Here’s why we think Jamie is swell.
Shawn Robertson, Lead Artist: Jamie was here for the original Bioshock. Remember Andrew Ryan’s office? Jamie sat down with a theater lighting book and learned how to manipulate the lighting in-engine in order to squeeze every possible ounce of drama out of that scene.
After Bioshock, Jamie went to another game company but we later found out he wanted to come back to Irrational. This was before we had even announced BioShock Infinite. We were so psyched to have him back that we failed to mention one little detail: what we were actually working on. Jamie showed up on the first day of work without a clue what the project was, or even his exact role. Regardless, he’s been kicking ass ever since. That’s what I like about the guy. He just jumps in, knowing he’s got it covered, and he’s got the chops to back up his confidence.
Your title is Level Builder. What does that mean?
Jamie McNulty: A lot of the time it means you wear many, many hats. You have to be an architect, a level designer, a concept artist, and a lighting ninja all at once. Generally, I have to take a basic idea of a level and figure out how to make that visually interesting and relatively fun to be shooting splicer dudes in. I get to make the layout for levels and then make them purrdy. It’s a lot of fun.
What games have you worked on?
JM: I worked on a mish-mash of stuff before BioShock. I also worked on a bunch of cancelled projects early in my career; an MMO, a platformer, a superhero game, a big story RPG, and a couple shooters. The published ones I worked on were several ports for old games from Konami, Open Season, and of course BioShock.
Describe Life at Irrational in three words or less.
JM: A bit loony.
What is your favorite game of all time?
JM: I would have to say Another World (or Out of this World). I played it on my cousins Amiga 500. It’s so good. It was probably the first game that ever transported me to a place and really got me into it. It was like reading a good book but I got to play it out myself.
Name a game everyone should play once in their life.
JM: Just one?! Seriously? Well here is a good one: I doubt you can still find this to play nowadays but I would say Karateka. Probably one of the earliest, if not the first, story based game ever and it was tough as hell.
What is your favorite movie?
JM: Kickboxer. It’s a bad Jean Claude Van Damme movie, but for some reason I love it. I think it dates back to my pre-teen years and being a martial arts fanatic. I loved anything where people would kick the living bajeebers out of others or inanimate objects. Ahh life was good.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
JM: I have been working on a creator-owned comic in my spare time for forever. I don’t know if I will ever finish it because I keep redesigning it over and over. I also do Kenpo for the 1980s ninja fan in me.
Comics? Kenpo? What inspired you to get into those things? Does one have anything to do with the other?
JM: I did martial arts from age of 14-22 and I taught some basic self-defense classes when I was in college as a way to work out. I have always loved martial arts in any form more than any sport or physical activity. I stopped for a long time due to work. I’ve only recently gotten back into it and it feels awesome to be doing it again.
I used to draw comics with buds in high school. We used to play this tabletop RPG game called Marvel Super Heroes (the old version with the crazy one chart to roll them all!). We used to make our own characters, draw them up and/or create comics based on them. Now when you create art for a living, it’s difficult to do your own thing when you come home. This new comic is a way for me to work on my skills and have some fun while I am at it. Rest assured though, there will be some form of martial arts ninja action of epic proportions in the comic.
Tell me your favorite story about life at Irrational.
JM: So Ken Levine is one of those guys that is a bit unpredictable when it comes to what he might like. Often, we have to review our work with him, and he gives us feedback on things and challenge us on what we made. During one particular moment, I was sitting at my desk and they (the powers that be) brought Ken over to review the level I was working on because I was trying out something different.
Now, you have to understand when Ken usually reviews things, you can instantly tell if he likes something or if he hates it. This time though I was a bit unsure, until after I was done explaining things and maneuvering around the level to show him. He appeared to be pleased though but then he turned to me and said, “so…do you wanna make out?” He had this devious smile on his face and I was so caught off guard that I stuttered through my reply and said with a shocked and flabbergasted expression, “um…uh…like right here?”
Anyway, it was awkward and funny. And no, we never made out.