November 20th 2000 | Jens C Brynildsen
Colins homepage has helped me numerous times when I was stuck on difficult tasks in Flash. Moock.org is one of the best pages to visit if you want to get into creating games in Flash, so this was a natural place to start my interview.
FM: You have all these neat source-files for collision detection. Do you make games for ICE Inc.?
CM: Yepp, I've definitely done games. The last game-intensive project I've worked on was a project for Procter & Gamble, where they had 12 games over 12 weeks in a contest, and each game featured one of their products. The one I did that I really liked was for "Sunny Delight" and it was a snow-shovelling game called "DigOut".
FM: Like "DigDug"?
CM: No, but it's sort of like "DigDug". The playmodel is not unlike DigDug, but instead of just walking and eating up the snow, you have to actually press a button to shovel and then take it to the edge of the drive-way and back to shovel some more. The obstacle is that it starts to snow and the pieces you've dug already fill back in. The higher the level, the more often it snows, and some times there are blizzards that come by and really fill it up... The playmodel works around that you only have so much energy, you're a little kid, right? So you're trying to dig in, and you only have so much energy. What happens is that you get thirsty as you dig, and the way you quench you thirst is by buying "Sunny Delight" from a little vendor kid that walks by. That costs you a dollar, so it eats into your profits and every time you shovel an entire driveway, you get paid by the owner of the house. So the aim of the game is to make enough money to be able to go to the movies each night. Each new day is the next level of the game.
M: Do you develop concepts like that yourself?
CM: Yeah, definitely. For instance I did all the concept work on DigOut.
FM: How big is ICE Inc.?
CM: Around 200? Toronto office, New York office and Ottawa office... I think it's over 200 now.
FM: How's it like working in a "big" company?
CM: I don't think of it as a very big company. I've been there since it was quite a bit smaller and the culture is very "small company" culture, so I've got some of my best friends working with me at Ice, and I think the mentality is still "making neat sites" and playing Quake together in the breaks. I've worked at companies that feel much bigger, even though they were smaller. It's not very "corporate"...
FM: Do you have "formal" background?
CM: No, I have no formal programming background. I have a Fine Art background, so I don't have a formal graphic design background. My other dicipline was english literature... in University. But actually I find that literature is quite close to programming in terms of the dicipline.
FM: Explain that...?
CM: Well, as a student of literature or a analyst or critic in University, you're not so much producing literature. I was not in the creative writing department, more like an analyst or critic. So from that point of view you learn logic, learn to analyse, syntax, structure. In fact, the closest analogy I can think of for programming is poetry. You have a rigid structure ("old school" poetry), rules to follow and there are so many ryhme-schemes you have to come up with. The beats of the words has have to have the right rhythm and syllables... And through that you express meaning. So to me, programming language is just a way of expressing an idea. Grammar, vocabulary and logic, I think there are many similarities between programming and literature.
FM: You also do graphics at Ice?
CM: Yeah, both graphics, programming and research
FM: Your card says "web-evangelist"?
CM: Like I said, I do reasearch and I write articles and chapters in books, so part of my role there is to stay "on top" of the latest web technology and to be able to recommend directly to our clients what decisions to make when producing their content. Also to go the other way and speak outside of ICE at conferences like this [ed. FF2K NYC] about all of the stuff that I research.
FM: Some of the people spaeking at the conference are always "bragging" about their company, but it seems like the guys that are really into the Flash-scene don't care too much about that?
CM: Yeah... the topic here is Flash, not ICE. Of course I definitely do work for them and I love the environment there and what we produce. That gives me a place to apply my knowledge and my skills. It's not a marketing campaign, people see the name ICE after my name in the brochure and I think that makes the point. That's part of why I'm here, representing their efforts.
FM: How did you get started building up your reference site?
CM: In fact, it was a University project. In grad-school I did a hyper-text fiction which was a writing project and I actually have just built on that kernel. That was the first stuff I did on the web and from then on, I've just added the things I've learned, the work that I've done and the art that I've produced.
FM: Like GWEN?
CM: Yes, totally! I love that project. I have about a quarter of an episode done, unfortunately I had to put it away in march or april because other things have come up. When Flash 5 comes out, I'll definitely be releasing a new webisode.
Check out the Flash section Moock.org