Inside the Vault: Craig Lafferty

Re-exposure of craig2.jpg

Today’s Inside the Vault is with Craig Lafferty, one of our senior producers. Craig is the producer responsible for all our artists. We use a matrix structure on the team – so in Craig’s case, he serves as both the producer for the art staff (he has two associate producers to help him manage our huge art dept), and as a lead producer for projects (Shivering Isles, Oblivion PS3). In fact, our PS3 fans out there will be happy to know Craig is also helping out with getting Shivering Isles working on the PS3 (Hopefully, Pete will be able to have more to say soon, but please know that we are working on it best we can.)

What’s your job at Bethesda?

I’m a Producer, which means different things depending on the project. Right now I’m the producer responsible for the art department, who are all working on Fallout 3. Before that I was lead producer on the PS3 version of Oblivion.

What other games have you worked on?

In the 90’s I worked at Epic Games as PR/Marketing manager and also had my hand in development on titles including Jazz Jackrabbit 2, Tyrian and the original Unreal.

After Epic moved to North Carolina I worked at Legend Entertainment on:
Return to Na Pali (Unreal expansion Pack)
Wheel of Time
Unreal 2: The Awakening
Unreal 2 XMP – (was a really overlooked multiplayer mode for Unreal 2)

At Bethesda I have worked on:
IHRA Professional Drag Racing 2005
IHRA Drag Racing: Sportsman Edition
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for PS3

What is the best part about bring a producer? The worst part?

The best part is probably the fact that I get to be involved in all aspects of a game’s development. I don’t have to focus on just one task but instead get to be involved in everything from initial design to final testing and getting the game out the door. Never a dull moment as I like to say.

The worst part is probably scheduling crunches and telling people either a) what you are working on is going to need to be cut or scaled way back or b) “so, I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday, M’kay”.

What does a producer do?

In a nutshell, we make sure a game is completed on time, on budget, and delivers the game experience it is supposed to. What we do on a day to day basis changes as the project goes on. Initially it involves a lot of meetings and scheduling, then it becomes heavy duty tracking of assets and the current state of the game, and toward the end it’s all about making sure everything is in the game and it’s bug free (and doesn’t suck). And throughout the entire thing a producer is responsible for playing the game every day and being aware of the state of things, so to speak. And there are lots of miscellaneous tasks that come up from time to time involving giving demos and things for the press or working with the marketing, sales, and legal departments.

What is it like working there?

It’s the most fun real job I’ve ever had. Making games isn’t easy, but it’s a whole lot easier when the people you work with have a sense of humor and also share a passion for games. The people here are all the real deal; very talented people that don’t take themselves too seriously. So while there can be plenty of stress there is hardly ever a day I don’t have at least one laugh out loud conversation with someone.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?

I was working at Marriott HQ (the hotel company) doing SAS Database programming (please, try to contain your excitement) and playing games in my spare time during evenings and weekends. I downloaded the shareware game Jazz Jackrabbit from a little company called Epic MegaGames. (I still can’t believe they dropped the MegaGames part of their name). When I realized they were a local company with their office not far from where I lived, I decided to email them about how much I liked the game and see, if by any chance, they were hiring. Mark Rein responded to my email and said in fact they were hiring, and before I knew it I was leaving the suit and tie world of corporate America and working for a game company making shareware games for the PC. After a few years of releasing successful shareware games like Epic Pinball, One Must Fall and Jazz Jackrabbit 2 we started work on a little game called Unreal and then things really got interesting.

For breaking into the industry the best tips I have are to get involved in the mod community and be active in forums. If you do good work it will speak for itself.

Another way in is through entry level positions like internships and Quality Assurance. If there are skilled people already working for a company they are much more likely to promote from within since they will already be familiar with your skills and work habits.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all-time?

No way to pick just one, but several that come to mind as my all time favorites are Dark Forces, Halo, Doom, Diablo II, Mario 64, SSX, Half-Life 2, Bioshock and Oblivion.

What games are you looking forward to?

Wow where to start, there seem to be so many big games this holiday. Call of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed, Rock Band, The Simpson’s Game and Virtua Fighter 5 are probably the one’s I am most looking forward to playing this year. And next year GTA IV and Starcraft 2.

Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spare time… What’s that? Besides playing games and spending time with my family, music and movies are my other big interests. I have a huge DVD collection and being able to watch part of a favorite movie at any time is always nice. I’ve found Michael Bay movies hold up much better on repeat viewings if you just watch the action scenes and fast forward through the rest of the movie.

Oh, and pawning stray animals unapologetically on artists.

Pitch your dream game.

A first person RPG puzzle shooter. Basically Puzzle Quest with guns and lots of explosions. And Nukes. You can never have enough Nukes in games.

Reader Comments

  1. Good. Nice to see people working on the PS3. By “making it work”, you mean coding right?

    And uh, you’re overdue on the GOTY news for Europe.

  2. Will there ever be an option to turn of swear words in games from Bethesda?
    You guys develop the best games available, but I don’t want hear bad language.

