What we’re playing: Sending Galactica off in style edition

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This week many of us will be saying farewell to a good friend, as the final episode of Battlestar Galactica airs tonight. If you’ve noticed over the past few weeks, a number of devs have been playing the Battlestar Galactica Board Game for Thursday Night Game Night. As a Galactica fan myself, I checked out Jeff Lundin, Chris Esko, Ryan Salvatore, Jay Woodward, Nate Ellis and Jon Paul Duvall playing the game. In the pic above, these Final Five Six were in denial about their Cylon heritage and trying to accuse our Brotherhood of Steel of being a Centurion model.

Outside of the BSG board game, here’s what everyone else is playing…

Chris Esko, Gameplay Programmer: Dawn of War II, Madworld, King’s Bounty, the Battlestar Galactica boardgame.

Jay Woodward, AI Programmer: Some sort of improvisational Battlestar-finale drinking game (drink when something explodes! Drink when someone dies! Drink six times when a Six dies or Adama says “roll the hard six!” Drink one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight times for the colonial anthem!), the Battlestar board game (of course!), tabletop 4th ed. Dungeons & Dragons, and GTA IV.

Mark Teare, FX Artist: NHL 09, Prince of Persia, V-smile Baby.

Jon Paul Duvall, Designer: BsG boardgame, Dominion, Tribune, D&D 4th Edition; video games: WoW (yeah, damn that black hole, I thought I had escaped…)

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Inside the Vault: Matt Killmon

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After a long hiatus, we’re back. We’re here to talk with Matt Killmon, video producer. His most recent work, the trailer for The Pitt, can be found here.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m the video producer at ZeniMax Media, which means I do all the video work for Bethesda’s internal and external projects, as well as other games published by ZeniMax’s mobile gaming division, Vir2L. Trailers, promo footage, b-roll for news organizations, even in-game video… anything that’s video is my responsibility.

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Around the Web: Erik talks about maturing

No, this isn’t like that episode of the Brady Bunch where Peter sings “Time to Change.” Designer Erik J. Caponi is talking about “mature games” in a new Kotaku feature “Growing Up Games: When Will Mature, Mature?” Here’s a snippet of him discussing different definitions of what a mature game is:

“The word really has two meanings when we apply it to media. One is ‘not appropriate for children’ and the other is ‘exploring subject matter in a sophisticated fashion,'” Caponi explains. “Ironically, the word mature when applied to games tends to have a very childish connotation.”

Elsewhere, be sure to also read CG Society’s new interview with Fallout 3 Environment Artist Rashad Redic — previously featured here for Inside the Vault. Given that the interview comes post-release, you’ll get a chance to learn a little more about Rashad’s role and what he worked on for Fallout 3. Here’s an excerpt:

In what ways did you take Fallout3’s day/night cycle into consideration, so that your work looked consistently good in all the various light models and times of day?

Rashad: We use these full screen image processes similar to how film is tinted to color grade our environments, and we actually spent a lot of time tweaking the day and night cycles along with these image processes to give us the look we wanted. In our editor you can scrub through the different times of day and see how the color shifts affect the art, and we were very mindful of our color palette and art style throughout that process.

I guess I missed it when I put up Pete’s Gametrailers interview from D.I.C.E., but there’s also a new one with Todd. Watch it above.

More news after the break…

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March Mayhem 2009

While Pete, Ash and I cheer on our teams (that’s Wake Forest, Maryland, and Michigan) in this year’s 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, you can participate in The Escapist’s 2009 March Mayhem Developer’s Showdown. Registered members to the site can vote for their favorite developers each week.

The (return) Road to the Final Four for our studio begins with stiff competition: Call of Duty: World at War developer, Treyarch Studios. We’re listed as a #5 seed, and if you follow college basketball, you know that the seed mostly prone to being upset.

Voting begins tomorrow. Head to the Escapist for more details.  Good luck to all the developers.

What we’re playing

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This week’s edition of “What We’re Playing” comes late into the weekend after yours truly spent most of the weekend watching college basketball and crossing his fingers that his alma mater would make the “Big Dance.” Now that they’re in, I can relax and play Peggle.

Here’s the games we’re playing

Chris Esko, Gameplay Programmer: Mirror’s Edge, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, Peggle.

Fred Zeleny, Agent Z: Rock Band 2, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, and House of the Dead: Overkill, which is the best purchase I’ve ever made for my Wii, and makes me happy I can play it with one hand, so I can keep a bottle of whiskey in the other.

