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Today we have a featured blog post by Damon Gauthier, our Game Director. Damon has nearly two decades of experience working in the video game industry, having plied his trade at big name studios like Relic and BioWare. He was also a key member of the original Homeworld team at Relic. This is a must-read post if you are a curious video game enthusiast, as Damon dives into his experiences in the industry, including his grueling 8-hour interview at Relic!
Hi everyone, this is Damon.
I have been building video games since 2000. My first project was Empire Earth at Stainless Steel Studios. They hired me as a multiplayer game designer to help design and balance the multiplayer portion of the game.
Why did they hire me? Well, as a gamer I was involved in many leagues and ladders with Warcraft 2 and StarCraft, often placing in the top 10 of many events over my gaming years. After a lengthy interview process, they thought that I had some design sense and brought me in to help them balance the Empire Earth game that was in production.
I shared a 2-bedroom apartment with 3 other designers. It was a fun year of long work weeks and parties, and I still keep in touch with all of them. We lived in Boston, beside Fenway Park, and went by MIT on our way to work everyday. I knew when I completed this job that I wanted to work in the games industry long term.
After my year in Boston, I returned to Victoria, Canada, and sent my resumé to Relic Entertainment. This was the only studio I applied to, and after a grueling 8-hour interview plus a follow-up interview of about 4 hours, I managed to get a Jr. Designer position.
I worked on many titles at Relic, but one title in particular that I was very proud of was Homeworld 2. My job was to set the battle lengths, to implement the tech tree, and to balance all the units. We had very little time to do it and not much manpower on this task, but I made the best of it. Working for Josh Mosqueira (the lead designer on Homeworld 2) was a lucky break in my career. He had an amazing design sense and always knew how to steer people in the direction needed to make the project great.
Homeworld 2 definitely turned out well, but there are some issues that come up with a 3D space RTS. From a player’s perspective, managing a fleet in 3D space, sending out scouts, planning where to attack and micromanaging your units in full 3D isn’t simple. I know that for me, after a full day of multiplayer playtesting, my brain was wiped. There is a lot of camera control mastery and spacial awareness that you must learn in order to fully execute your will in 3D. Growing up on favourites like Wing Commander and X-Wing was not enough to prepare me for managing an entire fleet in full 3D. The experience of working on Homeworld 2 has made me look carefully at the barrier to entry on a full 3D RTS. I have a lot of ideas on how to tackle these problems and I will be applying my knowledge on Infinite Fleet.
I have discussed a lot of these issues with Samson (Pixelmatic’s CEO) over the years. A bit of history -- I met Samson while we worked at Relic in 2005, and have kept in touch ever since. A couple years ago we were having coffee and he told me about a game he was planning on making. It sounded intriguing and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of it. I had a lot of ideas about how best to make a Sci-Fi MMO, and I decided to join the Infinite Fleet team in January 2019.
Working with a distributed team is a different beast than what I’m used to, but it’s coming together very quickly. Another note is that, the talent and value you can get all over the world when you give people the option to work remotely, is simply exceptional.
With the talent and skill of our team at Pixelmatic, we are going to make a fun, strategic and groundbreaking game. Samson has put us on a great course and the team is already executing on this vision. It’s an exciting environment to work in!
I’ve always loved Sci-Fi and honestly my passion for building games has increased over the course of my career, with the 10+ titles I've worked on going on to become great successes. I'm looking forward to building something truly awesome with the exceptionally talented Pixelmatic team.