I've been working on Outer Wilds with Mobius since August of last year, which makes it... Seven, eight months? Longer than I thought!
So you're a Tech Artist on Outer Wilds, but that doesn't even come close to describing all that you do here: what does that mean you do on a day-to-day basis?
Day to day work does vary a lot for me! In addition to wrangling the code side of materials and lighting, I also make builds, optimize code, write gameplay systems, create editor tools, debug code, set up world scripting, and complain a lot. Oh, and I also re-wrote our physics integrator, like, three times.
So you've gotten a couple of degrees related to games. How vital do you think those are to your development and your work?
I definitely got a lot out of both programs! My first (a BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design from UC Santa Cruz) focused more on learning to program and work with a team on a design-driven project, and I definitely left there feeling confident in my ability to tackle technical challenges, as well as having gotten some experience as a designer and a team lead. The most valuable thing I got from my time there, however, was a circle of close friends who all push each other to grow, and who I very much want to work with later in life. My second degree (a MFA in Interactive Media from USC) was focused much more dramatically on the design side of things, and there I was able to grow dramatically in new directions. Once again, some of the most valuable things I got out of the program were the relationships I formed there! Ultimately, it wasn't the specific skills and knowledge I gained at these two schools that's proven so vital, but the personal growth I went through and meaningful interactions I found in the process.
Making games has been something I've been passionate about for the better part of two decades at this point. From a practical side, working on video games is really satisfying because your effort is often so immediately visible (even if it's not doing what you intended!). It's even better when writing gameplay code, because you can jump in and actually feel the change, which isn't something you usually get when writing backends. From a broader, more lofty angle, landscapes are something that have always been really compelling to me in media. It can be a well-developed location, a world that feels believable, or even just a moment in space and time; these are driving elements behind a lot of the things I want to create.
What excites you about making Outer Wilds in particular?
On that note, Outer Wilds is really interesting to me because hand-crafted unique and memorable locations are a huge part of the game! Breathing life into these planets and turning them into places that players form relationships with is something that's really important to me. Another big part of my excitement for working on Outer Wilds is that I knew a number of people on the team from USC, and had been kicking myself for not working more with them in the past!
How would you describe the Mobius studio and what we're doing?
At Mobius, we make weird games and try to show people what's so cool about them! Much like our games, we are a bunch of weirdos trying to convince people we're cool.