When did you realize you wanted to work in the gaming industry?
It's kinda funny, I've been playing games and doing levels for several years, but it didn't occur to me to actually make money out of it until a bit more than a year ago. at that time ion storm was hiring most of its level designers from the net, and although the USA seemed so awfully far away it was the right motivation to work on Beyond Belief, so that I had something to show.
How difficult was it to get you a position in the United States?
Getting the job wasn't too difficult after belief was released, I had several offers - getting a work permit was much more difficult. Ritual had to prove I wasn't taking a job every American could do as well, and the job description "level and game designer" isn't in the INS' computer, so it took even longer...
Explain how you actually moved from wanting to be in the gaming industry to actually, becoming a professional mapper.
I was always convinced that the stuff we were doing with Memento Mori 2 and Requiem (DooM2 Mega-WADs) was very good and that Beyond Belief could but have been real professional quality if I'd been able to do it full-time. As I already mentioned I didn't really plan to become a professional all the time, though, it just struck me the other night and was thinking "hey, why not me?"
What's more important to your maps? What makes your maps different from all the others?
Well, a good map is obviously one that is fun to play and keeps you entertained all the time - achieving that goal can be difficult and depends on the game, though :) In Quake(2) with its very limited gameplay and possibilities it's mostly concentrating on cool architecture and good monster/item placement, plus thinking of some cool ideas that haven't been done in Quake. The last few words are important here - most of the ideas that make a level fun aren't really original, but haven't been done in Quake yet or (even better) the player doesn't expect them so the "oh, cool!" factor is even higher. Of course I tried following these rules in my Quake levels, with SiN with its cool scripting language you have a whole new range of possibilities :)
Who were some of your major influences when it comes to mapping?
Almost everything, I guess. I can't really say "I got this idea from there and this idea from there", all the influences just blend together. Of course there are some occasions when I see something cool and think "I wanna build that in my level", but it happens rather seldom (for me).
Does any particular game stick out because of their levels (good or bad).
I guess you're talking about 3d games only here - I don't think a game can be cool if only one element is great, everything has to go together to make a killer game. But if you want to know which games have cool level design...hmm, there's quite a few, but if I had to name three it would probably be system shock (cause the levels serve the story elements and the whole gameplay so well), cybermage (because the engine is sooo limited and the game is still a blast to play) and quake2, especially Tim Willits levels (although the game gets boring after a while cause it's gameplay is always the same) - there you see it, just having good levels can't save a game :) hmm, I guess I shouldn't forget MP#1 or some ppl here are gonna kill me ;) seriously though, scourge was my favourite before I even thought about ritual.
Explain what projects you are working on, Sin, Sin2, Uber project?
Right now I'm concentrating on the CTF aspect of sin (not 100% sure if it's gonna make it into the game, though) and some basic sin2 design, which will most probably also be the next game I'll be working on.
What do you want to say to all those level designer hopefuls out there?
Well, at least you didn't ask one of those "advise for everybody who wants to become a professional mapper" questions - I have to admit that I hate them ;) the reason's simple: you don't make levels cause you wanna make money out of it or because it seems like a cool job, you make levels because it's so much fun and cool to see your own stuff in a professional engine. If you're just going the normal way then - releasing your stuff to cdrom.com and maybe telling a few review sites about your level - you may get noticed and everything will go it's way. Of course you need some luck for that, but IMHO there's no way to speed up the process. And everybody who's just starting to make levels because he wants to get into the industry has the wrong attitude, imho, just look at all the mappers at Ritual, they all started it just for the fun of it.
What mapping utility are you using at the present? (SinED? BSP, etc?)
I'm using both BSP and SinED, I still prefer BSP though :)
What is your favorite thing to do with your maps. (meaning do you have a special thing that you like to include in all of your maps, a signature item?).
I do have a signature for my maps (only in larger projects, though), everybody who wants to find will ;) as for favourite things to do - mapping can(!) be a bitch and no fun at all during the work (for me, at least :)), but seeing the final product emerge is it always worth. So I guess there's nothing what I'm really looking forward to or enjoying during the mapping process. There's a thing I dread though (like almost every mapper), and that's item placement. It is boring and so much work to get it balanced...:|
Now for some humor
Are you a legs or breasts man?
What about a "the whole appearance" man? Remember what I said about games and single parts not being able to make a good product alone? I guess you can apply that to women perfectly, as well :)
(NOTE: **Did I ever infer women were involved in this question :) )
Do you like Different Strokes? (An American sitcom)
I never even heard of it before you asked, but I guess that's just the answer you wanted to get, right? ;)
Have you ever worn women's clothing?
Not really, is it fun? I might have to ask preacher about it (now this is gonna score me some really hard days on #level_design...:))
Boxers or Briefs.
I would like to take the time and thank Matthias for this Interview.