Chris Hecker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Chris Hecker
Chris Hecker - Game Developers Conference 2010 - Day 3.jpg
Chris Hecker at the Game Developers Conference in 2010
Born 1970 (age 43–44)
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Occupation Former Technology Fellow at Maxis[1]
"Definition Six" redirects here. For the Atlanta-based marketing agency, see Definition 6.

Christopher Bryan Hecker (born 1970) is an American video game programmer and commentator, founder of the gaming company definition six. He helped organize the Indie Game Jam, is best known for his engineering work on Will Wright's 2008 game Spore, has been an editor for Game Developer Magazine and was on the editorial board for the Journal of Graphics Tools.


Hecker studied fine arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City, with a goal of becoming an illustrator. Along the way, he noticed an article in Byte Magazine about programming. It piqued his interest, and he switched career tracks, dropping out of school to begin work on graphics and games.

Around 1992, he obtained a job at Microsoft in Seattle. He worked there for three years, becoming creator/leader of the WinG API project for the Windows operating system. After completing WinG, he moved to Microsoft's entertainment division, and wrote the rendering engine for the real-time globe display in the Encarta World Atlas.

In 1995, he left Microsoft to form his own company in Seattle, Definition Six,[2] a games and computer graphics consulting company that was later moved to Oakland, California. The company focused on the development of physics technology for games[3] and lobbied for the OpenGL standard for graphics display.[4] It never actually shipped a commercial title, but did produce a tech demo.[1] As a side project, Hecker was also working independently for several years on a game based on rock climbing,[5][6] though it was never completed.

In 2004, Hecker took a job with Maxis where he worked with Will Wright on what became the 2008 game Spore.[7][8] He led the development of many of the key technologies on Spore, including the core creature tessellation, painting, skinning, and animation technologies.

Another of his side projects was to be Editor-At-Large of Game Developer Magazine, and he also served on the editorial board for the Journal of Graphics Tools.[9] As of 2008, he was the longest serving advisor of the Game Developers Conference [10] In 2006, Hecker was awarded the Community Contribution award at the Game Developers Conference.[11][12]

In late 2009, he was laid off from Maxis[1] and is currently working on the "indie" game SpyParty.

On December 4, 2013, Microsoft announced that Hecker's studio, Definition 6, was one of many indie game developers to join the ID@Xbox program.


Hecker and other game developers at a BAFTA event in Los Angeles in July 2011. From left: Rod Humble, Louis Castle, David Perry, Brenda Brathwaite, John Romero, Will Wright, Tim Schafer, Chris Hecker.

During his time at Microsoft and Definition Six, Hecker wrote an influential programming column for Game Developer Magazine. Two series of articles from this column still serve today as standard references on their respective subjects. The initial series was the first complete synthesis of perspectively-correct texture mapping, and formed the mathematical basis for many important game rasterizers, including Michael Abrash's seminal rasterizer for the landmark 3D title Quake.[13] The second was a series on rigid body dynamics simulation for games [2], complete with an extensive bibliography of rigid body dynamics resources [3], which has become a standard web reference thereof. The articles were part of a general push by Hecker to incorporate more interactive physics in games,[14] which at the time in 1996 rarely featured any physical simulation. In the summer of 1997, Hecker stepped down as author of the regular column to focus on game development full-time.

Indie game advocacy[edit]

In many interviews and speaking engagements, Hecker has lobbied heavily for the development of an independent games movement.

Lamenting the lack of innovation in gameplay, he has pushed for alternative markets and models for small-scale video game production.[15] In 2002, with a few of his friends (largely Looking Glass Studios veterans), Hecker co-founded the successful Indie Game Jam.[16]

In addition to directly leading to the creation of at least one commercial title,[17] the Indie Game Jam inspired others to create their own local game jams worldwide, such as the similarly named Boston Game Jam and Toronto Game Jam .[18][19]

Spore: contributions and controversy[edit]

Hecker's research and development effort on Spore is widely regarded as a major step forward in procedural character animation and rendering. Part of the technology he developed while working on the project was later selected for publication in the SIGGRAPH 2008 Transactions on Graphics conference proceedings,[20] and became a featured presentation at that conference.[21] An interview with Will Wright later claimed that Hecker's work on Spore had advanced the state of the art in procedural animation by several years.[22]

After Spore's release in late 2008, some players considered comments by Hecker made in Seed Magazine[23] to indicate that he had been primarily responsible for the game's lack of hard scientific backing.[24] This interpretation of the interview was discredited by Spore lead designer Will Wright [25] and Spore producer Lucy Bradshaw.[26]


  1. ^ a b "Elvis Has Left the Building". 
  2. ^ "Computer Graphics in the Seattle Area". 2004-04-08. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  3. ^ "The Experimental Gameplay Workshop". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  4. ^ Brown, Peter (1997-07-07). "Microsoft asked to support OpenGL". Reed Business Information, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  5. ^ "Experimental Gameplay Workshop 2002". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  6. ^ "Experimental Gameplay Workshop 2003". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  7. ^ Takahashi, Dean (2008-06-11). "An interview with EA Maxis’ Lucy Bradshaw on the making of Spore". Matt Marshall. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  8. ^ Siegel, Scott Jon (2006-11-13). "Joystiq interviews Spore's Chaim Gingold and Chris Hecker". AOL Games. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  9. ^ McGuire, Morgan. "A Game Developer's Perspective of SIGGRAPH 2001". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  10. ^ "The GDC Advisory Board". Think Services, a Division of United Business Media. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  11. ^ "Special Honors Recognize RPG Pioneers, Chris Hecker and Founders of Harmonix at 6th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards". PR Newswire. 2006-03-16. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  12. ^ "Choice awards to Hecker, Harmonix, others". CNET Networks, Inc., a CBS Company. 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  13. ^ Abrash, Michael (May 2008). "Quake's Hidden-Surface Removal". Dr. Dobb's Sourcebook. Retrieved 2008-11-04. [dead link]
  14. ^ Frauenfelder, Mark. "Smash Hits". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  15. ^ Hall, Justin; Tracy Fullerton; Christopher Swain; Steven Hoffman (2004). Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, and Playtesting Games. Gama Network Series. CMP Books. pp. 438–441. ISBN 1-57820-222-1. 
  16. ^ Adams, Ernest (2002-05-15). "Technology Inspires Creativity: Indie Game Jam Inverts Dogma 2001". CMP Media LLC. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  17. ^ "Experimental Gameplay Workshop: Success Stories and Influences". 
  18. ^ "Boston Game Jam". Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  19. ^ "Toronto Game Jam". Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  20. ^ "SIGGRAPH '08: ACM SIGGRAPH 2008 papers". ACM. 2008. ISSN 0730-0301. 
  21. ^ "Spore Experts Share Animation Techniques at SIGGRAPH 2008". ACM. 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  22. ^ Will Wright (2008). [The Making of Spore] (DVD). United States: Electronic Arts. 
  23. ^ Robertson, Margaret (2008-09-08). "The Creation Simulation". Seed Media Group, LLC. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  24. ^ "We Found Who to Tar and Feather!". 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  25. ^ "Post from Will Wright Regarding Cute vs. Science". 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  26. ^ "Re:We Found Who to Tar and Feather!". 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 

External links[edit]