Park: You're relatively new to the gaming biz. Could you tell me some background information about yourself? Who are you in real life?
Hank: My real name is Tim Scott. I grew up in California, mostly in a small town in the Central Valley. I'm one of those 'hard core' gamers who've been playing games since he was a kid with a Commodore in one room and an Atari in the living room. I've enjoyed military history since first playing PC games, and can attribute my insane interest in WWII because of my early PC gaming. I was briefly in the military just last year, which ended prematurely due to a leg injury...but then found myself working for SSSI about four months later. Destiny, I think so!
Park: What is your gaming history before joining Stainless Steel Studios? Amateur mods? Big FPS player?
Hank: I played a wide variety of games, from the console to the PC. I eventually found my niche in FPS games and war games (Either real time or turn based). My other favorite is football sports on the console. I did some early level design with Doom II back when it was still 2 dimensional. Much easier for my brain to process. My greatest desire, like many gamers, was to create. I found satisfaction in amateur writing and found games such as Simcity and the Empire Earth editor as outlets for my creativity. I created, rather than just played.
Park: Alright the big question that fans always look for. When/Why/How did you become part of Stainless Steel Studios? Money bribes, constant spam, saving Rick's life?
Hank: Well, they were looking for a scenario designer but they needed me to prove my creativity. So I had to show them, in great graphic detail, how many different ways I could dismember a voodoo doll of Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, they were impressed. How it translated into scenario design, I'm still figuring that out. In all actuality, a series of events happened to land me a job with SSSI. Before I left for the Air Force, I was easily spending up to 8 hours a day creating scenarios and posting on EEH for help during my learning days. My first two scenarios were popular from the start, and I was on of the few early people to really get into making multiplayer scenarios. However, I had left for the Air Force in my lifelong dream to be in the military. When I came back, I went straight back into scenario design with fresh new ideas. During my entire time posting on EEH, I had steady contact with SSSI_Eggman who was extremely helpful. When SSSI wanted to hire new scenario designers, Eggman approached me with an offer. He felt, from how quickly I picked up the editor and the scenarios I had created, that I would be a great candidate. Needless to say, I took the opportunity and ran with it.
Park: How were the first days at the Studio?
Hank: They were great. I can safely say that SSSI hires not only skilled people, but very friendly and personable ones as well. It didn't take me long to feel like I was part of the team.
Park: Was there anything that surprised you about the studios or being a game developer that you didn't expect?
Hank: All the scantily clad women wandering around looking for people to massage and cater to. I always had knots in my back for some reason. Other than that, I don't think many things surprised me. Impressed me maybe, but not surprised. Working with a game all day, then playing games after work...that impresses just about anyone I think.
Park: Was there any career you were pursing or thinking about before joining Stainless Steel Studios?
Hank: I always had wanted to join the military, but was hesitant to for some time. If it was not for 9/11 I probably wouldn't have joined. The problem I was facing was that my love was in everything gaming. I knew I wanted to do something in the gaming industry, but I had no idea exactly what. I couldn't just jump into a Game Designer position, I'm not good with art...so I figured either QA or writing for a gaming magazine. School wasn't a great option for me. Not because I couldn't learn, but because I didn't have the ambition to. I was a daydreamer. I wanted to get right into the thick of it if I was going to do something. That is why I spent 6 days a week, 8 hours a day making scenarios for my own pleasure and I would spend 1 hour a night doing homework for school. Gaming is where my heart was and always will be.
Park: Besides playing and making games, what do you like to do on your free time?
Hank: I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books and write amateur fiction. When I lived in California I was really big on paintball. I played since I was 14 when my cousin gave me a PGP pump pistol. It is a huge rush to play, requires teamwork and strategy. I do a lot of camping in the summertime. Other than that I never did too much out of the ordinary.
Park: So, what is your official job title? Designer? Programmer? Coffee boy?
Hank: I could be called Coffee Boy, considering how much coffee we drink around here. Starbucks at 3pm is the norm around here. I believe the "Official" word is Scenario Designer. I like to consider myself a "Virtual Cartographer" though.
Park: Quick Q from one of the angels: "how much coffee comes through daily?"
Hank: I'm not sure of the exact amount. I will say the lack of coffee has an immediate impact on the morale of the employees. The natives get restless.
Park: On average as hard as that probably is, what's a normal day at the Studios for you?
Hank: It's about a normal day shift. That will change whenever we get to crunch time. The office I'm in is really laid back. The other scenario designers are in the immediate area and were always asking each other questions, tossing ideas around or making fun of someone. We'll toss in the occasional WCIII game during lunch, and get a hearty BF1942 LAN game after work. Mostly I'm just working on scenarios, as would be expected.
Park: How did you get your nickname Hank? Any smurf names we should know about?
Hank: Lots of people have asked me that, and unfortunately there is no great story behind it. For someone who professes to be creative, when it comes to naming *myself* I invariably settle for the uninspiring. The name I have used the most, before Hank, had been Palehorse which referred to the Biblical horse in Revelations. The first time I was called "Hank" was in High School by a buddy of mine. My middle name is Henry, so somehow he had slapped Hank over it. I never actually used it much up until I registered for EEH. Whenever *I* hear the name Hank, I think of Jim Carrey in "Me, Myself and Irene". The character in that movie was hilarious to me, but I'm a big Carrey fan so I'm biased.
Park: I gotta ask - Any details at all you can give out about what you're currently working at without Activision knocking on my door?
Hank: Knocking on YOUR door? What about my door being smashed down by Activision's secret NDA police? I will give what information I can, which is mostly stuff that has already been talked about. The game is historical, it is an RTS and it has amazing graphics. Even though I am an SSSI employee, I am still a customer. When I say, "If you liked EE, you will love this game", it is coming from a consumer standpoint. I know if I were reading about this game, and seeing screenshots for it and knowing how EE was...I would no doubt be excited about it. Obviously there are some things that I would have liked to have seen, added or improved...but I am one voice. The scenario editing community will be delighted, I will say that. I'm in hog heaven, myself. As a final note, keep your eyes open. In the coming months the community will have plenty to talk about. I'm anxious myself!
Park: What games are you looking forward to?
Hank: I haven't been keeping up on the future games that are to be coming out. I have some that I am looking forward to. I guess I've become a bit of a skeptic in recent years. I usually wait for reviews and personal opinions before getting a game, instead of getting caught up in the hype. Rise of Nations and Master of Orion 3 are at the top of my list, as well as Planetside and Star Wars: Galaxies. I already have a stack of games I need to get to before I go buying new ones.