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Posted Sep 06 2012  by Cry-Adam

We’re back for another round of Inside Crytek: our very own interview series which features different members of the Crytek team. First you can get up close and personal with them, and afterwards you get to ask the questions!

To submit your own questions to Sascha, simply post them under the link to the article on our Facebook page, GFACE, or MyCrysis. We will then forward the best and most original questions to Sascha, and next week the answers will be posted online.

Part 6 features Sascha Herfort. Sascha is from Germany and has been at Crytek since 2008. He has previously studied at Games Academy and currently works as a Technical Artist on Ryse, with a main focus on cinematics and cutscenes.

1. Why did you want to work in the games industry and how did you get started?

I started ‘disassembling’ games when I was about 12-years-old, and when Worldcraft came around there was no going back. Also, I’m very stubborn, so at some point I concluded that anything other than making games for a living was not an option for me. I think my parents are more comfortable with my choice today than they were in the beginning.

2. Why Crytek?

I’ve always loved shading and rendering and while I was studying, Crysis was released. No question I wanted to work there! Luckily one of our teachers was a character artist at Crytek and he helped me with some of my side-projects. I guess he also showed them to other people at the company, because at some point I received an invitation for an interview – without even knowing “Tech Artists” existed!

It’s a great company! Some of the most passionate people in the entire industry work here and we’re really surfing the crest of entertainment technology development – it keeps you on your toes.

3. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The best part is definitely developing cutting-edge art and technology. Some days I ride my bike home with a fat grin on my face, because I’ve had glimpses of the amazing stuff the graphics programmers have up their sleeves.

The cutting-edge tech is also the worst part, because we never get to work with the stable, polished thing – for us things are breaking on a daily basis, be it bugs in the tech, or misunderstandings between people and that can be very frustrating and a test of patience.

But really, I’m getting paid to blow things up and kick Hollywood’s ass in real-time, so who am I to complain?

4. What are you working on at the moment?

In recent weeks, I’ve been working on a wide variety of exciting in-game content. But also I’ve been trouble-shooting many issues that kept popping up, collaborated with others to develop new tech and tools and helped out hiring new talent. Part of the responsibility of a Tech Artist is to be curious about many fields of the production and tech in particular, to provide a broad knowledge when necessary.

5. What music do you listen to at work?

Right now I’m listening to Riverdance! Overall it varies all the way from Philip Glass, over to Skrillex or the Beatles, depending on my mood and how much thinking my task requires. I cannot write code with somebody singing or talking at the same time.

6. What inspires you in your work or in life?

Some of my very strong-willed colleagues are always an inspiration – these people plow through road-blocks and setbacks without ever growing tired of it and that’s how they make amazing things happen. The same goes for other big game-studios, like Valve, or film-effect houses, like ILM.

Outside of my field I read many blogs of people leading unconventional lives – digital nomads, travel hackers, fulltime vagabonds, but also film directors, entrepreneurs and the like – it never ceases to amaze me how some people live their lives in ways that most of society deems as impossible.

7. What types of games do you like, and what is your favorite game of all time?

I play mostly single-player games - shooters, action-RPGs and occasionally Rockband drums. Favorite game of all times would be Deus Ex 1, because I’ve never felt more immersed in a virtual world than this one. I must have farmed every single exploration bonus experience point in this game.

8. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I’m really getting into travelling these days. After shipping Crysis 2, I backpacked for a month straight for the first time in my life and now I’m addicted. In addition to that I also enjoy photography a lot. I’ll be going on my first safari soon – talk about two birds, one stone!

9. Do you have any tips for people wanting to get started in the industry?

Be dedicated, make yourself known and keep up with the ever evolving production-methods.
Making games needs to be your passion – playing is not enough. Don’t be afraid to start in QA – this can be a great alternative to spending money on 3rd-party education – we have a number of designers, managers and artists that started as testers.

Building a network of people already in the industry is essential, too. Mod communities are a great starting point. If you’re brave, try hitting a few bars in Frankfurt after 7PM – we’re everywhere!

When it comes to learning the craft – there are many game schools out there and they’re getting better, but up until today I’m a firm believer that 80% of the required knowledge is self-taught. There’s just so much to learn about developing games and we’re such a young industry still in flux - it’s impossible to teach all of this in a class-room.

You need to develop an abstract understanding for your field that enables you to continuously develop your skills and ways of working. When you have all that, it’s really just a matter of time, so patience helps as well. Good luck!

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