Meet the Team: Andrew Larson

In the inaugural edition of Meet the Team, we chat with digital artist Andrew Larson. He explains how he broke into the video game industry, what he's learned at Big John Games, and what he does in his limited free time.

What's your history with Big John Games?

I've been here for about two years now. Before getting hired on I interned for about three months when I was still in school. After my internship there's probably a good 10 or 11 months from when the internship ended before they contacted me asking if I wanted to come work here.

How did you get into game development?

I went to college at The Art Institutes International Minnesota in Minneapolis; I got a bachelor's of science in media arts and animation. It wasn't anything particularly focused on video games. It was more on the art side of 3D modeling, rendering, and things of that nature.

What is your favorite game you've worked on?

So far it's probably Coaster Creator 3D. It's one of the first games where a lot of content that I've made actually made it into the game.

Is there anything you're playing right now?

I've been working a whole lot, so I haven't had a lot of time to actually sit down and play. The game I have been playing is the most recent Halo. I played about 20 minutes of it, set it down, and I haven't touched it since. So I have to get back and actually finish that game!

Any advice for someone looking to get into doing 3D art for video games?

It's been told to me that your work ethic is key. You have to be able to produce work. You could have somebody who is super talented and be able to create a whole bunch of art, but cannot work with people. If they can't communicate with people and work in a group environment, then you're not going to make it.

If you're somebody who may not have the talent but you're working hard and it gets noticed, there's a lot of things that others within the studio can help teach you.

What have you learned working at Big John Games?

When I went to school a lot of the 3D models I was creating were higher-scale, bigger projects in general. For Big John Games I've learned to make 3D models in an efficient way to streamline the process for production. Smaller models with really high texture detail can provide the same as a large model with simple detail.

What are some challenges or triumphs you've faced at Big John Games?

The biggest accomplishment was finally seeing my name underneath the credits in one of the games. I think that's what everybody really strives for: to be credited for the work -- especially for something of this nature.

What do you do in your free time?

Not really a whole lot. A lot of sleeping between both jobs. I do a lot of freelance work on the side. Otherwise, I just got a grill, so I've been cooking a lot. That's probably been the therapy to get away from any work.

What do you think of the video game industry right now?

There's so much content that's out there. There's going to be a lot of great-looking games, but my hope is that the games will play well because you can only have so many variations of a Call of Duty and Halo before you get bored. I just don't want to see games get dumbed down. The industry has its ups and downs, but with the next generation of systems coming out we'll see a lot more people buying games.

If you could make the perfect game, or create models for your dream game, what would you want to work on?

A space shooter game similar to what Big John Games has already done with Thorium Wars for the DSiWare. To do some kind of sci-fi models, things a little more intricate, I think that'd be a lot of fun.