As the only girl my age on the block, I grew up to be a bit of a tomboy. Some of my earliest memories include heading over to my neighbor’s house with my brothers to watch them play Street Fighter II on SNES. Well, we’ve certainly come a long way from the SNES, and my oldest brother has come a long way in the gaming world as well. Today, it is my pleasure and honor to allow you guys to get to know the incredible person and artist that is my brother, Kabby, AKA Will Kowach.
First, we all know that you’re my brother, but can you tell everyone else a little bit about yourself?
My name is Will, and online I go by Kabby. I’m a former Marine and now currently an indie game developer and video game streamer with Microsoft Mixer. I went to school at the Art Institute of California – San Diego graduating with as BAS in Game Art & Design. I was top of my class and was immediately hired and paid to move to Chicago to work on FEAR 3 for Warner Bros. I worked for Day 1 Studios (now Wargaming West), Phosphor Games, Iron Galaxy Studios, and now Symmetric Games. I also worked in the AAA gaming industry as an Artist on Microsoft’s Killer Instinct on XBOX, FEAR franchise and various Warner Bros Titles such as Game Party Champions, Man of Steel, and WWE Immortals.
I know that in addition to designing games you’re an avid gamer. What’s your favorite game? Why?
Right now my favorite game is Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). It’s a 100 man pvp (player versus player) battle royale game that is intense, fun and rewarding. It’s an excellent shooter that is fun to play by yourself, in teams of duos, or in squads of 4. I think it’s one of the best shooters simply because of the weapon physics, tactics, and individual skill involved. It’s a tough game, but with an active leaderboard and ELO system, there is always room to improve. Quite simply, there’s nothing on the market like it, and what makes it highly replayable, is the fact that no same round ever plays twice. Every round results in a unique outcome.
What games would you recommend for a total noob like me?
When you play a new game, what types of things do you find yourself looking for?
I look for a hook. Even though a game’s genre may appeal to me, why should I play more than 15 minutes? I always look for unique design and gameplay that hasn’t been done before, and if it has been done before, refined in such a way that it’s addicting and rewarding. I’ve played a ton of games, and while most never impress me simply because it’s been done over and over, I still look for that design hook.
Why did you get into 3D video game environment design?
After I got out of the Marines, I worked at a local airport in San Diego. I hated it. The work sucked, and the people were old and miserable. I decided to use my GI Bill and go to Art School, and I wanted to get into video games since that was the only field I truly had a passion for. As a teen (before the Marines) I played a lot of Unreal Tournament. I did a lot of modding for it and became a map reviewer on UTCity. It was the only time I truly enjoyed doing something. So I pursued 3D Environment Art in school.
As I understand it, you started your own company with a friend, right? Can you tell us about this company? Why did you guys decide to venture into your own business?
That is correct. After working on Killer Instinct, I decided to join a partnership with two former co-workers in starting our own studio. We formed Symmetric Games. We’ve had a very deep desire to create a balanced, polished, and very beautiful Survival Sandbox Game with an emphasis on Base Building and Resource Management. We’re huge fans of FPS (first person shooter) and Survival, so we wanted to work on our own take of it. In previous studios, we were constantly subject to very high publisher demands, unfair negotiations, and a very demanding project timeline that led to unnecessary crunch hours. We knew with a small team, and proper budget/negotiation on deadlines, we could build a game with passion in the shade.
What project are you currently working on and what inspired it?
I’m currently working on an unannounced Sci-Fi FPS Base Building, Resource Management, Multiplayer Survival Sandbox experience. It’s a game that takes place on a distant planet, and your mission is to build a habitat for the future of humanity. You must survive against dangerous natural events, the native wildlife, other players, and potential raids. We love games like DayZ, Rust, ARK, and various other games that truly bring unique features to the survival genre. But there was one common issue that all these survival games share. You start naked, and you punch trees. We wanted to deliver something more than that.
Are there any designers/artists out there that really inspire you?
Pretty much every artist I’ve worked with has given me great inspiration. There aren’t a select few as I live by learning what can be taken to learn from every opportunity and artist I meet.
Where do you see gaming culture going in the future?
I think the gaming culture is expanding and continuing to evolve into a social norm. Gone are the days of basement dwelling neckbeards ( I was one, though without the beard) and socially awkward nerds who gather together for a round of D&D. I think it’s becoming more and more mainstream, and between videogames and movies, the entertainment industry has bridged a gap that ties in fashion, music, art and media into a singular gaming culture.
Here’s a scenario: Technology has divided the world into two factions: PC gamers and console gamers. Which faction would you choose?
The Glorious PC Master Race will and always stand to rule above all console peasants.
If I’m going to be totally frank with you guys, a lot of the games that my brother mentioned flew way over my head, but I’m sure many of you have played some of the games he’s worked on or have played some of his favorites! Leave a comment below for which of those games you’ve also played! Or, you know, pick a fight with my brother about the PC gamer vs Console gamer factions.
— Will K | Kabby (@kabbyTV) August 18, 2017
Images courtesy of Will Kowach