This round of 20 Questions will be with Jaqub Ajmal [JA] aka @JaqubAjmal Project Manager on the Battlefield Series and Mirrors Edge.
I'm Jaqub, a 35 year old gamer working for EA DICE as a project manager handling the QA team at EA DICE on the Battlefield series and Mirrors edge. I'm just another random white dude that enjoys music, movies and games.
On ward with this edition of 20 Questions with the ever gracious Jaqub Ajmal.
1) what was your first job ever?
[JA] My first job ever was as a gardener at a cemetery. It was a summer job and it was a pretty chill experience. Laying out in the sun, trimming some bushes and watering flowers. Sometimes a few tombstones need a good scrubbing. Good times!
2) What was the worst/most challenging job you ever had? did it change you? how?
[JA] The most challenging job I ever had was as a salesman for a mobile company that did business to business sales. The salary was amazing, I've never made that much money in my life ever since then but it was really soul crushing and very stressful.
What made things worse was that Massive Entertainment (Developers of The Division) had their offices just across the street and I could see straight into their offices from my window seat. I was asking myself everyday, why am I here and not there? That question became a catalyst for me in a way that I finally got the courage to quit my job and pursue a career in game development.
3) What are your thoughts on video game movies? if you could make one and pick the director and 3 cast mates which and who would you pick?
[JA] Funny you should ask that, I actually have quite a collection of video game movies. Sadly most of them are awful, but those that I think worked the best are the Resident Evil movies and the first Mortal Kombat. The director of those movies, Paul WS Anderson really understands how to adapt a game and make it into something that actually works as a movie. I wouldn't exactly call them masterpieces but they are fun enough to watch once. I also thought the Need for Speed Movie was good fun. If I could pick a director to make a movie I would go for James Cameron. For actors I would go with Christian Bale, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Ha ha that would be one bad ass movie.
4) Do you think that game makers have a right to police users on social media?
[JA] I believe in freedom of speech so everyone can say whatever they want. Game-makers are nothing special, just ordinary people like anyone else with various different opinions.
5) What do you think about the HoloLens and its possibilities in video games?
[JA] I think it´s always cool with new technologies that can create new and immersive experiences for gamers. I have had the Oculus Rift development kit 2 since release and I am pretty amazed by some games such as Elite Dangerous. It wouldn't want to play it in any other way. I think the magic really happens when a developers creates and experience that uses the technology in such a way where it becomes and advantage of using it instead of trying to shoehorn a game that wasn't designed for the technology in the first place. With the right games HoloLens can really be something special.
6) What was your first and favorite Easter Egg in video games? Megladon, Phantom, Yeti, or from previous years or different game?
[JA] My favorite Easter Egg is one I found myself as a child. If you beat Starfox on SNES (Star wing in EU) and if you leave the game running for 15 minutes after the credits have rolled by you will hear a special tune. I am pretty sure that I was one of the first people that found it because that Easter egg wasn't even on YouTube until a few years ago.
7) What was your last game played (mode)? did you win?
[JA] My last game was Domination in Battlefield 4, it was sadly a loss.
8) Is that your favorite game mode and map? if no what is?
[JA] My favorite game mode is Rush, I really enjoy how it sends players to the same area and gives every game a cinematic flair. I mostly play games for the experience rather than being competitive so it fits me really well. My favorite map is Damavand Peak as it has a little bit of everything and at the same time manages to be extremely cinematic and full of Battlefield moments.
9) If you could pick the next thing to be a Easter Egg what would it be? (ie Bear,T Rex,Clown) How would we trigger it?
[JA] Haha I would make something really complex where the entire server would have to do something to trigger it. This Easter egg would take to much time to make, but when you would trigger it I would have the Skybox of the level rip open by a gigantic monster that comes in from behind it. And the server would then suddenly turn into a Final Fantasy style battle game where you would have to fight this monster. It would be really difficult and all 64 players would have to co-op to have a chance to beat it. Haha that would be pretty nuts.
10) Tell us about your worst testing experience in the past?
[JA] The worst testing experience is always on those games that you work really hard on and then suddenly get canned. Sure we did get paid for the work we put in, but it´s heartbreaking when you have spent so much time and energy on something and then no one even gets the chance to play it. I have been lucky though as I haven't worked on that many games that got canned.
11) With how far gaming has come in last 20 years, the next 20 will be extremely promising, imagine your a game maker in 20 years, tell me about your game.
[JA] I think that procedural generated data will be the norm. The world, the animations, the AI everything will be created with complex code. There is a certain stiffness in games today due to various limitations. But if you look at some games like GTA5 when it comes to animation or Elite Dangerous when it comes to the game world it´s clear to me that its the future. I also think that it will be very easy to make games, as easy as it is to make music these days. But instead of technical talent it will require more design talent. I think that compared to the movie business the video games business is still in an era where we actually develop the camera for every movie we make. While making a movie today is super simple, anyone can come up with a good idea, get a decent camera for little money and get high end editing software. It´s all about the talent. I think that in the future 3d assets will be so detailed that it wont make sense to create new ones as people wont notice any difference between games and hardware will be so fast that we can just buy all of the assets from a 3d assets company and there wont be much need for optimizations. I also think that mobile devices will be the platform that we will use for our games where you simply can stream the image in real time to a big screen wireless from the phone, and connect a gamepad or mouse/keyboard to it wireless as well. At some point those devices will just become so powerful that getting more processing power for a video game might actually not make a big difference.
