Dev Box: Jumpgate Evolution’s Programmer Josh Stefanski

Jumpgate Evolution

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 NetDevil’s Josh Stefanski a chance to answer some of our burning questions.

Name: Josh Stefanski
Title: Programmer
What you do: I’m currently behind most of the AI development for “Jumpgate Evolution.”
Most recent game worked on: “Jumpgate Evolution”

1. What game has most influenced you, and why?
There’s been a few games that have heavily influenced me, the earliest being “Shock Force” (now known as “Wulfram 2″). I loved how the simple mechanics of two tank types plus deployable bases allowed for incredibly dynamic gameplay, no two rounds were ever the same. It was also the first game I played that truly got me addicted to online gaming, as I spent countless nights playing it. Many more recent games have influenced me and how I go about developing games, such as “StarCraft,” “Half-Life,” “Halo,” “BioShock,” and “EVE-Online.”

2. What are you playing right now?
“Lich King” mainly, grinding my way to 80. When I need to take a break from that I’m usually on “Call of Duty 4,” “Team Fortress 2,” or playing a few songs on “Audiosurf.”

3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about game development?
Game development is a highly iterative process. Anything that gets created or written will probably be scrapped and rewritten numerous times before release. But in the end you’ll almost always have something infinitely better than you did before.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I got a piece of networking-related advice from a good friend of mine, Tamir Nadav, that was initially about breaking in to the industry, but it has helped me in many ways beyond that. He basically recommended getting fully involved with whatever you really want to do with your life. Specifically with games: meeting everyone you can, learning as much as you can, and being heavily involved with surrounding events. The people I’ve met and the knowledge I’ve gained because of this is invaluable.

5. What do you think is the biggest problem games suffer from?
The risk versus creativity paradigm. The game industry as a whole is a fluctuating one, with games either being hits or misses with little room in-between. This causes many projects to follow known successful IPs — both inside and outside the game industry — to minimize the risk in developing a game. Unfortunately this tends to detract from creativity and in most cases you end up with very similar products — not saying existing IPs’ products can’t be creative. Thankfully, independent games are gaining more and more popularity, breathing some fresh ideas into the industry. Games like “Braid” and “Geometry Wars” are prime examples of this.

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