Hello Reddit!

I’m Sean Murray, and I’m one part of a console indie dev called Hello Games.

Proof here…


I joined the industry straight out of Uni, worked for three years, became a technical director, lost my way, quit and made a game with my friends. That was Joe Danger, and just now we released Joe Danger The Movie. I can’t really describe in words what today feels like, but Grant our artist made a little video of the last two years, which is a bit weirdly personal, but gives an idea of what life feels like right now…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEbX2OpVE88 (works best with sound)

Oh, and trailer for our game…


My specialist subjects are programming, indie development, working at EA, sneaking into Germany illegally, fighting with publishers, going to game shows, drinking tea and stressing about your game releasing... Ask Me Anything!

EDIT! EDIT! EDIT! Fell asleep answering questions... back on UK time now... going to answer a few more. Thank you Reddit :)

EDIT! EDIT! Thank you for being awesome Reddit. Trying to keep up with questions, but will try to answer everything, especially the people who have asked about getting into games and indie development. It's 4am here, but will try to remain coherent.

EDIT! I think all the codes are gone...



















Comments: 1147 • Responses: 26  • Date: 

le_door_meister350 karma

I guess I'll ask the obvious: Why'd you quit? Was it the passion for new games or where you tired of the corporate (EA) atmosphere?

seanymurray526 karma

When I started at Criterion it was like 20 or 30 people. It felt really small, and exactly like how I pictured games development when I was a kid. It was an absolutely amazing place to work. I left I think 3? years later, and we were around 300 people and had been bought by EA. It was still an amazing place to work, but that has a really different feel I guess. Suddenly I wasn't programming any more, and was managing a big team. It took me a while to realise, but one day it just hit me that it wasn't what I had wanted...

dalek_999418 karma

Pretty close to my husband's story. He started in Westwood Studios (OC), which was a small company. Lots of fun to work at, making amazing games, and working with a really tight group of people. Then they got bought by EA, and just got bigger and bigger, eventually getting pulled into the bigger office in Marina Del Rey. That's when things got really shitty.

He's not in games anymore.

Oh, and congrats on getting out!

EDIT: Geez, I wasn't expecting so many responses. To those asking, he worked on Red Alert 2, Yuri's Revenge, Generals, Zero Hour, BFME 1 (and started BFME 2, but left part way through). Dune was before his time, and Nox was a separate team (working upstairs, he says).

To be frank, the crunch time on Generals, Zero Hour, and BFME put a serious strain on our marriage, and I told him that I couldn't take it anymore, and he had to move on from EA. There were times that he was working 100 hours a week, and it was just ridiculous; some people can be happy without ever seeing their spouse for months on end, but I'm not one of them. And that crunch time totally took the fun out of the job for him. This is when all the ea_spouse shit hit the fan (look it up, if you don't know what it is), and while I'm not ea_spouse, I know who it was, and commiserated wholeheartedly with her. I think the thing that he misses the most is the people that he worked with...and none of them work at EA anymore.

My hubbie left EA to join a smaller company that was doing maintenance and small features for Counterstrike, and then worked on the first version of Left For Dead. He eventually left that company to make casual games, and is now making iOS apps for the same company I work for. He just finished his Master's (as of today), and is planning on going into teaching.

I've tried to convince him to do an IAMA, but he doesn't think he's interesting enough to do one.

seanymurray99 karma

Thanks! I always think its sad that so many people end up joining the industry as bright enthusiasts and leave a little jaded. I always have the fear of that happening to me... that was a big reason for me leaving.

Tjdamage176 karma

How do you sneak into Germany illegally?

seanymurray379 karma

So let's say you have a "friend", and they need to be in Gamescom for the biggest games festival in the world, and they might have left their passport expire... for instance. My advice would be to take the Eurotunnel from the UK at around 3 or 4 in the morning, and distract the tired guard by offering them bon bons when he checks your passport.

Getting back is slightly more difficult...

eco_97154 karma

Will your games ever be coming to PC? I'd love to support you guys by purchasing your games, but unfortunately I don't own either of the platforms you are developing for.

seanymurray209 karma

Thank you! If there's enough people shouting at us to release on PC, or any other platform, then we'll always try to oblige. Now consoles are out of the way, it's something we might try to find time for. As it happens I was playing a PC dev version like an hour ago :)

seannymurrs121 karma

Hello Sean Murray. My name is also Sean Murray.

seanymurray106 karma


Master2u101 karma

What do you see as the next big thing coming out in the gaming industry?

seanymurray307 karma

We're at a crossroads right now, and it feels like videogames are changing. I'm someone who grew up with games, who loves what they have been.

There are big changes coming that don't interest me, that don't make for better games. Kinect hasn't made for heightened gameplay experiences really, or 3D TVs, or many other gimmicks recently.

