For this week’s Inside the Vault, we’ve got Obsidian’s Larry Liberty — who serves as a Senior Producer on Fallout: New Vegas. When he’s not working on games, he serves the people as Larry Liberty: Defender of Justice.
What’s your job at Obsidian?
Put simply, I manage the production of Fallout: New Vegas. In practice, that means managing a small team of producers that in turn manage the five cross-discipline teams of developers responsible for creating the game. [We have broken the team into smaller sub-teams, each focused on a specific goal each milestone. Incidentally, these teams are all named after items found in the Fallout universe: Team Buffout, Fancy(lads), Mentats, Nuka, and Psycho.] I manage two of the teams myself and coordinate with the rest of my production crew in a relatively organic manner. My primary job is to see that Josh’s [Josh Sawyer, Project Director/Lead Designer] vision is executed to the fullest extent possible while staying within scope.
What games have you worked on?
Including a few cancelled titles, I have worked on twentysomething games. When I was a kid, I tested a couple of Atari 5200 games and an Atari Lynx title when I was in college. My first game as a member of an actual development team was MLB Pennant Race, the first Sony baseball game for the PlayStation. I am credited on other games as either a programmer or producer: EverQuest, PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, Tony Hawk 4, NBA: The Life, D&D Tactics, The Witcher, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, among others.
Any fun facts you’d like to share about Obsidian?
All of the owners remain involved in the day-to-day development of games, something that does not happen all that often once a company reaches a certain size. Perhaps as a result of this, there is just about nothing in the way of political intrigue, very refreshing and unheard of in a game company with well over 100 employees.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I was originally hired by Sony as a programmer â€“ after switching majors from History to Computer Science at the behest of friend in the game business. There are several universities with game development programs that are quite strong, and have ties to the game development community. I have been impressed with SMU’s Guildhall — especially for their programmers. If you are beyond college-age and/or more interested in design or production, one way to break in to the business would be to make a game mod that shows your chops as a designer or your ability to coordinate a large group of hobbyist developers.
Thus far, what’s been the highlight of your career?
I have been proud of how a few of the games I have worked on have turned out, but the most gratifying period was during my time at Atari, as a publishing producer. I had to manage several projects at once, all of which had relatively small budgets and tight deadlines.
In your career, how would you say the gaming industry has changed the most?
Games are a much bigger business than they were when I first started. Teams are larger and the stakes are much higher. Some of the games I have worked on had break-evens that would require sales well over a million units and an overall project budget in the tens of millions of dollars. The first game I worked on had a budget of roughly a quarter million dollars and 5-man development team. Even in the PS1 days, teams were usually in the 10-12 person range.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Shadow of the Colossus.
What games are you looking forward to?
There are a lot of good games set to come out this year: The Last Guardian, God of War III, Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, Gran Turismo 5, Brink, Alan Wake, and Lost Planet 2.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
My alarm. Seriously, I do enjoy what I do and the people I work with, and it makes the sometimes long hours worthwhile.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
It would have to be a tie between dishwasher (my first regular job, while a high school sophomore) and process server (while in college).
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I play basketball, tennis, and bodysurf. I also like going hiking and skiing in the mountains around Lake Arrowhead.
Are you aware you have the best name of all time?
Thank you. I do get my share of superhero jokes. I have my dad and granddad to thank for that, since I am the third.