December 19th 2012
Today we welcome aboard Michael Morlan, who will be working out of Cloud Imperium Games Austin on a lot of our video projects, among other things! If you’d like to ask him a question be sure to join the inaugural Wingman’s Basement broadcast this Friday, where he’ll be taking calls. Here’s his Q&A:
How did you get started in the game industry?
I backed into developing games, actually. In the late 80’s, I was working as a programmer/analyst for CRSS, a large architectural firm in Houston when they decided to jump into 3D animation in a big way – I mean $100K Silicon Graphics workstations and $50K-a-seat Wavefront Advanced Visualizer software. I had an amateur experience with photography and was playing with the crude 3D software of the time and so was tapped to head the new Advanced Visualization Lab. When CRSS ran into financial challenges during a downturn in the early 90’s, I spent a couple years doing freelance broadcast graphics with my little Silicon Graphics Indigo and a Mac IIe. Around ’95, as I was rethinking my career path, my Mom mailed a job section of the Houston Chronicle to me (as Mom’s are want to do) and I found this little ad for a company in Austin named Origin Systems. I over-nighted my demo reel and received a call to come up and interview the next afternoon. After a lunch with Richard Garriott and Beverly Garland and the usual “beauty parade” round of interviews, I received an offer to come up to Austin and work on Ultima IX: Ascension. But, before I could get seriously into that, the Crusader: No Remorse team was under the gun with a release date looming and didn’t have any cinematics yet. My first major assignment was writing, animating (with the fabulous Denis Loubet) and editing the opening flic and several interstitial flics.You’ve also worked in film – what has that entailed? While I was at Origin Systems, I spent my spare time with independent film study, a seminar or two, shot a whole lot of short films, and started collecting the tools of the trade – lighting, camera gear, etc. I was working with Eric Peterson for Gizmondo when that whole house-of-cards collapsed. So, I hung out my cinematographer shingle and went to work full-time freelance. In that time I managed to work on fifteen feature films – none of which you will have seen in a theater – dozens of short films, scads of commercials and corporate pieces, and the occasional music video. You can check out my work at talltalepictures.com.What will you be doing for Cloud Imperium? “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Eric, an old high-school theater buddy, a compatriot at Origin Systems, and my boss at Fever Pitch/Warthog/Gizmondo, called me a month ago and asked me to be the Wingman’s wingman. (I guess that makes me the man, behind the man, behind the man.) My official titles are Media Producer and Project Manager. I’ll be helping create the many forms of video and visual communication with our backers and fans, and empowering the dev team to build a production schedule and deliver on it.
What are you most excited to see in Star Citizen/Squadron 42? The first game I played, upon becoming a game developer back in ’95, was Tie Fighter Wars with my newly-purchased Pentium 90 PC. What a thrill! I’ve always had a penchant for space opera, from the novels of Stephen Baxter and Greg Bear, to recent film and TV fare like “Firefly”, “Serenity” and the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot. I’d love to see a game that creates a world of challenging relationships and resonant heroic journeys – whether ferrying trade goods through hostile territory like Malcolm Reynolds and his crew, or strapping myself into a top-level gunship like Apollo and Starbuck.
Are you a gamer? What are you playing right now?
I just returned to Half-Life 2 last week. I never got to finish that game. I have several first-person shooters lined up including Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Dishonored, and the latest Deus Ex. Oh! And, I look forward to a smacktardin’ round of Battlefield 1942 with my mates here in the office!