Jay Barnson Interview

PC World Australia has cranked out an interview with Rampant Games' Jay Barnson, but rather than focusing on the recent release of Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon, they instead quiz him about his previous role as a senior programmer at SingleTrac and the early days of PlayStation development.  A snip:
What do you remember from those early days at the studio?

JB: We were literally working for the survival of the company at SingleTrac. We had less than twelve months to create two games from scratch, with no pre-existing engine and a software development kit and target hardware that changed regularly. I remember looking around the room and seeing pretty much the entire company working hard at their desks, and then glancing at the clock and realizing it was nearly 1:00 in the morning.

I don't remember management ever insisting that people put in those kinds of hours. It was just that everybody there was responsible and committed, understood there was nobody else to take up the slack, and we had to ship two great games in time for launch. We were under a lot of pressure, but highly motivated and really excited about what we were doing. And as far as making games was concerned, we were all total newbies.


How different were things in the last few years at SingleTrac following the acquisition by GT Interactive and then by Infogrames? Did the studio's work culture change slightly or a lot?

JB: It was a radical change, but the company had been changing a lot over time anyway, and the studio that existed the first year or two was already gone. I was down in the trenches and not privy to a lot of the goings-on up the management chain, but it was clear that morale was dropping and there was a lot of politics and legal wrangling happening. It felt like there were also some competing visions for our company's focus and definition as we grew. We had most of our senior/lead personnel all but disappear for several weeks dealing with legal arguments regarding their contracts, ready to jump ship. In the meantime, the rest of us were trying to make these games, but without the authority to make decisions. So from my mouse-eye vantage point, it didn't look like a smooth transition. It was a frustrating era.