Oddworld's Inhabitants: Rajeev Nattam, Character Artist [Hosted by Oddworld.com] Date: May 2004 Interviewer: Oddworld.com Interviewee: Rajeev Nattam
Oddworld’s Inhabitants are as diverse as the world they’ve worked together to create. Here’s where you’ll find interviews and other informative articles spotlighting the many creative folk that work at Oddworld Inhabitants. Be they headline players or behind-the-scenes heroes, the Inhabitants profiled here all share Oddworld’s ceaseless dedication to bringing you the best worlds and games that you’ve ever experienced.
Rajeev Nattam – Character Artist
Q: What’s your background?
Rajeev Nattam: Although I was born in India, I was raised in that flat chunk of desolation known as the Mid West or”The Great Sinkhole”, specifically in the remote reaches of northeastern Indiana. Yes, yes, the Indian from Indiana. How many times have I heard that one? (Aprox: 7,321,001). Growing up in the stale Midwest affords you only 2 passions: Movies and Videogames. I tried exploring the 1st option by trying the whole film school thing in a college out on the East Coast. However, along the way I stumbled into computer graphics and decided to follow that through by going to a school way the heck on the other side of the continent, specifically Vancouver Film School. I originally went there to study animation but ended up getting interested in modeling for video games. Fast forward a year or so, and with a demo reel filled with exploding zombies, alien cityscapes, and combat vehicles, in tow I tried my hand at getting into the video game industry with a long shot application to Oddworld Inhabitants. As luck would have it, they liked what they saw, thought I had good potential, and lo and behold here I am.
Q: Who are your biggest influences and why?
Rajeev Nattam: I would say I am not really influenced by any particular artist but more by images from various movies, TV, and comics. The ones that define what I like the most would be Aliens, The Dark Crystal, and The Lord of the Rings movies. All of these are like definitive geek designs. Aliens, for example, is the ground zero for military sci fi design for so many artists. And I’ve got a thing for robots: the various Star Wars droids, The Iron Giant, The Matrix, Short Circuit, Futurama etc.
Q: Why did you decide to go into the video game industry? Why Oddworld?
Rajeev Nattam: I’m a video game nut, have been my entire life. A job in this industry has really been like a lifelong ambition. Getting a job at Oddworld is even sweeter since I was a big fan of Abe’s Oddysee and Exoddus and always thought it would be a trip to get a chance to work on the rest of the Quintology in some way shape or form.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Rajeev Nattam: Around these parts I am referred to in hushed tones as the resident “hard core” gamer. And its true. I spend unhealthy amounts of time playing games across all the major platforms. My top five favorite games in no particular order are: Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo, Diablo 2, Super Metroid, and Half Life.
Q: What’s in your game console or pc right now?
Rajeev Nattam: Right now I’m playing City of Heroes, a massively multiplayer game on my PC. On my Xbox, I’m playing Ninja Gaiden.
Q: What CD are you currently listening too? What book are you reading?
Rajeev Nattam: Right now I’m listening to “Who Made Who” by AC DC, and currently I’m reading a “History of the Knights Templar” by Piers Paul Reid.
Q: What does a character modeler do exactly?
Rajeev Nattam: A character modeler is responsible for creating all the in game character models (duh), their accessories, weapons, props, etc. It starts either with a design from a production designer or a verbal brief. I take it from there and model it up in Maya. This is usually followed by some back and forth between PDD, Lorne, and myself until the model is looking right. After modeling, usually the production designer responsible for the design handles the texture painting, but on occasion I tackle that myself. I then set the model up for animation and hand it off to the animators, who proceed to contort my characters into ways not thought possible.
Q: What do you like best about coming to work? What’s the worst part?
Rajeev Nattam: The best part of my job is that it’s a constant string of challenges requiring creative solutions. The fact that it’s never the same thing everyday is a constant joy. The worst part is of course spending a lot of time on a model, thinking it looks great, only to have everyone comment that this or that needs to be changed.
Q: If you could change jobs with one of the other Inhabitants who would it be and why?
Rajeev Nattam: Definitely a game designer. As a hard core gamer, it’s been my secret passion to one day try my hand at designing a game. Putting together a level and watching someone else play through it and see if they can make sense of my design seems like a fascinating challenge.
Q: Who is your favorite Oddworld character?
Rajeev Nattam: This is really selfish but right now it’s a character nicknamed “Pyro”. It’s purely cuz I got to make him up myself and I was able to give him a little bit of a “robot shine”, which is sort of my personal mark in the game.
Q: Can you tell us anything about the new game or what you are working on right now?
Rajeev Nattam: Hmmm, good question. I’ll say this; No one is gonna expect where this game is coming from. I can honestly say our new game is going to take just about everyone by surprise.