Did European Board Games Inspire ‘Brink’? – Developer Pop Quiz #31

Developer Pop Quiz is a weekly interview series in which we ask developers from around the industry the same 10 questions and post their responses.

Crafting an all new multiplayer experience that gamers will embrace may seem daunting, but it was a challenge that Splash Damage’s Creative Director, Richard Ham, and his team were up to tackling with “Brink.” Ham originally got his start counseling gamers at Nintendo but has now come a long way to oversee the design direction for all Splash Damage titles. Find out what makes him tick in this week’s Developer Pop Quiz.

Name: Richard Ham
Title: Creative Director
Company: Splash Damage
Job Description: Oversee design direction of all Splash Damage titles
First title worked on: “Syphon Filter”
Most recent title worked on: “Brink”

What game has most influenced you, and why?
Probably “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” To this day, it’s the pitch perfect implementation of the action/adventure formula, and remains as relevant to game design today as it was when it first shipped almost 20 years ago.

What are you playing right now?
“Portal 2″!

What was your first break in the games industry?
I started out at Nintendo back in the late 80’s as a Game Play Counselor. This was a great part-time job while I was in college, and I basically got paid to spend three years talking to people non-stop about what they loved and hated about video games. It gave me a great encyclopedia of knowledge that helps me to this day.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Try to see things from the other guy’s point of view.

Where do you look for inspiration?
More and more, Euro-style board games. Over the last year, I’ve gotten really addicted to them, as they’re the ultimate form of player interaction.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about game development?
You’ve got to shoot for the stars to hit the moon.

What has been the low point of your career?
Well, spending four hours every day on a train commuting to work isn’t the high point!

What do you think is the biggest problem current games suffer from?
1% of the games make 99% of the profit, leaving everything else to wither on the vine. This can be bad for innovation. We’ve got to find ways to get people interested in some of the other stuff out there, because a lot of it is REALLY good and deserves to succeed, otherwise risk-taking will become rarer and rarer.

What is the most important thing that has happened to gaming in the last 10 years?
The rise of co-op’s popularity. It’s the one thing that our form of entertainment (video games) can do better than any other entertainment out there.

Where do you see gaming in 5 years?
Connecting more and more people than ever before. Social gaming is the future.