Richard Gray, also known as the Levelord, is one from those game development celebrities that shined on the edge of XX-XXI century and then ruined their career by doing casual games believing they are the future. There was time when his name was associated with such classical hits like Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Sin... and now he's doing nice-looking small hidden object games for people who'd like to kill time... and he likes doing these games! Here's as follows.
Hi, Mr. Gray! How are you? We know absolutely nothing about what you are doing these days. Please, tell about it.
I have been home for almost 4 years now. I’m sort of retired, although I keep myself busy making casual games as a one-man development team. It’s wonderful! I have no schedule, no meetings, no documentation, no commuting, and best of all, I don’t have to deal with other humans ;)
I have released 2 games so far: Becky Brogan and The Mystery of Meane Manor, and Becky Brogan and The Institute. Both are hidden objects games. I’m working on the third episode right now, and I’m learning the Unity SDK and C# so I can hit more than just the PC market.
When and where did you get acquainted with the gaming industry for the firs time and consequently how did you into this business?
DOOM came out, and then the DEU level editor. I was a software engineer in the aerospace industry at the time, but I was soon absolutely consumed with making levels. I made my own DOOM levels and uploaded them to CompuServe. They were noticed by Nick Newhard at Q Studios and George Broussard at 3D Realms. I started making levels as a contractor for Nick and his game Blood. Then I was offered a job by George to work on Duke Nukem 3D.
Tell us about the creation of Blood and Serious Sam.
Well, like I mentioned, I only made contract levels for Blood, but none of them were used because I was working on Duke. I never worked on Serious Sam. I only thought it was one of the best games since DOOM and became an ultra fan of the CroTeam ;)
How successful was Sin Episodes: Emergency in terms of its profitability?
It’s hard to say because the idea was to make a stream of episodic games, which never happened. The first one sold well, but it would have done much better if the other episodes had been released and word-of-mouth about the IP hit more customers’ ears.
What did you think after you head heard Gearbox would develop Duke Nukem Forever?
Not much. Since I have been working at home, I haven’t paid any attention to the industry. It seemed like a cool idea, but I never heard any details nor seen the game.
Duke Nukem Forever provoked rather mixed feelings. What do you think about this game?
Unfortunately, just as this was happening, my mother became very ill. I had to leave for Florida to be with her and I was there for almost 8 months. Of course, nothing was on my mind except her health. I didn’t follow any of the news and I still (and probably never will) never seen the game.
What do you think about situation around 3D Realms?
I don’t know much about it other than what you already know. It seemed to be a never-ending development cycle.
What was your biggest and hardest project ever?
I really couldn’t pick one, at least of all the AAA titles we did. They all were demanding, with extreme schedules and extensive requirements.
When you make a game, what are you trying to accomplish?
Fun! This is another reason why I love being at home and working on casual games. No longer am I wrestling with cutting edge technology. Now I can focus on just the game!
Please, tell about years of your work for MamboJumbo.
I was only with them for less than 2 years. For the same reasons as now, I loved working on simple casual games. I loved working only 8-10 hours a day and having my weekends back, too!
Indie-games and social games are important part of the world game industry.
Sales of such games have been growing steadily. Why do you think it is happening? Maybe both developers and gamers are tired of big 'blockbuster' games?
Again, it’s all about fun. These new subgenres are delivering that. They are also less expensive and fitting to the new and growing audience of casual gamers. I myself am tired of games with a book of instructions and a keyboard full of controls and hours of getting used to the game before I am even enjoying it.
What games did you play recently? What is your all-time favorite computer game?
I’ve only played other hidden object games, and that is for reference more than entertainment. I guess I’d rather make a game than play one ;) My favorite is a tie between Tetris and Age of Empires I.
Do you feel famous? People recognize you on the streets?
They used to, sometimes. I’m enjoying the peace and quiet now. My blood pressure is low and my blood sugar is low. I’ve lost about 15kgs, too.
What is typical day like for Richard Gray?
There is no such thing. I eat, sleep, …everything, when I want. I may sleep for 2 hours at 4pm, I may sleep 8 hours at 2am. I have no schedule. Sometimes I’ll work 8-12 hours a “day” for a week or two; sometimes I won’t work at all for a week or two.
This is great because a person can’t inspire creativity. Creativity has to inspire the person.
A glimpse of your future for our readers?
The future is now ;) I wouldn’t change anything.
So, one million dollars or one million fans. What is your choice?
Both! …but seriously, I don’t even think about either one. I have all that I need.
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