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5 minutes with Nathan Thomas - Creative Director

21 August 2018 Joshua Thillagaratnam
  • staff

I'm Nathan Thomas and I'm the Creative Director here at Zero Latency VR. I have worked in video games for 20+ years - mostly as an artist in console development. I've experienced working at AAA studios like EA Visceral, but also smaller studios and even co-run my own studio - Space Dust Studios

 

At Zero Latency I'm responsible for setting the overall creative and art style for our games. This includes working with our talented content team to define the look and fiction, but also to collaborate with the designers and programmers to ensure an excellent final game-play experience.

 

What inspired you into this line of work?

 

I always wanted to make games, and as a kid used to create sprite-based games with friends on a Commodore 64. At university there were no video game courses, so I chose Industrial Design and took science classes which was the only way to access SGI workstations, Amigas and 3D software. After working as a graphic, web and exhibition designer, I finally got to work in my dream job of video games in the late 90s.

 

What's currently driving your creativity?

 

A love of universe creation, a sense of fun and creating immersive worlds with talented developers. In particular, creating fictions that are consistent and self-supporting, and then seeing players shouting and laughing within those creations is pretty rewarding. 

 

Major influences when you were first getting into art?

 

I attended an art school as a kid, so we had guest artists showing different techniques and what was possible. I would also draw things like spaceships, dragons and characters from my favourite sci-fi, fantasy books and films. Finally, the arrival of the C64 in the 80's was a massive influence both for playing games, but also experimenting with sprite creation, animation, audio and basic programming. 

 

Which video game studios are doing interesting releases these days?

 

Naughty Dog and Guerrilla can do little wrong when it comes to storytelling and visuals. Also the explosion of independent studios such as Super Giant and The Molasses Flood creating really high quality content is exciting.

 

What draws you to creating in the medium of VR experiences?

 

The challenges of working in VR are also what makes it fun. The team here at Zero Latency are experts in messing with limited space (and players minds!) to make a world that feels vastly bigger than the real-world space. Secondly, the motivation behind creating free-roam VR experiences is completely player focused - the experiences are not compromised by in app purchases, loot crates or paid upgrades. It is refreshing!

 

Who's the best video game villain of all time?

 

Borderlands 'Handsome Jack' - so villainous, so handsome!

 

What game have you sank the most hours into?

 

Most recently Horizon Zero Dawn + Frozen Wilds expansion, though have an incurable and recurring Trials HD addiction.

 

What's a non-gaming artistic work that you think is exceptional?

 

The futurist work of Syd Mead. His production design in Blade Runner defined the look of science fiction for decades (and still does). I particularly love sci-fi when seen through a futurist lens - it is creativity focused on a possible future that doesn't stray too far into science fantasy.