Luke Muscat is chief creative officer at Halfbrick, and the creator of iPhone games Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride and Monster Dash. Over the past 24 months, Halfbrick games under Luke’s direction have been downloaded over 150 million times.
Started out: During university, I learned how to program and do art, only to discover I was terrible at both. Luckily, I had a knack for design and worked on some pretty wild projects, such as a graffiti simulator and a drag racing game controlled by screaming.
These led to me scoring a job at Halfbrick straight out of university. I started as a junior level designer and was lucky enough to be given a lot of opportunities to prove myself. I worked on a lot of projects that were not much fun at all, but in the end these projects and the great people I worked with helped me grow and mature as a designer to where I am now.
Big break: Undoubtedly my big break was Fruit Ninja. When the team first started working on this crazy little concept for a game, there was no way we could have anticipated its success. It was such a departure from our regular ideologies of game design that it felt like we were taking a huge risk. In hindsight it seems ridiculous, but at the time we really were not sure if the game would sell at all.
Current project: I actually have quite a few different projects on the boil at once right now. I’m working on updates for Jetpack Joyride and some interesting and insane prototypes for a new IP. On top of that, I have my hands full with some design initiatives inside Halfbrick that are aimed at helping the whole design staff skill up and improve together. It’s exciting having a format that enables and empowers designers to share their unique skills and strengths with the rest of the staff.
Favourite project: Jetpack Joyride is both my favourite game that we have made, as well as the game that was most fun to work on. The team and I poured all of the heart and soul we could into the project, and as a result it really reflects who we are not just as developers, but as people. Apparently we like explosions and sparkly things.
That said, it was not without its challenges. Towards the tail end of the project, we encountered many difficult and frustrating technical limitations that really tried everyone’s patience. In the end, however, I am absolutely thrilled with the result. I really feel like it’s a game that embodies all the values that Halfbrick stands for: being unique, accessible and, most importantly, damn good fun.
What’s next: I’ll let you know what’s next when I know! Right now my team is in an exciting time of experimentation and prototyping, panning for the gold that will be our next IP. It’s always an exciting but somewhat intimidating process; having a lot of creative freedom is both liberating and crippling in equal doses. We try and set tight restrictions on ourselves and the process to keep this in check, while still having the ability to explore crazy ideas.
Halfbrick features in the Game Masters exhibition at the ACMI, Melbourne from 28 June to 28 October 2012.
From desktop magazine.