Cryptic Studios has posted an interview with Matt Highison, a character artist for Star Trek Online. In this highly anticipated game, it's Matt's job to model characters, paint textures, create shaders and implement new tech.
While the questions focus mainly on Matt's personal interests, he does mention that STO is doing things he's never seen before in any game.
"My personal goal is to give the player as much creative freedom as possible, while doing things behind the scenes to make sure that every player creation comes out looking as good as any of the classic Star Trek characters we are making. The species you know and love should be there and looking great," Matt said in the interview.
For the full interview, head over to the official Star Trek Online Web site or keep reading below.
Learn more about Matt Highison, character artist for Star Trek Online !
Q: Explain what you do on Star Trek Online.
A: My job is to turn the Awesome up to 11 on the Star Trek Online characters, creatures, and ships. With the rest of the Character team, I am building upon the amazingly robust costume creator in Champions Online , reworking it for the Star Trek universe, and adding in loads of new customization options designed especially for STO. Any one day could consist of modeling characters, painting textures, creating shaders, and implementing new tech.
Q: How long have you worked in gaming, and what did you do before working on Star Trek Online?
A: I started at Cryptic a bit over a year and a half ago working on Champions Online before moving over to STO. Before that I had various stints of contract work while attending the Art Institute of California, San Francisco.
Q: What part of Star Trek Online are you the most excited about working on?
A: The alien creator! I think most game artists have a bit of a game designer in them, and one of the most enjoyable parts for me has been designing character creation systems. The TV show costumes and makeup of Michael Westmore and crew are really inspiring and humbling. Under a tight deadline and budget they were able to bring scores of interesting, beautiful, and frightening creatures to life every week. With paint and latex! Right now we are developing tools to allow players to do the same in STO (with slightly less latex). My personal goal is to give the player as much creative freedom as possible, while doing things behind the scenes to make sure that every player creation comes out looking as good as any of the classic Star Trek characters we are making. The species you know and love should be there and looking great.
Q: What are your favorite Star Trek episodes?
A: TNG: "Best of Both Worlds" was simply awesome the first time I saw it aired and it's still great today. "I, Borg" showed there could be a great Borg episode built on dialogue instead of action, a direction I wished was taken more often.
DS9: I really liked the close-talking prey Tosk from "Captive Pursuit". "Duet" was both chilling and heartbreaking, one of my favorites of any TV shows. "The Sword of Kahless" has a bad-ass bat'leth, Klingon drinking songs, Kor and Dax battling through caves, with LeVar Burton directing. What more can you ask for?
As for the films, my nod goes to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country .
Q: What would your dream starship be like?
A: I would love to command a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, 800m long with the ability to open trans-warp conduits at will, and fire quantum torpedoes while cloaked. Too bad the only action it would be seeing is orbiting around Risa while I'm off on a "ground mission".
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Play Castle Crashers with my girlfriend, race through fields with my dog Daxter Tiberius, and cook up delicious vegetarian feasts. I try to play games as much as I can, and right now I'm re-watching every Trek series and learning acoustic guitar. I also plot new ways to disable the mouse pointers of my colleagues.
Q: What is something about you that players would be surprised to know?
A: I attended my first Star Trek convention when I was 10 years old. And I was somehow convinced to bring in post-convention pictures to prove it, complete with creepy cardboard standees.
Q: What's on your iPod?
A: Aus Rotten, Deltron 3030, Greg Graffin, The Coup, Subtitle, anything from the amazing Bay Area collective Anticon, and the Halo 3 soundtrack (Marty McDonnell, one day I'll hook you up with the pint of beer and a sweaty hug you so deserve).
Q: Pirates, ninjas or???
A: My bets are on the shifty looking ?'s.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into gaming?
A: Be passionate about what you do, whatever that may be. Play games! Think about why you like certain things about a game, and are turned off by others. Try to figure out how the game is manipulating you! If you are an artist, look at other forms of art, and set your bar high. Stunning art has been around a lot longer than "next-gen" games have, and there's a lot to learn from other disciplines. Have a well presented portfolio that only contains your best work. The studio's artists examining your demo reel aren't just curious about your skills, but your judgment on what is actually "demo reel worthy". If you want to make characters, try to learn the whole pipeline. Take your creation from concept, to model and texture, and then rig and skin it, and show it off in an animation. Be prepared to work really, really hard.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: The team working on STO is one of the most talented, intelligent, and passionate groups of people I've ever met. We are all such fans of the series that we are taking the care needed to infuse every bit with Trek lore. Star Trek Online is doing things I've never seen before in any game, and it should end up being a blast for hardcore Trek fans and casual fans alike.