Show us your rig
Each week on Show Us Your Rig, we feature the PC game industry's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play.
Chris Delay, game designer at Introversion Software of Darwinia and Prison Architect fame, works in a downright lovely environment; a custom built studio in his backyard that's as cozy as it is clean. I was taken aback by the massive amount of light the room lets in, and then quickly startled by the discovery that Chris uses the exact same keyboard, mouse, and monitor setup I have in front of me at this very moment. A man of good taste, Chris kindly took the time to show off what he uses to work, as well as "research" other games.
What's in your PC?
My main computer is a desktop PC sat under my desk:
- Intel Core i7 4770 @ 3.5 Ghz
- 32 GB ram
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti
- Windows 7 64 bit
The main hard disk is a 1 TB ssd—I've found this makes a genuinely massive performance difference to just about everything. Especially Windows itself. I'm still running Windows 7 because 8 looks like a tablet OS to me, and therefore isn't suitable to my desktop pc with keyboard and mouse. I've got a water cooling system on the CPU (in the past I've had a lot of issues with computers dying due to bad cooling, so I just went all out this time), and lots of blue LEDs inside the case, because video games.
I use the Corsair K70 (mechanical) keyboard because I love the feel of mechanical keys (and the sound they make when you type,) and I secretly love the backlit red LEDs as well. The mouse is a Razer DeathAdder, which I find really comfortable to use. Together I think they look awesome. I'm using quite an old 24" monitor and planning to upgrade that soon, once the 4k devices have settled down and it's clear which one to go for.
There's a rotel stereo amp and B&W speakers—you can see them mounted on the wall at either side of the monitor. Sound is extremely important to me, and I spend a great deal of time listening to the game I'm making. I think sound is one of the most important parts of a game's presentation, and I've always tried to have a decent sound system built around my main desk.
I also carry around an Apple Macbook Pro, 13" retina model, also entirely ssd. I think it's the perfect sweet spot for a laptop—very powerful, super quick at just about everything, but still quite small and light. I swap between the Windows PC and the Mac laptop regularly, which is a great way of ensuring all the code I write works well on multiple platforms.
What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?
I used to work in the upstairs bedroom in our house, but real life put an end to that. I now have two children, and my wife told me I would have to surrender my office so our kids could have bedrooms of their own. My solution was to custom build my own studio at the bottom of the garden—somewhere I would be isolated from the noise in the house, and somewhere I would feel inspired and creative without being interrupted.
The desk on the right side is my main desktop pc station. The desk on the left side is usually used for the Mac as a docking station, and you can see I also have all my games systems under a nice big tv. Because researching other games is a very important part of my job ;)
There's a Darwinia painting above my main desktop and a painting of a woman in red above the left desk —both painted by my wife. I think they add a lot of colour to the room. I also took the recent PC Gamer cover that featured Prison Architect and had it framed, because that was such an honour for us.
What's always within arm's reach on your desk?
I quite like my desk to be as clear as possible ;)
What are you playing right now?
Still playing Battlefield 3 pretty regularly—I find the sound and the graphics to be so involving that I can play for hours at a time. Beyond that, I'm loving Kerbal Space Program at the moment. I've been replaying Final Fantasty X on the PS3, which has been an awesome experience, and I might actually complete it this time.
What's your favorite game and why?
A really difficult question. I'm assuming you mean "ever," in which case I'd have to say Civilization, which I've played probably every year since I first tried it on my Amiga—basically forever ago. I'm including the later versions of course, but it's the original that to me is such a masterpiece of game design.
Prison Architect's latest alpha update adds a feature I'm a little surprised wasn't around in the beginning. New arrivals to your correctional facility of
kindness and rehabilitation punishment and more punishment will now come with reputations that promise to shake up your prison in interesting ways. This is all part of an effort to stop jails from becoming things that can be run automatically, as noted in the accompanying patch notes. Introversion describe this update as "big shit" in the following video, and I'm inclined to agree.
Until now, Prison Architect has seemed fairly predictable in its systems, but Alpha 25 promises to add an element of, er, unpredictability to the prison sim. I'll let Introversion explain: "Alpha 25 was motivated by seeing prisons that just run themselves—and can even be left running overnight, without anything bad happening. This doesn't sit right with us, and running a prison shouldn't ever be something that can be done fully automatically".
To that end, prisoners now come with reps. Reps like Tough, Stoical, Ex Law and Fearless, and you can probably guess what effect these guys are going to have on your previously peaceful jail. Interestingly, only around half of these reputations will be known when prisoners arrive—to ascertain the behaviours of the other criminals, you'll need to rely on your informants. Here's the absolute best thing about reps, however: there's a chance you'll receive a "legendary" prisoner as one of your new inmates, someone with a "potent mix" of reputations that will make them especially dangerous and interesting.
There are a bunch of other, less exciting changes in the update notes—you can read the full list of changes here. You can also stick around for the following video, in which Introversion's Mark Morris and Chris Delay talk about the update for half-an-hour.