Welcome to another episode of Meet the Devs, this time with Todd Papy!
Meet the Devs: Todd Papy, with James Pugh
JP – Your shoes, like, lift them up so everyone can see. Outclassing me in shoes. Like, that’s not hard to do.
TP – Socks…
JP – The socks too… it’s not hard to outclass me in footwear, but you’ve done it to a degree no-one has before.
TP – Ah, well, I’ve got green and blue and grey versions of this as well.
JP – You’re just showing off.
Welcome back to Meet the Devs, with me today is our Design director Todd Papy, hi Todd, how you doing?
TP – Hello, good to meet you.
JP – Good to meet you, thanks for coming on.
TP – Yep
JP – So, you joined the project what, a couple of months ago?
TP – February 1st.
JP – February, and before that you were over at CryTech right? How’s it like over there?
TP – It was good. I went over for Rise 2, actually.
JP – Oh, Rise 2
TP – So, you know, I saw what they had from a tech standpoint, what they had from an art standpoint, and I felt like I could help make a difference from a design standpoint. And then from there, Rise 2 went away, and we worked on some different games, and then before I left I was working on Hunt, so… Which is basically kind of like an 1870’s monster hunter game. That obviously fit closer to my previous work history and all that so, it was a good time, and I still have friends there, so I’m rooting for them and looking forward to seeing the game when it comes out.
JP – Yeah me too, hope they’re doing well over there. So before that, you were actually out here, in Santa Monica, over at Sony Santa Monica, where you worked on God of War Ascension. What was that like?
TP – I mean I started at Sony Santa Monica 2003. Worked on the first God of War, left after a while, then came back 15 months later, worked on God of War 2, then worked on God of War 3 and Ascension. So, it was really kind of a home-away-from-home, and had a bunch of friends there that I’d grown up with and worked with at my previous company, so Stig, and Steve Kayerson, and Mark Simon, and Justin Henry, these are guys that I worked with at Atari when I first got into the industry. And then we went down to Sony Santa Monica and worked there so…
JP – I don’t know if you knew this, I mentioned this to you once before, I actually worked on God of War Ascension at Sony San Diego in the QA department, and then i did the online testing after it was released for the servers, so it’s just weird how they said that, I got an e-mail that said oh, Todd Papy’s coming to be the design director, I was like… I worked on his old games.
TP – Yeah, and I mean, it just kind of shows you how small the industry is. Rob Reinegger, who’s a designer in Austin with us, I think he and I started if not the exact same day, within a week of each other at Atari. So. It’s… it’s very close-knit.
JP – What was the culture shock coming from somewhere like, I”ve never worked at CryTech, but I’d imagine it’s a normal place, and coming to here which is fun, but definitely not normal…
TP – I mean, I think every company has their idiosyncrasies. It’s kind of like dating, where you find out, you know, can I live with this or can I not live with this? With cloud I think that the biggest thing for me is, with Chris and kind of how agile we are, you know, there’s certain bit of chaos. And I like chaos.
JP – me too, yeah, chaos
TP – I like the, being able to go in there and say, okay, what’s wrong, let’s fix this. Alright, let’s do this, this, this, Chris, which… what, out of these three options, do you like? And then making sure that we’re moving forward and constantly progressing.
JP – That’s definitely my favourite thing about the project as well. When it seems like everything is going wrong, then you find an idea and you find the way to make it better, and it just works because you have so many people, it’s not just this studio, our studios around the world, they’re all doing the best they can to accomplish one thing, and that is make Star Citizen.
TP – Well, I think a lot of people think of game making, oh, you’re just sitting there designing, you’re sitting there building art. In reality, what we’re doing is we’re sitting there problem solving and figuring out okay, today’s problem is this, tomorrow’s problem’s gonna be something completely different and it’s going to be interesting and fun and, that’s kinda what gets me excited and gets me awake in the morning.
JP – What’s it like being a design director for Chris Roberts?
TP – He is like a Director that I”ve never worked with before, so, I mean, I worked with David Jaffy, Corey ? Stig, Asumussen, and then I”ve worked with previous ones at Atari as well, each one of those
JP – By the way, sorry, taht’s three of my favourite game designers of all time by the way,
TP – So, each one of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. Dave came from basically design background, Corey from an animation background, Stig from art director background, Log, he was a programmer, but he didn’t really talk design or art or anything like that. Chris’ nature is a programmer, so he’ll be talking about servers and how he wants the servers set up and diving into the EVA code and re-writing that, and then he’ll come to me and he’ll say, well, I’m thinking about this from a design perspective, or commenting on shotgun about you know, art or hey, I want it this way or that way, and he’s very instinctual designer, meaning it comes from his gut. So when you present him three different options, it works best, or works best if you give him a couple of options and he’s like, okay I really like this one, or I don’t like any of them, and here’s why I don’t like those, and then at that point you can start narrowing down your focus and really finding out what is he trying to get across.
JP – What’s it like dealing with design on so many what would seem to be different elements? You’re looking at ship design, FPS design, is… is that, were you prepared for that?
TP – I don’t htink anybody could be prelared for that. When I first started I was supposed to be the FPS game director, so I”m still focused on that, I’m still, we’re still pushing towards that. but at the same time then you’ve got other things that will pull in your focus of, okay, with S42 there’s systems that they’re looking at that we’re trying to think of, and then talking to Dan and the designers here okay, well, cargo, or how is this ship going to work, what’s the thought process behind this ship, what’s the design process behind it, or talking with Tony and saying, okay, charawcter custimization. What’re we doing? I don’t know yet, well, lets figure that out kind of thing. So, again, it’s… it’s just challenges, and I love that.
JP – Fun place to work isn’t it?
TP – Yup.
JP – Alright, we’re going to let you go, but before we do, we have to do some rapid-fire questions. Ready?
TP – Okay.
JP – Favourite movie?
TP – Fight Club.
JP – Seen it. Great movie. Love it.
TP – Okay, good.
JP – Favourite actor?
TP – Brad Pitt
JP – Is this just a… anything Brad Pitt?
TP – Well I mean, you’ve got 12 monkeysl…
JP – Never seen it
TP – you’ve got fight club, you’ve got Thelma and Louise
JP – Never seen it
TP – Ok, well, I’ll leave it there.
JP – Favourite video game?
TP – Half-Life 1.
JP – Great game. Why 1 over 2?
TP – To me, it was the level design and jus tthe thought process behind it. And the way that you could go about and deal with their challenges. Obviously, with the gravity gun, that opens up new doors to new things, but to me, the amount of time that I spent playing HL 1 and the multiplayer with other people was… it was fantastic.
JP – Yeah and I also think, for the record I love HL 1 and 2, I also think how open HL 2 was kind of hurt at times. The pacing got a little wonky.
TP – Yeah, and that to me is the hardest part. You know, if you’re going for a well-paced game, then a lot of the times you can’t go as wide, you want to go more linear and more focused.
JP – Favourite ship in SC?
TP – I would have to say the Tali.
JP – Why?
TP – Just the lines. I like the SR-71 and that one just kind of… it hints at it, but it… just the look of it is pure sexy.
JP – Thanks again for coming on. Once again, this is Todd Papy, our design director, I’m James Pugh, you just met a Dev. Gotta point at the screen. There we go, you got it.