FIVE Questions with a FIVE Guy Bill Kirkman, Lead Combat Designer
This week we sat down with our Lead Combat Designer, Bill Kirkman, to discuss his journey into the industry and his passion for Roguelikes.
What’s your best childhood memory of gaming?
My aunt and uncle owned a restaurant, so we’d go over and play pong on an arcade cabinet. That started me down the gaming path. But it wasn’t until we got a NES of our own that I sat down and really dug into Mario 3. That’s when I was hooked.
What keeps you in the gaming industry?
It’s the people. I’ve never quit a job in this industry; I’ve left due to layoffs. I love the people I work with. Every company has great people that turn into great friends. I actually was able to interview for jobs in Austin because I had friends who lived in the area. The industry feels much more like a community than a competition.
What’s your genre of choice?
Hands down it’s Roguelikes. It’s that perfect blend of challenge, thought, attention to detail, and randomization. You are very unlikely to ever have the same experience twice; it always feels like a fresh new experience. When you win, you feel accomplished.
We recently switched to an agile development environment. What do you think of the switch?
I’m very task focused personally. I like having a list that needs to get finished by a deadline, so the agile process works really well for me. You reach goals and strive for quality, not quantity. It’s been a great experience, and we’ve been making a lot of progress on patches.
What’s something that people wouldn’t expect about working in games?
Putting together a prototype of a game is actually not that difficult. In fact, it doesn’t even take that long. If you’re experienced with a particular engine or toolset, you can quickly throw your idea together into a playable build. The real challenge is finding that sweet spot of “fun”. Anyone that has the patience and time can put a prototype together, but really making something fun and polished can take years of iteration. The hard part is really getting everything to run together smoothly.
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