Vector Unit Senior Programmer Steve Mariotti is a man of few words, but his professional history speaks volumes about his illustrious career in game development. He started writing games while in college at the University of Texas at Austin, and says, “Game development found me. There was never any question that I was going to do anything else after I was about 20.” He’s a bit sheepish now about the Shareware Sinistar clone he’d written back then, but it got him his first gig.
Fast forward, and after shipping over fifteen games later, Steve has held titles such as Technical Director and Lead Programmer at companies like KIXEYE, Nihilistic Software, Stormfront (where he originally met VU founders Ralf and Matt), Activision, and Atomic Games.
As a programmer, the best part about the job for Steve is the variety in working on new and interesting things, and not knowing what’s coming next (in a good way). At Vector Unit, he enjoys working with an awesome (and incredibly efficient) team. He also finds it refreshing to be at an indie developer that can be completely autonomous (without publishers, investors, etc.) so the quality of the games is never sacrificed for a schedule or crazy marketing initiative. He laments one time (at another company that shall not be named) when someone told him that the entire interface was the “wrong shade of green” … three weeks before shipping. It took him three solid days of working around-the-clock to redraw every bitmap. There’s none of that at Vector Unit!
Professional life aside, Steve is a funny guy who will undoubtedly give us funny stuff for our Twitter feed as time goes by. He’s a self-proclaimed nice guy, father to two girls (aged 15 and 12), loves heavy metal, and plays guitar. When asked about his band, he says, “Yeah … it’s not really a band. It’s a concept band called Please Leave. It’s a band that you hire when you want people to leave your party. We only know three songs, and they’re really bad.”
His advice to young aspiring game developers, especially programmers, is to dive in and just make games. “If you’re a programmer, always just program. If you want to make games, write your own little ones, download other people’s source code and experiment with it, get involved with the mod community, and read Gamasutra. For AI programmers, check out AIgamedev.com run by Alex Champandard.”
When pressed for Easter eggs in Riptide GP2, he hints at one but will only say, “It’s more literal than most Easter eggs.”