Meet the Team: Gary Burchell

Hi, I’m Gary Burchell. I’m a Founder of Fireblade Software; an Indie developer that is creating their debut title Abandon Ship. I’m the Project Lead and I drive the Creative Vision for the game, but I also do a whole host of other jobs, like some hands-on design plus “business stuff”.
Over time we’ll post about each team member so you can get some insight into who’s making the game.

 

My first love. I've purposefully omitted the host of terrible platform games I seemed to accrue. I was young and didn't know better!
My first love. I’ve purposefully omitted the host of terrible platform games I seemed to accrue. I was young and didn’t know better!

A Quick Career History

I’ve been in the Games Industry for 14 years. From a young age, I always knew I wanted to make games.
Being a “dumb kid who thought he knew everything”, I decided a good route into the industry was to study Computer Science at University which was interesting, because I cannot code. Somehow, I managed to graduate and started looking for jobs, willing to take anything just to get my foot in the door. In September 2002 this turned out to be a QA position at Climax Studios, and I began working my way up. By 2010 I was Executive Producer. In late 2015 I decided to pursue my dream and founded my own Indie Studio.

 

I got sucked into Heroquest and Space Crusade, before graduating to the more hardcore games. I sold a bunch of other games, but these are the ones I could never part with. Too many good memories.
I got sucked into Heroquest and Space Crusade, before graduating to the more hardcore games. I sold a bunch of other games, but these are the ones I could never part with. Too many good memories.

But let’s back up a bit and talk about games.

I’d always liked board-games and history, so it was a natural leap to progress into Table-Top Wargaming. I feel that playing these gave me a really good understanding of rules and systems. I’d consume the accompanying books and these taught me how narrative and systems can combine to make something compelling.
My earliest memories of computer games are vague. My brother had a Spectrum 48K with Rubber Keypad – although I only remember one game; Cauldron. Then, in the early 90’s, things changed. I’d got £100 from a family member (can’t remember why exactly) and I was thinking about getting a Sega Master System. When I realised I could stretch to a Mega Drive; that was the start of a beautiful relationship.
It came with Altered Beast, which objectively was not a good game. But I loved it, and played it through endlessly. Getting games back then was a slow process, gradually accruing pocket money or waiting till Birthday or Christmas. Some of my favourite games were Golden Axe 2Road Rash, Desert Strike, Streets of Rage 2, Mega-lo-Mania and Shining Force 2.

 

My 16-bit relationships were polyamorous, so the SNES didn't miss out.
My 16-bit relationships were polyamorous, so the SNES didn’t miss out.

Sega vs Nintendo

Despite being a Sonic / Sega fan, I didn’t close myself off from the Nintendo side of the world, and managed to buy a Super NES. I think it was Final Fight which convinced me. It was my favourite coin-op, but for some reason the PAL version only came with Haggar and Cody – no Guy (my favourite character). Sadly I never ended up getting that game.
Having a SNES did open up some awesome experiences though: Super Mario World, Mario Kart and Secret of Mana to name a few.

 

Some real classics here. You'll probably start to spot a theme for the types of games I enjoy.
Some real classics here. You’ll probably start to spot a theme for the types of games I enjoy.

Discovering PC

It wasn’t till the mid-90’s when things changed again. I went round a friend’s house to see the new PC his parents had got.
He showed me Doom 2, and my mind was blown. The fidelity and complexity were a game changer. I somehow managed to convince my parents they needed a PC too, and since then while I’ve played games on console, it’s very much been PC first.

 

There are so many games that have left their mark.

I’ve lost weekends to Civ 2. At Uni, my house-mate drilled holes through the wall so we could link up our PC’s to play C&C Red Alert 2 and Yuri’s Revenge Multiplayer endlessly. That nearly cost us our degree’s. At my previous job, every lunch-break would be spent playing Total War, much to the bemusement of my colleagues.

 

 

Dark Souls alone (bottom right) took me 12 months to complete. I don't have the gaming time I used to :'(
Dark Souls alone (bottom right) took me 12 months to complete. I don’t have the gaming time I used to :'(

The reason games have had such an impact on me is the stories I come away with.

I remember Birth of the Federation (someone needs to update that game for GOG); the Klingons had gone quiet and stopped attacking me, when suddenly they were pleading for assistance against the Borg. Off I went with a massive fleet, but it was too late, there were already a dozen Borg Cubes taking over. I played that particular game to its bitter conclusion, loving every second of it despite the eventual defeat.
Or the relationships I built up in Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect.
Or learning my wife can swear worse than anyone I know (but only when she’s playing Mario Kart: Double Dash).
Not pictured: my horrendous Steam back catalog which I will never catch up on!
Not pictured: my horrendous Steam back catalog which I will never catch up on!
Or yet another daring triumph in FTL.
Or thinking it was a good idea to play through Shalebridge Cradle at 1am with the lights off.
Or the time I sacrificed an innocent ghost of a child in Vampire Masquerade so I could score points with a hot Vampire.
Or my hands trembling as I reached the Chopper, getting the “What are you trying to prove?” Achievement on Left 4 Dead (one of my proudest moments, ever).
I could go on, but I’ve done that enough already. I’ve got a game to make.
Gary

 

PS – We thought that rather than showing pictures of each team member, it’d be more interesting to see our work-stations instead. Here’s mine:
Despite my mouse being on the left, I'm actually right-handed. It's to stave off RSI (sustained through playing too much TF2).
Despite my mouse being on the left, I’m actually right-handed. It’s to stave off RSI (sustained through playing too much TF2).

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  • Lord Zion Reply

    How weird that I mouse left-handed too. Great read, Gary. Looking forward to the other’s entries.

  • Eric DiPier Reply

    I am not usually one to spot codes and such…so I hope the reward is $1,000,000!

    Or maybe a free copy of the game. Whichever works for your budget.

  • Fly Reply

    –. .-. .- -… / .-. — -.-. -.- appears to be GRAB ROCK in Morse Code. Perhaps a way to survive a Kraken attack whence thrown overboard? Hmmmm..can’t wait to play this game

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