FAQ: Dylan Cuthbert

FAQ: Dylan Cuthbert
Michael French

By Michael French

January 15th 2010 at 3:26PM

PixelJunk maestro gets the rapid-fire question treatment

Britsh-born Dylan Cuthbert founded Kyoto studio Q-Games back in 2001, but his history with the industry goes back to the late ‘80s.

And as he attests below, a career high-point was his contribution to the seminal SNES shooter Star Fox. Now Cuthbert dedicates his work to another kind of ‘space’ altogether, working on Q-Games’ PixelJunk series.

(Click here to see the full list of developer FAQs)

What are you working on right now, and what stage is the project at?
We’re always working on secret stuff so I can’t really comment, but more PixelJunk is definitely in the pipeline.
Which aspect of it do you think will impress players the most?
Why, it’s pure brilliance of course. But seeing as I can’t be more specific it is difficult to explain.

What does your desk/window view look like?


What was your first job in the industry – and what was the first game you worked on?
First job was at Argonaut Software, the first game was Starglider 2 for the PC.

What was the first video game you ever played?
Hmm.. some Pong clone at my Uncle’s house around 1977 or 1978 I think. The next one I remember was Space Invaders although there are some blurry recollections from a Butlin’s holiday camp in-between where my family couldn’t drag me away from the arcade centre.

What was the last game you played? Did you enjoy it?
Assassin’s Creed 2, and I wanted to enjoy it but for some reason it didn’t quite work for me. The last game I enjoyed immensely was Uncharted 2.

What’s your favourite game ever, and why?
I have many – Super Mario Bros 3 for its pure inventiveness in the platforming genre, Carrier Command for introducing me to strategy games, Half Life 1 and the Half-Life version of Team Fortress for giving me hours of fun online.

Also Command & Conquer Generals/Zero Hour, which is one of the games I can always boot up and never be bored of.

Red Alert 3 too but not quite to the same extent. Battlefield 1942 and 1943 - not the later ones - is also a timeless classic.

How many hours a week do you get to spend playing games?
Recently not a great deal but sometimes when I get a bit of spare time I’ll play 10-15 hours a week. It’s a seasonal thing.

What area of the industry needs more investment?
The games investment system needs investment!

The model of games funding at the moment is fundamentally broken and biased towards making publishers stinking rich. Just look at the bonuses and wages of execs at EA for example, I could make the entire PixelJunk series, including series 2, two or three times over on the EA boss’s income bonus.

What disappoints you about the industry?
Gamers complaining about our games being too expensive at 10 dollars. I’m not sure this is an industry problem, but it seems ridiculous that people complain about that price point.

More industry-related, then probably the top-down relationship most publishers have with their devs. Luckily we haven’t been on the receiving end of that so far - touch-wood - but I see a lot of devs in a lot of pain primarily because of publisher-related problems.

What do you enjoy most about working in the video game industry?
The thrill of making stuff and seeing people enjoy playing it. I don’t think there is any industry quite as creative as the games industry because we have to deal with interaction from the player.

A movie, for example, is static and at the end of the day is just the static unchanging expression of the creator, but people actually participate in games which adds a whole creative and adaptive dimension to explore.

Of all the games you have been involved with in the past, what has been your favourite, and why?
That would have to be StarFox – the SNES version – it was a rush from beginning to end. Recently, PixelJunk Shooter was a blast to make too. I think each game as I am making it is my favourite.

What websites do you visit most regularly?
Secret ones! But for public viewing I twitter a little too regularly.

What do you do in your spare time that isn’t related to video games?
I read random Wikipedia entries.

What’s your favourite book, movie or TV show, and album of all time?

Hmm.. the Culture series of books by Iain Banks is a set of favourites. 2001 the movie is also a favourite of course, and the original Alien.

Aliens was a fun action romp but not in the same class as the original. More contemporary titles: There will be Blood is a classic, and Children of Men. There are so many good movies if you search them out that it is impossible to pick just one.

Album-wise, my most listened to album would have to be Rubber Soul or Abbey Road by the Beatles, but that might seem a bit old-fashioned.

I’m a big fan of Mike Ladd’s kind of jazzy hip-hop, anything by Red Hot Chili Peppers, they have such great vocal harmony a bit like the Beatles actually, and at the same time I like a bit of early Depeche Mode, Human League and Eurythmics to spice up my life with their new-romantic analogue synths.

Oh and the original soundtrack to The Pink Panther, the movie from the 1960s not the recent Steve Martin trash deserves a mention.

What game would you most like to have worked on?
Super Mario Bros.

Which other games developer do you most admire?
All of them!