Previous Work

Game Development

OVERVIEW

Game development is an incredibly complex, demanding and time-consuming pursuit. It takes hard work and dedication to work in this arena; someone who is ultimately passionate about what they do and someone who has the skills, adaptability and desire for learning to see them succeed in the role. I absolutely loved the years I spent working in this industry. In a very much studio- and team-based environment I was fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented artists, programmers and designers. Working alongside these people I was able to nurture existing development skills whilst learning new; in a role that allowed me to work at the cutting-edge of software development whilst simultaneously providing an engaging challenge - technically and creatively - on a daily basis.

Below is a brief overview of my time in the games industry listing a few places I worked, a small selection of the duties I performed, the skills I learned and a selection of the games and products I worked on (either directly or indirectly). Such was my enjoyment for the work I still avidly follow and experiment with game development technology today.

*Copyright, logos, designs, trademarks and/or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


REBELLION & EMPIRE INTERACTIVE / STRANGELITE

GameDev

I joined Strangelite in March 2002 as a computer programmer and immediately settled into my role. I had joined a creative and experienced team where many of the members formerly worked together as Rowan Software, a well-known and respected developer of flight simulators. Strangelite was an internal development studio of Empire Interactive but, when Empire fell into administration, the Strangelite team were bought by British independent developers Rebellion. Many of the original team members still work at Rebellion (now known as Rebellion Liverpool) and continue to deliver games such as the popular Sniper Elite series.

I really enjoyed my time at Strangelite and, being in such a small team, it was important that I was able to deliver along with every other member in the team. As one of a handful of programmers my duties included (amongst others) development of in-house graphics technology, development and evolution of tools and tool chains, porting of code from one platform to another and working on design documents and demonstrations.

At Strangelite, titles I was credited with working on included Crazy Taxi (PC version, ported from the Sega Dreamcast), Delta Force: Black Hawk Down - Team Sabre (PC and Sony PlayStation 2), Starship Troopers (PC) and Prism: Guard Shield (PC, freeware FPS for the US Army National Guard). I was also able to contribute in part to a PC version of Sega's Virtua Tennis and the Xbox version of Crazy Taxi 3 - High Roller.

Whilst working for Rebellion Liverpool I worked on various published games across multiple platforms (including PC, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and Sony PSP). All programming was C++ based with Microsoft Visual Studio at the core of the development environment. I was directly credited with working on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Star Wars: Battlefront - Renegade Squadron. In addition to those games I also spent time contributing to Rebellion's in-house game and graphics engine, Asura, which has been used on many titles such as Alien vs Predator. Additional work included: special effects, UI design, localisation, AI and gameplay mechanics.


BATTLEMAIL.COM

GameDev

I played a major role in starting BattleMail with a couple of former work colleagues and contributed to the technical development of novel gaming technologies that allowed players from all over the world to participate in fun and addictive games via e-mail, interactive TV and/or mobile phone. The system allowed a player on e-mail to play against another player on a completely different device whilst engaged in the same game.

The first game, BattleMail Kung-Fu, spread virally and was a huge success. Within 12 months the game had more than 1,000,000 users. Following this success, Virgin Atlantic Airlines asked BattleMail to develop the Kung-Fu game as part of a larger In-Flight Entertainment System. Long before smartphones arrived the Kung-Fu game was also added as a built-in game on 17 million Siemens mobile phones. BattleMail Soccer also proved popular and this resulted in a deal with adidas for the production of an adidas-themed version of the game.

The early days were spent programming the foundations for a Windows PC based client that would provide the framework for the initial games - i.e. Kung-Fu, Soccer and Turkey Deathmatch. C++ was the programming language used along with Win32. Early games used GDI for rendering before a DirectX renderer was produced for the later game, BattleMail Joust. With a demonstrable client framework in place attention was turned towards the server / backend processing and additional help was brought in to help build the complete client/server architecture.

Each game was integrated with associated game portals on the BattleMail website that offered leaderboards, competitions and (in some cases) the option to buy and trade in-game items interactively. The gaming system also offered a means of providing directed advertising via the Windows client. At the height of it's popularity the BattleMail servers were processing in excess of 30 game sessions per second.


BLITZ GAMES (INTERACTIVE STUDIOS)

GameDev

After finishing University it was Blitz Games (known as Interactive Studios at the time) that provided me with my first opportunity of working in professional game development. It was both a daunting and exciting time, especially as I was hired by two legends of the computer gaming industry, Philip and Andrew Oliver - more famously known as The Oliver Twins. I was working for the two guys who had inspired me to get into computer game development!

I still remember my first day well. Having been greeted by Philip and Andrew I was immediately informed that I'd be joining a newly assembled team to work on a very popular game franchise, specifically a new version of Frogger. I would be developing on the Nintendo64 game console using C++ (and a Nintendo64 flavoured version of OpenGL) and my first task was to look into the development of a new 3D graphics engine for the game. Despite being a newcomer to the industry I was also asked to assist the lead programmer in developing and planning the technical aspects of the game.

The programming effort was split into multiple categories and I was largely responsible for working on the 3D and 2D graphics systems, along with associated components such as a keyframe animation system and game character movement / navigation logic. As with the lead programmer I was occasionally asked to work on other areas of the software and spent time working on the audio system, in-game editor, in-house tool set and character AI (amongst others). The role also provided me with my first experience of cross-platform development and to working with proprietary API's and SDK's from the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Sega.

I was credited with working on Frogger 2 - Swampy's Revenge during my time at Blitz games but spent brief periods of time on other teams on occasion. From time to time extra effort was needed to prepare a game for release hence the temporary move; consequently I spent a brief period of time working on an Action Man title as well as in helping prepare the game Glover for release.


SUMMARY

Technologies & Skills

  • C / C++
  • OOP & OOD
  • Win32
  • x86/x64, PowerPC, RISC
  • DirectX/3D and OpenGL
  • GCC
  • Assembler
  • Rendering Algorithms
  • 3D & 2D Graphics Programming
  • Shader Programming (including HLSL, Cg)
  • Gameplay Mechanics
  • Animation and Physics Systems
  • Game Conceptualisation & Design
  • Cross-Platform Development
  • Debugging & Profiling
  • Linux Development
  • E-mail Messaging
  • Interactive TV Services
  • Internet Audience Engagement
  • Public and Customer Demonstration
  • Self-Learning
  • Time Management

Software Used

  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Proprietary (in-house developed) Tools and Game Engines
  • Platform API's + SDK's
  • Various Debugging and Profiling Tools
  • 3DS Max
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Code Repositories
  • Microsoft Office