• Reagan Morris• 26 years old• Sidhe Interactive for 15 months• Working as a 3D Animator Wellington Based.• Big Nintendo fan and games collector.
When did you first decide you wanted to be involved in the Video Games industry?I’ve always wanted to be a part of the industry ever since I first got my hands on a video game. I just never knew exactly what I wanted to be doing. I remember picking up a book in the local library when I was seven or eight about making video games. It wasn’t exactly thorough and it ended up confusing me more than informing me, so I ignored the creation side of things and focused on playing.
How did you get started in the industry?My job at Sidhe (pronounced “Shee”) Interactive has been my first step inside the actual creation process of the industry. It was a little bit of “who you know” and a whole lot of “what I know”. Before studying I had sent my own personal work into Sidhe a few times, and kept getting told that I needed to keep improving. Looking back on that stuff now leaves me kind of embarrassed. I had no focus, and that’s what study gave me. I’m not going to say that it doesn’t help to know people already in the industry, but if you can’t prove yourself, you won’t be getting a job.
You’re also a game reviewer in your spare time, how do you compare reviewing games to creating them?Well, reviewing games is a lot easier, that’s for sure. The good thing that comes from critiquing a game is that I become a bit more aware of where my own skills are in the grand scheme of things. It’s great to pick up a game that has the latest hype and being able to compare the animator’s skill of company x with my own. It also helps me with where I would like to be in the future, being able to see and feel what does and doesn’t work inside a game.
Have you always wanted to be a game developer?A few years back I was certain that I’d be dealing blackjack and roulette on a cruise ship around the world and then working my way up the casino ladder. I didn’t really think it was where I was meant to be heading, but I was having fun meeting new people, earning a semi-decent wage and the future looked like it could hold some excitement. And now I’m a 9 to 6 office worker.
How long did it take you to find work after you’d finished your course at MDS?I graduated from MDS in April 2005, and I had my interview with Sidhe Interactive a month or so after that. Thankfully, the week after I started handing my portfolio out I got an e-mail from Sidhe asking me to complete an animation test. I had a few days to do it and they were easily the tensest few days of my life. A week later I had the position - one of the best phone calls a guy can receive.
Did MDS help you to find a job? If so, how did they assist you with finding a job in the industry?MDS did give our class what was called an “Industry Night”, which involved inviting different members of the industry along to see our work, but that’s all MDS did for me and my class.
What do you think of the Video Games industry in NZ as a whole?I still see it as something in its infancy, but it is definitely starting to grow. It helps when a NZ company (Sidhe) creates one of the first downloadable titles for a new console (Gripshift for PS3 Network). It also helps when said title is an original IP that will be launching alongside the PS3 in PAL territories.
How do you think things can improve in the industry? What are some of the pros and cons of being a game developer in New Zealand?I think downloadable titles will be one of the main ways for the industry to improve. We’re at a time where publishers won’t just back any random title. They want to know it’ll sell and will cut out and insert the ideals they think a game needs before it’s worthy of hitting the shelves. Creating a downloadable title allows developers to be their own publishers, to fully back a product they think will sell, without fearof having to change a product to make it more mainstream” or acceptable. The only con about being a game developer in New Zealand is that due to the industry being so small here, the pay doesn’t seem to match what one could be earning overseas. But the fact that we get to make games in NZ pretty much makes up for that.
Have you considered ever working overseas as a game developer?I think every game developer thinks of trying something new with a new team or to work on a project they normally wouldn’t be able to. Living and working in New Zealand means that a change in workplace would usually mean leaving New Zealand. There are definitely companies out there I admire and hope to one day work with.
We have heard some nightmarish stories regarding game developers and the hours they work. How many hours do you do in a typical day?A typical day starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 6 p.m. It’s your standard 8 hour day with an hour long lunch break chucked neatly in the middle. Nothing nightmarish about a “typical day.”
What about crunch time when you have deadlines looming?Crunch time hours tend to be from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. for a few days of the week. I’ve never had to battle through six 12 hour days yet, and with how Sidhe is run, I doubt it will ever happen. Can it get stressful though? Like you wouldn’t believe, but everyone has survived so far.
We know that you probably can’t talk about specifics of what you’re working on but are you able to tell us what game it is that you’re currently developing? I’m currently working on MTV’s Jackass: the Game title for PSP. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun, and I even got my first trip to a motion capture studio to help capture some of the motion we needed for the title. This whole experience has been one I will remember for quite a while.
If people were interested in getting involved in the industry as a game developer, how would you suggest they start their career? Figure out what part of the team you want to be, whether it’s the coding or art side, and focus all of your energy into it. Read, study and practise. Do whatever you can to ensure that whoever you want to work for views your work and can’t say no.
Do you see potential for a lot of growth in the game development industry in NZ at all? Why? I don’t think New Zealand will ever be bustling with A++ game developers. The place is too small, and the market too tough. The hard work that Sidhe have put in - from the titles they’ve created to the reputation they’ve created with other developers/publishers - over the last 10 years has really helped put NZ on the map. It’ll be interesting to see how smoothly Wingnut Interactive’s ride into game development starts.
What course did you do at MDS to help you get the job you’re doing now?I studied a Diploma in 3D Animation. It was a small 10 month course, but thanks to having 5 years of self-taught experience in 3D software I used the course to merely concentrate on honing skills and learning things I had missed.
And lastly, where do you see yourself in 2 years or even 5 years?I’d like to think that in 2 years I would have pitched a game idea that gets picked up by the studio, and in 5 years I would be gutted if I hadn’t reached the level of Lead Animator. Whether my current workplace will have need of another Lead in that time is anyone’s guess.