Developer Friday

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Hourences

The Ball Team
Jul 13, 2010
142
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www.TheBallthegame.com
Here is our mad artist who is behind some of our most important and iconic characters! Ben has modeled, and sometimes textured too, the mummy, the King, and the Tlaloc! Check out his website for some more high poly modeling madness.

Who are you and what do you do on “The Ball”?
Hi, I’m Benjamin Erdt ‘Ben’ and I created most of the major character models for The Ball such as the King, the mummy, the worm and the Tlaloc. For the latter I also painted the textures. I’m going to move to Vancouver next year and join the Film School there to become a movie creature artist. Designing and creating characters and creatures is my passion and I do my best to improve my skills. Someone who stops getting better has stopped being good ;)

When and how did you join the team?
I joined the team two years ago. I think it was somewhat around April 2008. I got mail from Sjoerd asking me if I would be interested in joining the mod as a character modeler. It was a honor. I had seen a lot of his Unreal Engine work in the past and I admire him. After 2 mod teams I worked for and that were never finished I felt The Ball was something that works. Great idea, hard working talents, good management.

How did you start out with character modeling?
Phew! Well… I tried out a lot of things in the past like level design for ID Engine games such as Quake, Doom 3 etc. which I’ve been doing for over 7 years. But 4 years ago I got sucked right into character and creature creation and started to realize that this is the way I want to go. Realizing my ideas digitally is one way but I feel like trying out things like Make Up Effects as well in the future.

What has been the most challenging thing you have done on the game?
Actually I didn’t have the hardest jobs. The only time that was more challenging for me was retouching the aztec king model. I had very little sparetime back then but needed to meet the deadline. Same was when painting the Tlaloc texture. I ended up with some long nights but that was basically it. Seeing the results in-game is a very pleasant moment though! The others did a great job on this!

What do you like the most about the game?
I like games that were built around a feature like The Ball. It’s simply the overall and basically simple concept of the game and what the team made of it. Young heads, fresh ideas.

Some of his work for The Ball:
http://www.theballthegame.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/benpic.jpg
http://www.theballthegame.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/bensnake.jpg
The first shows the Tlaloc, armored and unarmored. The second shows the first version of the King. The version that eventually made it into the game has a lot less decoration and armor.
 
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Hourences

The Ball Team
Jul 13, 2010
142
29
0
www.TheBallthegame.com
Thomas Browett was one of the first guys that joined the development of the game, and he has worked on the Oztoc and Teotl levels before he got hired by Epic Games!

Who are you and what do you do on “The Ball”?
I’m Tom, I’m originally from the UK, and I did some of the level design and scripting for two of the levels fairly early in the game – up until last year, when I went to work at Epic Games as a level designer intern. I’m now working full-time on levels for Gears of War 3, thanks in part to the experience I gained while contributing to The Ball, and its success in the Make Something Unreal contest.

When and how did you join the team?
I asked to join the team after playing through the first level of the game when it was released back in 2008. I saw a lot of potential, and really liked the way the game’s atmosphere was reminiscent of the original Unreal and other games of that time. To start off I got to make a big chunk of the second level from scratch, and had a lot of fun getting creative with puzzles that utilized the Ball in different ways.

How did you start out with level design?
I first started playing around with the Unreal level editor back when Unreal first came out, and then went on to make a series of mostly-terrible maps for the first Unreal Tournament game in the following years. After a long break from mapping, Unreal Tournament 3 came along and really rekindled my interest, and I’ve been in the editor working on one level or another almost every day since.

What has been the most challenging thing you have done on the game?
Trying to work the kinks out of the Kismet scripting for some of the puzzles I put together could be a real headache at times, but having to figure that stuff out was a great learning experience.

What do you like the most about the game?
I’m a big fan of puzzles in games, and love the satisfaction of finally solving a clever environmental puzzle. I also really like some of the impressive vistas you come across in the game – the deeper you go, the more impressive the scenery becomes.
 
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Hourences

The Ball Team
Jul 13, 2010
142
29
0
www.TheBallthegame.com
Meet the writer behind almost all the Mystery Mondays. Martin was originally just going to test the game, but from one thing came another and before we knew it he wrote almost all the Mystery Mondays!

Who are you and what do you do on "The Ball"?
A living breathing wannabe indie developer that enjoy most aspects of game development. Art, scripting and code. I have some four years of professional experience in the games industry and work at Starbreeze Studios in Uppsala as a Gameplay Designer. I wrote most of the Mystery Monday texts for The Ball and did a run as a focus tester. Oh, almost forgot: my name is Martin Annander. But it’s not a name you’re likely to have heard before.

