The Hello Games founder gets the rapid-fire question treatment

FAQ: Sean Murray

Who are you and what do you do?
Sean Murray, and I’m founder of Hello Games. Really, though, I’m a programmer.

What are you working on right now?
Mostly on a game called No Man’s Sky, which is maybe the world’s first “open universe” game, and then sometimes on Joe Danger, which is about a little man on a motorbike.

What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
My very first game out of uni was for Criterion, but it got cancelled. At the time, Criterion was a tiny studio, a little like Hello Games is now. The first project I worked on that got released was Burnout 3.

What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
Probably Space Invaders in the arcade. I would have been about three at the time, and could only just reach the joystick. In my head, I was amazing, and have memories of crowds gathering to watch. My brother recently told me that was because I didn’t understand you had to put a coin in, and would stay ‘playing’ the demo, while people waited patiently.

What was the most recent video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
Right now I’m playing something called ShootMania, which is very underrated. It’s a bravely focused game, to the point of minimalism. The FPS genre has gone down a road of recharging health, team multiplayer and lessened difficulty. It’s nice to get back to my Quake roots with something more difficult and skill-based. Having said that there’s a Hello Games clan for ShootMania, and I’m the worst player of a pretty good team.

What is your favourite game ever?
Impossible question. Please don’t ask me that!

How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
Sometimes an hour or two, but if something grips me then maybe 20-plus.

What area of the games industry needs more ‘investment’?
Education in games development. My generation grew up with Mario, programming Amstrads and Amigas. The current generation is growing up with Minecraft and iPhones. They want to make games, they understand it better than we did, but there is less focus than ever on programming and fewer clear routes into the industry.

What do you enjoy about the industry?
Working with talented people, who share a lot of the same interests. We’re hiring at the moment, and it’s incredibly exciting because we are such a small team and new people have such a huge and instant impact.

What disappoints you about the industry?
We have become homogeneous. The difference between each iteration of Call of Duty or any big franchise is becoming smaller. I could line up screenshots from a dozen FPSes and you probably couldn’t tell me which was which. We should be the most imaginative industry to work in. We used to be.

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