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Interview: High Impact's Lesley Matheson On New Studios, Tech, And More
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Interview: High Impact's Lesley Matheson On New Studios, Tech, And More

May 16, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 6 Next

It's funny, because when you talk to people culturally, there are people who like LA, and a lot of Northern Californians hate LA, and make a big deal out of it. I think they're a bit melodramatic about it, if you ask me... but it does go back and forth. And I have a friend who works at another LA studio. He wanted to stay in LA so much that he wasn't looking at Northern California studios.

LM: I think when they think about it short-term, they're more inclined to do it; if they have a really good job opportunity in another city, they go, "Oh, I'm going to go up there for a few years and have a great job, and then I'll move back." So even if they have that bias, they will at least do it for a while.

And this might be a personal question, but what drives you to -- without getting into the politics of anything awkward -- to want to leave a studio like Insomniac, that's proven and tested, and move into a new opportunity at a smaller, new startup?

LM: Well that's exactly it, right; you just phrased it right there. I mean, I loved Insomniac; I loved working there. The people there are just excessively competent, amazing people. I loved working with Ted Price.

But, you know, new opportunities are always exciting to people. And the idea of going out and starting up a studio and trying something new is pretty exciting. I felt that at the time, it was time for me to move on and try new things, and see what happened -- but it is certainly no slight on Insomniac or anything for High Impact that I did so, because they're both great studios.

I mean, this is going to sound excessively fawning, especially to people on the internet, who can't understand what I'm trying to say, but I think it would be hard to slight Insomniac.

LM: Well, Insomniac's products put gameplay ahead of anything else, and I think they've done really well with that, so we try to make our gameplay also as polished as we can, because I think that's a great way to go.

When you're working on like a PSP game, coming from a background of doing all those PS2 games, is the technology that you use now basically the same stuff you were using to create the PS2 games, or did you have to develop new technology solutions to make PSP games?

LM: Well, we had to do a different engine. We individually developed a PSP engine and a PS2 engine, but a lot of our internal tools were the same. We use Maya for gameplay placement, and a number of other things. So there was some variation, but mainly on the hardcore technology side.

So you built the original engine for Size Matters. I'm assuming you used it again for Secret Agent Clank?

LM: Yes.

And then when you moved the games to PS2, how did that work?

LM: We had to write an original engine for the PlayStation 2, and then we started moving over our gameplay, and then adjusting anything that needed to be adjusted, to take advantage of the PlayStation 2's advantages.

And see that's kind of funny, because, I guess if you had been under contract with Insomniac and Sony to do a PS2 Ratchet game at the outset, you might have been able to use the main series engine.

LM: Insomniac has amazing engine people; I mean, they've done great stuff, and more importantly, they've poured a great deal of time into their engine, which makes it very attractive. At the same time, we have a really veteran engine team, so they're really excited about their own engine challenges.

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