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Interview with Peter Chilvers   Games   Malkin | 5/6/2013  log in to like post

An interview with Peter Chilvers by HomeCreatures.

Peter Chilvers
Full Name: Peter Chilvers
Personal Quote: "People with glass eyes shouldn't play marbles"
Peter is the music master , the Michael Jackson or Cliff Richard or...uhh..Britany Spears of CyberLife. Bet he hasnt been called that before.

The excellent music of Creatures 2 and 3 all began life in the head of Peter Chilvers, he even has his own band, cool eh?

HC: What did you do before CreatureLabs?
Peter: I spent a couple of years as a freelance programmer, writing education programmes for Sherston Software (http://www.sherston.co.uk) and Cambridge University press, which ran on machines most people are too young to remember, such as the Acorn Archimedes and BBC micro. I was also very active in a number of bands with varying degrees of pretension and success in Cambridge and London.

HC: How did you get involved with them?
Peter: Through a quite fortunate coincidence! Back in 1994, the singer from one of the bands was working as a programmer for what was then Millennium Interactive (CreatureLabs's previous name). His boss came along to one of our gigs, found out what I did, and offered me a job!

HC: What was your first day at CreatureLabs like?
Peter: Intimidating. I hadn't worked in an office before, and felt incredibly self-conscious. I was wearing a rather nasty suit, I seem to recall. Over the past year or so has your job changed much at CL? Quite drastically. For the last year I've been mostly involved with training and the odd bit of interface design, while doing the music out-of-house. I've just switched to a role which integrates the music and the programming, which should be really interesting.

HC: Where do you see yourself in three years time, and where do you see CreatureLabs?
Peter: I'm keen to fully explore the possibilities for music and sound within games - it's been a much overlooked field until recently. Advances in sound cards have made it possible to incorporate increasingly realistic 3d audio into games. I've had a long fascination with film soundtracks, and what they can add to a scene, and few games have even come close. So...plenty of work to getting on with!

As for CreatureLabs, I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask - I always thought opening up the scripting side was a waste of time, because no-one would be interested in writing add-ons. I'm glad to have been proven completely and totally incorrect! I'm really impressed with what the Creatures 3 and Creatures Adventures teams have come up with, they're a leap ahead of the previous titles, so all the signs point to future titles being even bigger leaps forward. It's been great seeing web communities building up around the Creatures titles, and I can imagine that becoming increasingly significant in CreatureLabs' future.

HC: Is there a member of the team who has a habit that really annoys you that you would like to get of your chest?
Peter: We're just one big happy family! Actually, since the Creatures Adventures theme music was playing almost continuously throughout testing, it's more a case of me getting on everyone else's nerves!

HC: Had you heard of or played Creatures or other A-Life game before you joined, thoughts?
Peter: Creatures was a mere twinkle in Steve Grand's eye when I joined! I remember being intrigued by "Little Computer People" when that came out (too many) years ago, which hinted at a-life. While I was at college, I attempted to simulate an environment populated by little wriggling caterpillars that can breed, but I only got as far as writing the renderer, which ran at about one frame every ten seconds...that was about as far as I got, but thankfully Steve had better ideas than mine!

HC: On to a new topic, what's your life's ambition and why?
Peter: I'd like to take the music further. A couple of my CDs have made it into the shops, but they're hardly household names [http://www.collective.co.uk/aliasgrace/ and http://www.collective.co.uk/samuelsmiles/ since you asked!]. I suppose one0 of my ultimate ambitions would be to do a film soundtrack. Creatures the Movie, anyone?

HC: Using one sentence can you describe yourself?
Peter: "I have difficulty staying still", I suppose. Or if you want a one word answer, it'd be "eclectic".

HC: Do you have any interesting Norn stories.. as CreatureLabs asks the community all the time for them, I thought I'd ask a few there :-)
Peter: I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm not very good at playing Creatures, so no great stories about families being raised in the wild, I'm afraid. I remember one time when we were finishing off Creatures 1, and suddenly out of nowhere a grendel floated across the sky in a raft, grinning insanely. I'd had a very long, very tiring day tracking bugs, and the incident nearly pushed me over the edge.

Quite early on, when I was testing out a new feature, a norn on screen look up at me with wide innocent eyes, and said...well, I can't really repeat it here, but after that I learnt not to leave Creatures running when I left my machine for a tea break.

HC: If there was anywhere in Albia you could go where would it be, and why?
Peter: I think I'd splash on some grendel repellent and sun myself on the beaches of the aquatic section in Creatures 3. Okay, it's on a spaceship, and not strictly in Albia, but let's not split hairs...

HC: If you had to be a Norn, a Grendel or an Ettin, which would you be and why?
Peter: I've always had a worry that I might be reincarnated as a norn...it could be a nice life, I suppose, being fed and pampered all the time. It depends on whose playing the game, really!

HC: AntiNorn? Now, Justify your existence!
Peter: Inane little tunes don't just write themselves you know!

He has a point ;-)
Part II of the exclusive Peter Chilvers Interview coming within the next few weeks...! Thanks Peter!

An interview by HomeCreatures.


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