When and how did you join the team?
After playing The Ball to help test it, I mentioned that I would gladly write anything that needed writing. One thing led to another, and after a trial run writing one of the Mystery Monday pieces I was asked to write more of them. More then turned into most.
Originally met Teotl Studios’ founder, Sjoerd De Jong, at Starbreeze Studios, during the time he worked there.

How did you start out with writing?
Writing has been a lifetime passion of mine and I worked for a year as a journalist in Sweden, after an internship in the United States. Since then, it’s not something I get paid for, but it’s still a favorite pastime. I mostly write fiction, but there are some articles and theses as well. Whoever lives, and cares, may see.
Prior writing credit includes stuff for pen-and-paper role-playing games, though none you’ve heard of, and some stuff for the free MMORPG Planeshift. Some other stuff, too, but I tend to think more of the next thing in line than of past endeavors.

What has been the most challenging thing you have done on the game?
Coming up with ways to make the Mystery Monday pieces interesting and not just repetition of the same themes over and over. There were already plenty of ideas and source material to draw from, but it was still a challenge. And of course, to fit it into a busy everyday work schedule. Besides, anyone who writes a lot knows that it’s easy to get carried away. So another big challenge has been to keep the word count within a digestible margin: the Internet expression TL;DR exists for a reason.

What do you like the most about the game?
I like the diversity. The way it’s an action game that is a puzzle game and also the way it tells a story in the details, rather than in campy cutscenes. There’s a lot to explore and even more to experience in more than just the game mechanics. And of course those moments when some final revelation turns an impossible puzzle into you cursing your own stupidity and yelling "why didn’t I think of that!". As in any good puzzle game, those moments are what keep you going.
 

Hourences

The Ball Team
Jul 13, 2010
142
29
0
www.TheBallthegame.com
The second or third last Developer Friday! His interview may be one of the last, but his impact on the game has been huge. Markus is our lead programmer and one of the core developers. The game wouldn’t have been there without him.

Who are you and what do you do on “The Ball”?
Hi, I’m Markus Arvidsson and I do a large chunk of the programming work for The Ball. I am one of three people that works full time on the game. My official title is Lead Programmer so I guess I do what a Lead Programmer typically does :) . I am also involved in the game mechanics design and final testing. If the game crashes or if you did not get that achievement I am probably the one to blame.

When and how did you join the team?
I joined the team in March last year. I replied to an ad and I got accepted to the team after I had done the very first enemy AI implementation for the game. Originally my intention was just to break away from single person development and be a part of a team and do a larger project. Thankfully we did well and the whole project turned into something else.

How did you start out with programming?

I started out with programming a couple of months into college. I was an engineering student and I wanted to try out graphics programming and game programming so I started to work on it in my spare time. Since then I have done some small personal projects and I also started one bigger project that eventually turned out to be too ambitious.
So far I want to continue in this field. Game development offers interesting challenges in diverse areas and I also like the creative aspect of it. Coming up with a story and a world and having someone experience your creation is really rewarding. Working with a team with diverse background and skill set is also something that appeals to me.

What has been the most challenging thing you have done on the game?
Finding and fixing all the bugs, big and small, the final few months took a lot of effort. The ‘old saying’ that the last 10 percent is 50 percent of the work was definitely true in this case.
Working with the Unreal Engine and figuring out how everything fits together was also quite challenging. My experience with Unreal Engine was limited when I started working on the game so I had to digest a lot of information in a short amount of time time, while still finding time for the mandatory school work I had at that time.
Another thing that required some iteration before we got it right was the combat for the boss fights. The various areas where the fights would take place were already done when I started to work on them, so I had to come up with solutions that worked within those existing environments.

What do you like the most about the game?
I like the world and the diversity of the levels. The game does not repeat itself and you always look forward to what comes next. Most of the locations are also memorable, something that is rare for games of this size. The game mechanics are a good mix between exploration, combat, and puzzles, and I think most players will find something they like about the game.
Development wise I really like how we managed to improve the game for every release. As a programmer you tend to work mostly in test levels during development. I was always pleasantly surprised to see how much the other parts of the game had improved when the time came to implemented the new gameplay into the real levels. The final release continues in this tradition and I think it is a big improvement over the previous (mod) releases. I hope everyone who plays the game will enjoy it!