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Dev Profile: Matt Kidder

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Today, a server programmer for Dark Age of Camelot shows us another side of the industry

We get back on track after two conferences with a brand new developer profile. This week, Matt Kidder, a server programmer on EA Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot offers us his look behind the curtain of working in the industry.

MMORPG.com: Tell us a little bit about your life growing up. Where did you live, what did you do, did you go to school?
Matt Kidder:

I lived in several places growing up. I started out in western New York, moved to West Virginia, Southern California, Virginia, England, and finally back to Virginia. Most of what I did was go to school and play. I went to George Mason University in Northern Virginia and earned a BS in Computer Science.

MMORPG.com: At what age did you start playing games in general? Did you play any sports? What were your favorite games as a child?
Matt Kidder:

I loved playing with Legos and playing outside with friends. I started playing video games very young. My older brother had an Atari 2600 that we would play. I think my parents still have it somewhere. I started programming pretty early too. My dad bought us an Atari 800 XT, or something like that. When I was about five or six I was typing in the tic-tac-toe game from the back of the manual. It wasn’t that interesting to me at the time, and I didn’t really come back to programming until High School. I had many favorite games growing up: Monopoly, Risk, Hearts, an old game called "Careers," and more. For computer games, I loved the Monkey Island games from LucasArts.

MMORPG.com: Various influences can have a major part in games. What influences outside of game-play bring life to your work? Any ideas that you get from Books, Movies, Comics, Real-Life Stories, Art would be great here.
Matt Kidder:

My third grade teacher read us The Hobbit and encouraged us to read The Lord of the Rings, which I did and loved them all. I also remember reading many stories and books by Isaac Asimov and other Science Fiction writers. I still love to read Fantasy and Science Fiction books as well as History.

MMORPG.com: At what age did you start playing video games? Can you tell us what your first video game experience was?
Matt Kidder:

I must have been three or four when I started playing Atari games with my brother. I think my first experience was probably playing Atari Football and my brother scoring some obscenely high score.

MMORPG.com: What was the first game you worked on? What others games have you been involved with?
Matt Kidder:

The first game I worked on was Darkness Falls: The Crusade for Mythic. I’ve worked on most of the Mythic games in some way or another since then: programming, testing, building deliverables, creating content, etc.

MMORPG.com: What is your job at Mythic Entertainment? How did you get your foot in the door?
Matt Kidder:

I am a programmer for Dark Age of Camelot. I mostly concentrate on Server code, but do client work too. I got my foot in the door by playing a dial up game called Tempest, run by one of the founders of Mythic. A few years after I started playing, they were looking to bring the game onto the Internet and contacted me to see if I wanted to play test and I did. A few months later they asked me to start doing some content work, and few months after that I was hired.

MMORPG.com: Take us through a typical day of work at Mythic, what is it like when you show up at the office?
Matt Kidder:

It is usually pretty quiet except for the rare emergency situations. I’ll sit down, check my email and deal with any serious issues there. I’ll take a few minutes check Google News and some web comics, and then get down to work. I try to read the new posts on the Pendragon boards [the DAoC test server] and see if there are any "low-hanging fruit" issues that I can resolve. Then I work on other bugs the rest of the morning. I work on new code in the afternoon. At least every couple of days I try to get a new internal test server version up with new code and bug fixes, but that is now fairly automated.

MMORPG.com: Are there any friends or family who had a major impact on your career or chasing dreams that you’d like to talk about?
Matt Kidder:

I’d say my Dad had a very large impact on my career. Although he initially tried to steer me away from working in computers, once he saw that I was seriously into it, he supported me 100%. And he was kind enough to let me find my own way in the world and not try to impose his dreams, aspirations or fears on me.

MMORPG.com: What are your hopes for the video games of the future, any thoughts on where the industry may be going?
Matt Kidder:

I would love to see games continue to bring people of all backgrounds together. I think it is apparent that the future of gaming is online. I am very much looking forward to the Wii and seeing how developers exploit its controller.

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