Bonjour Arthur! Introduce yourself to the folks.
Bonjour! I’m Arthur Rohart. I come from Paris, France and I’m a Lead Designer at Criterion, currently working on Star Wars Battlefront II.
What were the games that inspired you to join the games business when you were un enfant?
The first game I played, when I was about six, was OutRun. By the time I was 12 I was totally into Nintendo 64 and PlayStation – Mario 64, Metal Gear Solid, Zelda – and I spent weekends playing arcade Time Crisis. I knew that this was what I wanted to do, to make video games for a living.
What did you do about it?
When I was 16 I lived in Paris so I got myself invited to playtests that a big publisher would run so I could try to find out how things worked and speak to some developers. After high school I spent four years studying video game design and I did internships as part of that course. It’s fun being on a course with people who also love games. You get to make little games in Flash or practise building maps for published games. But you learn a different set of skills when you’re in a studio, working as part of a team with a wider range of people, so it was great to be able to do both.
Wind back to when you were at high school. What were the subjects that helped you?
I always prefered art and literature which helped because those subjects are about creativity and expressing ideas, as well as culture. It’s important to be open-minded as a game-maker so as well as knowing a lot about games you will also get inspired from movies, books and art. But I suppose the thing that was most directly helpful was something called Commercial Communication, which helped with expressing and communicating ideas. That’s something you do a lot as a game designer.
How did you come to be a designer at Criterion?
I came from France to the UK and was working at a British developer when I saw a design position come up at Criterion. I’d always wanted to work at Criterion so I applied and got the job designing the multiplayer gameplay on Need For Speed: Most Wanted. I helped to define the online experience and set up the multiplayer events, the Speed Lists, the Park-Up Challenges and so on.
What are you working on now?
I’m leading the Criterion design team working on Star Wars Battlefront II – my job is to represent the general vision for what we are working on. It is about reminding the team about the “big picture” of the game, the “why we are doing this feature”, making sure the design team stays on target and got what they need. With so many people working on one thing, it is important to remind people the main vision, so that the game feels consistent and never forget that players will judge the game as a whole, not just what you are making on it.
What advice would you give to players who want to be designers?
Make yourself learn from new things, not just focusing on video-games. Try things, take risks, fail quickly and learn from it. Go where you wouldn’t expect yourself. We need designers with wider range of knowledge and skills, so the more open-minded you are, the more chances you get to make a difference in a studio.
Game I Most Admire:
The Last of Us – Amazing that the team that made Uncharted made something that’s almost its opposite. Still great story-telling, love the general pacing of the game, with no need for the usual Hollywood explosions.
Lunch-Break Game Of Choice:
I tend to use lunch break to discover new games, like going through my long list of games on Steam. Last game I played was Mini-Metro – a brilliant minimalist game, really worth looking at.
Greatest Criterion Moment:
Beating Criterion’s boss, Matt Webster, 9-2 on FIFA. He’s fine about it, though. He won’t mind me mentioning it.