As Feargus Urquhart mentioned in his Developer Diary, Brian Menze has done plenty of Vault Boy drawings in his day. Find out about some of his favorite creations for Fallout, as well as other games he’s worked on, in our latest Inside the Vault…
What’s your job at Obsidian?
I’m a senior conceptual artist. I also provide other 2D in-game assets as well. For example, in Fallout: New Vegas, I painted many of the billboards and posters and designed some logos found throughout the game.
What games have you worked on?
I’ve worked on 18 shipped titles in my career which include Fallout 2, Planescape: Torment, The Icewind Dale series, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Alpha Protocol and of course Fallout: New Vegas. I’ve worked on 3 scrapped titles as well.
What is the best part about your job? The worst part?
Without being too sappy, I love working with a team. The best part of my job is being surrounded by talented people working together to make great things happen. I played a lot of team sports as a kid, and always liked that as an artist, I can still work in a group environment. The worst part is the lack of a face-to-face connection to fans, or people who play the games we make. Comic creators have conventions where they can meet the people, athletes have the roar of the crowd, film-makers can sit in an auditorium and hear people’s reaction to a film. As a game maker I feel I have no way to directly connect with the people I do this job for.
Any fun facts you’d like to share about Obsidian?
For whatever reason, employees are asked to move offices quite often. There are few people here who haven’t been in the same room for much longer than 6 months.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I broke in 1993, when it was much easier to do. I literally responded to a flyer posted in my local comic book shop. As far as tips — one tip I firmly believe in is to get to know someone in the business. Almost every job I’ve ever had, including those that are not game related, I got from knowing someone already doing it.
Thus far, what’s been the highlight of your career?
Co-creating a character, with Chris Avellone, named Darth Nihilus for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. The character has an action figure, has appeared in many Star Wars related media, fans dress up as the character, and it was featured on the Howard Stern radio show for many weeks. That character was my 15 minutes of fame.
Do you remember what it was like the first time you took a stab at drawing Vault Boy?
Vaguely. It was the first assignment I was given when I joined Black Isle Studios, so I was just doing what I was told to do, while trying to fit in. Though, I do remember feeling very relieved that I was asked to do something I could easily do, which took some of the stress off.
What’s your favorite Vault Boy drawing you’ve done ?
Just one? I’ve drawn roughly 200 of them now, I have a lot of favorites – betrayer, married, virgin and gecko skinning to name a few.
What does your job entail during the months between concept phases? Do you work on future projects? In-game art assets?
I’m conceptualizing or providing 2D in-game assets on a project almost all the way through a project’s duration. Sometimes, I help with future projects or other projects currently in production, but that could happen at any time. If I’m running out of stuff to do I’m moved off quickly to another project full time.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Purely for nostalgia’s sake — Defender, the arcade classic from Williams Electronics. I have many fond memories of my best childhood friend and I riding our bikes to our local 7-Eleven to sip slurpees while spending our allowances on that that game all summer long. I still suck at it though.
What games are you looking forward to?
Epic Mickey, NBA Jam, and Batman: Brave and the Bold.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
My cat Booger. Every morning at 6:30AM he starts meowing, wanting breakfast.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
I delivered pizza at night for a while in a town that was surrounded by a lot of agricultural country. The place I drove for didn’t have a limit on mileage so sometimes I drove up to 10 miles away, at night, with no street lights and many unpaved roads. I got lost so many times I can’t remember. I was eventually fired because I called in sick for almost two weeks straight, just because I didn’t want to go in, even to quit.
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Comic Books are my big hobby. I read and collect a lot of them. Other than that, I follow baseball and soccer, spend a lot of time at Disneyland and love watching films made in the 40’s and 50’s.