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Jack Mathews
Jack Mathews copy of MSR

Mathews' copy of Metroid: Samus Returns. "I'll need to figure out something to do on my 12 hour flight... #MetroidSamusReturns" (Tweet)

Jack Mathews is a video game programmer, who worked as the tech lead on all three games in the Prime Series. He left Retro Studios after the completion of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and founded Armature Studio with Mark Pacini and Todd Keller. He left Armature in 2017 to support his wife, Jeanine Donofrio, with her food blog Love and Lemons, and has become the blog's photographer.

In November 2015, he revealed some facts about the development of Metroid Prime in a livestream of several games, including Prime. Mathews created the distortion effect when Charge Beam shots are fired. [1]

On November 17, 2017, 15 years to the day Metroid Prime was released in 2002, he tweeted: "Happy 15th birthday to Metroid Prime - the best game I'll ever make." [1]

In a January 2018 interview with the fansite Shinesparkers, Mathews commented on additional development facts and unused elements. He briefly touched on Kraid's scrapped appearance in Metroid Prime and the original concept for Corruption of a Bounty Hunter mission-based game.[2] Mathews revealed the reasons for Retro canceling the games they were working on prior to Prime: Nintendo did not care for the concept of Car Combat/Thunder Rally, despite it having more gameplay done than the other projects combined by the time it was canceled; NFL Retro Football missed its launch and was deemed unnecessary, and Electronic Arts already dominated the football game market with its own NHL franchise, and Raven Blade was too ambitious for its time. Those employees on the games that were not laid off joined the Prime team, and according to Mathews they "ended up with the most talented engineering team I've ever worked with".

He said that the Retro team wanted to expand on Dark Aether in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, but had to scale it down for technical and gameplay reasons, whereas for Corruption the focus was on using a more modern lighting model, having larger environments, and pushing the game's new Wii Remote and Nunchuk control scheme. According to Mathews, Retro was "cut in half, then cut in half again" during the development of Prime. The developers took on a "fuck the haters" mentality to show fans and critics that despite layoffs and leaks, they could make a good game. He felt that the presentation at E3 2002 redeemed them when the original game was met with positive reaction.

Mathews also stated that the hardest element of programming the Prime series, for him, was to maintain 60 frames per second as it meant striking a constant balance between keeping the games running well and still looking breathtaking. When the concept of SkyTown, Elysia was shown to him, he attempted to have the area scrapped, feeling it would not run well. However, looking at the area now, he is "still awestruck" and "super proud" at what Retro accomplished.[2]

Commenting on criticisms of Echoes for being too difficult and Corruption for "shoehorning" in motion controls, Mathews stated that the difficulty in Echoes masked many of the "stressful" gameplay mechanics, such as navigating Dark Aether and the Beam Ammo system, and the internal struggle to build a game that could match or rise above the success of the first Metroid Prime. He wished that the developers could have spent more time differentiating the environments of Aether and Dark Aether, which are often dark or light mirrors of the other in the final game. Plans to have a completely dark world with Samus walking around with a spotlight emitting from her were scrapped as it was "just impossible to play". The team only had enough time to build the Sanctuary Fortress and Ing Hive to be more distinct from each other.[2]

He felt most of the criticism toward Corruption was leveled against the long opening area for resembling more of a Halo game than Metroid, and that the game doesn't become a Metroid Prime game until the player lands on Bryyo. He disagreed with criticism of the motion controls, and said that his "hands pretty much seize up" when he attempts to play Prime with a Nintendo GameCube controller.[2]

Mathews stated that the Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Multiplayer should not have happened as implementing the mode took a lot of effort he felt would have been better spent on the story, and he believes the IP should remain single player. Mathews alluded to Metroid 1.5, the multiplayer-focused original pitch for Echoes, and revealed scrapped abilities such as a playable Space Pirate and wall grabs. He stated that Metroid Prime Hunters handled its multiplayer components much better.[2]

When Metroid Prime 4 was announced, Mathews commented that he initially felt a "weird, petty anger" at Nintendo for having "the gall" to give Metroid Prime to a developer other than Retro Studios (which is not developing it) and felt that it was a slap in the face to them, despite having left Retro himself 8 years prior. He later realized that the new developer, whoever they are, is now in the same situation Retro was before - a group of "screw-ups" when they received the Metroid license. Thus, he is now in "wait and see" mode, but intends to play the game when it is released.[2]

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www.twitch.tv/crackdown/v/24296527
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kerwin, Darren, RoyboyX. "Interview: Jack Mathews", Shinesparkers, 2018-01-20. Retrieved on 2018-01-20.