A Week in Our Worlds – Dario Casali

Here it is folks, the very last Week in Our Worlds interview. To wrap this baby up we scored an interview with Valve level studd, Dario Casali. Dario talks with us about getting used to American habits, food, and women!

1)Can you give us a brief summary of how you got into the gaming biz and how you managed to end up in the US, as I don’t believe you are originally from here, are you?

The first time playing games actually got me anything was when I won a few Sound Blasters and Creative Labs prizes at a Doom tournament in London. I first got paid for making levels when I worked on Final Doom for ID Software. After leaving University, I got hired at Valve, which was September 1996. You’re right, I’m not from the US, I grew up mainly in England, so I sound English to all you foreigners. I also say colour and favourite 🙂 I managed to end up in the US after a very dreary and drawn out INS application which lasted six agonizing months. I’d be glad to never go through that again!

2)What’s it been like working with the Valve team? Have you ever worked with any other game companies?

Despite there being a wealth of talent here and a lot of work being done, Valve is a very relaxed and comfortable place to work. I haven’t worked for any other gaming companies (at least not on-site) but of those I have visited, I have to prefer Valve’s environment. We’re well taken care of 🙂

3)So what games are you playing right now? Have you been bitten by that nasty Diablo 2 bug yet?

Gabe may not like this, but these days I hardly play any games at all. I’ve always loved RTS games like Dune 2, Command and Conquer and Age of Empires, and I play alot of Team Fortress Classic. I love TFC because you can load it up, jump into a game for half an hour, then come away and completely separate yourself from it. It doesn’t require dedication or great time investments. I can appreciate how addictive Diablo 2 is (the game has its fans here) but I haven’t been bitten by that bug yet.

4)Ok so tell us… Who at Valve is the absolute Death-Match KING?? Maybe I should have been asking that question to all of the designers and then have GED host some sort of “King of the Designers” tourney or something… Thoughts?

Thinking back a bit, I remember Chuck Jones being pretty scary, and Dave Riller too. Robin Walker, was quite good, before he went soft from playing too many RPGs 🙂 I’d have to say I’m no slouch myself, I used to be king of Quake CTF!

5)So do you prefer designing single player maps, or multi-player maps?

I couldn’t put one above the other. I love the randomness and chaos that results from real life players running around in multiplayer maps; but I also love choreographing precise playing experiences for single player games. There are things you can’t do in mulitplayer maps – since players make all sorts of inter-locking decisions that would break practically any script you care to set up. But then in single player maps, you could never have the kind of wonderful haphazard encounters that make multiplayer so much fun.

6)Do you do anything special when your getting ready to design a new map?

Apart from getting slaughtered the night before and oversleeping the design meetings, I can’t think of anything, no.

7)Where do you pull ideas from?

Sometimes I’ll be playing TFC, something cool will happen, and I’ll think, “Why don’t I make a level that forces that kind of gameplay?” Other sources of inspiration are nightmares (I get a lot), movies, photos, other people, brainstorming meetings, etc.

8)In your opinion, what’s the best map you’ve ever played (single or multi-player)?

That should be on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” as the million dollar question – I don’t know! That’s like asking someone’s favourite film, or favourite song.

9)What map are you most proud of designing?

I like Powerup in Half Life. The Gargantua stomping effect (where you’d hear him scream, the whole place shakes and debris falls about you while you are engaged in battle with some frightening monster) may have been shamelessly ripped from Jurassic Park, but I think it was effective as a spine-tingler.

10)Got any cool foreign sayings, or words of advice you’d like to share with us?

“I’d no more answer that question than than I’d place my John Thomas in the hands of a lunatic with a pair of scissors.”

GamersEd would like to thank Dario for answering our questions. And I’ll end this interview with an American saying! “It’s been fun! But next time don’t forget the BEER!!”