Game Inspirations: Clinton Keith, High Moon

ckeith.jpg Following on from yesterday's Game Inspirations with Ubisoft's Clint Hocking (Far Cry 2), today's instalment talks to High Moon Studios CTO Clinton Keith about the key game that made him want to... make games.

Apart from being awesomely bearded, Clinton heads up technology for the Darkwatch developer, which is owned by Vivendi and currently working on The Bourne Conspiracy. He used to be director of product development at Angel Studios (now Rockstar San Diego), where he helped oversee titles like Midtown Madness, Midnight Club and Smuggler's Run. So what classic game inspired him to be the man he is today?What was the first video game you were ever inspired by, growing up?

Star Raiders for the Atari 800.

When and where did you play it?

At home (a lot).

dock.jpg How did it make you feel?

I felt as if I were looking into a much larger world rather than what existed on the screen. I recall that sometimes instead of playing, it I would experiment. For example, when you found a space station that could repair and rearm you, a robot would come out and do the job (I found out recently that the programmer put in the robot because he couldn't make the "docking" effect look good).

One time the space station was destroyed by an enemy while the robot was flying towards me. I dispatched the enemy and then turned my attention back to the robot. The robot promptly turned around and started heading off across the galaxy. I must have followed that robot for an hour wondering "Where is it going? What is it going to do?" That was a great feeling.

How did it influence your future game making?

To this day I prefer "sandbox" style games, especially those that are online. These are truly larger worlds in that the game evolves with the experience of the other players over long periods of time. This influenced my very first game Midtown Madness.

Midtown allowed you to play with the physics and had an online component that allowed you to run around with other players and just have fun trying things out with your car. I was amazed at how much the community was able to do with that game after it shipped.

[Incidentally, what these three interview subjects (Clint Hocking, Clinton Keith, and Brian Reynolds) have in common is that they're all on the Advisory Committee for the Game Developers Choice Awards, being held at GDC 2008 in February. Of course, I used them mainly because I could group email them easily, but hey.]


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