Interview with Adam Bellefeuil and Jerry Keehan

Ritual recently hired three level designers formerly working at Wages of Sin and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault developer, 2015, Inc. We managed to catch up with two of them, Adam Bellefeuil and Jerry Keehan, to talk about Medal of Honor, Ritual's technology and, of course, the reasons behind their decision to leave 2015.

Adam Bellefeuil Jerry Keehan
Images courtesy of Ritual Entertainment

Tell us about your career in the game development industry so far.

Adam: I got into level design with Doom (mostly strange configurations of exploding barrels and odd psychedelic structures) and I got really crazy into it with Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. I made lots of levels for lots of different games, and eventually got hired at 2015 Inc. I worked on a value title, and then Medal of Honor Allied Assault, and now I am at Ritual Entertainment working on... some stuff. =)

Jerry: I started level design professionally for 2015, Inc. working on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. My experience mapping goes back to Doom though ;)

Let's talk about Medal of Honor. The game got an insane amount of media attention at E3 and afterwards, pushing people's expectations to the limit. Was it hard to work under that kind of pressure?

Adam: Not especially, we were all very ambitious with the games design and it was nice to see all of our hard work was appreciated. We got a LOT of feedback, not only from the hardcore gamer types, but WWII buffs and aficionados, some of them being very hard to please at times. It was a little overwhelming at points, but in the end, we are all just a bunch of gamers, making games for other gamers and we will do our best to please everybody. You just have to create the best product you can, given the limitations, and hopefully someone will be able to enjoy it.

Jerry: To be honest, I never noticed the pressure... I spent a considerable amount of time in the military (USAF) before getting into the game industry. While in the AF, I flew on board AWACS as a Weapons Director where "pressure" was real and people's lives depended on what I did or did not say on the radio. While I understand the pressure associated with deadlines (and the like) in the gaming industry they pretty much pale in comparison. ;)

Another thought I have concerning pressure in the game industry; we are making games for a living! Don't get me wrong there is a lot of hard work (and long hours) put into the development of a game and it can be stressing... external pressure should be minimal though! If I have to down a bottle of Excedrin to get through each day...something just isn't right.

A little-known fact is that 2015 licensed the technology Ritual developed during Sin and FAKK2. How did that affect the game's overall quality and interactivity?

Adam: The Ritual technology gave us a huge head start. A couple of the guys, having previously worked on Wages of Sin, were very familiar with the scripting language from the start. The in-game menus and tools were also very helpful during the games development. We were also able to plug some of our own home cooked features right into the toolset without having to write everything from the ground up.

Jerry: Considering what was needed to make Medal of Honor a success, I believe licensing technology from Ritual expedited that success. Working with the FAKK2 version of radiant (and again modified by 2015 for MOHAA) spoiled me with features that I now cannot (or prefer not to) live without.

On to the inevitable question: Why did you leave 2015 after having developed a title that is getting mad props left and right? Why Ritual?

Adam: During my time at 2015 a few of us were constantly making trips down to Dallas to get feedback on what we were working on, check out what was going on in the industry down here, and hang out with friends. I got to know some of the Ritual guys and I really liked their business and gaming philosophies and their working environment.

Jerry: Ultimately, (without going into detail) it was time for me to move on. Ritual offered me a position on their team and I gladly accepted!

Ritual's games are traditionally fantasy, science-fiction, or both, which is quite the opposite of the realistic Medal of Honor. Do you prefer to work on either kind of game?

Adam: I can get into both, but it's nice to let loose sometimes and flex those creative muscles. After a year and a half of photo reference and research, it's nice to be able to get silly with the ideas again.

Jerry: Until MOHAA, I had only created levels based solely on science-fiction. Medal of Honor was definitely a new style of mapping (for me) and I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked on that title. While it was fun working on more 'realistic' environments (like those used in MOH) my design preference leans towards fantasy/sci-fi because as it allows for more creative freedom.

...and now give us the scoop what it is they have you work on.

Adam: It's... very cool. No really, it's... *choke* ummm... maybe next time =)

Jerry: Working on?? Me??? Oh Oh... I just sweep floors here ;)


That's all for now, folks. I would like to thank Adam and Jerry for their time. Hope you guys have a great time at Ritual and help make some killer games for us to play!

Related Links:
Ritual Entertainment
The Tribe: Adam Bellefeuil
The Tribe: Jerry Keehan
2015, Inc.
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault