An Interview with Brian Green
Going Beyond the Norm
Ten Ton Hammer Interviews Brian “Psychochild” Green
Questions by Cody Micajah Bye
There are a bevy of blogs by individuals in the video game industry. Everyone with a tech oriented mind seems to have jumped on the blog bandwagon and is getting their voice heard by the public consumer. Many of these written submissions take after their name sake and are simply web logs, but some rise above the rest and actually educate while entertaining.
One of the best game industry blogs belongs to Brian “Psychochild” Green, founder of Near Death Studios, Inc., and general industry veteran. While Brian’s professional development experience has been limited to only one game, Meridian 59, he’s done so much with that one title that he has knowledge most designers and developers wouldn’t even begin to perceive.
Brian "Psychochild" Green, Founder of Near Death Studios, Inc.
Originally, Brian was hired on at Meridian 59 (M59) as a programmer in 1998. By the time the game closed in 2000, Brian was one of the head developers on the project. After a brief stint of working on The Palace for Communities.com in 2000, Brian founded Near Death Studios and purchased M59 from 3DO. He now runs the game with a skeleton crew of people and has a small, yet dedicated player-base. Now Brian also consults on various projects and is a legal expert on patent defense cases. This experience led him to co-edit the book Business & Legal Primer for Game Development. More information on the book can be found at http://www.psychochild.org/?p=223
We were lucky enough to get an opportunity to sit down and chat with Brian, and he gave us so much information that we’ve split the interview into two parts. In the first section, we discuss how Brian got started in the MMO industry and how Meridian 59 has opened his eyes to the business elements of game development.
TTH: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Brian.
Brian: I am more than happy to talk about my favorite subject!
TTH: First off, before you started making games, you had a very rich and diverse background. Could you summarize what you did before you were hired on at M59? And how did you land the coveted first job as “game designer”?
Brian: As I tell a lot of people, I was a game designer from an early age but didn’t know it. I used to create little board games on pieces of scrap cardboard. I got into programming because I played computer games back in the day and wanted to learn how to make them.
In college I got hooked on text MUDs and was able to become a programmer (a.k.a. a “wizard”) on one. I still think the main reason I passed my C++ class final was because I had learned LPC the same semester; I certainly wasn’t attending all my 8 AM classes! I was also active in a lot of discussions about online games back then, notably the rec.mud.* newsgroups on Usenet and then on the MUD-Dev mailing list.
After about five years of hobbyist gaming, I got my break and was able to work on M59 at 3DO. I was hired to the small team primarily because I had programming experience on text MUDs. Some of the backend on M59 is reasonably similar to the work I did in college. From there, I got more involved in all aspects of the game, including communicating with the customer service representatives (CSRs) and assisting with design decisions. It was nice to work on a small team and pick up a variety of skills.