Ever modest, Jim's recent contributions are not only the developer run invasions where he designed the monsters, their models and worked with the developers on the AI, but the entire story arc of the Outpost events. This series has required cooperation from the entire server to force back invaders, build structures and solve riddles so that master craftsman may learn the final lessons of their trade. His ideas for the future are imaginative - and if I didn't think they'd stop these interviews, I'd tell you in detail! Suffice it to say, the players have found an advocate for fun in Amadan. He's never forgotten what it's like to be a player…
GamersInfo.net: What was your very first video game experience (not necessarily the first game you played) and why do you think that has "stuck in your head" to this day?
Jim Poole: I would have to say my first major video game experience is when I played Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo for the first time. I only remember this experience because it was the first game that I stayed up all night and all day playing. It's one of those games that grabbed your attention and you didn't want to stop playing.
GamersInfo.net: Did you grow up wanting to work in the gaming, not necessarily electronic, industry? Or were your goals different? And if so, what were they?
Jim Poole: I never thought I would be working in the video game industry. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to make a lot of money… hehe. I never thought the video game industry was the way it was. In a lot of aspects it's very corporate and I wasn't expecting it.
GamersInfo.net: Explain more about how the game industry isn't what you expected it to be. Also, what IS how you expected?
Jim Poole: The game industry isn't how I expected when I saw the very corporate side of it. I pictured this laid back environment where people played video games all day and had the greatest time on earth. Everyone I know asks me, "So you get paid to play video games?" That's pretty much how I pictured it. This is not the case for the most part. I also never knew about "crunch time". This is where you work endless hours until your deadline/goals are met. Crunch time is very stressful.
The game industry is how I expected it in some aspects because where else can you come in wearing some shorts, some flip flops and a t-shirt daily. There is some joking around and it is nice to have fun once in a while at a job.
GamersInfo.net: What was the process that brought you to working on the Horizons team?
Jim Poole: Well, I moved to Virginia to work for Mythic Entertainment. I had been living in Arizona at the time. I stayed there for a year and decided I didn't like the snow… at all. Digging your car out of the snow is something no one should have to do. So, I started to look back in Arizona for a game company. Luckily, I found Artifact Entertainment. They were working on Horizons. The game looked beautiful and fun so I decided I need to apply. I applied for Customer Service and they called me back to be a World Master. I thought you can't get better then living in Arizona and working at a game company.
GamersInfo.net: What's the last movie you saw that had an effect on your life and why?
Jim Poole: This is going to seem very sad but it's true. I would have to say office space. This movie really captured what it's like working a computer 8-5 job. It kind of showed me that the work place isn't meant to be a boring dull place where it's very gray and bland. It needs to be a place where you do not hate where you are and what you do. It also helps give me a sense of humor about day to day things.
GamersInfo.net: You've had several different jobs since joining Horizons. Can you explain the jobs both by describing the job and give an example of what you did with each?
Jim Poole: Well I started out doing tech support for a small ISP. I just helped out customers and kept asking for more to do. They noticed that and made me a Customer Service Supervisor. That was a big step up and I basically helped make the schedules, dealt with time off requests, greeted our new subscribers and handled escalated tickets. From there I wanted something a bit more challenging so I asked to be put in the web development department. This job was different than I expected. I thought I'd be building things from the ground up. It ended up being just copy and pasting text into templates, so I wasn't very happy there.
From there I went onto Mythic after my friend there helped get me an interview. I did in game support there, I basically helped people with problems within the game, like encounters or a bugged quest or harassment.
GamersInfo.net: You recently received a promotion to Live Events Coordinator. The Raids that have been occurring in game are completely your creation - including some of the animation effects. Can you explain what you created and your thinking behind the design?
Jim Poole: Horizons is all about the forces of the Withered Aegis. I wanted to make something fun for the players that seemed like it wasn't just monsters spawning throughout the world by making them new and exciting and attacking different places so it seemed like their was strategy behind it. I also noticed that our players for the most part have an easy time with our current monsters in the game.
I wanted the event and raids to be entertaining but challenging and would help make people group to fight back the monsters. It's kind of funny. Players want to be killed if it is fun! I have seen multiple people say, "You know, I died but man was that a fun death" That's what I like to see and I hope to help make more of that happen.
GamersInfo.net: Outside of work, what are your passions and hobbies? What would you be doing RIGHT NOW if you could get up from the keyboard and go do it?
Jim Poole: If I didn't have to be at the keyboard right now I would be at the beach. The beach is a very calming place for me. If I'm not in the water I am just staring at the ocean waves whenever I go. There is something about seeing the way the ocean moves to make you think. If not that, I'd be playing basketball or watching a good movie.
GamersInfo.net: Where did you get your love of the ocean and surfing from? (There's no ocean in Arizona)
Jim Poole: Well, I haven't always lived in Arizona. I used to live in California growing up. We used to go to the beach a lot and I'd be the first one in the water the last one to leave. My family literally had to start leaving in the car to make me get out of the water. I just love the water. I think it's breathtaking. Just the way the ocean moves and looks makes me love it. Arizona has no ocean, but that's why it makes visiting the ocean that much better, you take it for granted when you always have it.
GamersInfo.net: Cats or Dogs? Hamburgers or Hot Dogs? Or....something I didn't mention?
Jim Poole: Cats and Dogs and Fish… I like all three of these animals. I like all animals actually. Different animals give off a different vibe. If you want something lazy around the house you get a cat… hehe… If you want something playful and faithful you get a dog. If you want to torment the cat, you get some fish.
My children both play games so I often play them first, getting to know exactly how something may effect my sensitive and easily stimulated older child vs. my stoic and imperturbable younger.
I like games for games; for the pure enjoyment of them and believe that no game is wholly bad, though some are real stinkers.
I also have the dexterity of a camel in mittens so find playing FPSs difficult (and I also don't like the gore) and RTSs at times can stump me. I just can't seem to move quickly enough to keep up with them. Some of my favorite games are arcade games and I'll spend 3-5 years on the same 5-6 levels because I just never get any better. But, I have fun.