By Stephanie "Bobbi Bergman
Ok, so what kind of computer geek has great taste in art, is a kick ass artist, but hates Star Trek and the X-Files?? Only one named crispy, it seems. Chris Buecheler, is of course, whom Iím talking about. He just recently left us here *sniffle* to join the nutcases over at GameSpy. We miss him so we dragged him back however we could...the profile was a great excuse. :)
Name/rank/serial number? Christopher "crispy" Buecheler. I'm a Content Manager, Random Content Guy, Fill-in Artist, MP3Spy Skin Designer, HTML Scripter...and that's just the stuff I get paid for! I'm twenty-one, I don't smoke or drink, and I'm turned on by...err...wait, sorry. I thought this was the other interview...
Congrats on the new job! Care to explain what you're doing now? :) Thanks! :) What I'm doing right now is (as the above might indicate) pretty varied. My main job, on a daily basis, is to be Planetquake's Content Director. Basically, I head up the news team and keep the site running smoothly. I format the articles, compile the polls, choose the pics of the day, etc, etc, etc. It all adds up to me getting about 400-600 emails a day (seriously. I spend two or three hours a day just reading mail). I read everything I get, but my crazy dream of responding to it all died in about .04 seconds. ;)
Other than that, I get called upon to do a lot of things around the office, ranging from input on various sites, to HTML editing, to designing skins for the upcoming MP3Spy v1.0. Part of the reason they hired me, I guess, is because I have a pretty diverse set of skills. This comes in handy when Fargo comes running in at 10:30 at night and goes "crispy! We need a promo piece for the 3DFX contest we're running tommorow!". Hell, the other day I was over building furniture with a couple of the guys.
Oh, and I have to ask...who's really the craziest person at GSI? :) I'm gonna have to give it to Fargo, although everyone here is pretty strange. When we're not working on our respective projects, we're usually doing things like watching an aphex twin video for 72 hours straight, screaming at each other while playing TFC ("president in ROOM ONE! ROOOOOM OONNEE!"), and hanging out in the conference room eating dinner and talking about games. It's a strange environment, but cool.
But yeh, Fargo is the strangest. The april fools auction joke was his idea. The web page dedicated to his Quake2 action figure was his idea. The costumes at various beatdowns are usually his idea (and his are usually the most extravagant). He definitely meets the "creative" requirement for his Creative Director position. ;)
A question my brother told me I had to ask..."What is GSI thinking, hiring an artist as a writer??" If I can rephrase a little...how'd you go from one to the other? Well, the real secret is that I've come full circle. I'm one of the few people that I know who can say they finished writing a four-hundred page novel when they were fifteen years old. All told I've written well over 1000 pages of fiction, and several hundred pages in essays. It wasn't until I was sixteen or seventeen that I really decided to work on my art. That lasted through my first year of art school, at which point I left college and worked around at a variety of places before landing here. Even while doing my art, writing's always been a part of my life. At college, I was working on another novel (which, four years later, I'm still trying to find time to finish up). After college, I was writing for various newsletters (including a little publication called loonygames. Maybe you've heard of it ;)
A little known fact, though, is that Gamespy first became interested in me through my postings to the rather controversial PlanetCrap message board, which was created by my good friend Hendrik "Morn" Mans, formerly of Unreal.Org. I've since retired from the board (too many people these days), but I used to be a very-regular poster. Apparantly, GSI liked my writing style enough for Joost to suggest that I get in touch with Fargo. I did, and the rest kinda worked itself out. I'd hosted two sites with them previously, but at the time I was focused on getting a developement job, and the suggestion from joost was a big surprise to me. I flew out to the offices, hung out for a week, got along great, and was back in new york for less than two months before coming out here fulltime.
Jason also went on to rant about what a great texture artist you are...what have you worked on? Glad to hear that he thinks that. I've worked on a couple of projects, neither of which are public at this time (unfortunately). The first was the technology demo for the (now disbanded) company that Mike Wardwell, Charlie Brown and Gary McTaggart were starting up. About 75% of the textures in their demo are mine. I've seen a video of it, and they had some really cool effects. Shame that the company's moved on to other things.
