Continuing HomeLAN's monthly series of Q&As with members of the Devastation development team, we chat with Barry Gibbs, the lead designer of Digitalo's upcoming Unreal engine powered first person shooter as well as the company's chief financial officer.
HomeLAN - What are your responsibilities as CFO of Digitalo and the Lead Designer on Devastation?
Barry Gibbs - As CFO of Digitalo my job is maintaining the books, budgets, finances, payroll, contracts, and making sure we stay out of the red. As Lead Designer on Devastation, I make sure we are always heading in the right direction conceptually and creatively. Most importantly, I do a lot of problem solving with design, mechanics, and motif when those issues arise. If you’re wondering how I got my background in business, it goes like this… I was always told I could never make a living as a professional artist, so when I went to college I decided to take the safe route. When it came time for picking my major, I realize now that I must have had A.D.D.! First, I earned an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, changed my major to History, then to Undecided, then to Public Administration (this is where the business background comes from). When I was one semester away from graduating I thought… “Do I really want to live a life of quiet desperation?” I changed my major for the last time and got my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. Not only was it the best decision I ever made, it’s how I met my friend, and business partner Vic DeLeon.
HomeLAN - What can you tell us about your background in terms of previous game development?
Barry Gibbs - My earliest game development was a turn-based game that involved a four-foot high mound of dirt, a garden hose, dice, and three hundred plastic army men (150 green 150 khaki)… Other than that I was the Lead Designer on several projects including VRND: Notre-Dame Cathedral, and a few prototype projects like Jack’d among others. I was Art Director and Lead Designer on the official Unreal Tournament Add-on Pack that was cancelled. Since that I’ve been working on Devastation from its early concept days over two years ago, and it has kept me busy ever since.
HomeLAN - What are some of your artistic influences?
Barry Gibbs - Artistically, I feel that I can be, and have often been, influenced by simply walking out my front door, or just by driving down the street. When I see something that inspires me, I pull over and snap a photo. I do the same thing whether I’m out of town, or just running errands - it is a constant compulsion. Films also act as an artistic influence on me. Much of this influence becomes very visible in Devastation. There are many directors whose works I find particularly inspiring like Terry Gilliam, Jim Jarmusch, Tom Tykwer, Darren Aronofsky, Alex Proyas, David Fincher, and Christopher Nolan.
HomeLAN - How closely do you work with the rest of the development team at Digitalo in the creation of the game?
Barry Gibbs - I work very closely with the whole development team. Aside from the early conceptual and gameplay development, I have been involved in creating a majority of the texture art for the game. I love making textures. I guess because it’s so closely related to photography now, more than it ever used to be in the past. Most of the 2D assets in Devastation have either been created on, or have passed through my computer at some point in the project.
We have a very talented and self-motivated team working on Devastation, and at this stage of the project, everyone knows what direction they are supposed to be going. I have a very open line of communication with everyone on the team, which makes for a laid-back, yet productive work atmosphere.
HomeLAN - Currently what are your favorite video and PC games that you like to play and why?
Barry Gibbs - I try to play a little of everything during my “gaming time”. Right now I am replaying NOLF because it is fun and it makes me laugh. I still like to play the mod DoD; it evokes the feeling of having just watched a WWII Saturday afternoon double feature. Oh yeah… John Madden is still a yearly purchase.
HomeLAN - What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
Barry Gibbs - To be honest with you John, at this point in the project I really don’t have enough time for any outside hobbies. But when I have free time, I like single-track trail biking, and surfing. One of my favorite things is going on day trips that my wife plans out. She always finds these great places you’d never know existed. Once I get more free time I plan on focusing more on my fine art and photography.
HomeLAN - What specifically were you contributing to the game's development the day this interview was conducted?
Barry Gibbs - I was updating a texture library, working with Andres Mendez on menu layouts and functionality issues, working with Vic and Bob on our internal scheduling, and finally I missed out on “skating the parking garage” with Ray Davis… just so I could finish this interview.
HomeLAN - What are some of your favorite aspects of Devastation?
Barry Gibbs - Bottom line: our “Territories” gametype, which is dangerously addicting. The object physics are amazing too, and I could spend hours running around the maps kicking the garbage (I sure hope someone makes a kick the can mod, or an urban soccer mod). The rag-doll physics are so good that I go back and replay specific areas of the game just to watch the different rag-doll effects, and how they really bring a whole new element to the game. The level design is deep, and the maps have a raw beauty and demand player exploration. The characters in the game are like no others, very new and original.
HomeLAN - What can you tell us about the game's current status?
Barry Gibbs - The current status of the game is healthy.
HomeLAN - Finally, why should everyone reading this be excited about Devastation?
Barry Gibbs - It should help cure the aching hole in the soul of the multiplayer freak. It’ll spread smiles of delight, re-energizing the mod community. Then there’s the singleplayer adventure that will thrust you into a fresh and stylish, action-packed world, traveling from territory to territory kicking ass all the way.
Arush Entertainment's official Devastation web site