The following is an excerpt from the first of a two part interview the Killzone Community Team did with Killzone 2's technical director Michiel van der Leeuw.
"What's your current role within Guerrilla? What are your chief responsibilities?
I am currently Technical Director at Guerrilla. I go around putting my nose into everybody's business – especially if their business has anything to do with workflow, engine features, or new ideas. My main responsibilities include running the eight-man tech team and overseeing the four-man tools team. I also make sure that the engine technology we have is suitable for our game. My team and I mostly deal with the engine side, which includes graphics and sound, as well as the technology used by the other coders to get their work to run properly on PlayStation 3.
In the end, I'm the fall guy if our game gets low grades for frame drops or something like that. If our team delivers a smooth-running, gorgeous-looking product, I avoid getting hurt.
How did you get to be Technical Director on Killzone 2?
I've worked at Guerrilla for a long time. I was the lead programmer on the technology team for stretches of time, and also the lead programmer on the first Killzone title. I was put in charge of the technology team again after that game saw its release, but by then I was hardly programming anymore – my work consisted of planning, liaising with other studios, and making sure everybody was heading in the same direction. So it made more sense to change my title to Technical Director.
When and how did you break into the games industry?
The first game I worked on was Jazz Jackrabbit, which Arjan Brussee was programming for Epic Games I recall that Cliff Bleszinski was the game designer, level designer and artist. I was just in high school though, and I don't think any of my code ended up in the game. When Jazz Jackrabbit 2 came around, Arjan and I divided the programming work: I did most of the engine, the low-level code, and the editor, and Arjan focused on game code, networking and putting it all together.
It was awesome. I got to visit the US to work with the guys at Epic, and things just went from there. We finished Jazz Jackrabbit 2 - I'm still damn proud of that game – and we set up Orange Games in Arjan's office in Haarlem. We failed to produce any large high-quality games for a while, but at least we built up experience. At some point we merged with two other games companies, Digital Infinity and Formula, to gain the critical mass required to make something big. That turned out to be Killzone…"