The second is the "Legacy of the Fallen" mission pack for Shogo, which is being developed by Anarchy Arts. The pack isn't out yet, but there are some screenshots in their "Legacy of the Fallen" section that show off my work. The last three, in particular, are made up almost entirely of work I did for them. They were great guys to work with. Very talented. I hope their pack gets out on the shelves.
Other than that, you can always check out my Texture Studio, which was a repository of textures I created for people to download and use in their free maps and mods. The site's on hiatus at the moment (though I've almost amassed enough stuff to bother doing an update, finally), but you can still find over 450 of my textures available there in a bunch of different formats (unreal, shogo, half-life, etc). You can also check out my Painting on Polygons articles for loonygames, which are now being run by the awesome Rick Grossenbacher.
I've also done a ton of textures for companies during their "test him out" phase, but unfortunately none of those ever materialized into fulltime jobs (all of them made me a better artist, though, so I'm not complaining). Most of these are private, however, and not available to the general public. The rest are in my horribly out-of-date portfolio.
How did you get your 'start' as an artist? Oh jeez...
Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri, both of whom worked on Marvel's "The X-Men" comic, were probably the two guys I would credit for getting me to go "I want to draw". Before fourth grade, when I started reading those particular comics, I'd never drawn anything. I didn't even like <I>coloring</I> (I felt like I was just filling in someone else's work) when I was a kid. After them came Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, back when they were good), who remains probably the greatest influence on my personal drawing style. Later I got into the work of Jamie Hewlett (tank girl), Frank Miller (Sin City), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), and a couple of the other guys doing more "grown up" comics. At that point I was headed off to art school to become a famous comic book artist. Heh...who knew? :)
In art school, I was exposed to the gorgeous work of Michael Whelan (http://www.glassonion.com) and Chris Achilleos, as well as many of the classical artists. In terms of influence, mine remain mostly modern, but the works of Monet and some of Van Gogh's stuff just amazed me. It was around this time that I started picking up photoshop. I progressed through what I (and every other photoshop artist I know of) think of as "the usual stages". First you have text and brushwork. Then you discover filters. Then you discover the Lens Flare filter, and for about a year you don't create anything that doesn't use it (most of your work during this period looks like rave fliers). After that you get sick of the lens flare (thank god), and start doing a somewhat more stylistic version of "filter shit", where you actually have some objective before you start. Then it's on to doing collage-work, crappy web graphics, logos, that kind of stuff. From there you typically move into design, or you move into game art. Or you do like I did, and do both.
Influences during this time ranged all over the place. Too many to list. I got my first design job making $6.00/hour doing web page work for a local isp. The job sucked, the pay sucked, my life sucked (I was going home and working at Radio Shack during the evenings), but I was doing design professionally. That landed me a fulltime design job at another, bigger ISP. I quit Radio Shack (I admit, with no notice, on a night I was supposed to work), took the job, and worked there for over a year. During that time, my web influences were guys like razorfish.com and t3media.com (I love their site). My texture influences were basically anything I could find in games that I was impressed with. My current "guru" is Joel Walden, who worked on the Gunman TC for half-life, and then moved to Revenant, and is now working for Legend (in fact, he beat me for positions at both of those companies. :)
As for how I managed to start getting paid for textures...I bombarded people with resumes and applications. That didn't work too well (I sucked, for a long time, at making textures. I'm just now getting good). I tried a different approach: Open a website, and toss out tons of free textures. That was when I really started to see developer response. Even more fulfilling though, in the long run, was the response I got from the regular people who were visiting. I met some very cool people through that site.
Currently I'm obsessed with the work of Dave McKean. His stuff has started the artist fire in me more than anyone's since those comic book artists back in high school. I can't wait to get california residency so I can take advantage of the incredibly cheap educational opportunities that grants you. I'm planning on taking six credits of figure drawing in the year 2000, and probably six credits of random art courses. I might even go back and get a degree someday.
