Behind the Scenes (A2M) — Patrick Fortier

pat hat.jpg

Regulars to Bethesda Blog are familiar with our Inside the Vault blog posts — sort of a meet & greet of developers at Bethesda Games Studios. With all the external projects we’ve got going, we thought we’d venture outside the vault so you can meet the folks working on these projects.

Up first, we’ve got Patrick Fortier from A2M — the team behind WET.

What’s your job at A2M?
Creative Director

What other games have you worked on, and in what role?
I’ve worked as creative director on a bunch of different kinds of games over 10 years at Ubisoft including things like Speed Devils, Myst IV  and Splinter Cell ConViction.

What is the best part about being Creative Director on Wet? The worst part?
The best part of being creative director is to work with so many talented people who all specialize in different things (art, animation, music, programming, etc) and drive them towards a common vision. Seeing ideas taken to the “next level” by the different people of the team, really pushing the envelope and bringing them to life in ways that go above and beyond your initial expectations is probably the most fulfilling part of my job. For example I had this idea for Whiskey bottles to regen Rubi’s life, but actually seeing it in game was so much better than I had imagined because of the way it was edited, the speed of the action, the camera angles and the addition of Rubi actually shooting the bottle once she’s finished drinking. It’s a little touch, but it makes all the difference in the flavor of the scene and it’s a testament how much our team understands and embraces the style of the game.

The worst part is probably “the grind,” the long period of production between finalizing the ideas and actually having a playable build. It takes a long time to create assets and until they all come together, it’s really hard to get a true feeling of the final product. I also wish we were an industry that cared a bit more about post-production, but things are getting better all the time.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I got in the industry through a healthy combination of talent and timing (classic answer, right?). I have loved videogames since I was a child, but I didn’t know if there were actual positions in the field that I was interested in: game design. The funny thing is there were no real “game designers” working on the games I was playing as a kid (late 70’s, early 80’s), since games were made by little teams of people who did everything (art, design, programming, animation, music, etc). But the industry gradually shifted into specialization that made game design an actual profession by the time I graduated from university (late 90’s) and I was able to join in! My best advice for someone breaking in is: passion! Accept anything that allows you to get your foot in the door and then let your passion shine. Opportunities are all around and if you’re willing to hang around good things will happen. Talent is important of course, but I’d rather hire someone who’s a bit less talented but way more passionate about the industry and games in general than someone with crazy skills but who’s only interested in their own particular field and don’t really care about games as a whole. You also have to know how to be a team player cause there’s no room for rock-star egos on a development team.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
Hard to boil it down to just one, but all time favorites definitely include: Super Mario 64 (I must have spent 20 minutes outside the castle just jumping around and exploring before even starting an actual level!), Sonic 2 (the best in the series), Ghouls & Ghosts (I still play it a least once or twice a year!), Resident Evil 4 (perfect pacing and difficulty curve, you actually feel like starting over as soon as you reach the end), and F1 Racing Championship 2 (I was working at Ubisoft at the time and the programmers on my team had access to the source code so we made all kinds of additions to the game including online replays of our races). We followed the F1 schedule and had the most amazingly realistic and intense races. We’d spend two weeks between races figuring out our own car settings and then doing actual qualification sessions and everything. It was so stressful afterwards during a race because it was online so no way to restart if something went wrong and we played without “driving assists.” We would do full race distances so you’d have to stay super concentrated and if you crashed, you knew you had to wait 2 weeks to get your revenge. Guys would literally fight each other after a race if they were involved in a crash! It was WAY too intense, but incredibly memorable.

What games are you looking forward to?
I’m a big Batman fan so Arkham Asylum looks pretty interesting, I’m also really looking forward to F1 2010 by Codemasters, and it’s been too long a wait for a good F1 game. Other than that, I’m pretty sure Modern Warfare 2 and God of War 3 will make their way into my home.

What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
It’s pretty easy getting out of bed because I have a dog and he needs to go out in the morning otherwise things could get messy. Seriously, I just feel really blessed to be earning a living with something I love so much and which really doesn’t feel like work (most days…). I always tell people that my worst days doing this job are a million times better than my best day would be doing anything else!

Worst job you’ve ever had?
My worst job was working in a sawmill as a student. It really made me understand what hard work was all about. The job was so repetitive (I would use a special machine to saw wood for hockey sticks) that I would actually have dreams about it at night and I would wake up in the morning feeling like it was just a continuation of one big never-ending work day, it was a real nightmare!

Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
My girlfriend and I just bought a house last year so I’m really into little things like taking care of the yard, decorating, or just spending the afternoon cooking with her. I know its clichéd, but I just get a real kick out of doing manual labor, it just clears my mind from the everyday stress of work! I also enjoy playing baseball in the summer and a little hockey in the winter.

Comments are closed.