Rob Briscoe is one of two freelancers who’ve found a polite sort of fame after their work on Mirror’s Edge. While Rhianna Pratchett went on to scribe Tomb Raider (and in smaller font, Thief), Briscoe went on to splash Dear Esther with a liberal varnish of art and design.
The success of Dear Esther has allowed him to continue on in indiedom indefinitely - but an “increasing feeling of isolation” while working on a Unity port for the game has led him to seek a job in which he can be “in the presence of people”. Genius people, at Valve.
“For the past five years, 90% of my days have been spent working alone in my rather pokey (although originally affordable) 1-bed apartment,” explained Briscoe. “My conversations with people existing mostly through Skype or via email, and with most of my close friends moving on or away from my sleepy home town, I’m left wondering what the hell I’m still doing here.”
After dismissing a new project on the grounds that it’d mean another half-decade working alone, the UK-based Briscoe began the process of applying for a US work via. 11 months later, it’s been approved - and at the end of March he’ll move to Seattle to work on “cool stuff” with a company he’s “long admired”.
“A lot of my energy and enthusiasm comes from being in the presence of people, sharing different ideas, methods and techniques, different views, outlooks and inspirations, and mostly by just being out of my comfort zone (which I have very much slipped into),” said Briscoe.
What of Dear Esther’s Unity port? Briscoe says the bulk of the work is done, and he’ll be able to finish things off in his spare time with the help of The Chinese Room.
“I still have things I want to do in the future, both independently and with TCR, so I know I’ll come back to it again someday, and have no doubt I will be still tinkering with stuff on the side for some time,” Briscoe finished. “But for now I think I just need a change… to make hats… cuz that’s what Valve do these days right?”
The Dear Esther Unity port was commissioned after The Chinese Room received a “huge bill” for using Source. It's also an attempt to safeguard the game's future, should Valve wind down support for their engine. Do you think you'll play Esther again at some point down the line?