By Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford
The other result of being noticed in the game scene is that other artists may begin to copy your motifs, is this something which worries you?
It's kinda cool to see influences make appearances in other games. In all fairness, I'm as malleable as the next artist, and tend to do a lot of assimilating from other games. The art in Kingpin, Blood 2, Requiem, Giants (Giants makes me happy), Unreal, and all the id titles have greatly impacted my work.
It felt almost preordained ;). I had been waist deep in idgames/idculture since Doom, very unhappy at ION, looking to find work somewhere else in Dallas, and the Daddy company does the unimagined and offers up a seat in the company of Adrian Carmack and Kevin Cloud. I can't for the life of me imagine a better opportunity.
You've been there for a few months (at the time of this writing) so you've had a chance to take a deep breath and evaluate your decision, are you happy?
Insanely :). It's just been as near perfect as it possibly can be. The surprise bonus with working here has been Paul though; on top of handing me some of the sweetest geometry a texture artist in this industry could ask for, he's one bad ass teacher. His generosity with his time and knowledge has been humbling. I'm a better artist for having worked in his company (err.. not Company company, but Proximity company.....you know.....).
When id Software announced they were accepting resumes for an artist position (mid last year), they were looking for someone to create wall textures, skins, and interface artwork; is that a good description of what you are doing?
I'm pretty much sticking to character stuff this time around but have managed to do quite a few incidental graphics; bloody messes, weapon effects, a severed goats head, etc.
Does it feel different working at id Software than it did at ION Storm?
In the best ways imaginable :).
Well, I guess it's time to mention the ION Storm melodrama that’s been playing out over the last few months; do you have any thoughts, as someone who worked there, on what went wrong? Why were you unhappy at ION?
It's hard to quantify fairly, and I think it's healthier for me to look ahead rather than behind (gack, who writes this crap!?...oh.....). I've been struggling a lot lately with the issue of morale and its relationship with the quality of my work, trying to find cues and clues that will make me a solid, productive developer... trying to find the circumstances in which I can produce my best work. I guess the safe, friendly way to put it was that ION wasn't doing that for me.
Wow, that was cryptic. :)
In the end, it's going to be the work that speaks loudest, so I need to focus on that and only that. I dunno, I always notice my work is at it's best when I'm learning something, and I now work in the company of the most seasoned and knowledgeable developers in the industry. Just call me Grasshopper.
So, Grasshopper, do you still find you have "heroes" today, both in the field of game graphics and in "real art"?
Yes. I have at least a 900 dollars worth of comics and graphic novels in my office, and I still leaf through the doom2.wad for inspiration.
I think there are an unquantifiable number of artists who inform my work, and I DO respond very much to Corben’s sensibilities.
Lately, I've really been enjoying Ron Kee's work on Requiem, and Eric Kohler's work on Blood 2. Unfortunately, I don't know his name (Corky?), but I've also been quite excited about the skin work in the Kingpin demo. It just feels so right.
When you sit down to start creating a model skin, how do you approach it? Do you just let the design evolve naturally as you work, or do you like to plan the design out thoroughly before starting (either in your head or on paper)?
I've a fairly good idea about what I want before I start, but so many things happen in the course of a painting.
What is your workflow…do you have a series of set stages you go through, or are you straight in to the detailing?
I approach things differently every time I do them.
You stopped updating the Skinforge site quite some time ago, so what do you do in your spare time these days? What are your interests?
My copy of FrontPage went all squirrelly! There has been a few times a missing .dll has stopped me from updating the Skinforge... I'm afraid it's nothing more flattering than that.
There were a couple of little projects that we saw previews of on Skinforge, but you never finished them. What ever happened to the two PPMs you started working on, and the Quake 2 skin for the Cyborg model?
I recently lost them to the Powers of Dumb(tm).
I am a practiced dumb user.
You mentioned that you use Lightwave 3D, do you plan to pursue 3D modeling/animation further in the future?
It's nigh (did I just say 'nigh' ??) impossible to work on Paul’s models without learning a lot. I've been getting opportunity to do some object modeling for Arena using both Lightwave and MAX. It's been really great getting away from a single discipline.
What exactly IS a "Protofiend"? (Note: Kenneth has used the handle 'Dire Protofiend' on the net for a number of years, or it's shortened version, 'Protofiend')
'The Dire Proto-fiend' is/was a super villain I had concocted while role playing a few years ago, aiming hard for a campy 70's comic book feel.
What are your long term goals? Do you see yourself still working on games at 40?
Oh yes, easily. I think it might be cool at some point to Art Direct, or control of the entire look of a game, but nothing that would ever take me away from making content.
One final thing before we go into wrap-up mode, I remember playing a Doom mod you made a long time ago that included a replacement face for the panel (which you used as one of your Skinforge buttons); what was the name of that mod?
We're coming to a close here, time for the loose ends; favourite book?
A Zed and two Nots.
Favorite TV show?
Doom/Doom 2. Various Infocom titles.
Favorite cartoon when you were a kid?
Battle of the Planets (Gatchaman).
List the things that really annoy you (don't bother listing 'long interviews', thats a given).
Bull's*Eye* Targeting_Software spam.
People still requesting clan skins. ;)
And finally, a little hypothetical situation; you're walking along a beach and find an ancient lamp. Apon rubbing the lamp, a big blue jenie pops out, gives the usual thanks and offers a customary wish. What would you wish for...? (You have 10 seconds to decide.) *cue thinking music*
My mom is going to be reading this - I think I'll keep my answer to myself.... ;)
- Rowan "Sumaleth" Crawford is a regular contributor to loonygames. He recently contributed to the Quake 2 add-on, Extremities.
Credits: Illustration © 1999 Rowan Crawford. All other artwork © 1999 their individual authors. This interview is © 1999 Rowan Crawford & Kenneth Scott. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't try it...or we'll erase you.