Corner: Dan Kading

Corner: Dan Kading [Hosted by waferbaby]

Date: 07/05/2000


Monkey: Honey, to me it’s obvious just looking at you that you’re grade a porn star material – so what made you get into game design of all things?

Daniel Kading: About 3 years ago, I’d just gotten out of digipen college for the wannabe game-makers and was preparing for my life as a panhandler. As a final hurrah, I attended E3 and handed out several candy-colored resumes. One of them fell into the hands of an oddworld HR person, who read it, interviewed me on the spot, and gave me a callback for the next day. I was sneaked into GT Interactive’s cardboard E3 office, interviewed by who later turned out to be the CEO and President of Oddworld (Sherry McKenna and Lorne Lanning, respectively), and my boyish charm and enthusiasm appealed to them. Next week, I was offered a job as a programmer, which I scooped up like general tso’s chicken at a cheap buffet. I’d seen the Oddworld demo at that E3, and it was in the 5% of the games shown at E3 that year that i was willing to pay grocery-money for… the sounds in my head were no longer random voices, but opportunity knocking. 2 years later, after becoming a decent programmer and getting credit on Abe’s Exoddus as such, my whining about not getting to be creative and exercise my writing and design talents started getting on everybody’s nerves. Coincidentally, a design position opened up, and Oddworld had the choice of hiring somebody off the street who likely didn’t even know what a designer does, or segueing the guy who not only wanted to be a designer, but had worked with designers for 2 years and was well versed in the requirements, into the position.

Monkey: What a happy story! But game design sounds so hard and deep! What’s the biggest challenge you come across in your role, sweet pea?

Daniel Kading: Trite as it sounds, it’s to make something fun. Design is creative work, which means it knows no definition, and no standard. The funniest joke in the world is going to be lost on at least 1 person who hears it, and likely more. I have to come up with characters, levels, objects, layouts, stories, visuals, and jokes that will make the most people out there laugh, cry, gape, drool, or mumble “cooooool” in a dazed monotone, the same way all the good games I ever played made me do. Everybody’s gonna react differently, and I want to make as many of them feel the same inexplicable videogaming euphoria that I did as a child, and still do as an adult… and you never know what’s going to do that for certain.

Monkey: I’ve never been a big gamer – I mostly play ‘spin the bottle’ (stick with what you know, that’s what mother always says). But there’s something that’s troubled my little simian brain, honey, and it’s this: why are those crazy first person shooting games oh so popular?

Daniel Kading: They’re easy to make, easy to play, and they have limitless potential. The most appealing thing about FPS is the multiplayer. Deathmatch, tournament, whatever… Half-Life is the only title that comes to mind as having had a really compelling 1-player game attached. So, given that you wanna make a multiplayer FPS, all you need is a 3D engine. There’s no camera work; that’s the “first person” part of first person shooter. Design is little more than some clever mazes and weapons; you don’t need characters or AIs since you’re playing against others. The art can be as in depth as you like, but ultimately an FPS is two or more guys running around trying to shoot the other(s) first. That’s easy for people to grasp. Easy game to play. And it literally does have limitless potential, because your oppenents are thinking humans, who won’t fall for the same trick twice.

Monkey: And grasping is really what makes the world go around, isn’t it baby? but tell me this: what makes a good game?

Daniel Kading: Easy. When you burn the CDs for release, there’s a little switch inside the burner casing. Flipping it sets the game’s fun bit to true. If you forget to do this before you burn CDs, it’ll never be a hit.