Here’s why we think Matt is swell:
Lead programmer John Abercrombie: Matt is the guy who implements amazing game features and has a great time doing it. Then he puts hilarious comments on his submissions. For example: “I was trying to be cute and use \n in my debug messages. I got a crash somewhere else that was using them so I decided to stop being cute and write them like a normal person.”
Matt also has inspired programmer animation (a move known as “the Helbig”), and excels at Beer Pong (with a certificate to prove as such).
Your title is “gameplay programmer.” What does that mean?
Matt Helbig: It means I program everything that has to do with what the player does in the game. The design team comes up with ideas and I make them functional. Some examples of my work in the demo video are the powers Telekinesis and Murder of Crows, and the sniper rifle.
What games have you worked on?
MH: Previously I worked at Big Huge Games on their upcoming title Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Before that I made a game called Marble Mayhem for a school project with a fellow Irrational employee, Dustin Vertrees.
Describe Life at Irrational in three words or less.
MH: “Fun-filled adventure.”
What is your favorite game of all time?
MH: Halo: Combat Evolved is one of my favorites. I remember hilarious nights playing it over a LAN in high school with my friends. Also, playing the co-op campaign straight through with my best friend was a great experience.
Name a game everyone should play once in their life.
MH: A recent game I think almost anyone would love is Q-Games’ PixelJunk Monsters on the PS3. It’s good clean fun.
What is your favorite movie?
MH: One of my favorites is V is for Vendetta. It is an awesome action movie that has deep meaning. Plus, Natalie Portman is smokin’. <3 <3 <3
What are your hobbies outside of work?
MH: Outside of work I like to play soccer, run races that include obstacles, and have fun adventures involving alcohol and my co-workers. For example, getting face tattoos with Sharpies and ruining couches and dogs.
At work I like to flex at IT guy Ray, make fun of fellow programmer Dan Scholten, and bounce on exercise balls while thinking.
You listed ruining couches and dogs as a hobby, I’m scared to ask but how many dogs and couches have you ruined and how?
MH: Okay, so I’ve only ruined one dog and couch that I remember have heard about so maybe it isn’t technically a hobby. Here’s how it all went down. We were having a Mexican night at fellow employee Don Norbury’s mansion with yummy food and Tequila shots all around. Halfway through the night, Ian Bond convinced everyone we should tattoo my face with a sharpie. Mike Monsalvatge, an amazing artist from Harmonix, did a rendition of Mike Tyson’s tribal tattoo.
Anywho, part way through the night, the Tequila and time started to get to me. I forgot all about the tattoos and started lying down on things and dying them blue. Including poor little Dixie! The three tears on the side of my face are for the men I killed…
Obstacle runs sound pretty hardcore. What got you into it?
MH: My girlfriend did, actually. She’s a combat medic in the Army reserves and she somehow convinced me it would be fun. About halfway through I was thinking that we may have different interpretations of the word “fun.” Afterward, there was beer and endorphins though, so she was right as always.
Tell me your favorite story about life at Irrational.
MH: There are so many that it’s hard to choose one. I enjoyed the night of our announcement in New York. We all gathered around at the office and watched the press unveiling on a live stream with Nate Wells cracking jokes the whole time. After the unveiling we had food and festivities. I destroyed fellow programmers Dan Scholten and Dan Amato in beer pong. The next day, I made a cheesy Microsoft Word certificate so they can never forget.