Interview with Richard "Levelord" Gray, Level Designer


Image courtesy of Levelord

First off, can we get an introduction please? How would you describe yourself and your job to a total stranger or your Mom?

I am the Levelord! Lo! ...no other introduction is needed! ...okay, okay, ...I am a lo-ly and most-humble level designer. I've worked on a couple of games, but none of them significant.

When did you "become" a game designer?

I first became an addict when I downloaded DEU from CompuServe and played around with DOOM levels. I knew I was in trouble when I started swapping sleep time for level time. Soon, I was looking at the world as if it were a level itself… …checking for proper texture alignment on bathroom walls, wondering who thought green grass should go with brown dirt and tree bark, and… …well, I gave up hoping on recovering when I invented that special spatula for prying my but from my computer chair at home in order to get to my real job.

What are some of the things that have changed that you most like about game design today as opposed to way back when Doom was koth? And what do you leastlike?

I most like the ever-increasing performance that the game platforms provide. Remember 386's? The shit we can do now is awesome, at least as far as the visual aspects of a game. Levels are far more detailed and realistic. The textures that paint these environments are more crisp and aesthetic. The characters are more life-like, both in appearance and behavior. The amount of player interaction with the environment is also extraordinary.

I most dislike the ever-increasing performance that the game platforms provide. Remember DOOM? I'm getting really tired of keeping ahead of cutting edge technology and fear that gameplay is too often taking a backseat to this chase. I spend far too much time now juggling all the new and increasingly complicating aspects of what is called level designing. We will soon see, I fear, a splitting of this singly manned discipline into an entire department, with someone building geometry, another handling characters, yet another finessing light and sound, and still another confirming the Fun Factor (gameplay).

Do you think an asteroid is going to smash into the Earth, thus making texture alignment irrelevent?

Neigh! I've already breached the 10,000 point score and Asteroids fears the Levelord not!

Which do you like most with SiN, DM or singleplayer?

SiN? ...oh ya, ...sure, sure, sure. I am typically a singleplayer player. I love deathmatch, but I die more than I am willing to admit.

Mind sharing what your starting work on currently?

The next gig is FAKK2, based on the next Heavy Metal movie. It hard to describe if you're not familiar with the magazine. It will be a third-person shooter, basically.

When you start with a blank screen, have you ever had a problem getting started?

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When you have a level almost complete do you have a hard time knowing when to quit?

Yes! Actually, a level is never complete and if it were not for deadlines, I would still be working on some of my Duke levels ;) Seriously, I have found in my times that programs, art, and games are never really "finished" and it's only someone else's say-so that says so.

Do you think the days for the first person shooter are numbered?

No way, dude! I think FPS (I lump third-person shooters and almost adventure/RPG games in with this) will be the next standard of electronic entertainment. The next obvious move in the television evolution is participation. I think the current state of television, and movies, of today will soon be looked at like radio did after television became the norm. Radio didn't die, but it sure wasn't the same.

When you play Sin from that view from behind Blade, does it make you want to puke?

I can neither confirm, nor deny any such accusations!

Would you like some lint from the Saint's shorts? I have a little left.

No thanks, I'm into toe cheese and smegma... ...not together, of course!