How I Game: Dean Dodrill
Dean Dodrill is a one-man army—the lone designer and programmer on Dust: An Elysian Tail. He's come a long way from his days of working as an artist on Jazz Jack Rabbit 2.
Who are you?
My name is Dean Dodrill and I’m a self-taught illustrator and animator who four years ago decided to try his hand at programming. I’ve now got one title under my belt, Dust: An Elysian Tail, which recently hit Steam. I’m still grappling with the idea that I’m now a game developer (and owner of a company, Humble Hearts), as I prefer to think of myself as a gamer who has just expanded his hobby.
What’s in your PC?
"I love: fantasy, heroes, beautiful music, and a huge world to explore."
My main workstation (which also doubles as my gaming PC) is a custom built i7 2600k @ 3.4GHz, sporting 8GB RAM, 5TB of Storage, and an MSI Geforce GTX660Ti (2GB). I have a pair of 24” flatscreens, and a nice wireless keyboard, mouse, and gamepad setup, as I tend to PC game on my 60” TV. I’m a fan of Sennheiser Wireless headphones. It’s been nearly two years since I built this system, so I imagine I’ll be due for an upgrade sometime next year.
As for software, I’m running Windows 7 64-bit, and use a combination of Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Painter, and a 3D suite for art. I use Visual Studio running C#/XNA for code.
What’s the most interesting part of your setup?
I think the fact that half of my office is set aside for creating art makes my setup unique. To my left I have an animation light-table, which I built from an old drafting table. Around my desk are scanners, Wacom drawing tablets, and boxes of drawing paper. I animate on normal 8x11” printing paper, since it’s cheap and efficient.
I’m also quite pleased with my HDMI switcher setup. As I said, I tend to play on my 60”, and it’s easy to clone my desktop for games and video. I spent many months trying various wireless options until I just settled for a 50ft HDMI cable—it works great.
What’s on your desk?
Besides my tools, my desk tends to be littered with food, drinks, and video game boxes. And of course, as a parent who works at home, children’s toys tend to find their way on, and around my desk. No matter what I do I just can’t keep my space clean.
Otherwise, I have the usual, two monitors on my main system, a smaller 22” monitor for my test computer, console dev kits, my notebook, and my phone.
What are you playing right now?
I’m actually playing through the first Witcher. I started it when it launched but sadly lost all my progress, and never had a chance to get back to it until now. My backlog is pretty thick since I literally spent the last four years crunching on my game. Other games I’ve recently caught up with include Fallout 3, Dead Rising 2, a ton of indie games, and of course my NG++++ playthrough of Dark Souls.
I hope to finish up Witcher 1 and 2, then finally give Skyrim the time it deserves. Sadly my time to play games these days is pretty limited, although I buy pretty much everything, console or PC.
What’s your favorite game and why?
My favorite game of all time is the PC-Engine/TG-16 version of Ys Book 1 & 2. It’s an overhead action-RPG, and it left a massive impression on me as a young gamer. It was the first CD-based game I ever played, but more importantly it touched on many things I love: fantasy, heroes, beautiful music, and a huge world to explore. I’m actually excited to try out the recent Steam re-releases of these games to see how they hold up although I’ll always have a soft-spot for those old pixelated visuals.
My number 2 and 3 games are Mega Man 2 and DOOM. DOOM in particular might be my most game played of all time. I’m a big fan of FPS games, but I still find DOOM to be the one I keep returning to. It’s probably the game I’ve rebought the most times as well.
Why do you game?
I rarely watch TV or film anymore since I’d rather lose myself in an interactive world. I love to marvel at the artistry and technical aspects of video games. It’s all just one huge trick that developers are pulling over us, and I just want to enjoy the show, while taking an occasional peek behind the curtain. Learning how to make games was just my desire to appreciate the medium more, and I believe it has.
How I Game is a weekly spotlight of developers, pro gamers, and community members. Know someone who you’d like to see featured? Drop a comment below (when they're enabled again, that is—still down for maintenance!)