I'm interested in advanced AI, in procedural generation, in new art styles, in persistence. Those are changes that are generally being led by smaller teams right now... I'm excited for the future that brings.

Wadatah252686 karma

What is one thing you always wanted to see put into a Burnout game, but got left on the cutting room floor and why did it get left behind?

By the way, huge Burnout fan, just wanted to say thanks for working on one of my favorite racing series of all time and I wish you the best of luck on your new venture. Can't wait to get home and play it.

seanymurray115 karma

Burnout was a great game to work on. I think it always says a lot about you as a gamer, whichever version was your favourite.

The first 2-3 Burnouts were very focused, and there really didn't seem to be much left on the cutting room floor. By 4 and 5 there was a lot more experimentation going on. Probably my fav thing that never made was a little experiment my friend and I had, which replaced all the cars with coloured spheres on wheels and crashes became a snooker mini-game.

rchae9459 karma

Why did you sell your house

seanymurray217 karma

To fund the development of our first game Joe Danger. About half way through development, when we had been turned down by like every publisher in the world, and had run out of money, I put everything on the line and sold up :)

[deleted]47 karma

What programs did you use?

seanymurray91 karma

The engine is our own, coded in C++ with VS 2008. We used Maya and Photoshop for art.

All the levels are created in our own level editor, which is the same one you can use in the game :)

Master2u44 karma

How long does it take to make a game, and how many people are involved?

seanymurray75 karma

Our first game Joe Danger for PS3 was just four of us, and we kind of handled everything - development, QA, localisation, publishing... everything. That's super small though for the kind of game we made. It took us around 18 months, we finished pretty much when we ran out of money :)

Lucavious30 karma

I understand you can't get too specific, but how successful was it? Enough for you to breathe more easily for the next 18 months?

seanymurray193 karma

So I sold my house to make the development possible. I guess that gives you an idea of the many hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to make a game. I guess I can say that it made back everything we put into it in the first few hours of release. Joe Danger went on to be a best selling title on PS3 and 360, and one of the highest rated. Since then we've reinvested everything to build a nice place for people to work, and make more games.

Ragemaker9539 karma

I must say Burnout 2 and 3 espcially 3 was one of my favorite childhood games and I loved Burnout Paradise. What was it like working on them?

dwmfives51 karma

This comment makes me feel old.

seanymurray47 karma

Me also :)

Master2u38 karma

Do you do I-phone apps on the side?

seanymurray84 karma

Actually! A friend and I have been making an iPhone game in our spare time, and it's coming on super well, though we haven't really talked about it much yet. You can take a look here...


allenkim7734 karma

How much does it cost to create high quality PS3/Xbox360 top level games? Do big budgets correlate with highly successful games? Meaning, you can only succeed in making popular games if you only have the money to spend it?

seanymurray57 karma

Well the basic cost of making a console game is pretty expensive, like I think its hard to just get dev-kits, ratings, loc and through QA without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's not even including development, or marketing. That's just for download titles on XBLA and PSN...

A retail title general costs over 10 million dollars to make these days.

Popelotto33 karma

Is the infamous "3nd" still in the game?

seanymurray57 karma

Boring old QA teams made us remove it :( We are still the number one result from Google when you search for "3nd". If nothing else, we did that.

KyozoKicks23 karma

Hi Guys! Any news on the development of Joe Danger Touch for iOS devices? Looking forward to it.

With the PS3 Version of Joe Danger The Movie now out and Hello Games saying that's it for Joe Danger, what is the atmosphere like in the office? What does a 'day at the office' pan out like for the team in the weeks following a release? How do you keep everyone [artists etc.] busy?

seanymurray38 karma

Nice question :)

We are here, drinking beers and posting on Reddit. Trying desperately to ignore that people are playing our game RIGHT NOW.

It's genuinely sad to finish up on a game that has been so much of my life. I feel huge freedom now though too.

Today - I was working on the iPhone version in the morning, then putting together a patch for 360 in the afternoon, and checking if everything was ok with our PS3 version this evening.

Tomorrow I work on our new project!

sb70721 karma

congrats on the release hope all goes well. My question: Is all the hatred, incessant bitching, blame of EA for any problem with any game associated with them justified? or is some of it axe grinding? or are they that bad?

seanymurray43 karma

EA is a huge company, like with loads of different studios and each one has its own culture. You also have to remember that there's a big difference between EA as a publisher and EA as a developer.

At Criterion, we were actually having a really good time, especially on my team. I heard horror stories from other studios, but I never knew what was real, and what was just nice to believe - to make everyone feel like where we were was so much better...

About five years ago, EA went through a golden phase of producing fantastic games, then it seemed to hit a rut, but I think it's finding its stride again.

davidc1416 karma

Has Hazel ever eaten bacon more than that one time?

