We can’t talk about what we’re doing, so we’re talking about the people doing the work. Ben is smart, funny, and friendly. He’s always one of the first to extend a welcoming helping hand to new people. Speaking of help, he was once my “man on the ground” and partner in crime when it came to delivering a singing telegram to our office manager…but I digress. He wouldn’t tell you about that. He won’t tell you about all the times he’s helped people or of the wonderful things he’s done and does every day, because that’s not how he rolls. In fact, he’s left a pretty major thing off of his bio here: He’s our Technical Director. Meet Ben. — Sanya
Father of Invention
by Ben Scott
I’ve always been addicted to games.
My love began when I was 5 and my parents got me a NES for Christmas. I was immediately in love, staying up hours to try to beat a game because, you know, save games are a crutch the kids of today don’t even know they are using. That love quickly turned dark, leading to dependence and loss, culminating when I angrily tossed my baby sister across the room because she happened to toddle between me and the TV. Thus began a dark period in my life whereby I was banned by my parents from playing video games for no less than five years.
I showed them by making video games my life. 😀
I spent those next years in the dark ages designing video games on paper. Note that this was largely the colorings of a elementary school kid depicting side-scrolling, dragon-killing action (think Metal Slug designed by a youngster), but I sure thought I was was a game designer. Fast-forward nearly a decade and I was a dedicated PC gamer racking up time in a smattering of Kings Quest, Warcraft, Diablo, etc. Then I picked up a job as a young kid entering in the results of surveys into Excel and then running some numbers on the data (like average, standard deviation, etc). Of course, being kid I procrastinated. Pretty soon I had all the data entered, but it was taking too long to do the calculations. I figured it was going to take me a week at the rate I was going and I was going to miss my deadline. I freaked out and asked my Dad for help.
That was the moment of enlightenment. You see, my Dad was a programmer. Until that moment I had no idea what that really meant. He took one look at my problem and told me he’d help. 15 minutes of (Smalltalk!) programming later he had written a program that did all the work I had remaining. Ah, the magic of code.
Fast forward 15 years and I find myself at Undead Labs, still addicted to games. In fact the night before my son was born I just couldn’t stop playing Plants vs Zombies on the Xbox 360. I knew I should be getting lots of sleep since I wouldn’t ever get any more again, but man that game was fun. Then I find out babies sleep a lot … and in your arms. At first I figured this was going to cut in on my gaming time, but I found a way to hold my baby and the controller at the same time. Nailed it!
Truly though, the real love comes with making large games with a team of talented people. Being able to work with creative folks that see and experience the world completely differently than me as well as a great group of excellent get-it-done engineers is now the real addiction. The audacity and scale of games I now get to participate in building is nothing short of amazing, and I’ve never been happier and hungrier for more.