Inside the Vault welcomes Cory Edwards, world artist, to answer a few questions about his work and his life. He has done some amazing work for Fallout 3. Cory is also our resident 3D Max guru.
What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a world artist working on texturing and modeling for our environments. My primary focus is on making kits for the level designers to use and abuse. I’ve spent the last two years making a large number of the dungeons kits used in Fallout 3 and the kit pieces for Megaton.
What other games have you worked on?
My first title was BloodRayne 2 and then I worked on Aeon Flux, both while at Terminal Reality. I moved on to Paradigm and worked briefly on Stuntman 2 before I discovered that racing games kill my soul.
What is the best part about working as an artist? The worst part?
I enjoy trying to make these kits for level designers (LD’s) as versatile as possible while still maintaining as much variety as possible. I enjoy the complexity involved and the challenge they provide. It’s rewarding to see the really engaging and interesting areas/dungeons the LD’s come up with using the kits in ways I hadn’t even thought of. Thankfully, they usually seem to stand up to the abuse.
On the other hand, a kit can easily get out of hand to the point where hundreds of permutations would be required to do everything we want. So you have to draw the line somewhere or it would never end. Unfortunately, you can’t do everything and it’s never fun knowing something can’t go in due to constraints.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I graduated from SCAD in Savannah GA, and then moved back to Texas where I am originally from. There’s a large industry of developers in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area and down in Austin. I avoided California as it is so expensive to live there. I rented out a room on the cheap from my brother and his friends. With Texas being an inexpensive place to live, I was able to spam out my resume and website shamelessly to the local developers and bide my time. Within two months I got a response and interview with Terminal Reality. They ended up hiring me shortly after as an environment artist. Fortunately, as it turned out, they were located about 15 minutes from my brother’s house. I started as a paid intern and 3 months later I was hired with a full-time salary. TRI is exactly the kind of foot-in-door company you hope for. They make good games and act as an excellent platform to improve and get the industry experience that most companies prefer.
If I was to give any advice for breaking in it would be to not take anyone else’s advice. I tried doing that and it only served to make me nervous. I found the best way to get the job you want is to take things as they come. Trying to memorize all the “things to do and not to do” will just drive you crazy. The way I figure it, even if I think I really want to work somewhere, if they don’t hire me, then I probably didn’t want to work there after all. I think I’m better off finding a more suitable match in that case. Also, Texas, it’s cheap and has a large enough industry and a lot of startups and well-known companies to choose from. Sometimes places just aren’t hiring and having a bigger pool to apply to can only help.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Ico. I’ve replayed that game so many times, but I’m going to cheat and include Shadow of the Colossus as well since it has such a compelling story that goes into Ico. I think games like Ico and SotC are perfect because not only are they enjoyable as games, but they go on to tell a deep story with plenty of deliberate “blanks” for the player to fill in with their own imagination. On top of that, they are themselves beautiful pieces of art work. From the characters to the environment, they contain a unique style that I’ve yet to find in other games.
What games are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to trying Fable 2, Starcraft 2, Alone in the Dark and Spore. Mirror’s Edge looked interesting as well.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
My alarm clock died, so it’s usually my wife since she gets up really early. Getting up before nine o’clock is just wrong in my opinion. What keeps me up is not having to dread coming to work.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
Worst job I ever had was in Savannah. I worked at a privately owned video store that was basically the only video store in the entire Historic District. The bad part was the fact that the entire back half of the building was adult content and that brought in some very interesting people to say the least. The stories I could tell.
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I play videogames a lot. I use to play MTG, sometimes I go back to that. I like to play unique board games like Settlers of Catan. I write a lot as well. I do Yoga when I can. And sometimes I like to buy old watches and clocks and disassemble them.