Richard Hilleman

Father to Rachel and Christopher

Richard Hilleman is a Creative Fellow at Electronic Arts. He has been a game producer and designer for more than 20 years, and his credits include Racing Destruction Set (1985), Ferrari Formula One (1988), Indianapolis 500 (1989), Chuck Yeager’s Flight Trainer (1990), John Madden Football (1990), NHL Hockey (1991), Kasparov’s Gambit (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park II (1997), Tiger Woods 99 (1998), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2000 (2000), and American McGee’s Alice (2000).

On getting into the game industry: I had a friend, David Gardner, who used to work at the computer store I haunted. He told me about going to EA and the fact that Tim Mott worked there. I knew about Tim from his Xerox Parc/Bravo days and knew it beat business applications in Fortran, which is what I was learning in school. I started out copying discs, making cables, and making Apple IIs and IBM PCs work. Then EA figured out I could do some other things.

On favorite games:

  • Chess: Just the most perfect game ever invented, true mental warfare.
  • Hold ’em poker: The best game of chance ever invented.
  • Quake III: For what it became after the public got a hold of it.
  • Quake: For the work that American and John did to redefine what a shooter could be.
  • M.U.L.E.: The best multiplayer game for computers. As close as computers have to a classic like Monopoly.
  • Indianapolis 500: The first real driving simulation that was also fun.
    • Minecraft: When I first got in the business, Bill Budge was the first superstar game designer, and a friend of mine.  I watched him spend the better part of five years trying to figure out how to make “construction set construction set.”  I think Notch and his buddies actually did it, and how they accomplished it is more amazing.  They gave most of the game design task to the players, and they have done a great job.  I’m very curious about what the next generation of games played by Minecrafters will look like.  I think the era of waiting for us to make the game for them might be over…

On game influences:

  • F15 Strike Fighter: Sid Meier shaped more of my views as a designer than anyone else.
  • TV Sports Football: Got half of the idea right. Madden, the game series, put the rest of the game with the presentation.
  • Nintendo Golf: This might actually be Miyamoto’s greatest game. Look at how much fun it still is today on 8-bit hardware. Then, you try and make a game that is still fun after almost 20 years.
  • Pole Position: The first great racing game.

On what makes him proud:

  • That sports and simulations are no longer the backwaters of interactive entertainment. When I started producing and designing, D&D games were about half the market.

Advice to designers:

  • Get as broad a background in the liberal arts as you can. The technology will change enormously in your lifetime, but people won’t.