Sunday, August 31, 2014

GJG Blog Interview #3 - Wesley Adams

Dangerous was a previous project Multivarious Games had worked on.
Wesley Adams is the Co-Founder of Multivarious Games, a young independent game developing company based in the Buckeye State of Ohio. Wesley specializes in departments such as GUIs, 2D and 3D animation and rigging. Wes acts as the overseer for a lot of the game development tasks that need attending. Wes handles the creative side of MVG while the other Co-Founder, Christopher Volpe, handles the business side.

Multivarious Games: http://www.multivariousgames.com/
Wesley's Website: http://www.wescg.net/ 

Steven Vitte:
1) You are the Co-Founder of the startup game developing company Multivarious Games. How did Multivarious Games initially come about? What inspired its forming?

Wesley Adams:  MVG started back in October 2010 with a group of game enthusiasts from a local Meetup community called the Central Ohio Gamedev Group. I had just graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design, did some job searching in California for a bit, and was now looking for options in Ohio in the gaming community as I waited for feedback. There I met with Devin Moore, Chris Sellers, Alex Jonas, and Todd Barchok who were all either working on games at the time or were interested in growing the community. 

Devin started the LLC for MVG and pushed to try to make it a tangible business through community development. Later the team grew and evolved and now Chris Volpe and I manage a team of about 14 people, team leads, writers, and sound designers. What inspired the collaboration was mainly due to the observed talent seen that was noticeably moved to job searching in the west coast. We really wanted to provide an option for those looking to stay in Ohio and do games for a living.

2) Multivarious Games is based in Columbus, Ohio (Dublin, to be exact). How do you feel about the Video Game Industry's presence in the state of Ohio? What can improve? What has improved?

Wesley: Dublin really supported some of the best entrepreneurship we were looking for to do our startup. The MVG offices at the TechDec of Dublin for example provided professional office space, meeting rooms, and technology support while offering affordable rent. The owners here really are excited to support our mission to help bring more game development jobs to Ohio. MVG is of course a startup but we are very much involved in the community here to support other local game development. If we can get exposure to Ohio as a talented place to make games, it will only help our company out as well! The game industry in Ohio is infant of course but growing rapidly. Check out the Ohio Game Developer Association website to see many related companies, groups, and talent: http://www.ohiogamedev.com/

In terms of improvement, yes every year we see an imporvement of growth in games, education, and local game communities here in Ohio I'd say. What we're working to do is to funnel game developers together to improve collaboration and build a larger portfolio of games made. One way we are looking to do this is through the Ohio Game Developer Expo coming up here on October 24-26th at COSI. The goal of this venue is to encourage developers to build games for one weekend a year and have a chance to show off their work to potential collaborators, investors and enthusiasts. We're also working with local education institutions such as the Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus State, Game U, The Ohio State University, and many more to help bring awareness to their game programs that there are needs for new game developer talents.

For improvement, it's all about how to acquire more opportunities to succeed. We have a lot of talent already so we just need a chance to show off what we can do. One way to do this is by tapping into local capital investment through showcasing a portfolio of games and its positive relationship to investment growth.

3) What do you envision the state of Ohio to have when it comes to game development?

Wesley: The large advantage of Ohio is the COL or cost of living mixed in with game enthusiasts. We by no means want to underpay our talent but it is understood that we could get a startup company at a lower cost than most other locations. We also live in a time that has many more free and available tools/online support than we did just a few years ago. free professional tools like Unity 3D help us develop and online resources like Gamasutra helps those looking to get into the industry.

4) Following the Video Game Industry, which names have you followed and looked up to for inspiration? (Example - Nolan Bushnell)

Wesley: Recently, it has been Tim Shaffer of Double Fine Productions. I've been following a few of their games like "Broken Age" and "Massive Chalice" as they have opened these projects up to the community for those who support the games through a crowd funding website called Kickstarter. As a new game developer and project lead, it's very helpful for me to see how other game companies go through the many steps it takes to make a game.

5) As a company, how does Multivarious Games view the departments of game development, separately and together?

Wesley: As a whole, we work to bring the many parts of the company's projects together through weekly reviews. Usually, we have stand-up meetings throughout the weekdays with part of the team who can make it into the office. Then, the entire team meets up on Saturdays to recap what has been accomplished. We have separate yet small departments that we break down into each project based on needs. This usually includes the project lead, systems team, art team, writing team, and sound design team. Some departments may grow, shrink, or move between projects depending on its needs.

6) Programs and events such as Game U and the Ohio Game Developer Expo are taking shape. What are your thoughts on these developments?

Wesley: We see these resources becoming bigger and better. With COSI's support in the 2014 Ohio Game Developer Expo and the support in Powell for the after school game development program at Game U, we are very excited to be a part of these growing groups. They not only help support our company but also the gaming industry here as well. The more of these groups we see grow, the more support individuals will have looking to do games in Ohio.

7) What tips do you have on networking with people?

Wesley: There are many ways to go about networking and may depend on what you are networking and where. For us, it really helped to network with the local organizations in Columbus. We grabbed a lot of exposure through articles in Columbus Alive and 614 Magazine. Best advice is just get out there. Join on location with groups you are interested in with sites like Meetup.com.

You can also connect with many online services like Linked In, Facebook, and online podcasts like ours at WMVG. However, people will know you best when you shake their hand, get to know them, and they get to know you. I was pleasantly surprised to meet a few folks working on AAA games and even a UK game developer. You never know who you'll meet and where that connection may lead you to next.  

8) If you had a list of favorite video game genres, what would your list look like? (Shooters, RPGs, Platformers, Racing)

Wesley: It's hard to say because I don't feel games should be limited to genres. Some of the best games are the ones you can play with your friend and has a fantastic story. So that being the case, I like FPS but it should have a fun campaign mode. It would be okay if it wasn't multiplayer but really playing a campaign game with a friend makes the experience so much more fun. I'm also interested in games that invoke an interesting world. Some of my favorite games growing up was "Myst", "Shenmue", and "Day of the Tentacle."

9) What do you think are the main differences between independent games and mainstream games? 

Wesley: This has been a growing question for me. I feel that indie games and "mainstream games" are depended on who considers what is what, so to speak. Are sales a factor? Fan-base amount? Quality and feature support? There is a gray area I think in terms of shifts because technology and teams are changing rapidly. Years ago, indie companies like Team Meat with "Super Meat Boy" and Mojang with "Minecraft" were at one point pretty indie and are now very much mainstream. 

However, I still feel that they retain much of that indie feeling compared to a new COD (Call of Duty) game for example. My thoughts are to answer, "What makes the game feel more personal to your game related interests?" The more of this you have, the more you feel like it may be an "indie" game. However, as mentioned before, in my opinion you can feel indie but be mainstream which is great to see as this may be a close representation of the evolution in games.

10) What element of video games do you think should be expanded on? Examples - Arcade, Co-Op, Online Play, etc.)

Wesley: As mentioned before, I think game best benefit from playing with friends. Games are an experience and sharing with others makes it a much more dynamic experience. There are a lot of games like FPS, RTS, and RPG that share competitive tactics. This is a good start but I would love to see games that also share progressive experiences like as in "Journey." 
 

Have a Happy Labor Day, blog readers!        

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