This time A Conversation with… tracked down Kevin Maloney, from our 12th graduating class, at Harebrained Schemes in Seattle.
- Tell me about what you are doing now in the Games Industry
These days I am a Game Designer here at Harebrained Schemes in the greater Seattle area and have been on Shadowrun the whole time. I’m kind of an all season radial in our smallish shop. I was brought on as a Level Designer for our first kickstarted project “Shadowrun Returns”. I started with making content but as time went by I found plenty more things to keep me busy. So beyond taking levels from concept to ship, I design features, script AI and along with a few other folks get to pitch in on the narrative side of things as well.
- How has this changed since you graduated?
Well things were kinda dry the first six months after I graduated as the economy had just taken a big hit. I kept hustling my face off and through the connections I gained and maintained from VFS, I was able to get my first job in the industry as QA at the now closed Propaganda Games. After about two years of doing that I moved on to my first design gig at Radical. After a year there, my lead from Radical put me in touch with HBS and well, you know the rest.
- Can you describe a typical day in your office?
It really depends on what phase of the production process we are in. We have just moved out of pre-production and hit production full steam on our next project “Shadowrun: Hong Kong”. So the documents and meetings of pre-pro are making way for more time in the editor as we build the game out.
Also this month too, the whole studio has had one eye on HBS’s third successful kickstarter for “Shadowrun: Hong Kong” and it is very exciting and humbling to see people rally behind us once again. You can visit our Kickstarter here. (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/webeharebrained/shadowrun-hong-kong)
- What’s the most fun thing you get to do? What’s the most stressful/challenging?
For me the thing that is the most fun is also the most stressful and challenging, which is designing and creating the game. For us on the design team we pick a direction for the project and then everyone else improves on it, and then we all come together to take those ideas and turn them into an experience you can play. Being at the centre of that is incredibly rewarding but also a bit nerve wracking at times. You want to do right by the team, and as a studio we want to do right by our kickstarter backers because without them there would be no team.
Working with the Shadowrun IP, as someone who played its pen and paper version for years, is also very rewarding. As an aside, it was also pretty great when we brought on a person who was a member of my old Shadowrun pen and paper group back in Van, a previous co worker and a co class rep from GD12, one Simon Cameron. Regretfully he is now back in Vancouver but it was great having him around for our critically acclaimed release “Shadowrun: Dragonfall”.
- What games are you playing right now, and what elements have impressed you?
Right now I am doing non lethal (except for bosses) play through of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I really enjoy both the systemic and narrative agency of this style of game. Approaching objectives and story your own way is a thing that only video games can do and I don’t think I will ever tire of experiencing that.
- What are some trends you see in upcoming games?
I got to say virtual reality. I have only played some Half Life on an Oculus dev kit one and while nauseating at points at others it literally took my breath away. Getting those sorts of experiences in the hands of the mainstream consumer is going to take some doing but from what little I have seen its truly an amazing experience that no other medium can come close to offering. There are some pretty great talks from Steam Dev Days you can search for and watch to start to give you an idea of where things are headed in terms of VR.
- What do you feel was the most valuable skill that you learned in the Game Design program at VFS?
Hard to pick just one so here is few. First level design, then coding and then well everything else. To be able to have demonstrable skills (as shown in my portfolio) was what got me in the door but then all the other courses that covered everything from audio to UI to narrative really enabled me to progress in my career.
- If you could give a current student in Game Design some advice, what would it be?
Don’t stop believing would be it. You can do it. Just understand where you, where you want to go and how you are going get there. Then work and network as hard as you can. Chase down every opportunity that you can and you will be surprised where things take you. I know it surprised me.
Thanks for the update Kevin, best of luck with your Kickstarter campaign, and we look forward to seeing your next game!