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It scares me, but I love it!
Eric Christensen works as a Senior Programmer at the Collective, developers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek DS9: the Fallen. Previously (at the time of this interview) he worked as a Senior Software Engineer in the Square Technology Group, Square USA, Inc. (Los Angeles Studio).

How long have you been in the game development industry, and how did you start?
I have been in the game industry for close to 4 years now. When I was a small child I was impressed with video games and knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I have worked at various companies including Realtime Associates, Konami, and now Square.

What's the current project your working on?
I am currently working on the second game made in our studio (Parasite Eve was the first). I can't say much more about the game because of my NDA but I can promise that it will be very nice.

What are some features of the game your working on?
I can only disclose the basics such as large worlds, realistic physics, advanced particle system, etc...

For a person interested in developing games, what suggestions do you have for them?
Well, make sure that you set small goals at first. Finish them and then move on to larger goals. The key to success is bieng able to finish a project no matter how large it is. When you are at the start of your production, DO NOT start working on the easy stuff first. Attack the beast head on. Approach your project in a modular fashion. Create it piece by piece and make sure you comment your code intellegently. DO NOT HACK! Clean working code that was made in one day is MUCH better than dirty broken code that was made in one hour! When you are done with your project. Pat yourself on the back. Go out and have a great time. Reward yourself and enjoy it because the larger the project, the slower the reward approaches. And finaly, study, study, study. Read all that you can about as much as you can. Don't limit yourself to just programming. Game development encompasses much more than just understanding how to implement algorithms. You must understand the world around you in order to create the world that you want in a game.

What is your language/platform of choice?
C and Assembler are my favorites because I am so used to them. I am growing into C++ because it is the logical step for games in this day and age. I really enjoy programming the Playstation and the PC. I did NOT like developing for the Saturn. Anyone who liked developing for that beast is a really sick individual :). As a hobby I find it fun to program for the Atari 2600 (Don't laugh!) and the NES. As you can see I really dig the 6502 family.

What is your alltime favorite game and why?
I really like alot of games but my alltime favorite game(s) are the Castlevania series. The music, the weapons, the enemies, just a really good design. The Final Fantasy series was also my childhood favorite (I swear I am not biased :) ). Quake II held my constant attention for a while as well.

What do you think are some new trends/technologies that may be a hit in the coming months?
As graphics are reaching their peak and scalable graphics engines are bieng developed, I believe that Physics, Particles, and AI are going to be the next fad. Magazines are going to concentrate on how well the car physics were done in a game, or concentrate on how smart the opponents were in the latest Dreamcast game. Hopefully this will allow the industry to once again focus on games that are fun and not just beautiful graphics viewers. I am really looking forward to the Dreamcast because I see it as a revolutionary machine. I also think that the internet is becoming more integrated into our lives. Sometimes this scares me, but in the end, I really love the technology of our time.

What is your take on the status of games today (or anything you'd like to address about the industry)?
The only thing I have to say here is that 10 out of 3000 games a year are good. When the hell are games going to be designed well like they used to be? Unfortunately I know the answer and it sucks. Too much money being spent on crap. Not enough money being spent on the good stuff. My heart goes out to the development houses that are just getting by because publishers decide to cancel their game just before christmas, or only pay them 3/4 of the actual production cost for the game. Games need to shape up and those moron publisher executives need to get their act together or we will have no games and you poor pathetic fat and greedy publisher types will have no money, and will have to go back into your old travel agent jobs and we all know what that means. But I'll take your Lexus Triple Gold and your 18 year old playboy bunny wife. Sorry, just venting :)