Interview Series - Meet the Sprites: Nathan

Category: studio

13 October 2020 3:17 PM
Meet the Sprites Nathan

We speak to Senior Technical Artist, Nathan Roberts, about life at Firesprite

In this interview series, we speak to some of the staff here to provide an insight into life at Firesprite from a variety of disciplines within the studio.

Today we chat with Senior Technical Artist, Nathan!

Nathan Roberts

What is your name and job title?
My name is Nathan Roberts and I’m a Senior Technical Artist

What was your path into the games industry like?
My friends and I all used to own ZX Spectrums and Commodore 64s while still at school and we would always mess around trying to make demos and games for fun. One of these friends met a guy at a computer club who actually made real C64 games for a job, so I ended up getting some freelance work (while still at school!) at the company he worked for, and then when he left and started his own company he gave me a full time job and it all spiralled from there…

What is your favourite thing about working at Firesprite?
The overall vibe is great. Firesprite feels a lot more like a gang of friends all just wanting to make cool games and stuff. I think my favourite thing is being allowed the freedom to be fairly autonomous rather than simply being expected to perform a rigid set of duties to a strict timescale every day, which doesn’t really work for Tech Art.

If you could learn to do something new, what would it be?
The main thing I really want to learn right now is how to use Houdini, which is this really cool application that allows you to create amazing procedural workflows and VFX. I’ve tried watching videos and playing with it a bit but I have so little time free to keep it up that after a week or so I’ve completely forgotten everything I managed to learn. Truth be told, I would actually just like to have the time and dedication (and motivation) to practice and improve upon all the things I can do now.

What do you enjoy most about being a Senior Technical Artist?
There are lots of things I like about being a Tech Artist, I really like problem-solving and a big part of Tech Art is solving problems. Whether it’s figuring out why a particular asset crashes the engine, how we convert several hundred separate Maya files to point to a different texture folder, how to automatically grow moss on the exposed surfaces of a model or any other number of weird and wonderful random things that constantly materialise (or go wrong) on a daily basis, I like nothing more than rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck into a problem to sort it out. This also means you’re never usually doing exactly the same thing day in, day out, which is great for keeping the job fresh and interesting.

I also love making scripts and tools for Maya. Being able to write a small bit of code that makes using the app a little less tedious or coding a simple tool that allows you to do a task better or quicker is really satisfying, especially when you see other users also benefitting from that little thing you wrote. So when this is extended to even bigger tools or pipelines which you can eventually see help make everyone else’s day-to-day work life that little bit easier or less frustrating, it’s very rewarding.