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Arkane's Raf Colantonio and Harvey Smith: From Origin to Bethesda @ The Verge

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Arkane's Raf Colantonio and Harvey Smith: From Origin to Bethesda @ The Verge

Editorial - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 28 June 2012, 21:13:18

Tags: Arkane Studios; Arx Fatalis; Deus Ex; Harvey Smith; Raphael Colantonio

The Verge has put up a fascinating retrospective article about the careers of Arkane Studios' Raphael Colantonio and Harvey Smith. Have a snip on Raf, which incidentally touches on EA and the evil that is consoles, as well as on Richard Garriott's gaming habits:

It is 1997. Raph Colantonio, at EA France, is beginning to wonder if he would be better off somewhere else.

After four years working his way into production from the computer help desk, recording French voice-overs, doing what needs to be done, Colantonio realizes that EA France has changed. The company that had once prided itself on acquiring and nourishing creative minds has turned a corner. Working there is no longer fun.

"This machine called PS1 came out and that was the beginning of a big, big shift," Colantono told Polygon. "Suddenly EA didn't like Origin. All they liked were sports games and that's the new thing for EA — consoles, sports. 'Don't like it? Sorry.'"

[...] After another month in limbo, Arkane finally signs with publisher JoWood. Arx Fatalis ships in 2002.

"It was a disaster," Colantonio said. But it is done. "The game was really good. And that was satisfying more than making sales back then. Because you need to start somewhere, and we came out of nowhere and made this game."

Arkane is nominated for the "Rookie of the Year" award at the 2003 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. But there is better news in store for Colantonio: Richard Garriott is playing his game.

"He's known for not playing any games," Colantonio said. "He was stuck in [Arx Fatalis]. He didn't have enough arrows, so he asked me for a script to have infinite arrows. And I was like, 'Fuck yeah!' So I custom-made a script for him so that he could have his magic bow that shot as many arrows as he wanted."​

And one on Harvey:

It is 1996. The cancelation of Technosaur shakes the last remaining threads of Harvey Smith's faith in Origin. Like Colantonio, he sees it as a company that has lost its way. He spends a short time working on Ultima Online, Origin's massively multiplayer game based on the Ultima franchise, but his heart isn't in it. He decides to move on.

"I could have stayed," Smith told Polygon, "But I was just done with this place. It was just too crazy, and the people who love games don't run the company anymore."

[...] Smith has ideas for a spy game. Spector wants to make a science-fiction action game. The two men begin bashing together mission concepts and design ideas.

"I was trying to ground it more," Smith said. "Like, you're in one hotel room across the courtyard. Twenty stories up, there's a pool and the guy that's the target is in the other hotel room and you have to use a laser microphone to eavesdrop on the conversation and then assassinate him in a way that makes it look like an accident ... we were exchanging ideas like that."

The exchange leads to a job offer, and Smith reunites with Spector at Ion Storm Austin. The game they build together is called Deus Ex.​

Clicking here will bring you to the full text of the retrospective. It's really good.

Thanks abnaxus!

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