  3. I was suprised that you were putting nukes in Fallout 3. The other games had nukes only as story devices that were left over from prewar times. similar to “Megaton”, is it?
    I was a bit jaded when i heard that you get a mini nuke weapon in the game… it just doesnt seem right. it’s cool that the disaster happened in the past because it felt like it was a mistake that had been made already. besides, in a nuclear wasteland, why would you want to make the radiation even worse?
    in conclusion, yes you can have too many nukes in games.
    having said that, i’m very much looking forward to Fallout 3 and i’m sure you’re all working very hard to make the games the best it can be

  4. No doubt. Ease back on the nukes man. It totally removes the awe-inspiring impact of the thing if you saturate your games with it. If you wanna make a game called “Nuke Fest 2008″, go right ahead: but you need to maintain some respect and restraint with Fallout.

  5. I agree with nixing nukes from the actual gameplay. There was that one nuclear explosion in F.E.A.R. and while it was a pretty awesome explosion somehow it didn’t work right. I think it’s because you could still walk around and weren’t blasted back by the shock wave. You weren’t really a part of the explosion, more like a ghost who happened to be present but unaffected by it.

  6. hi, I dont want to be rude, but what do we care if your “main design director” or “producer” give interviews answering questions like “What is it like working there?”.. WE DONT CARE!!!! WAKE UP!!! give us some inside views of the game!! we want fallout 3 screenshots, ingame videos, give us some meat! stop those boring interviews!! WEEEE DOOOOOOOONT CAAAAARE…… i support your fallout 3 and I am a big fan of the previous games! I am not close minded, but for f*ck sake just gives more information about the game and not about who makes it, your just torturing us people!

  7. People complaining about the interviews are nuts. I think the best way to know about a game is to know the people behind it. Unreal was probably the first FPS that had a great gameplay as well as a beautifully looking world and the realism only seems to be getting better by the game. To know that someone who helped in the creation of Unreal and Oblivion lets me know that Fallout 3 is obviously in good hands. You guy’s should look into some MMO Licenses.

    Peace

  8. “No way to pick just one, but several that come to mind as my all time favorites are Dark Forces, Halo, Doom, Diablo II, Mario 64, SSX, Half-Life 2, Bioshock and Oblivion.”

    “I’ve found Michael Bay movies hold up much better on repeat viewings if you just watch the action scenes and fast forward through the rest of the movie.”

    Yep, Fallout 3 is in safe hands indeed…

  9. Amen on the Doom. Doom is good. Nukes are good. Too many nukes can be bad. Nukes… Doom… This is mildly depressing. PS3 is so sad, Killzone 2 seems to be one of the few remaining lights for it. Well… ok, again, its only one of them. Fallout 3; again, praise whatever God you claim that it was resurected.

  10. FOR ALL TO TAKE NOTICE:

    Craig didn’t mention Fallout 3 as a game he looks foward to. Shame, shame, we ALL know your name… Craig. That’s negative 1000 EXP points for you.

    Yours Truely,
    Josh Cain
    Nephew of Tim Cain(Father of Fallout)

  11. “No way to pick just one, but several that come to mind as my all time favorites are Dark Forces, Halo, Doom, Diablo II, Mario 64, SSX, Half-Life 2, Bioshock and Oblivion.”

    Wow, Halo and Oblivion. Fallout 3 will be a great addition to the Fallout series.

  12. Hey… Romero said he was looking forward Daikata and see what we got :P I’ve bought on a pre-order… 2 years waiting… and then… well, let’s change the subject. At least we won’t have to wait as long as Duke Nukem Forever (and Ever). And it’s always great to know people behind a game. At least I feel more confident when I know the makers are gamers in love for their work. And man… it’s Fallout!!! Raise your hands and thanks God for that!!!

  13. I really want to know why there are no more new screenshots or trailers of the game.Show some beta-gameplay.If there is any way to get my hands on a beta or a demo of the game please tell me.please at least tell me when will the game be released.in gamespot they say “march 2008″ and in the official fallout site “fall 2008″.i’ll be grateful if you ANSWER me!please!please!please!

    yours faithfully THE FALLOUT FREAK

    P.S. PLEEAAASSSEEEE

  14. Ever since I played the first two fallout games I have been patiently waiting for the third installment. When I heard that Bethesda was developing the game I was estatic… They had more than proved their selves to me with Morrorwind and completely amazed me with Oblivion. I feel the franchise is in good hands.
    I really want to know more about the story… What role will the enclave have, I wonder? Surely they survived… Somehow. I remember once in fallout 2 a jet flew overhead. I remember walking upon the broken remains of a star trek ship, and wading through whale guts in the middle of the desert. I remember befriending a hideous beast who hid behind a cloak, and I kept company with mutants.
    Fallout 3… I can’t wait.

  15. Craig, This might not be where to post a question, but I have no other choice. I recently changed my computer video card from a Nvidia FX5200 to a Nvidia GForce4 Mx440 8X card and now I keep getting error when the car starts to stage and have to close with the sound still running I think. I have had the same problem on 3 computers that meet all the requirements. I have a AMD XP3000 cpu with 512 megs memory, windows XP pro and the 128 meg video card. I have tried everything I can think of to search for solution. I have even checked with Nvidia and windows. I loved the game. Maybe you can help, please. Thanks IHRA Sportsman Edition