Dev Box Interview: Mushroom Men’s Programmer Jeff Lake

It usually takes a small army to create the video games that we play, and, most of the time, all of the focus gets put on the game itself, and not on the people that came together to make it. Our Dev Box interview feature takes a look at some of the unsung heroes that have committed their lives to entertaining all of us. This week we are giving Red Fly Studio’s Jeff Lake a chance to answer some of our burning questions.

Name: Jeff Lake
Title: Programmer
What you do: Physics, Gameplay, Combat programming
Most recent game worked on: “Mushroom Men”

1. What game has most influenced you, and why?
The game I’m most influenced by is “Super Metroid.” It was the first game that I played which had that level of open-ended gameplay with such atmospheric art and music. It combined the best of action, puzzle, and adventure games in one experience that still stands up to the best games of today.

2. What are you playing right now?
“Fallout 3″! This game is amazing. The sheer breadth of content that Bethesda is able to bring to bear is inspiring.

3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about game development?
You have to love games. The hours are long, the pay is low, and game developers don’t get a whole lot of respect from outsiders, so you have to be motivated by the game itself. Making a game that you can be proud of is a great feeling.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
You can learn something from anybody. You never know everything, and every single person you meet, every single situation you find yourself in has a useful lesson if you’re willing to learn.

5. What do you think is the biggest problem current games suffer from?
Current games suffer from bloated budgets. It sounds odd to complain about too many resources, but when you get that much money and time invested in a project you really can’t take many chances with it. While those games are usually polished and often fun, they seldom deliver the revelatory experience of a truly great game. Some publishers (like EA) have noticed this tendency and are gradually beginning to develop a wider variety of smaller projects. That’s commendable of them.

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