We are pleased to present the second in our series of LucasArts profiles -- an interview series with some of the people who have made LucasArts the company that it is today. This piece profiles Sean Clark, who has been with the company for over 12 years -- beginning as a Programmer and later becoming a Designer and Director. Sean is now leading the development effort for the sequel to one of LucasArts' most beloved original adventures Full Throttle®.
Sean Clark - Director
2001 - 2002Full Throttle® II (PC, Next Gen. Console)
1998 - 2001Escape from Monkey Island™ (PC, PlayStation 2, Mac)
1993 - 1995The Dig® (PC, Mac)
1992 - 1993Sam & Max Hit the Road™ (PC, Mac)
1992Big Sky Trooper® (SNES)
1991 - 1992Indiana Jones® and the Fate of Atlantis™ (PC, Amiga)
Scripter, Assistant Designer, Programmer
1991The Dig (unreleased) (PC)
Scripter, Assistant Designer
1990 - 1991The Secret of Monkey Island® (PC CD-ROM, Mac, CDTV)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade™ (PC CD-ROM, CDTV)
Loom® (CDTV, Mac, FM Townes)
1990Passport to Adventure (Demo Disk)
Programmer, Assistant Designer
LucasArts.com: How did you first get into game development?
Sean Clark: Ever since the video game revolution of the 70s, I've been building games. The first one I wrote was a version of Pong for the Atari 2600 using their "Basic Programming" cartridge. In high school I took my first actual programming class, learning BASIC and assembly on Apple IIs. I found just doing my assignments wasn't very interesting, so I would turn my assignments into games, i.e. an assignment to demonstrate arrays would become a shell game simulator. But I was also interested in writing, so I'd come up with goofy little stories to tie the games together, including front-end "scenes" that set up the interactive part. Eventually I went to college, and after changing majors a few times, settled in on Computer Science. I still built games on my own (now on an Atari 800XL), and I still wrote. After graduation I watched countless friends of mine go off to work for defense contractors and banks. Building bomb simulations and transaction tracking software didn't sound too appealing to me. So, I sat on offers from those companies while I pursued landing a job in the games industry.
LucasArts.com: What brought you to LucasArts?
Sean Clark: A job posting at the college my brother was going to at the time. I sent a resume, but the posting was a bit old, so I wasn't sure I'd even get a response. Just as I was considering another offer, I received a call from Lucasfilm Games (that's what we were called back then) asking if I would come in for an interview. I did, and had an offer in less than a week.
LucasArts.com: What was the company like when you started?
Sean Clark: We were a small band of game-builders nestled in the trees at Skywalker Ranch. Our business and personalities were so different from those of the other companies. I always felt like our company was a playground in the middle of a think tank.
LucasArts.com: What was your first project/job?
Sean Clark: It was a little thing called Passport to Adventure. The idea was to make demos of the three most current PC Adventure Games (SCUMM games), and put them on one 5.25" disk with a nice interface to switch between the demos. My portion of the project was Loom. I had to modify the code to create a demo and upgrade the scripts to the newest version of the SCUMM system.
LucasArts.com: What different positions have you held?
Sean Clark: Only two, really. I started as a Programmer/Assistant Designer, and was promoted to Project Leader between my work on Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Sam & Max Hit the Road. That job title has since changed to Director, but the role is essentially the same.
LucasArts.com: Describe your role in the game development process.
Sean Clark: The Director is responsible for the game as a creative entity. That is, what the game is, how it feels, the feature set, the look, and the writing. Do I do all that stuff by myself? No way. I work with people who specialize in those areas to establish what the game needs and how we're going to achieve it. In some instances, like writing and design, I'll participate more than in others, like art (I can't draw!). But my primary function is to keep the team focused on an overall vision of what the game is and direct them towards that.
LucasArts.com: What are you working on now?
Sean Clark: I'm Director and co-designer of the sequel to the original 1995 game Full Throttle in which you play Ben, the leader of a biker gang. At this point, we've got a complete design, a fairly complete game level, and we can run Ben around, pick fights, and engage other characters in discussions about such pressing topics as "I need a beer," and "Where's the bathroom?" The next several months of development will mostly revolve around content creation, feature implementation, and dialog writing.
LucasArts.com: If you could be any character from a LucasArts game which would you be and why?
Sean Clark: In my current frame of mind, Herman Toothrot's got it made. Wandering around on a deserted (yet rather busy) Caribbean Island sounds pretty darned good to me. Throw in a couple of umbrella drinks, and I might stay indefinitely.
LucasArts.com: What is the most exciting accomplishment the company has made in its 20 year- long history?
Sean Clark: Lasting 20 years. Really. Not many companies in this industry can say that. I think a big part of it has been our dedication to putting the game experience above all else. The overriding rule has been using the tools, techniques, and ideas to augment and evolve the gaming experience, not drive it. For instance, when Full Motion Video was the buzz-phrase of the industry, we took a look at it and decided that it wasn't really a new form of gameplay, but more of an expanded way to tell a story in a game -- where appropriate. We let the story and the game dictate what the needs rather than forcing the product into something that it shouldn't be. A lot of companies our size and smaller jump from bandwagon to bandwagon, fad-to-fad, and very few have much success at it.
LucasArts.com: What is your favorite moment in game development?
Sean Clark: There's a brief moment in time after a project has been released when the world seems to slow down, my heart rate drops to a normal thunk-a thunk-a, and I begin to notice that I need a haircut, just before I find myself getting inexplicably antsy thinking about the next product, with ideas swirling around in my head, and my heartbeat quickening to a THUNKTHUNKTHUNK. That’s a great moment.