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.
Let us begin with an introduction to who you are, what you do and what you’re working on.
I am a Game Designer at Micro Forte. I am currently working as Lead Designer on a massively multiplayer action MMO called Citizen Zero.
The gaming industry draws from all quarters. Can you run
us through how you came to your current job?
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.
You have what many would consider a dream job. What is
your favorite part of your job?
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
What to you is the most challenging part of your current
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”.
For those who wish to follow and join the industry, what
is your advice?
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.