Game Review Random

Character Sheet # 6 – Interview with David Doak, one of the pioneers of FPS console, from Goldeneye to Time Splitters

Personal file is a section in which we draw the portrait of actors of the video game, real or fictitious, who weigh or weighed on the industry. Today, we were lucky to be able to interview the person to whom we will try to honor through these lines. So a big thank you to David Doak for having exchanged with us, it will have been a real pleasure to discover a little behind the scenes of these games that will have shaped our childhood.

There was a time that those under the age of twenty cannot know. A time when the controllers had only one joystick (if at all). A bygone era where the FPS on consoles, the real one, was happening on Nintendo 64. Yes, you read that right. Nintendo, used to family content, dominated the game of machine gun on controller. A domination that we owe entirely to Rare study, and to a fine team of which we had the chance to interview a member: David Doak. Put your boots on in 64 bits, we go straight for a trip to the (almost) origins of FPS on consoles.

David Doak
David Doak, today.

David Doak and the Rare period

In the early 90, David Doak arrives at Rare to work as a maintenance agent for Silicon Graphics machines. These machines were of capital importance, because they were in a way the material which the studio used at the time to dazzle the JV industry with great blows of graphic slaps, like for example Donkey Kong Country on SNES. A function that will not occupy very long David, since at the time in the studios, it was pretty good to be versatile. Because yes, in this time, the teams very rarely exceeded twenty people, and everyone could find themselves doing just about any task while learning on the job.

Our dear David So began to work on the third part of DK Country, at the very end of SNES ‘life. Alongside this project, a certain Martin Hollis decided to take his crotch with the full hand to place it with a crash on the brothers’ table Stamper (the creators of the studio) in order toget responsibility for a certain adaptation of Goldeneye.

Shortly after, our Martin who became responsible went around the offices to find out who would be warm to work with him on this project. Unfortunately, an adaptation of the film already sounded like a low-quality and not particularly interesting project, and he found it difficult to bring people together. However, the idea of ​​being integrated into the project interested a certain Dr Doak who wanted to resign from Rare to discover new horizons. And the good surprise is that he was in charge of adapting the story at stake. It was for example partly thanks to him that we had this famous intro scene where we can kill an enemy in the toilet.

David Doak
Everyone knows these toilets.

David tells us what Goldeneye was supposed to be initially :

“In fact, at the start, we had to work on a rail-shooter designed for the controller, like a Time Crisis. The moves are therefore planned in advance, and you simply shoot your enemies with the joystick. However, we quickly realized that it was absolutely no fun, so we changed direction. ”

A complicated development therefore for the team which will not give up and which, on the contrary, will lay the foundations of a game which inspire the majority of people in the sector, dont the creators of a certain Half-Life…

But obviously, when we think of Goldeneye, we think of multiplayer, and on this subject, Dr Doak tells us that the teams in charge of the other games (Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, etc.) played each of their breaks at what will become one of the major hits of the Nintendo 64 (it will even end up being the console’s best seller USA, that’s to say!).

Still in the anecdotes section, David tells us how he ended up modeled in the game:

“We modeled the faces of the entire team in the game, and at the start, management asked to remove everything. We obviously obeyed, but some time before delivering the final copy, we made the decision to put everything back! ”

Rare pure juice in a way.

David Doak
Doak, Dr Doak.

Unfortunately, Goldeneye’s success was not enough to allow many members of the team to progress within an established hierarchy. A lack of recognition from which suffered a good part of the staff, and which will lead some time later to the first split of Rare then in full development of Perfect Dark, with our dear David at the top of the departure list. A decision he will simply summarize:

“Even if I spend my life at work, as much as I reap the rewards.”

Thus in 1999, our favorite doctor, accompanied by Steve Ellis, Karl Hilton and Graeme Norgate, created Free Radical Games.

The epic Free Radical Design

A new adventure begins for a David driven by real ambitions: develop a game for the launch of the PS2. Complicated, especially when you know the difficulty in obtaining the development kits for the console. However, and to everyone’s surprise, Free Radical Design receives several after barely six months of existence! The teams therefore start to work on what they do best: FPS consoles.

This is how the newly created team is working on premier TimeSplitters. An episode on which David passes quickly, the latter being “sloppy” for lack of time. Indeed, the launch of a console cannot be shifted by the operation of the Holy Spirit, and Free Radical Design has done its best to release a suitable game, “just on time” as they say there. However, the studio has ideas, and now intends to take the time to take out the game of their dreams.

With lots of laughter and hard work, the team is tweaking the second episode of TimeSplitters, considered by many to be the best of the trilogy. More successful in its solo mode, the game can also boast of having a welcome map editor and quite new for the time. Long-term work under the leadership of Dr Doak, “Designer” on the ergonomics of this little extra that will make all the charm of the game. Charm that we will obviously find in the third opus, a real jewel essential for any self-respecting game library, despite the few additions by compared to number 2.

TimeSplitters appears as an easter egg in the excellent Shaun of the Dead.

Shortly thereafter, the studio will attempt to launch Haze on PS3, which will unfortunately be a commercial failure announcing the end of Free Radical Game, which will be bought soon by Crytek. But, years later, what remains of the legacy left by David Doak and his team? The interested party answers us:

“In the PS3 era,“ fashion ”in video games was realistic, and publishers obviously followed this trend. A difficult passage for us, because our greatest strength lay in the cartoonesque spirit and a little barred from our games. However, if we look at what is hit today, including Fortnite, we can see that Time Splitters was clearly part of the inspirations for the artistic direction and the skins of a lot of characters. So it’s in the end a bit here that we find our spirit. ”

Cherry on the cake, David revealed the type of game he particularly likes at the moment:

“I like short games. The big A triples “get bored” pretty quickly, in the sense that I just need a few hours to understand the mechanics of the game. However, there is one real exception: Breath of the Wild, which is a very, very good game. After, recently, I had a lot of fun on A Short Hike, which should last barely three hours, but who masters his subject well. As Bad North, a game that I recommend. ”

And so ends the story narrated by our dear doctor who now teaches regularly in an English faculty, offering from time to time a more than pleasant moment for a fan who has been lulled by l golden era of Rare and the beginnings of FPS on consoles.

TimeSplitters, little gem of FPS in multi local.
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