FAQ: Crytek's Karl Hilton

FAQ: Crytek's Karl Hilton
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

May 28th 2014 at 11:00AM

The UK studio MD gets the rapid-fire question treatment

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Karl Hilton. I’m the managing director for Crytek UK, based up in Nottingham.

What are you working on right now?
Our main project at the moment is a new instalment in the Homefront franchise. We think there is a fascinating story world that exists from the first game and we want to see what we can do to take it to the next level, both on a technical level and from a narrative perspective.

We’re really excited about where we are taking the game. We also help develop Crytek’s online FPS Warface, which is being launched in more and more global markets. And we do lots of R&D work.­­­­­

What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
My first job was at Rare during their Nintendo years. I had just been hired by them from university as an environment artist and I was lucky enough to be the first artist working on GoldenEye 64. There were just three of us initially: the team leader Martin Hollis, Mark Edmonds doing code, and me building backgrounds. It was a very exciting time as a noob to the industry.

What was the most recent video game you’ve played and did you enjoy it?
I’ve spent a little time on GTA V – very impressive game. The world is fantastic and the game has a great movie atmosphere.

It’s not the type of game I generally play but, like all good art forms, I think you can admire something without having to ‘enjoy’ it. Maybe I need to give it another go, though.

What is your favourite game ever and why?
I’m a car fanatic and love driving, so I’ve always loved racing games – from old timers like Pole Position and OutRun to today’s Gran Turismo and Forza. That’s a genre where each new generation of consoles and PCs has a direct impact on game quality: track and car modelling improves, framerates increase and most importantly the physics models for the handling really develops.

On a big screen with a first-person view, there is nothing I enjoy more in gaming than trying to beat my lap times on Silverstone or the Nürburgring. It’s a bit obsessive, but hey.

What do you enjoy about the video game industry today?
The technology gets more ambitious with every new game that comes out and I find that very inspiring. There aren’t many industries where the tech moves so fast and everyone has to develop at such incredible rates to stay competitive.

Working in such a dynamic, technology-driven industry can be very demanding, often surprising, and sometimes positively scary, but it’s also hugely exciting. I’d hate to be in an industry where the same processes and technology last for years. We are like a Formula One season that never ends and where there are no regulations. How cool is that?

Of all the games you have worked on, which has been your favourite to work on?
I haven’t actually been involved in making a game for a while, because I handle management. GoldenEye was great fun: there was real camaraderie on a small team, as we were all learning from scratch how to make a video game. And seeing the first TimeSplitters on the shelves of the local game shop was one of my proudest moments.

What game that you were not involved with would you most liked to have worked on?
Has to be one of the racing games, either Forza or Gran Turismo. Not only would I have loved to model a few cars and a few famous racetracks, but it would be great fun to work on the physics modelling and refine the handling of the cars. Even doing the audio would be great – there’s nothing like the sound of a high-revving V8 engine. If our studio ever made a racing game, I know I’d be right in the middle of it.