Who are you and what is your role at BioWare?
My name is Jonathan Perry and I’m the Cinematic Lead on the Dragon Age franchise.
What is the best part about your job?
I always tell people my job is like being a film director, but inside a video game. The great thing about cinematics is that we get to take all the amazing assets created by the other departments and combine them to create the final cutscenes and conversations you see in the game. Our work is extremely dependant on writing, animation, level art, character art, visual effects, sound effects, and music, so we’re always collaborating with the other departments to make sure all the pieces fit together.
What does an average day look like for you?
As a lead I spend a lot of the day attending planning meetings and coordinating with the other departments to make sure we get the assets we need from them and vice versa. The rest of an average day might include building stages for conversations, creating cutscenes (which could be anything from an emotional romance scene to a high-action combat scene), tweaking our various digital acting systems, and sometimes attending VO recording or motion capture sessions.
Can you tell us about one of your proudest moments working in game development?
Seeing your name in the credits is always an awesome feeling, but I’d have to say my proudest moment was working with the cinematic design team on Dragon Age II. The whole team was so passionate about what they were making and consistently blew me away with the quality and quantity of work they produced.
What’s a geeky thing about you?
My early claim to fame was creating the first machinima about machinima, called Inside the Machinima. It’s a virtual me giving a tour through a studio and talking about how making machinima is similar to real-world filmmaking. It’s definitely amateur stuff compared to what I’m working on now, but it was the first thing I ever made in a game engine and it’s full of gaming jokes that I still think are pretty hilarious.
Do you have any advice for those wishing to get into the video game industry?
Make something! Make characters, textures, animations, machinima, a mod or whatever you’re interested in doing. There are lots of easily accessible game engines and toolsets out there to play with. The results might not be very good at first, but keep making things and they’ll get better. I love it when candidates have a big portfolio of work that shows they’re passionate about what they’re making and would be doing it even if they weren’t trying to get a job in the industry. And play lots of games! Be able to discuss a variety of games and what they did well or what could have been improved.
If you weren’t working in the industry, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be doing something very similar in the film industry.
What are you currently playing, reading, or listening to?
I’m between games right now, but I’m planning to immerse myself in Skyrim over the Christmas break. I’m reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in anticipation of the new film and am hooked on the new soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.