Pete Hines: Dawn of War II, Fire Emblem DS, something new for 360…TBD

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Splash Damage lands Killzone 2 Lead Level Designer

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In this week’s Splash Damage update, we’ve got some hiring news. Our friends in London today announced the addition of Neil Alphonso, who worked as the Lead Level Designer on Killzone 2.

Now a member of the Splash Damage team, Neil’s already done a developer Q&A on their site. Here’s a quick look…

What do you do at Splash Damage?

Neil: As Lead Level Designer, I maintain a high level overview of all the different levels in the game, and make sure they fit in with the game’s vision and work together to create something stronger than the sum of the parts. I am of course responsible for the quality of the work our department delivers, but with the talent of the team I’ve inherited, I don’t have to give guidance as much as clear obstacles out of their paths so they can get on with doing their jobs. It’s also my duty to help prioritize different assets and features from other departments that will effect the work of our team, and then chase people around to make sure they get done!

We’re excited about Neil joining the Splash Damage team. When we have new details on the project he’ll be working on, we’ll let you know.

What we’re watching: We’re watching Watchmen

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This week we’re talking about the TV shows/movies that we’re currently looking forward to (or already watching). Tonight, many of us are going to see the film adaptation of Watchmen. Should be fun.

Let us know what you’re watching these days, as well as if you’re going to go see the movie (see poll question). Have a great weekend!

Megan Sawyer, Artist: Watchmen, whatever I get on Netflix tomorrow, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, Eleventh Hour, Lost, Heroes, CSI: Miami, and possibly watching Repo! The Genetic Opera again.

Chris Esko, Gameplay Programmer: Watchmen, BSG, Lost, Important Things with Demetri Martin, In Bruges.

Sam Bernstein, QA: Battlestar Galactica, Clone High, and always Futurama.

Aaron Mitschelen, QA: Wait, TVs can show things other than games?

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New Splash Damage Developer Profile

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This week there’s a new developer profile over on Splash Damage’s site. This week we get a chance to meet Rav ‘ioli” Channa — who serves as their HR Manager. Rav has had a pretty busy year — bringing on new talent for the team currently working on a title we can’t talk about yet. You can read about some of their hires here, here, and here too.

Be sure to check her interview out. In the meantime here’s a snippet:

What are the best and worst parts of your job?
I like challenges and my role is full of those so probably that’s the best part of my job. It’s about how I can make a positive impact on the company whilst still retaining the culture. I’ve also had the chance to get to know some seriously talented and interesting people so I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far!

The worst part of my job is dealing with tricky and often sensitive situations that arise in the workplace. It’s not an easy job but someone’s got to do it!

That’s it for now. We’ll continue to keep you posted on developments at Splash Damage.

Around the web

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It’s been over a week since we last gave an update from around the web, so there’s plenty to catch up on.

We’ll begin with IGN, who are currently counting down The Top 100 Game Creators of All Time. We’re excited to see that Todd made the list at #70. Here’s a snippet of what they had to say about him:

“Where most designers tend to think in terms of simplicity and economy, Howard’s games have been defined by a staggering sense of scale and immersion that few others can match.”

The list is still ongoing, but there’s some of names worth mentioning. Morrowind/Oblivion composer Jeremy Soule cracked the list at #86. Meanwhile, Fallout fans might recognize a few other names on the list, including Feargus Urquhart (#89), Tim Cain (#85), and Chris Avellone (#80).

Sticking with developer news, if you haven’t seen it already, Todd answered questions for G4 while at this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit. In the ten minute interview, he discusses The Pitt, answers reader questions, and more.

Emil is in the news in a few places, too. At Edge, he was honored in their Hot 100 Games Developers list (#17). Meanwhile, a new feature on storytelling in games features him as well. You can read that here.

More news after the break…

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A Word About Chris Mullender

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We lost a good friend last week. Chris Mullender, a programmer at 4J Studios, passed away suddenly last Monday morning. Chris was instrumental in development of the PS3 version of Oblivion and also worked on Star Trek: Conquest. Everyone here at Bethesda respected Chris and his work tremendously.

Paddy Burns, who worked with Chris at 4J, summed up Chris for us:

“He was a brilliant programmer who loved making games and bringing up his three young sons. He was very involved in his local community, where he was proud of his work in getting Dunbar’s Christmas lights up, and setting up a few websites for local schools and charities.”

As I said, we were saddened to find out this great guy, programmer, and father of three had passed away so suddenly. Our thoughts go out to Chris’ family and friends.