Here’s why we think Tim is swell:
Design director Bill Gardner: As a former programmer, Tim brings over a decade of coding experience to help bridge the gap between design and programming. “Daywalker,” “Hybrid,” “Zed” — whatever his friends here call him, history will look at Tim’s time at Irrational and call him “The Great Gap Bridger”–only some historian will probably have a fancier name. He’s played a huge part in helping designers stay on the same page as the programming department, all while coming up with awesome gameplay mechanics and squeezing the most fun possible out of our engine.
An obsessive gamer, Tim plays everything short of Michael Jackson: The Experience. Seriously, this dude is a savant — and it’s not just video games either. He’s about as avid a board gamer as you can imagine. Tim channels all of this experience and passion into helping develop the best games possible, while creating Excel-based design documents that would make an accountant’s head explode.
You’re a designer. What does that mean?
Tim Austin: It means we make the game fun!
Specifically, my job is on the technical side of design: working out the math behind game systems, translating wacky ideas into a specification that can be implemented, and making many colorful spreadsheets comparing one thing to another.
What games have you worked on?
TA: I started making games around 25 years ago, bedroom coding for the Apple II and the BBC Micro. Since then I’ve worked on a number of games, large and small, from most genres: racing, sports, platformer, RTS and FPS.
I’ve worked on several critically acclaimed commercial failures, including Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising for PC and Cold Winter for PS2.
With BioShock Infinite, I have the opportunity to help make an awesome game that will get the recognition it deserves!
Describe Life at Irrational in three words or less.
TA: “Inspiring to greatness.”
What is your favorite game of all time?
TA: X-Com: UFO Defense (or UFO: Enemy Unknown, as I knew it). When I first discovered this game, I ended up playing in shifts with a friend. One of us slept while the other played, as we only had one PC to play it on.
The way your troops turn from bags of random stats into strong personalities though the stories they share with the player is still unmatched.
Name a game everyone should play once in their life.
TA: Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising. It’s a rare blend of FPS and RTS gaming, with an interesting story told in an unusual way. It’s a huge shame it’s almost unheard of, and I’d like to see more people get to experience it.
What is your favorite movie?
TA: The Princess Bride, of course. It is the best film of all time, after all. There’s so much subtlety and self-referential humor in the dialog and performances. Each time I watch it I notice things I’ve never seen before.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
TA: Gaming, gaming and more gaming–board games, card games, roleplaying games. I have had an ongoing MMO playing hobby since I first played EverQuest in 1999 (how we miss you, Veeshan). I’ve played dozens since then, but only EverQuest and now World of Warcraft have held my interest for more than a month or two. I play much more casually now, but several years ago, I helped lead a guild that was in the top 50 worldwide WoW raid guilds.
What recent board game have you loved? What do you look for in a new game?
TA: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game. It’s a cooperative game in which all players must work together to survive a journey on extremely limited resources. Except…some of the players are Cylons. Their job is to sabotage the other players’ efforts without getting caught doing so. The atmosphere of mistrust and paranoia this dynamic creates is wondrous.
When seeking out new board games, I look for interesting new mechanics–different ways of interacting with the game and with other players.
Tell us your favorite story about life at Irrational.
TA: Just after joining Irrational, I went to my first game design meeting. Ken Levine explained the philosophy of BioShock Infinite, then he told us: “If there’s one thing I can teach you designers, it’s this…”
What that thing is will have to remain a secret!