PS HI HAZEL! Tell her about the noodles.

Also, a real question: did you ever have the fear when you made such a life switch? Did you ever overcome that fear or are you still scared witless to this day?

seanymurray32 karma

Good question. Hazel is here right now, eating a suckling pig... we can't stop her... Also, yes, like the worst fear. I describe it like a train, and you start shovelling in coal. That's you starting a little game in your spare time, tinkering with an engine. Now your friends join in, now you are leaving your job... Suddenly you are on this runaway train, four of you shovelling in coal. It's going so fast you can't jump off, but the track is out ahead :) Basically, that's what releasing a game is like for me, and that is what I'm feeling right now. Occasionally though, you stop and have a look out the window, and its GLORIOUS.

tonuorak15 karma

Did you work at Criteron games (EA)? because I go past that place all the time, it just looks awesome from the outside. Because I know that they did the burnout games or an add on for them.

Also, I'm currently doing my game creation section on my IT course at college and I'm making a text based game and another visual one. Have any tips?

seanymurray34 karma

Yup! I was in that building. Right now I'm sat about 100 yards away :)

Tips for getting into the industry, and getting the most from your course work? Always just pick something you like, that you feel passionate about. I used to ignore the brief at Uni, and just do something vaguely related, but that I had a burning passion for that week. That meant I got terrible grades sometimes, but developed a lot more.

prototype66613 karma

I'm currently enrolled in Computer Engineering with hopes to work in the game industry in the future. What is THAT deciding characteristic that is required to work in the gaming industry compared to other generic software/hardware development jobs? Thanks for doing the AMA

seanymurray37 karma

Genuinely, I think it's just a passion for games. I hadn't coded in C or C++ before joining the industry, and learnt on the job, so I can't say there's some necessary skill.

Good Luck!

citizenlowell11 karma

When can we expect to play Joe Danger Touch? I played it at PAX East and had a great time.

seanymurray15 karma

Thanks :) I was working on it this morning actually, and we're going to be a little bit freer to do more on it now that consoles aren't distracting us.

I think because we have taken our time, it's really starting to get the "magic" now. It feels so different to anything else on iOS.

In answer to your question... soon?

SleepySheepy8 karma

This may seem like an odd question, but what's your 3d modelling software of choice if you have one.

seanymurray15 karma

We use Maya for almost everything, and Max very rarely...

SleepySheepy9 karma

Is there any particular reason why Maya is used over Max? I have a heavy preference towards Max.

seanymurray16 karma

The thing I always hear is that technically minded people prefer Max, and it was definitely my preferred 3D package starting out.

Maya and Max have become more and more similar now though, and I think it's easy to adapt between them. We use Maya because Grant, our artist, prefers it :)

ivoffee5 karma


seanymurray9 karma

I like the idea of Ms Joe Danger, in classic Pac Man style. Surely she would be an even better stuntperson, obviously with a new super power. I'm liking this idea.

Originally we had this whole backstory made out for Joe, that never made it into the game. He had a dog called Crash, that you sometimes played as ... you can see his dog basket in the frontend still.

Oh! And his bike contained the ghost spirit of Joe's dead father. It used to talk to you, and give you tutorial... but it all got a bit weird. "Ride me over that ramp Joe". Still makes me laugh.

derelicthat4 karma

Tea hunh? What're you drinking? As fall hits my area, I'm tending towards cooked puer and a lot of rose-black. Any particular favorite type of teapot/tea hardware?

seanymurray15 karma

I'm Irish, so it's nice and simple, I drink "Barry's Tea". It's a super strong blend that I'm pretty sure if you made a big enough cup, you could walk across it :)

junpei9993 karma

Hey Sean! Before I ask my question, just wanted to say I loved Joe Danger 1 and 2 :D

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get into game programming. I'm currently a chemical engineering student, and I plan to apply to a graduate program at a reputable university, where they train game programmers, artists, designers, and producers. They have a good reputation in America at least (a lot of their staff goes to work at places like Zynga, EA, Microsoft, Telltale, Iron Galaxy Studios. The place I'm talking about btw is FIEA, at University of Central Florida)

On to the real question: do you think game-specific education is detrimental? Do most companies prefer traditional degrees. And aside from programming, is there anything else I can do to show an active interest in the industry (as of now, I write for NintendoLife, a large Nintendo website, but that isn't exactly programming).

seanymurray4 karma

I've been lucky enough to be in the position in the past to give lots of different people their first job in the industry. Game-specific education definitely isn't detrimental, and it's often more fun.

The reality though is that normally only maybe the top 10% of any course - games programming, or just straight computer science - will manage to get a long-term job in the industry. When that happens, if you are unlucky and don't have work, its useful to have studied something with wider opportunities - like Computer Science.

There are a few game specific degrees though that really do improve your chances of getting noticed.