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Staff Spotlight No. 3: Matt Mocarski [Exclusive]

Discussion in 'WildStar News' started by Mr.Mike, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Mr.Mike

    Mr.Mike Original Founder

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    In our third Staff Spotlight we interview Art Director, Matt Mocarski. Matt shares with us what inspires him, where MMOs are heading in the future, and a whole lot more.

    Matt even gives us a hint about a possible creature (Monkizooka) for his Vindball team mascot! Matt says we'll just have to play the game to find out, though. What a Monkizooka tease!

    We hope you enjoy reading our Staff Spotlight No.3 with Matt Mocarski.
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  2. Mr.Mike

    Mr.Mike Original Founder

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    Hello Matt, please introduce yourself to the community and tell us a little about your role at Carbine Studios?

    My Name is Matt Mocarski, I’m the Art Director here at Carbine. The main responsibilities of my role include defining and maintaining the look and feel of the art in the game, figuring out the number and type of assets we need to populate the world, and organizing and scheduling the art team.

    What was your first big break in the computer game industry, which you said to yourself, "WOW, I am finally getting paid for doing what I love?"

    Ya know, I don’t think I had that exact defining moment, but I had a similar experience when I realized that other people were going to pay for a product that I contributed to. There was definitely a moment of “time to man-up” when I got my first gig. That’s really been the driving factor in my work. I think about all the people plopping down their hard earned dollars for the products I make and don’t want to let them down.

    Outside of working for Carbine Studios and away from computers, what would you say is your favorite hobby or type of entertainment?

    I know this sounds clichéd but I love playing games and making art. To me there’s nothing better.

    What computer game, regardless of genre, seems to have had the greatest impact on your desire to work in the computer gaming industry?

    Definitely Lucasarts’ Graphic Adventure games like Full Throttle, Sam & Max, Day of the Tentacle, and The Dig. I loved the worlds, stories, and art from all of those games. When I was in school, I was studying 2D and Computer Animation. I wanted to make games exactly like those. Unfortunately the genre died out just as I broke into the industry. I love that some of them are making a revival recently. Hopefully we’ll see Full Throttle on the iPhone! (hint, hint Lucasarts).

    Before becoming a computer graphic artist/animator, would you say that, for you, creating pieces of art was more of a way to make a living, more of a hobby, or more of a passion?

    Passion. The only reason it became a career was because I was too stubborn to do anything I wasn’t passionate about. I guess my brain doesn’t have that switch that would convince me to do anything else. I remember drawing side scrolling game levels in 6th grade with magic marker and sheets of paper that were taped together. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that it was something you could make a living at.

    Is there a particular place or situation where you seem to typically get your best ideas for your work? I.E. the shower, while cooking, sleeping, sporting events, etc...?

    Inspiration can strike anywhere, but I get my best ideas during brainstorming sessions with my peers. I think the most inspirational environment is one where you can bounce ideas off others and play off other’s creativity. If your peers like certain aspects of your ideas you’ll immediately gauge what ideas work and what ideas are falling short. I’m a firm believer in team environments.

    Many MMO players prefer enhanced gameplay over graphical enhancements such as extraordinary spell/lighting affects, great character animations, highly detailed equipment, etc... Personally, what direction do you feel MMOs are leaning towards? And is it a good or bad thing for the average MMO player?

    I think a huge part of the MMO experience is the world in which it takes place. So, all of those graphical enhancements should make a more believable world. If we do our jobs right, the player shouldn’t notice these features. They should be integrated into the world as a cohesive piece of a larger puzzle. Too often we can get caught up in checklists. For example, does the game have normal maps? Some might feel that without normal maps, the game isn’t “next-gen” enough and therefore not worth playing. I feel it’s not about what you have, but how you use it. Right now, I feel that MMOs are trying to keep up with the visuals of games in other genres. And while it’s important to stay competitive, it should never compromise the player’s experience. As I see it, the best way to handle both cases is by giving the player options to turn these features on/off. Hopefully that can satisfy the largest player base.

    What major influences do you think will shape MMOs in the future? And how do you envision the genre in a decade from now?

    I think MMOs will be influenced more by online social networks like Facebook and Twitter than by other games. Eventually you’ll log onto your account and choose to see the 500 updates of stuff your friends have accomplished in the game. I also feel that there will be numerous portals to access the game. We’ll probably start playing games across platforms like the iPhone or iPad. We’ll check our dailies in the theater before the movie starts and bid on the Auction house in the bathroom. The games will text you when your items sell or your friends are looking for groups. We are already seeing the beginnings of this, and I think it’s going to get crazy.

    Warrior, Healer, Mage, Rogue, or Ranger. Which class would you like to play most?

    Definitely a Ranger. I have this curse, the coolest guy in the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon was the Ranger (I think his name was Eric). I mean C’mon- that guy had a Laser Bow! A Laser Bow! So now when I hear the word Ranger, I automatically think Laser Bow, and that instantly trumps everything else I want to be.

    Hypothetically, let's just say that Carbine Studios has asked each employee to name their own Vindball team. What would your team's name be? What would the mascot be? And what position would you play on that team?

    Team name: Mocarski’s Monkizookas

    Mascot: Monkizooka (you’ll have to play the game to find out.)

    Position: Water Boy

    Do you typically try to incorporate the people, places and/or objects that you see everyday into your artwork or designs, or do you just try to make everything as original as possible?

    I think subconsciously we incorporate everything we see and experience in our lives into our work, whether we want to or not. It’s important to be as original as possible but it can be a slippery slope. We often try to incorporate familiar archetypes into our art. It’s important for players to have an understanding of what they are experiencing without having to literally explain it to them. If you are trying to be original for the sake of being original you might find that none of your designs connect with an audience. We always design with that in mind.

    When managing your team at Carbine Studios, do you like to have a very structured environment with the staff, with tighter guidelines, or do you more or less just stand back and let the team go crazy with their creativity, with loose guidelines?

    At the beginning of the project, things were very loose, which is the way they have to be at the beginning. We were creating a new IP and you don’t want to put chains on creativity. It’s also easier to have a more relaxed process with a smaller staff, so the cost of having a few people off the rails for a few weeks was nothing. Now, with an art team of 40-50 people, we need more structure. That being said, I still try to work time into the schedule for the team to go crazy. To that end, I’ve started what we call “Grab-bag” week. This is the time for the entire art staff to pitch and put together assets or features we don’t have scheduled for the game. It also gives them an opportunity to work on different asset types outside their expertise. So far it’s been a huge success! The important thing as a manager is to make sure we continue Grab Bag week despite the demands of the schedule. Otherwise, it would disappear completely.
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  3. Mr.Mike

    Mr.Mike Original Founder

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    On behalf of all of us here at Carbine Central, I would like to thank Matt for finding the time out of his busy schedule and taking part in our Staff Spotlight interview series.
  4. .selebu

    .selebu Cupcake

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    Nice read!
  5. Dragor

    Dragor Cupcake

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    I keep liking Carbine more and more :D

    Thanks to MistaMike and of course to Matt.

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