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Interview with Mark Ashton   Games   Malkin | 5/6/2013  log in to like post

updated5/6/2013
An interview with Mark Ashton by HomeCreatures.

Mark Ashton
Full Name: Mark Ashton
Personal Quote: Mark is a quoteless wonder I'm afarid.
Mark is not only the head cobbler of the universe but he is also the lord of CDN, the developers network.


Mark is well known, he is King of CDN, he cobbles and he drinks. Read on to find out deep insights into his life..and his home!

*MARK peeps out from the door of his cupboard with a worried look*

HC: It's okay Mark, only us.. we have drink!
HC: So, before CyberLife, what was your job/ambition?
Mark: I had no major ambitions before CyberLife, apart from trying to find a job that was stimulating and intellectually rewarding. I started off by joining a Computer Games company (Millennium Interactive) and working as a tester there to get my foot in the door, then along came Creatures. Working as a tester on Creatures was unlike working on any other game, and I was very keen to keep with this side of things (CyberLife) rather than carry on further down the traditional games route - I could see a lot of advantages and it got people thinking, not something that computer games are renowned for :-)

HC: Had you heard of / played Creatures before you joined CL?
Mark: I was with CyberLife when Creatures first appeared.

HC: Oh..uhh..I knew that...what was your first day at CyberLife like, first impressions?
Mark: Lots of people working hard and under their own steam.

HC: Was it how you expected?
Mark: I always have an open mind so I didn't really know *what* to expect. I wasn't disappointed with what I saw though.

HC: Has your role at CL changed much since you joined, if so, how has it?
Mark: Yes, vastly! When I very first started I was a QA tester with a degree in Computer Science who really wanted to be involved more with Creatures. I was found a job that no-one really knew whether would be viable or not - Agent Engineer - and my responsibility was to produce add-ons for Creatures and to pass on the info I learnt to others so that they could also make COBs. Needless to say the creation of agents for Creatures became a hugely important task and so for C2 I headed a team of agent engineers who created all the many toys, plants, food and animals that inhabit Albia. Being involved at the agent level also meant that I could influence the way the brain, world and all the interrelated parts dealt with agents. So from purely testing I'm now involved in design, development and implementation.

HC: Shortly after the release of Creatures COBs came to the internet, had CyberLife ever thought that users would make the COBs and has it taken you by surprise at the vast range there is?
Mark: Yes and no We gave out information to Alex (among others) that enabled him to make COE, the first CAOS COB maker - and he created some example COBs. Obviously we hoped that others would join in and so expand the possibilities of the types of things inhabiting Albia, and my job was to help give everyone examples of COBs and what was possible, but the vast number of objects available has been surprising. To start with COBs were quite simple, very often they were COBs I'd made but with a new graphic on them - but it didn't take long before more impressive COBs arrived. And now we are at a point where there must be over a hundred different objects out there, from programmer tools to toys to fruiting trees ...the choice is growing every day!

HC: There are now a lot of coblers round and about, all looking up to you and COBs have become a stem of the community and indeed the game itself, how will the new CDN effect the normal user ?
Mark: The 'normal' user will not notice a great difference - they can still peruse the web searching for that special COB for free - but they will have the option of purchasing more 'packs' of objects (similar to the Life Kit) which will be verified by us and so guaranteed to not clash or rash on a default installation. Other users, such as COBblers, will find they have a means to obtain better tools to do their job ... and will have the option of giving us the right to distribute their work if they produce something they consider very special (and make some money in the process). The CDN is in no way trying to limit the number of COBs available, on the contrary it is trying to increase it by providing tools and information in one easy-to-find place.

HC: Does CyberLife have any new packs or updates for C you might want to tell us about?
Mark: Ooh, let me think about that .... no, I don't want to tell you about them. Sorry!

Spidey121: Lets sue him!
HC: Er..Spidey, shs! So, where do you see yourself, and CyberLife, in say..two years time?
Mark: We'll be adding life to a whole new range of worlds, and in two years you can guarantee technology will have moved on to the point where we can finally realise some more of our ambitions on better hardware. That's all I'm prepared to say just now.

HC: ....and finally, does any member of CyberLife have a annoying habit that gets on your nerves you wish to tell us about?
Mark: Well, I could mention the same person Lisa did - with the amount of expletives increasing as the day wears on but then that's just funny rather than annoying. I'm shocked to say that there are hardly any annoying people in CyberLife! (And any that do exist I couldn't possibly comment on - well all except the QA testers who insist that if a norn doesn't do what you tell it to straightaway then it must be a bug "We say jump, you say 'how high'" )

Sadly at this point Toby entered and locked Mark back up in his cupboard. You can e-mail Mark here and let him know how much we all enjoy his work! Thanks for the interview, Mark! ;-)

An interview with Mark Ashton by HomeCreatures.

 


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