|Des Hinkson is, as he puts it, from "all over". He was born in Barbados in the West Indies but his parents emigrated to Toronto, Canada when he was young. He was convinced that he'd be a starving artist and took a chance on moving to the UK in his early twenties. |
After a few years in banking, he ran fast enough away from that vocation to make it into the video game business there. "I helped some friends out with a project and worked for a start-up at night for free before finally making the leap into my new career as a game designer."
"Making games allowed me to be creative again," says Hinkson. "I'd always loved playing them but they seemed like something done on the other side of the world. There weren't any training programs for game designers, artists, or engineers back then and almost everyone was self taught."
Working in games pulled together everything Hinkson had learned from marketing and graphic arts, to physics and set design. There was a fresh challenge and opportunity to leverage all that learning and curiosity.
Donkey Kong Country© Nintendo
"I started working for Rare then, which was partly owned by Nintendo at that time," says Hinkson. "The studio was located in the middle of the English countryside, and the isolation enabled me to really learn the craft. It was demanding work that sometimes needed incredible endurance to last through the more intensive periods.
|At the end though, all the sacrifices were worth it when we could bring out games that were enjoyed by people the world over. While there, I got to work with great teams on amazing titles like 'GoldenEye 007', 'Conker's Bad Fur Day', 'Donkey Kong Country', and 'Banjo-Kazooie'."|
After Rare, Des Hinkson headed for the west coast of North America and Vancouver. While there, he joined Radical Entertainment and got his first taste of Western game design philosophy.
The industry was changing too and had moved through the creative and technically driven phases he'd experienced in the UK, to a more production-driven environment. "While working on 'The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction' and helping to restore the 'Crash Bandicoot' franchise, I learnt more skills important to a lead designer -- project planning, agile development, franchise planning, and publisher relationships," explains Hinkson.
"These were just as important to our success as the creative and technical knowledge we'd depended on in the past if we were to make great games on time and within budget. Maintaining good relationships with our business divisions, publishers, third party developers and the press were equally essential."
'The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction'
|Des Hinkson was contacted about an opening in Singapore when he was based in Vancouver. "It was one of those enviable moments, and I was curious about three things," he says. "One, I was curious about the collaborative environment at the Lucasfilm Singapore studio since the games division shares the same space as the television animation and film effects departments. |
I think that's pretty unique. Two, I hadn't been to Southeast Asia before and the opportunity to explore this part of the world was something I didn't want to pass up on.
Lastly, I felt my experience could be useful to the then recently started games division. Of course, being a Star Wars fan when I was a kid helped as well, since there was some magic there, too."
« The Sandcrawler Building is named to honor the famous vehicle seen in STAR WARS: Episode IV. The building will house Singapore divisions for Industrial Light & Magic, LucasArts and Lucasfilm Animation.
Hinkson says going to work at LucasArts in Singapore has given him a great opportunity to apply everything he's learnt so far. To learn from the great work done by Lucasfilm Animation and Industrial Light & Magic.
"The guest speakers, visiting trainers, and industry interviews that we have access to are unbelievable," he says. "Here, we are creating a strong studio with the ability, creativity and flexibility to work on any platform for gaming available now and into the future."
The lead designer job that Des Hinkson has at LucasArts in Singapore varies from project-to-project in detail. He makes sure a fun game is created that audiences will appreciate. "As the design team lead, I own and drive the creative vision and I have to balance that vision with the needs of the publisher, the goals of the other leads and the resource constraints of the project," Hinkson describes.
"I do this by planning, organizing and directing the game's development in coordination with art director, tech director, project manager, and producer."
|In setting this vision, Hinkson has to visualise the goals of the product as well as the details of the game play and mechanics. His direction has to include detailed plans for every system and part of the game in design direction documents, tables, graphs, and illustrations. |
"I need to use every means available," he continues, "to ensure that the diverse partners that are involved in game development not only understand what we are making and how we are going to do it, but more importantly, have the belief and enthusiasm needed to rally behind that direction and make a game that is greater than one person could ever dream up on their own."