Interview with Jack Wikeley

I first started doing art on my Atari ST with Degas Elite for fun. It was mostly copying stills from movies and doing artwork for public domain demos. A friend of mine, Bobby Earl, was a programmer and we used to try and make games together.

Hehe, it made me laugh when I reread that article the other day. But no, I don’t find computer graphics still a doddle. Video games and related technologies and software have got extremely complicated and are always pushing the limits. And the same can be said for the artwork you need to produce. In my book, if you find something too easy you’re doing it wrong.

One day I saw an ad in the local job centre and thought I’d give it a whirl. I got the job at Kinetica and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m not even sure if games companies even use the job centre anymore!

I was most happy with the animated contraptions in the background scenery. Coming up with different ways to push sand/water about was great fun. I was least happy with my general background art. It always seems a little bit safe and boring. Never as interesting or organic as Ray’s stuff.

To be honest I don’t remember much about it. Just that I didn’t envy the programmers/scripter who had to chop up all our artwork, sticking to set boundaries and stuff. That looked mind numbing.

I really liked working on the stuff for Saragossa. I liked working on the mech based stuff and finding different ways to blow aliens apart!

No, not really. The larger number of frames actually helped. It’s harder to make a good looking/convincing walk animation with only a couple of frames.

Yeh, the Macs we used to use had a tendency to blow up! They would first start to smell of burning, then smoke and the screen would blow out! Well, the screen blowing out was what Jake told us if we didn’t turn the thing off quickly enough!

The company was having money problems, like a lot of studios do, and eventually the game and the studio went under.

I’m not sure to be honest. Maybe 50, 60 percent.

Bobby Earl, the guy I mentioned earlier was already there. He got me an interview. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I would describe them as the halcyon days of video games development. Back then, making video games was a far more personal/involved experience. There was only a handful of people on a project back then and your input really made a huge difference. Since then I’ve been on projects numbering 250 people. Bring back the old days, that’s what I say!

I’ve been working in Montreal at Ubisoft for the last 5 years. I’ve worked on Rainbow Six Vegas, Shaun White Snowboarding and most recently, Splinter Cell Conviction.