|CGNetworks Feature :: Artist Profile|
Frank DeLise – A 3D Journey
Lisa Thurston, 21 December 2004
CGNetworks interviews Frank DeLise, General Manager of Digital Illusions CE and creator of the popular Battlefield 1942 mod Desert Combat. Formerly a product manager at Discreet involved in the development of 3ds max, DeLise has worked his way from amateur 3D enthusiast to a renowned figure in the games industry.
Motivated by the lack of and potential for more realistic and engaging games (and gaming engines), DeLise tells the story of how Desert Combat came about and the company it spawned. As a member of the advisory board for the new digital art book ELEMENTAL, he also talks to CGNetworks about the state of the 3D art today.
CGN: How did you start in CG and where has it taken you?
DeLise: I started in the field of 3D graphics at college in 1990. I learned 3D Studio DOS and spent every waking moment refining my knowledge and creating tons of 3D images that I posted to CompuServe at the time. By constantly publishing my images on the web, I quickly became know as one of the early 3D graphic artists, who were somewhat scarce at that time.
I was offered a job out of college to work for Computer Associates to model a virtual reality networking solution (which still exists today). In 1995, I joined Autodesk as an Application Engineer for the eastern seaboard at AutoDesk Multimedia. Two years into the job, I was promoted to Product Designer for 3ds max, then to Product Manager for 3dstwo years later. During this time I worked on various projects ranging from commercials for Nickelodeon, games like Wetlands and even film credits for Lost in Space. It was an amazing experience for me. I got to travel the world as well and visit many game studios and film studios. I was able to help refine their workflows and build custom tools. This is where I was able to pick up a lot of knowledge on how different studios worked. I was even able to get several patents under my belt in the field of computer graphics.
After seven years with Autodesk/Discreet, I decided to move on and joined a startup called RTzen to help design next-generation real-time shading technology for a gaming engine called RT/Shader. During this period I spent my nights reverse-engineering game engines to see how they worked, and designing the game I'd always wanted to make. Basically I wanted a fast-paced modern military game that had land, sea and air vehicles all in one multi-player environment. The first product of this process was Desert Combat, built on the Battlefield 1942 engine. I decided to release a new version every 45 days and to add people to the project as I needed them. Desert Combat swiftly became a project with over twenty contributors and over 3 million cumulative downloads – a pleasant surprise.
To protect the assets I formed Trauma Studios, and as Desert Combat became more popular I decided to make Trauma my full time job. Trauma Studios was based in New York City in the west village with eleven employees and several projects in the works. We worked on projects with EA and Digital Illusions CE (DICE) including mod tools as well as contracts with the military and R&D for Battlefield 2 from EA and DICE.
In September this year, Digital Illusions CE, the makers of Battlefield 1942 and many other games, acquired Trauma Studios. I then became the General Manager of Digital Illusions New York. We are now working on new projects based on the Battlefield 2 engine and we are growing quickly.
Desert Combat screen shots© Trauma Studios