Show Us Your Rig: The Banner Saga's John Watson

Show Us Your Rig John Watson

Show us your rig

Each week on Show Us Your Rig, we feature the PC game industry's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play.

John Watson is the Technical Director and Co-Owner of Stoic Games, developers of The Banner Saga. Sporting an iMac (with Bootcamp) and a standing desk, John's rig and work space are fine tuned for a minimal footprint. I can only assume he wanted the extra room to store all of the different keyboards he uses. John was kind enough to take some time and tell us about his setup, including why he uses a Mac and how "What's your favorite game?" isn't such a simple question.

What's in your PC?

It’s a 2013 iMac 27”:

  • Model: iMac14,2
  • CPU: Intel i7 3.5GHz Quad Core
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M, 4GB VRAM
  • Pixels: 2560x1440
  • Keyboard: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic
  • Desk: UpDesk

What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?

The ergonomics are pretty good. This Sculpt keyboard is overall the best thing out there, and I’ve tried a lot of ergonomic keyboards. The downside is that they aren’t very durable. I’ve already killed one within a year of purchase. The standing desk can be raised and lowered, so I spend about half of each day standing, to break the physiological monotony of sitting.

I have several keyboards around, one for main use, one as a backup Mac keyboard to access the bootloader and restore menus if needed, and one as a bluetooth keyboard for my various mobile devices.

The iMac is fantastic for development. Extremely performant and,more importantly compact and elegant. Most importantly silent. I cannot stand the hums, buzzes, moans, and screeches of poorly designed computers with low tech brute force cooling systems. I allocate half of the fusion drive for Windows via Bootcamp, and the other half for Mac OS X, which I spend most of my time in. I used to run Windows under VMWare, but these modern hard drives are so fast that it’s not a problem to reboot into a different OS from time to time.

Show Us Your Rig John Watson

I attached my second monitor to a mounting arm to clear up desk space. I got a pretty small desk because I’m trying to take up less space geometrically in general, and I didn’t want a sprawling desk taking up half the room.

What's always within arm's reach on your desk?

Stuff required for getting up and taking a walk: keys, shades, wallet, phone. I try not to answer the phone unless it is clearly important, but I keep my phone nearby anyway. There is usually a coffee in arms reach as well. Love that stuff. I’m a big fan of indirect lighting so I have several lamps nearby that are pointed at the adjacent walls to give me a nice flood without getting blinded or washed out.

What are you playing right now?

I recently went on quite a tear playing Banished, which is right up my alley. Lately I’ve been enjoying LUFTRAUSERS and I can’t wait to dig into the next act of Kentucky Route Zero. I’ve also been enjoying a bit of a StarCraft 2 playing resurgence as well, now that I finally got Heart of the Swarm. Frankly I stay pretty busy programming The Banner Saga and I really savor those precious moments when I’m able to sit down enjoy a good game.

Show Us Your Rig John Watson

What's your favorite game and why?

It's really hard to pick a favorite, because I have many favorites, for different reasons. Some games were revolutionary for their time, evoked an unforgettable atmosphere, made me laugh, made me think, were visually beautiful, sounded great, or represent some other memory or experience. So any favorite that I pick is going to be totally dependent upon its context, and omission of other games will necessarily omit the contexts by which they are judged and remembered. By what metric out of many do I measure and choose my favorite game? If I consider the game that is most indelibly burned into my memory, it would have to be the original Quake. The countless hours of running, jumping, navigating, shooting, and hunting were a transformative experience. I can clearly remember more of that game than any other. I had played many unforgettable games before, and have played many since, but it stands above the crowd in certain ways that are impossible to deny.


Tom is PC Gamer’s Assistant Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Tuesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.
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