Rob Wilmot is an accomplished artist, musician, and programmer, and now a full time indie developer, working on his own games on his own terms. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rob, about life, games, and the future. But before we get to that, first a little back story, and a look at some of Rob’s past glories.
Rob has been making art for games since 2000, and has worked on some great titles, including the Silent Hill franchise, where he worked as an environment artist, producing award winning art. He was also the lead environment and level artist on Ghost Rider, and Overlord Dark Legend, where he produced stunning level art.
Rob went full time indie in 2011, and has not looked back. He is the proprietor of BeatsNBobs, and creator of retro classics like, Galaxy Invader 1000 (based on the 1980s classic handheld, which this interviewer was a master at incidentally), the critically acclaimed Astro Wars, and the exceedingly cool Lasertron (billed as the ultimate laser harp), amongst others. He lives and works in England.
Indielicous: Can you introduce yourself? What is your background? Your experience?
Rob: Hi The name is Rob Wilmot. Everyone calls me Rob , it’s easier than Robert. My background has always been art and music. Since I was in first school, I used to draw right up through art college and university where I moved from abstract expressionism and sculpture to 3D modelling. It was using 3D studio in DOS back then while making experimental videos. I also create music in my spare time and very almost got a record deal. I have worked on games from Spongebob Squarepants and Premier League Stars to Silent Hill twice, Overlord, Serious Sam and quite a few in between.
IL: You’ve been in the games industry for a long time. How did you first get into making art for games?
Rob: I got my first proper job at Climax as a tester and trainee artist. After 6 months I was a 3D artist working on PS1 games. This was my main job, but was also the main video producer for while making some in-game videos and also online trailers. When I left 12 years later I had been a senior/lead artist for a couple of years as well as the main art outsource manager.
IL: What got you into indie Game development?
Rob: I have worked on some great games with great people but have also worked on some badly managed games. After a depressing time at my old work – people leaving or made redundant, no games getting signed etc and then a couple of interviews where i was undercut by someone willing to work for peanuts, I decided to try to do it myself. I decided to learn some code. Not heavy stuff just enough to get me a taste of my own games. At first I wanted to work on musical apps so I made a few drum apps, sequencers etc like “Tic-Tac Beats Electro” and a few novelty apps like “Synthophone” – a stylophone clone and “Lasertron” – a laser harp simulator for Jean Michelle Jarre fans.
IL: You’ve made some great retro style games. Why do you like retro games so much?
Rob: I am not sure. I guess the nostalgia but also the simplicity. You had restrictions years ago which meant games were thought about more. ie. what is the most you can get out of these limitations? Sometimes those restrictions force you to be more imaginative. It is the same with musical equipment. To go back to these games is kind of refreshing and easy on the mind as well as imaginative. I used to play these games as a kid and when I remembered my old favourite Galaxy Invader 1000, I decided to make it as an app. It is a popular app but not as popular as Astro Wars.
IL: Can you tell us about your latest project? How is it going?
Rob: After my last release “Retro Classics: Tabletop Collection“, I decided to have a break. I am working a kind of puzzle game with a twist. It’s a secret but hope to have it released next month. Later this year I have a few original games planned and I am very excited about these.
IL: What tools do you use to do what you do?
Rob: I use whatever I can get hold of. Start with paper then any image editing software. I have dabbled with Xcode, Corona and Unity.
IL: Who are your influences? Your favorite artists? Your favorite style?
Rob: My favourite art styles are Surrealist and expressionist with some constructivism thrown in. Game wise its moody, dark and twisted. I was in my element when I worked on Silent Hill Origins and Shattered Memories.
IL: Which game that you worked on was most significant for you, and why?
Rob: Silent Hill Origins. As above I was in my element. It was a small team of artists so something to say , yeah I did that! although I had an award for my artwork on Serious Sam Next Encounter – it may look basic now but it was good at the time!
IL: Favorite all time game?
Rob: That is tricky. A toss between Half Life 1 which had a massive impact on everyone I think, Carmageddon 1 which was my first multiplayer experience or Frontier Elite which I probably spent the most hours on in any game. It’s like asking whats your favourite film.
IL: Favorite game of 2013?
Rob: NONE. I have no life any more. Workaholic and father of two in 2013!
IL: Who is your hero, and why? (Indie scene? Generally?)
Rob: Are there any heros in the gaming industry?
IL: What do you want to be doing in 5 years time?
Rob: Running my own honest company from a sunny, sandy beach haha
IL: What is your core development philosophy?
Rob: No nonsense, knuckle down, no excuses, do it yourself and don’t be a shadow (Dont make Angry Budgies!)
IL: Care to share any pearls of wisdom for other devs and artists trying to make games?
Rob: Listen and learn. Always use paper first with ideas. Don’t design a game around fancy tech or tools. Design first then learn what you need to.
IL: What about your thoughts on the current state of Indie Gaming? And its future?
Rob: It’s big. It’s still growing. It all depends in how easy the console makers make it for developers. The Apple App store has only done so well because anyone can create an app. You dont need to spend thousands on a devkit. I think it’s great that now real indie development is happening. You get the strange and bizarre out there. Something which hasnt really been around for a few years since all the companies got swallowed up by the big corporations who only want to stick to safe franchises, which is a shame but I really do hope that indie developers who are currently restricted to tablets and phones can soon create original games for the big consoles. I just hope there is more quality control on all stores as there way to much crap out there!
IL: What does the future hold for you?
Rob: Some growth is sure. How much I do not know. Luck plays a small part in how much that is!
So there you have it. Rob is awesome, and everyone should go and buy his cool retro games.