Miss Sparks: So Ryan why did you choose to join IMG?
Ryan: My honest answer is that I am studying Games Development at college, and was a part of the Modding community specialising in Quests and Levels. Me and Darren already knew each other via his talk show (Get to know your mod author) and after his final episode we stayed on a bit and had a yatter! He was telling me about Breaking Wheel (then project Elliball) and I was really impressed and he said he needed someone to do level design, my expertise, so I just said I'd help and never looked back!
The reason I joined is because I respect Darren and his work, and this is a great project to get into and it just allows me to do something I love!
Miss Sparks: Well that is the best reason to join something, because you love it. So you're a level designer at IMG, what exactly does that involve doing apart from the obvious?
Ryan: Well currently we have three people doing levels. Me, the lead level designer, Bigbizkit, level designer and lead mechanics designer, and Darren lead of everything. Now luckily Big is a great worker and makes awesome levels that are just ready to roll (no pun intended). Darren on the other hand he makes wild and wondrous levels but only the templates. It is my job to come in and make it all look nice and shiny and turn it from a bare bones design into something that is appealing to look at while playing. Sometimes I am told what specifically to do with the levels and other times I just let loose and have fun!
So when I am not doing things for the guys I need to design and create my own levels. It is not as easy as it sounds and somewhere there is a science behind it. You need to know if this will be a simple level that is eye candy or if this needs to be a complex showstopper, you need to figure out how to place the traps, coffee and coins so it feels natural yet a challenge, and most of all you need to make it look appealing. If you have a small level that is great to play but is very bland people will just be bored by it, first impressions and all, so it is my job to make a level where people go "wow I want to play that" just by looking at it.
Miss Sparks: Any levels in particular that you are proud of?
Ryan: Yeah there is one! We are always our own biggest critics so I never look at one of my levels and go "wow that looks great, I am so happy with that" but I did get pretty close this week. I was assigned the task of creating another level out of a template Darren gave me. This one was special though seen as it is the opening story scene for breaking wheel so I had too pull out all the stops for this level. It is composed of two areas, a small valley village and a giant castle all within a snowy realm. All I was given was a flat plane for the land, and the outline for the castle, the castle had to have a throne room, a blacksmith and some stuff in between. I took my time planning it all and then building it over a whole week, I wanted to get every tiny details right inside and out. I handed it in yesterday an am pretty chuffed. There is still some room for improvement at a later date but for now it will do. Here are some before/after pics!
Miss Sparks: Wow they look amazing, I can see why you're proud of them. Out of curiosity for everybody, what is your most favourite game of all time?
Ryan: Oh... That is like asking who your favourite child is for me haha. I would do some of my five favourite games, in no specific order would maybe be: Dark Souls II, Overwatch, Skyrim, 007: Nightfire and Ocarina of time. But I could go on for hours about favourite games but those are some strong contenders ;)
Miss Sparks: Its a good list, I love Nightfire as well. It was a childhood game of mine.
Ryan: Yeah me and my bro played countless hours back in the day!
Miss Sparks: Do you have any hobby's outside of games?
Ryan: As a creative minded person sure I have a few haha! But my favourite non-gaming related hobby would be smithing coins into rings! It is a long story how I started, but I really enjoy it and it is a great way to be creative and still work with your hands.
Miss Sparks: That's not a hobby you hear about everyday, Well thanks for your time and one last question. Are there any links or anything you want to share?
Ryan: Sure, I would love to be a bit cheeky and do a shout out to my great friend from modding! You all definitely know her, she is the talented Voice Actress Christine Slagman who lent her voice to all my quest mods, but you should know her as Sofia (the funny follower). Check out her Webpage http://christine-slagman.wixsite.com/portfolio and her YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc_R2OPK8CUHOeiqm8I0x4g Otherwise that is it for me! Thanks for your interview Sparks and thanks to all those who read it!
Miss Sparks: Thanks Ryan for your time!
Well I am not sure who I will have for next weeks interview but I hope you enjoyed this, As allways you can find all of us on discord (https://discord.gg/Q4VrbRJ) Till next week!