Hello there fellow Citizens! This week’s Meet the Devs features Mark Skelton, Art Director, alongside host James Pugh.
MS – Dude… loved this shirt so much until I got here, and then I was like, walking down the promenade, and I locked eyes with this dude that had the same shirt, and we just stared at each other kind of awkwardly, and then it was like… I don’t know, I feel really weird wearing this shirt, and I need a shower. We had a moment, a weird, creepy moment. We both sort of…
Meet the Devs, with James Pugh
JP – Hey everybody, welcome back to Meet the Devs. I’m James Pugh, with me today is persistent universe art director Mark Skelton, how you doing Mark?
MS – Hey! Oh god, did I hurt you? You’re right, you do have supple hands.
JP – Right? They’re very soft. Feel them again.
MS – God, they are beautiful. It’s like a babies behind there buddy.
JP – Thanks.
MS – Not a hard days work you’ve been through.
JP – Never. Not one. My dad did construction, and he never wanted me to
MS – You ever roof a house?
JP – No, but I’ve built a swimming pool.
MS – These hands…
JP – I built a swimming pool, and like, dug a swimming pool and poured the gunk in and everything to get it started. That’s what my dad did for 30 years.
MS – Did you get to play with one of the hoe machines?
JP – No I got to use that.. that levelling machine? Basically like a jackhammer?
MS – Oh the dhoo dhoo dhoo dhoo dhoo dhoo dhoo
JP – That thing is intense. That’s the thing, we started working at 7 am, and I was asleep at like 3, and my dad had to finish it by himself.
MS – Yeah, he put you to bed like this, aww, so sweet.
JP – So, how’d you get started with Star Citizen?
MS – Geez, that was about… two years ago? I’ve been here about two years. So, of course, everybody’s heard of Mr. Roberts, and I was keeping an eye on the Kickstarter campaign, ‘cause I was interested in ships at the time, and things like that, I was actually working on, actually there was a few of us working for this company called lightbox interactive. That’s actually where our studio was, where the very first like, livestream/kickstarter/overnight, with Mr. Lamp
JP – Lamp Jr.
MS – Lamp Jr, guess this isn’t the real one, so that was the studio that that was in, which was weird, so I got to talk to Mr. Roberts, and I was like, you know man, this is a great project, and it’d be awesome to work on it. So, Chris Olivia got a hold of me, and we talked, and I came on. Actually I originally came on as the lead character artist, and then rose to power.
JP – Rose to the top! Now, before you were with CIG, you worked for Lightbox, correct? I actually talked to Chris Smith about this… I actually was a QA tester on StarHawk.
MS – Really? I am so sorry.
JP – It’s really nice of you to say that. I was on the network end, so, you remember how that went.
MS – Aaoooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuu yeah. Sorry bro. I had nothing to do with the network end of that. You got the network end. That was a cool project, I enjoyed working on it a lot, and actually a lot of the stuff I learned on it, i’ve translated over to some Star Citizen stuff. We worked with a lot of modular systems on that project, so that was kind of a natural transition to the way we want to do the persistent universe, and the planetside stuff, which is modular systems and stuff like that.
JP – How’d you get started with games in general though? How long’ve you been in the industry?
MS – Lets go waaaaay back. So, in the dinosaur ages, way back, when a dinosaur loved another dinosaur…
JP – 1980’s right? That’s as far as time goes back.
MS – They had baby dinosaurs, and that was me. Well, it’s funny. I started out as an illustrator, way back in the day, and I was just… not eating. It was terrible. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. So I decided I’d go back to school, and they had this interesting program called computer animation. Which was, it was only the second running semester, they had just started it. And I thought, oh, that looks interesting, and of course I’d seen Tron, and I thought, how the heck is that made. So I got really interested in it, and of course I was a huge game fan, was playing Legend of Zelda and all that stuff at the time, so
JP – Good game.
MS – Yeah, it was kind of just a natural, ‘oh, this is interesting’, and I was kind of on the bottom floor, so I kind of got into it and realized I freaking loved it, so started rolling with that, and it was awesome. And then, soon after that, I got out of school and got a job at this place called 7th level. They made Monty Python – A complete waste of time, if you’ve ever heard…
JP – No, never
MS – It was cool, I got to meet Eric Idle.
JP – That’s cool.
MS – It was badass.
JP – What’d you do on that project?
MS – Actually I don’t remember.
JP – It was that long ago?
MS – Yeah, I was wasting a lot of time, is what I was doing on that project. So, while they were working on that, I was working on this other project called Genome, which was a pile of dung, but it was the first project I ever worked on in 3D… Return to Krondor, worked on that one. Ever heard of that?
JP – No…
MS – No, because you’re a fetus old, that’s why. Way back, Raymond Feist, I’m sure the fans will know who that is. And then, eventually after that, I ended up at Blizzard, and I was at Blizzard for… 6 years?
JP – What’d you do there?
MS – I was the… actually when I first got there, I worked on cinematics, and I was the kind of… we were all generalists back then, this was a long time ago. I think I was the 7th or 8th hire on the cinematics team, I think they’re up to 300 now or something.
JP – You started the trend. It’s all thanks to you.