So there you go... the rather lengthy version of how I got my start. ;)
What happened to "Shaithis"? heh..."shaithis" (I don't use caps on shaithis or crispy. I think they distort the visual balance of the words) does textures. "crispy" is a content person. I view the two of them the same way a writer might view two pseudonyms he uses for two different genres. When I update the texture studio next week, it'll be as shaithis. When I update planetquake on the same day, it'll be as crispy. The original nick change came from a combination effort of me wanting a change of pace, and Gamespy wanting something "more accessable". What the hell that means, you'll have to ask them... I just work here. ;)
If you want to be honest, I'm kind of tired of using aliases and pseudonyms. It was fun back when I was messing around on "l33t" BBS's, but I'd be using "Chris" by now if four of them didn't work at Gamespy.
Who are you in real life? A very diverse individual. :) I once had a friend ask me "Jesus...is there anything you haven't done?!?". "Kayak," was my response. I'm a writer and an artist. I play the guitar, the drums, and sing. I sequence drum and bass lines on my computer, then input them to my four track and add my guitars and voice to create full songs. I've been in a band, I've been a professional DJ (the wedding/clam-bake kind, not the beastie boyz kind). I've acted in plays, I've dabbled in woodworking. I'm always up for a game of basketball, or a game of Quake. I've built the last three PC's I've owned from parts...but I'm sick of doing that and won't be any more. I listen to techno and good old-fasioned 1990's angry-young-man rock-n-roll. I used to smoke a pack a day. Now I don't. If they cured the associated diseases, I'd go back in a minute. I didn't drink a full bottle of beer until my twenty-first birthday. I still have never been drunk, though I've developed a taste for good draft beer. I drink plain black coffee and diet coke. I had my first $3.60 mocha the other day. Not worth it.
I believe in life experience. It is more important to me that I've walked down a street in brooklyn at 2am, had a very drunk vagrant scream out "you out too late, college boy!" and come shuffling across the street, reaching into his pocket (for his flask, it turned out, but I was pretty sure I was going to get knifed), and stood my ground than it is that I've sat through "history of asia 210".
Couple this with the fact that I constantly feel like I'm running out of time (at 21, I have forever left, but it just doesn't feel that way)...and you end up with someone who's very into trying all kinds of stuff, rather than necessarily being "the absolute best" at any of it. Thus, I've been working since I was 14 (I think I've been unemployed for a total of six months in the past eight years), and have had 13 or so jobs. Never been fired, though.
I can't say I don't care at all about making money, though I'd like to. The fact is that money's nice. I can't wait to pay off all of my college debt and my car. I'm going to take a six month leave of absence from my job, pack my guitar and a backpack full of clothes, and start driving. So...yeh, I do care about making money. What I don't care about is owning the BMW (I wouldn't be caught dead in one, actually, at this point in my life), or having the gold pen, or leasing the condo in Beverly Hills. The attraction of money, to me, is the freedom to do what I want...not the overhyped status symbols. I guess that's why I'm not a lawyer or an anesthesiologist, but I'm not a starving artist either.
Oh, and for the record, tho I meet many other computer geek standards... I hate star trek and the x-files. Sorry loony. ;)
What are your favorite games? In no particular order: Doom, Quake, Half-Life, Star Control 2, Metroid, Super Metroid, Fallout, Darksun: Shattered Lands, Black Cauldron (by Sierra...my first pc game), Quest for Glory 1 (the good ega version, not the crap vga version), Alone in the Dark 2.
What are your favorite websites?
One last, brief pimp: We've really spiced up the PlanetQuake news since I took over, and I think it's a lot of fun to read. No disrespect to Gestalt, who was an amazing content director, but anyone who wasn't that into his style of news reporting should stop by and see if you like what the new team's doing. :)
Thanks for having me,
- Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman is an associate editor at loonygames. She's probably the most normal person on the staff. That's really sad.
Credits: Community Profile logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. Community Profile is © 1999 StephanieBergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is just a bad idea. We have lawyers.