Welcome to a special Inside Crytek: our very own interview series which features different members of the Crytek team. This week we have an original team member from the first Crysis game, continuing our celebrations around the famous FPS’s 5th anniversary.
Christopher Evans is originally from Florida, USA, and has been at Crytek since 2004. He was a Lead Technical Artist during Crysis development and currently works as Art Technical Director on Ryse and CineBox.
What was your involvement with the first Crysis game? (e.g. what part of the game were you working on, which assets did you create or design, what did you do on a daily basis?)
I was responsible for bridging the Art and RnD departments. I sat in RnD to help drive/test/create new tech for half the project, then sat with the game team the other half to help make it work in a production setting. I was also responsible for rigging all of the characters and troubleshooting art/animation issues.
What was the most stressful moment during the game’s development (or its release)?
Hanno Hagedorn and I decided to completely redo all the enemies before the first E3 demo. We felt that they could look a lot better if we rethought some things. We devised a system to slice the characters up and mix/match parts, however, production management said this was too risky in the little time we had. In secret we rebuilt the entire North Korean army in our spare time and then, a week before E3 presented production management with a stable build showing all the new enemies looking great, and they allowed us to put them in: this is what people saw at E3. No one knows this, but it was also the only time I have ever slept at the company!
All the animals were also done outside normal working hours in what we call 'rogue development'; this is Crytek at its best. We had an entire cross-departmental rogue development team focusing on chickens, sharks, seagulls, frogs, tortoises, you name it! This can be stressful, but it’s a different type of stress! It’s a labor of love.
What is your best Crysis memory? Your proudest moment?
I am extremely proud of Crytek. To have had a hand in the transformation from around 50 guys in Coburg to the company you see today with more than 800 people and multiple studios.
I cannot express how it feels to have been able to sit across from famous Hollywood movie directors and hear them say that Crysis is 'amazing', that the engine is 'jaw-dropping' – to see the respect people have for what we accomplished. Crysis truly was a labor of love and we all created something no one could at the time, and very few people have tried since.
What makes the Crysis-series so great?
The graphics. This is what truly set this soldiers vs. aliens game apart from all others, but then again, I am not a huge fan of shooters (hides!)
How did you start in the gaming industry and why at Crytek?
Cevat saw some of my work online and contacted me. I decided to come out to Crytek because I loved Far Cry, and when I met the team, I felt they wanted to be the best at what they did, and so did I. I joined because I felt that we would be able to make a landmark title. I saw the right guys, with the right attitude, and somehow I just knew something special was going to happen.
Looking back, it’s amazing that so few, relatively inexperienced people created such a high fidelity, landmark title. If you think about, in many areas there was one single owner. Hanno Hagedorn sculpted all the faces and many of the characters, Tom Deerberg created all the vegetation, and Gregor Kopka modelled all the weapons. Not every department had a lead, much less a director or dedicated manager. We could go a full week without a single meeting: those were the days ;-).
What is your favorite game of all time?
I am really partial to Civilization 2. It’s like my 'Cheerios'; I can always go back to that game and enjoy it.
What would you say to someone who never played Crysis before, or doesn’t know what it is?
It is famous for two things: 1) A giant leap forward in computer graphics and art technology 2) Pushing hardware. The meme ‘can it run Crysis’ arose because it took a lot of computing power to run the game with all the bells n’ whistles enabled.