MS – It was a long time ago. Well, it wasn’t just me, it was a lot of talented guys. Lets see. I started out as a generalist, and then started gravitating towards characters, working on Orcs, primarily. Lets see… did some humans, worked on Diablo 2, which was lots of fun, had a good time working on that, so just kind of naturally progressed into a lead character role there.
JP – So what was it about Star Citizen that interested you so much?
MS – You know, I’ve always liked space. I mean, my all time favourite movie is Aliens.
JP – I was about to ask you that question in like, three minutes.
MS – Sorry, beat you to the punch bro. I do love me some Empire Strikes Back though. It’s like 1 and 2.
JP – There was aliens, by the way.
MS – *stands up and leaves*.
Disco – *sits down, shakes head at James*
JP – There’s Disco, chomping at the bit to take your place. I’ll ask you… I’ll ask you questions, and you whisper in his ear what to-
MS – I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you anymore. That was ridiculous.
Hennessy – *sighs*
MS – What’re we going to do with this kid? My god.
Hennessy – I have been trying for a long time to get him to watch movies that everyone else has seen, and he’s just like what, was that made in the 80’s? Everything in the 80’s is stupid.
JP – Probably.
Hennessy – That’s what he says. He says he’s such a millennial that..
JP – Am I a millennial?
MS – I’m going to cry.
Hennessy – You are a millennial.
MS – You’re absolutely a millennial.
Disco – If you… if you came to adulthood, which is 18, within 4 years of 2000, actually it’s within 2 years, so 98, 99, 2000, 2001, 2002
JP – No… 2006 is when I turned 18.
Hennessy – Then you’re definitely a millennial.
MS – What in the world is wrong with you. Ok so what,
JP – I thought my niece was a millennial.
Disco – No, you’re a millennial.
Hennessy – Millennial is the next big one after Generation X. All that other stuff got thrown away…
MS – So what is just coined your generation, as far as movies go? What is the ultimate movie for you? Something that you’ve seen that just blew you away?
JP – My favourite movie? My favourite movie is the Wrestler.
*Hennessy laughs* – No, but, but they’re the Harry Potter generation.
JP – Yeah, yeah that makes sense.
MS – Did you like Harry Potter?
JP – I love Harry Potter.
MS – All of them?
JP – The books or the movies? The movies, no, the third movie I really don’t like.
MS – No?
JP – The second one-
MS – we’re talking movies here.
Disco – Third movie’s the best movie in the series
JP – Fourth movie’s the best in the series.
Disco – Just… just turn the cameras off.
MS – God. Who the hell invited me to this damn interview?
Disco – *something lost* think we should go to rapid-fire.
MS – *unintelligible*
JP – For sure… you serious you like the third one? The third one cuts… you know what, did you read the books? That’s why. The third one cuts the most out of the books. as oddly as it is.
Disco – Yeah it’s like a masterclass in editing.
*MS looks like he hates the world*
JP – That’s fine. No it’s not, because they don’t even get into the relationship between Lupin and Harry until the very… Okay, so Harry meets Lupin, and he’s like his dads old friend from when they were in..
*MS starts snoring*
JP – One scene… one scene at the end…
Disco – We should get to the rapid-fire questions before *unintelligible*
JP – One scene they introduce each other, and the next scene they’re best friends.
MS – Oh my god. That’s when the punching begins. Thaaaat’s when the punching begins.
JP – Alright, lets do rapid-fire.
MS – Yes sir, oh my god, what is this, am I prepared?
JP – You look prepared. Favourite movie that’s not Aliens or Empire Strikes Back?
MS – Blade Runner.
JP – Never seen it.
*MS mimes hitting JP*
JP – Okay, remember how soft my hands?
MS – Oh, they’re so soft.
JP – Favourite game?
MS – Of all time?
JP – Yes.
MS – It’s gotta be Zelda dude.
JP – Which one? This is important.
MS – I mean, they’re all really good.
JP – They are, except Majora’s Mask. Link to the Past is very good.
MS – Yeah, Link to the Past is good
JP – I’m gonna go… I didn’t ask myself this question, but I’m gonna go with the one everyone knows, the one everyone’s going to say, and I’m going to say Ocarina legitimately is the best Zelda.
MS – Yeah, I really liked that one, I really did, but… I’m old school man. I had the gold cartridge and everything.
JP – So just the OG? No man, that’s good, I actually played that years later with my sister.
MS – I mean, that’s what got me into it. You know? It’s hard to say. I guess that’s my favourite console game. If you want to know my favourite PC game, that’s probably Half-Life 2.
JP – Good choice, good choice.
MS – So, I mean, i tjust depends on where you…
JP – No, those are two good choices. Favourite ship in Star Citizen?
MS – I like the Hornet, because it’s like, it’s a tank. I like that kind of mentality, where I can just bowl through something. It’s like a Hummer in Space.
JP – Cool, very cool, alright man, thanks so much again for joining us.
MS – Is that it?
JP – Yeah
MS – Ugh, have to wipe my hands again… touch your… oh my god… whoooooo they’re amazing.
JP – Once again, this is Mark Skelton, I’m James Pugh, and you just Met ‘im.
MS – Later.
Hennessy – Those rapid-fire questions were like slow-paced. Nothing rapid about that.
JP – Yeah.
Disco – So that’s the second interview.