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Dev Profile: Paul MacInnes

Dana Massey Posted:
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Our Developer Profile Q&A Series Continues

Citizen Zero is an Xbox/PC sci-fi MMORPG in development over at Micro Forte. The company has been very tight lipped on the project's development, but we did snag a brief Q&A session with Paul McInnes as we continue our look behind the scenes at the people making the games we play.

MMORPG.com: Let us begin with an introduction to who you are, what you do and what you’re working on.
Paul McInnes:

I am a Game Designer at Micro Forte. I am currently working as Lead Designer on a massively multiplayer action MMO called Citizen Zero.

MMORPG.com: The gaming industry draws from all quarters. Can you run us through how you came to your current job?
Paul McInnes:

By a very indirect path. I have been making games of various kinds since I was eight, wrote my first computer game in the 1980s and have been making games as a hobby ever since. Equally, I have been an avid paper-and-pencil gamer since the early 1980s. Before I joined Micro Forte I was working on a PhD in anthropology, my other great love. I applied for a game designer job at a friend’s suggestion without any grand expectations and my combination of game-making, RPG experience and interest in online games gave me a foot in the door. If I wasn’t working in the games industry I would be studying online social interaction and dynamics as an academic.

MMORPG.com: You have what many would consider a dream job. What is your favorite part of your job?
Paul McInnes:

Working with bright, creative, passionate people in a demanding industry. Making games is wonderfully challenging and you have to keep learning and adapting to keep up. I love the way that stretches the mind. I love the feeling of working as part of a team to make something special.

MMORPG.com: What to you is the most challenging part of your current job?
Paul McInnes:

Balancing the creative and the pragmatic. There are a lot of practical constraints on what you can do in making a game, the trick is to try and turn weaknesses into strengths but often it means having to cut features that you love. That is often a good thing: great games have a very clear focus, but it can be difficult having to say “no” to a brilliant idea when you would love to say “yes”.

MMORPG.com: For those who wish to follow and join the industry, what is your advice?
Paul McInnes:

Play lots of games. Play them for fun then sit back analyze what works and what doesn’t work. Expect to work hard: this is not the place to get rich, but it can be a very satisfying place to work if you can cope with the ups and downs of the industry. Get skilled: people aren’t hired to come up with cool ideas, they are hired because they can do the real work at the coal-face. Make games. Work on mods, build levels and scenarios for existing games and iterate on a level until it plays well and looks great.

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Dana Massey