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Keith Fuller Interview
For our first interview here at VoyagerEliteForce.com, our own twisted had a nice little talk with Programmer Keith Fuller. What follows in an informative look at a Raven employee that we hope you enjoy!


twisted: Tell me a little about yourself.

Keith: Keith Fuller, 27, Christian, husband, son, brother, college graduate, code monkey. Oh, and I love playing volleyball.


twisted
: Describe a typical day as a Raven programmer.

Keith: Typical for me or for most programmers? I think I'm one of the few coders who gets in before 10:30am. Being a morning person makes you quite the exception in this industry. Anyway, I get to work at 6 or 7am, delete the 4 or 5 company e-mails that accumulated in the past 12 hours, grab a cup of coffee and proceed to skim over several news sites. Shortly thereafter I usually jump into whatever project's code is open on my desktop. I'll jabber with the occasional coworker as my fellow Ravenites start to roll in around 8, get drawn into one or two side discussions and maybe almost get something semi-useful done by the time my mid-morning snack rolls around at 9 or 10. A little more coding, some more coffee, another brief chat, and it's time for lunch, which usually involves a quick walk over to Cub Foods (all hail the mighty Cub!) for the deli special (today was spaghetti with Italian sausage...only $2. How can you beat that?). In sharp contrast to the pre-lunch portion of the day, I actually get some things done in the 4 or 5 hours remaining before I head home. If I'm lucky, though, someone will need to test a map at some point in the afternoon. Woohoo! Getting paid to play deathmatch! This is the best job in the world.


twisted
: If you could change one thing about First Person Shooters to make them better, what would you change?

Keith: I would dearly love to see a single player, first person experience in which you actually develop the character you play as you explore the plot. A story in which the player is not only immersed but also draws the player into taking an active role would be wonderful. I just haven't seen anyone go to that kind of effort yet in an FPS. Probably because only three people would buy it. I mean, who would ever want to take the time to actually think and feel while playing a game, right?


twisted
: What attracted you to the gaming industry?

Keith: That's not as easily defined as I suppose it should be. I knew when I was maybe 12 or 13 that I would love to make games, creating the things that I so enjoyed playing. By that time I had already started doing some coding in BASIC and I took great pleasure in making the computer do what I wanted, so I suppose the combination of a love for playing games and a love for coding added up to a desire to be in the gaming industry.


twisted
: Which characteristics of a successful FPS are important to you?

Keith: That's kind of like saying, "What characteristics of a successful movie are important to you?" Well, I'd say 'exciting hand-to-hand combat scenes', but that wouldn't explain my fascination with a good comedy, would it? In other words, the characteristics of a successful FPS that are important to me depend on the type of game it is. I enjoy well-implemented eye candy, but that's not quite as important in a fast-paced action extravaganza as it is in, say, an RPG. I guess I'd say that, overall, a successful FPS in my book would exhibit good, intuitive feedback to the user (you need to immediately grasp when you're taking damage, for instance), well-animated models (and it helps if the models are well crafted, too), and a cohesive theme. A game doesn't have to be phenomenally immersive so long as it's true to itself in whatever it does. Take Doom for instance. Story? Nope. Never pretended to have one. Non-stop spooky-evil action? Oh yeah. Start to finish. It's important that a game never go out of its way to try to be something it's not.


twisted
: During your free time, what are you most likely up to?

Keith: Sadly, I code a lot in my spare time. I also enjoy reading, both fiction (did someone say William Gibson?) and non-fiction (I'm currently working on an ex-reporter's interpretation of Japanese culture). Also, as mentioned earlier, I thoroughly enjoy volleyball. I don't get to play as often as I'd like, but I'm currently playing Friday nights in a recreational sand league here in Madison alongside my wife and several fellow Ravenites. Go Big Elbow!


twisted
: Whom do you respect the most in the gaming industry and why?

Keith: I'll get some of the expected ones out of the way first. Tim Sweeney, because he writes good technology and I approve of his design principles (at least the ones I've inferred). Also, he seems to enjoy sharing ideas and opinions with the press. John Carmack, because he is the Mozart of 3D game graphics...the man is incredibly prolific and just plain bright. Mike Dussault, currently hailing from Valve although I knew of him due to his work on the LithTech engine. He's another all-around genius type. Gooseman, of CounterStrike fame, because he came out of nowhere and made a cool idea work, and work well, by himself. Rich LaPorte, Mr. GoneGold.com, has recently been added to my Favorite Persons List. I had a chance to meet him this past Memorial Day and he's one of the coolest, down-to-earth guys you could reasonably expect to encounter in this industry. And perhaps my favorite, even though I don't think he's officially in the gaming industry any more, Michael Abrash. For the uninitiated, he was Carmack's right-hand man on Quake. What most companies do these days by taking advantage of the ubiquitous hardware accelerator, he made possible just by writing good code. And he juggled 18-hours-a-day crunch mode AND a family. I respect that a whole lot.


twisted
: When developing Soldier of Fortune, what required a great deal of patience and persistence and how did you handle that situation?

Keith: Probably the most powerful opponent my sanity faced during SOF's development was scripting. I didn't write many scripts myself, but I was the go-to guy when a designer couldn't get a script to work properly. Day and night for weeks on end I would read through scripts, occasionally rewriting them, frequently stepping through them in the game code, all too often updating the code to add more animations or fix niggling bugs. And that was pretty much independent of my "normal" work load. It was just non-stop nickel-and-diming that doubtlessly would have cracked me like an egg if I hadn't had a great bunch of guys (that's a gender-nonspecific comment, Gina :) backing me up. All of the folks on the team pulled together like their lives depended on it. I was constantly impressed with everyone's attitude and hard work and that made me want to push even harder, lest I feel as though I were letting down the team. Of course, not to put down God's role in the development cycle, I did pray a _lot_ for the project.


twisted
: Some people hear of Star Trek, they sometimes stereotype the community of fans being nerdy and weird. Would you recommend Voyager: Elite Force for "non-Trekkies"?

Keith: Definitely. I haven't been any sort of a Trek fan since the original series and I still enjoy the multiplayer as well as the exploration of the single player game. It really is like you're taking part in an episode of the TV show, which us non-Trekkies can enjoy as much as the hardcore fans.


twisted
: Recently, id Software announced that their next project will be another Doom. What is your opinion on whether this was a wise move for the company?

Keith: Heh. A wise man once told me, "If ever you are presented with an opportunity to shut up, do so." I'm taking his advice.

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