Hi Rob. So, to start off, what do you do at Double Eleven?
I’m Technical Director, but most of my day is spent hands-on coding.
And have you been in the games industry long?
Just working it out; it’ll be 11 years in May.
That’s quite a stint. How much of that has been with Double Eleven?
It will be 2 years in July if I remember correctly.
And where else have you worked in the remainder of that time?
Well, back in 2002 I moved from the south coast to the Midlands after I bagged a job at Rare, where I learnt a lot over the next seven years. In 2009 I moved up to Leeds for a stint at Rockstar, so by that time I knew both Lee [Hutchinson, CEO] and Matt [Shepcar, Technical Director] well and the rest is history really.
What made you decide to get into the games industry in the first place, and how did you secure a job at Rare?
It was all an accident really. I loved computers from an early age and was programming as a hobby. I can remember spending weeks writing a “Red Dwarf” text adventure in Basic. I think that was 1990 or 1991, so I was around 10. This continued through my teens, but I mostly studied other things. I went off to university to study economics. That didn’t really work out and I didn’t finish it, but that turned out to be quite fortunate. I sent off a speculative application to Rare with a bunch of demos I’d written for the Gameboy Advance, and they were kind enough to give me a chance, which I took with both hands!
A Rare opportunity! Ha ha…. sorry. So, knowing Lee and Matt from working with them in the past, you must have been happy to jump over to the Double Eleven ship. What would you say you like about working here, with them, the most?
I think for me it’s been about getting involved with something early on and hopefully being able to make a big difference. That’s exciting and scary in equal measures. Creating software is like alchemy, except that it actually works. So if you can get great people together in that field you can do great things. I think that’s what we’re on the road to achieving here at Double Eleven.
You were part of the team for ‘LittleBigPlanet PS Vita’. What was your involvement on the project?
That project was a bit of a Herculean optimisation effort and that’s what I spent a fair bit of my time on the project doing. We had to multi-thread all sorts of code that programmers often shy away from attempting, such as all the game logic that you can put together in Create Mode. So I spent a lot of time trying to make sure I hadn’t broken anything (or finding out that I had and fixing it!) I also did a fair bit of work on the networking code and then lots of general bug fixing.
And now you’re working on ‘Frozen Synapse: Tactics’. Obviously you can’t say much right now, but can you give us a quick summary of your role on that?
Indeed. For Frozen Synapse I’ve taken on the lead programmer role and that basically involves overseeing all the software, putting processes and pipelines into place, and problem solving whatever comes up as the project goes on.
Moving away from work, do you find much time for gaming outside of the job? What would you say was your most recently enjoyed game?
I love the more experimental indie games and I’m glad that scene is doing so well. Braid, Fez, VVVVVV are some obvious favourites from the last few years, and of course Frozen Synapse. I recently spent half the day selling newspapers in Cart Life, which was quite a profound experience. I’m really looking forward to Spy Party and must get around to trying Prison Architect. That said, I still play quite a lot of good old Tetris too. Aside from that you can find me running quite long distances or playing with my two dogs.
Indeed, it is certainly good to see so much attention on great indie games at the moment. Do you have any closing comments?
Closing comments, well…I should really take the opportunity to say ‘send us your CVs’, if you think you can enhance the team here at Double Eleven. And with that, there is work to do so I’ll say goodbye!
Well, thank you for the interview, Rob. Good luck with your work on ‘Frozen Synapse: Tactics’.