12) What is your favorite video game map to play online and why?
[JA] My favorite game to play online is Battlefield. (Surprise!) Battlefield is a great game to play with friends as it rewards team play, and at the same time it´s not to competitive as it lets you have fun as well.Pretty much no game plays out the same and the unique cinematic scenes that play out during the Battles are endless. I also really love the sound in the Battlefield games which I think no movie or game can match. It´s just truly amazing to put the game on War tapes while cranking up the volume on a 7.1 system. Besides Damavand peak that I mentioned above my other favorite map is Arica Harbor which is an amazing map with tons of variation. Playing it on Rush is really something special.
13)What is your favorite old school video game map to play online? (pre COD/BF)
[JA] I think Facing Worlds in Unreal Tournament was a brilliant map, excellent design, interesting choice of setting, good mix of indoor and outdoor battle and pretty much perfect in size. The map had something for everyone.
14) Would you remake that map on a modern game? which one?
[JA] Well I hope that Facing World ends up in the new Unreal Tournament game that is in development. That would be really something!
15) Mash up map, if you could merge two BF maps which two would you merge?
[JA] It would be a Rush map that starts out as Damavand peak, then after the tunnel bit, instead of ending up in the construction type area you would come out of the tunnel and be in the Arica Harbor desert. And then play Arica all the way to the end. Haha that would have been amazing. Maybe even have some levolution where the Arica Harbor train would start moving and crash into the harbor area.
16) If you can pick an old school game to be re made into a modern version which would it be?
[JA] I would love to see an open world games based on the Original Usagi Yojimbo game on the C64. It was a very revolutionary game for it´s time. For example it had a combat state and a none combat state, peaceful NPC would get scared if you went into combat mode for no reason, A karma system where if you did to many naughty things you would end up committing Harakiri, dynamic music, branching levels, boss fights and an actual ending cut scene. A truly underrated gem in my book.
17) what comes first transporters or warp drives ?
[JA] I would go with warp drive as it seems "simpler" of the two. Haha
18) If you ship was sinking and you could only grab two things, what are they?
[JA] A life jacket because I suck at swimming and a flare gun.
19) What is your favorite movie and thoughts on interstellar? are we alone?
[JA] I thought it was really good, Christopher Nolan is an amazing director. I also really loved the score by Hans Zimmer. Was super disappointed that it didn't win more Oscars then it did.
20) Name the weirdest item within arms reach right now?
[JA] Around 30 cardboard boxes. I just moves houses so my living room looks like a warehouse.
21) Any project you wish you did not pass on or had?
[JA] There was one project where I wish that I would have tried to get more involved in regards to the creative bits. As QA I try to avoid getting to involved with the design as I think that the game designers need to do their thing and have their vision appear intact with not to much interference from others. But on Terminator Salvation that I worked on I just wish that I would have taken over or at least helped them with the creative vision because I am really in tune with the Terminator universe and have a great understanding of how one could convert that into a good gaming experience. Of course it´s always easy to say that in hindsight because Terminator Salvation was a game that was made with very little resources and not a lot of time, but I still think that I could have made a difference for the better if given the chance.
22) What was your first job in video games?
[JA] My first job in the games industry was at a developer called Simbin that developed super realistic racing simulators. I worked there first as a designer doing scripting for weather effects and cameras, when I was done with my design work I also assisted with some quality assurance. They were very impressed with the work I did and pretty soon made me QA Lead. I guess I was a natural, as I didn't have any prior QA experience.
23) What are your thoughts on violence in video games? would you let your 5 year old play GTA, Hardline or a BF?
[JA] No I wouldn't let my 4 year old play GTA or the Battlefield games.(He is 5 this summer). I honestly don't even think that he would enjoy them as they are quite complex and difficult to play for someone that young.
I also think that GTA5 has some themes and scenes that are just to scary for someone really young to view. For me Battlefield isn't really all that violent, and as a kid playing cowboys and Indians in real life with friends our imagination was often a lot more violent and gruesome then those games.
Also for me personally I watched a lot of violent movies as a child and it didn't really have any negative effect on me, but I think it really depends on the person and how they react to the content. But it´s a very difficult questions and I don't really think there is a right or wrong, I think its up to each parent to decide when they think that their kids are ready to play certain violent games.
24) If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
[JA] Somewhere that has nice weather and where I could get a job similar to what I am doing today, So probably somewhere in the USA like Austin, Los Angeles, Redwood shores or San Francisco.
It was fantastic speaking with Jaqub Ajmal for this edition of 20 Questions. What is your favorite Easter Egg in video games? Please share with us in the comments section below.