Time for another Behind the Scenes. This time we’ve got WET’s Senior Game Designer, Avi Winkler.
Learn more after the break.
What’s your job at A2M?
I started out as an Art Director for A2M back in 2001. After several years I switched over to Design were I currently work as a Senior Game Designer.
What other games have you worked on, and in what role?
As an Art Director I worked on several titles and after shifting to Game Design, I worked on creating several prototype demos. These prototypes actually evolved into what WET is today.
What is the best part about being a Designer? The worst part?
The best part about being a Designer has to be the creative pre-production period of a project. This is the time when you get to dream up the craziest stuff. Then you get to see your ideas and concepts come to life and discover what works well and what doesn’t. The worst part?… All I can say is that as a Designer you always have to be prepared to remove your favorite idea from the game.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I got lucky! At least it feels like that to me. While working in the animation industry I always had a passion for games. With the rising presence of Game Studios here in Montreal, I decided to apply to an unknown studio at the time called A2M (Artificial Mind & Movement). With my artistic background and years and years of videogame playing experience at hand, A2M decided to hire me as an Art Director, were I later discovered a passion for Game Design. Back when I applied, there was no such thing as Game Design schools or courses. Now it is possible to get a Degree in the video game field. You can also apply to work as a Tester for game developers. From there, your foot is already in the door. After all, I started out as a Cleanup Artist in the animation industry.
You previously worked in Television, how did that experience differ from the gaming industry?
In many ways they are similar. I worked for five years in the animation industry before I switched over to games. Both industries have studio environments that are extremely fun places to work. They generally consist of young individuals with creative minds and wonderful senses of humor. The biggest difference I can say is that the video game industry has the benefit of instant results. Many changes can be made to your game that can be tested almost immediately, while in Television changes, even simple ones, require weeks and weeks of work.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
There are so many games that come to mind, but the one that stands out the most for me is a not-so-well-known and underappreciated PC game called Trespasser, released in 1998. It was one of the first games to introduce gameplay that revolved entirely around real-time physics. Sorry Half-Life 2… you weren’t the first! Trespasser also brought to life large open-space Level Design with multiple ways to progress through them, as well as ragdoll physics. In many ways, Trespasser was ahead of its time. I have to say it was the first game to truly immersed me in the experience, each time I played through it.
What games are you looking forward to?
I like to play all sorts of games but I tend to lean more toward Racing, Action Adventure and Shooter genres. Upcoming games on my radar are DIRT 2, FUEL, Split Second, Assassin’s Creed II, Mafia II, Army of TWO: The 40th Day and God of War III (just to name a few). My wallet is feeling lighter already.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Working in the video game industry has to be one of the best jobs you can have. While it is not all fun and games day-in and day-out, like some people might think, it is extremely rewarding to create something that is intended to entertain others. Also, to work in an industry that you yourself have a passion for is just awesome. I go from developing video games during the day to playing them at night.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
I wouldn’t say it was my “worst” job, but more like “most challenging.” As a teenager I spent summers working as a counselor. One year I was assigned to a camp that geared toward underprivileged youth. Most of the kids were great and made the summer a wonderful experience, but there were a few who though it was fun to kick me where it hurts and run away from camp on a daily basis. Good times!
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
When I’m not playing games I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids. I read the odd book here and there and watch a lot of movies. Films are an excellent source to draw inspiration from and use as visual references.