multiplayer also. The design just flowed from there, pretty much.

Meth: What kind of things didn’t make into the final version of KP?

Ryan: Hovercars. I had them in early on, but they were cut as the design evolved. Also the bikes never really made it, mostly due to the difficulty in creating tracks in the engine. If we'd been using the Quake3 engine, it would have probably made it.

Meth: What’s the current game you’re working on?

Ryan: Just finishing up the patch for Call of Duty: United Offensive. Nothing much of note, just fixing things up, and also I'm going to be releasing a new game mode for that, which should be interesting.

Meth: What kind of changes you did to CoD: UO programming wise?

Ryan: My role on CoD: UO was to add vehicles to multiplayer, and add a flamethrower. Being an expansion pack, we didn't have a whole lot of engine stuff to do, which was a bit of a bummer, but I think the vehicles turned out pretty good, so I'm happy with it.

Meth: In your opinion, what’re the most important skills programmers should have?

Ryan: Problem solving. That's the key attribute for a programmer in my opinion. You can know all the languages under the sun, but if you can't solve things for yourself, you probably aren't going to get far. The other important skill I believe is a desire for creation. Programming I believe is one of the most powerful tools for creation and freedom thereof in the world. To me, the though of creating something, that thousands (or millions) or people can see and use, is just astounding, and perplexing. That is what fuels me now, and it is what got me interested to start with.

Meth: Do you have any suggestions on how to get into gaming industry?

Ryan: Try and develop a single skill that not many people have, or find you're niche, which will let you create things that are of standard that will make you stand out from the crowd. Getting into the industry I think is lot like the Playstation 2 TV ad, where everyone is climbing on top of one-another, trying to get to the top. You should find the route that gives you the fastest path to the top, using you're skills and attributes. Most gaming companies tend to either stick to people with experience (already in the industry) or if they're new, then they must be damned good. So get the top as best you can.

This is just my experience though, and it probably doesn't apply to everyone.

Meth: Would you like to add anything else?

Ryan: Thanks to everyone for supporting Kingpin, and lets all keep our fingers crossed for a sequel :)

FREDZ | Tuesday 22 January 2019 - 16:36
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