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Interview with Sam Brown


3/30/00 by Tom Smallwood
with Sam Brown
Jr. Programmer, Associate Producer
Legend Entertainment

Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities while working on WoT?

Sam Brown: My responsibilities varied throughout the project, but here's a quick
list:

  • Associate Producer
  • Sound Management and Integration - All sound effects and spoken dialog
  • Animation Management and Integration - All PC/NPC animations
  • Internal Localization Management and Integration - I didn't do the translations, just managed and integrated all the international text and dialog
  • BuildBoy - Ran all the daily builds
  • Testing - Some...
  • Forum Administrator - Not an official thing, but probably worth mentioning

How did you get into the game design field?

Sam Brown: Like most I suppose, perseverance and luck. A friend of mine has been in the gaming field for many years and knew Bob Bates here at Legend. She suggested they take a look at my resume and from there things just happened.

What games have you edited professionally? Nonprofessionally?

Sam Brown: I'm not an editor, but I have worked on both the Blackstone Chronicles and Wheel of Time.

What is your favorite computer game after WoT?

Sam Brown: I guess I don't keep favorites like most do, but games I currently enjoy (in no particular order) are System Shock 2 (and 1 for that matter), Asheron's Call, Tribes, Age of Empires 2, X-wing Alliance (the whole set actually, well, except for XvT), The Sims, Carmageddon 2, Mechwarrior 3, Independence War, and that Unreal Tournament game is pretty cool too. I guess you could say I have some widely varying tastes.

Do you play user created levels?

Sam Brown: I have looked at some user levels, but I don't play them.

What is the biggest problem you see in user made levels?

Sam Brown: Well, I'm not a level designer, so I'm not going to use all the LD-type words, but I'll do my best. I think the first round of user levels lacked a sense of playability. When making levels I think there are a few questions you have to constantly ask yourself, does the level meet your aesthetic and artistic approval and is it fun? The first round of levels I think missed on both accounts. However, we are beginning to see levels that are quite playable and fun, some are even looking nice, but I think there's still a ways to go before they reach what could be considered professional quality.

What changes do you see coming in computer games over the next 5 years?

Sam Brown: I could write a whole paper on this question alone, but I'll try and keep it concise. I expect computer games to continue along the current path of multiplayer and massive multiplayer. This is going to become more and more important as the 'Net further permeates our everyday lives. One of the major issues holding multiplayer down a few years ago was the lack of gamers on the 'Net, these days everyone is getting high speed hookups in their house, and if they aren't, they are at least getting dialup connections. As those numbers grow, so will the game designers' attentions be focused on appealing to that audience.

Naturally, 3D is a big thing now, and I expect to see further advances in the quality of the 3D simulations, the more real it feels, the more real it is...remember that, it's like a mantra for making a game immersive. Unfortunately, many games that try to follow that mantra end up not being fun. I think in the next five years the balance will be struck and games will not only be more immersive, but more fun.

What are you doing now that WoT is finished?

Sam Brown: WoT's finished? Besides continuing my participation in the WoT forums I'm taking time on the side to continue working on the couple utilities I made to assist WoT players, namely THUMB and whatever else I can come up with. Beyond that, my primary focus these days is on Unreal 2.

What did you enjoy most about working on WoT? Least?

Sam Brown: Most: Being a part of a kick-ass team of developers.
Least: Getting my ass kicked by a team of developers.

Finally, how about a quick strategy tip for MP?

Sam Brown: I suppose my personal "thing" is to have everything lined up ahead of time. Pick a strategy, set all your artifacts up in your hands, and go conquer. I don't use any special key bindings, so if I plan to log seekers, I am sure to have reflect set up and ready to go along with a fire shield in case my reflect runs out. Basically, just be prepared for any situation, never go into a fight without a plan and always have an escape route. Hmm...sounds like I'm talking about fire safety...

I want to thank Sam Brown for this interview. Look for more interviews with Legend's staff over the next few days.

Previous Interview: Robert Wisnewski

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